Understanding the Scholarship Essay

Monday, October 17, 2022 by Catherine Gilliland | Scholarship Essays

Is your student prepared to write scholarship essays? 

Students in high school should already be familiar with the construction of a formal academic composition. Award-winning scholarship application essays, however, are not the same as a typical composition submitted for a grade in school. Knowing the similarities and differences will enable a student to construct essays worthy of receiving the awards they seek.

True, there are likenesses in typical academic writing and scholarship application essays. Both must demonstrate that you follow directions, clearly organize content, and pay attention to all the details. All types of writing must also identify and write to a specific audience, be structured appropriately, include appropriate style, proper mechanics, thorough editing, and careful revision

When planning and constructing an essay to submit with a scholarship application, keep in mind that although the composition is structured, the requirement to follow a precise five-paragraph format is usually non-existent. Even the thesis is "unofficial", instead, being implied by the content of the text. This essay is about the student, their personal experiences, uniqueness, and aspirations. It reveals, often in story form, how these traits have shaped their lives and influenced the lives of those around them. Carefully crafted into the text, the student must demonstrate they will provide an excellent return to the investment of the scholarship organization along with value and success to the institution to which they are applying. Since the essay is very personal, its vibe will be a little less formal, and it will include first person pronouns, a definite "no-no" in more formal academic essays.

Students writing academic essays have honed that art for years by the time they are ready to graduate from high school. The type of writing required by scholarship committees is much less practiced, therefore students submitting these high stakes written pieces often benefit from specific instruction, personal guidance, and instructional feedback from a writing coach over a period of time. Begin the process early, even as early as midway through their high school years.