The Pitfalls of Shortcuts
Writing your scholarship essay can flop quickly with tempting shortcuts.
I had a recent lesson in taking shortcuts. I tried to surprise my wife by mass baking her famous cookie batter she had prepared the night before. I was kind of proud of myself as I was multi-tasking with other household chores. I just quickly loaded them up on several baking sheets and was eagerly awaiting my reward for being so efficient.
It was a disaster. After clearing the smoke, I learned later from the master chef that her famous cookies have to be a certain size, placed on only one particular baking sheet and a careful cooling sequence to achieve perfection.
Turns out writing a winning scholarship essay is really no different.
If you are a busy student don't be tempted by shortcuts for writing your scholarship essay. Especially if the admission or scholarship result you are pursuing is important to your college planning.
While numerous scholarship essay samples can be found on the web savvy essay reviewers are experienced to pick up the fact that it is not your original work. Always remember that whenever competition is high for limited openings or funds you don't want to give a reviewer a reason to put you in the "B" pile.
Recipe For Success
- Reflect- With the essay question(s) firmly in mind take the time to think how you really feel about what they are asking. Always remember they want a deeper insight on YOU, your attitude, character traits and work ethic. Reviewers constantly filter your information with the driving question, 'How is this student distinct in the qualities we are seeking?'
Accordingly, look at past life experiences and learnings that shape your attitudes and views on the subject. Find an environment (back yard, park, library, etc.) where you can think for a longer block of time without distraction. Bring a notepad and pen to write ideas down that come to mind. You will be surprised what happens when you break the ice and start to brainstorm.
Hint: Leave your Ipod and cell phone at home!
- Find a Theme - Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to think and write every day. You should have a page or two more filled with notes. It may take as long as a week or two for a primary theme to begin to emerge.
- Think Out Loud - Engage trusted adults who know you the best. Talking something through is a powerful way to learn for many students. Ask someone experienced with college or scholarship essays you can share your ideas with. Guidance counselors who will make the time for you can be helpful to refine your main idea.
- Write an Outline - Outline your main points that support your theme. For instance, if you decide to use a life experience to communicate how you overcame adversity, outline the situation, the response you took and the outcome. Breaking each piece down will make it easier to write brief paragraphs to the support each main point.
- Invite Feedback Ask qualified people who can serve as your editorial review board. It's easy to miss the rules of grammar. It's also a good idea to include at least one person who knows you well.
Check out these examples
Outstanding scholarship essay checklist
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