10 Tips for Your Scholarship Application Essay

Getting ready to apply for scholarships? Here are 10 helpful hints on essay-writing before you get started.

1. Instructions — Read, understand, and follow — including word count, font size, and the question prompt.

2. Thoroughness — Answer ALL parts of the application. Blank and partial responses make it appear as if you didn’t pay attention to detail or you lack academic seriousness. Both would make colleges question your ability to succeed.

3. Show Me — Use specific details to demonstrate what you’re saying, including things like how many, how much, how often, and important contextual information. Do NOT use generic terms.

4. Passion & Personality — Make the reviewer remember you by concisely articulating your motivations and passions. This is the only time for you to show yourself off. It’s okay to be vulnerable — just avoid the “sob story.”

5. Proofread — Proofread and then proofread again. Then ask those close to you and others with non-biased perspectives to proofread your application.

6. Writing — Make sure you have complete thoughts that flow together. Create an introduction, supporting paragraph(s), and a closing. A poor writing example will make an admission counselor question your academic ability.

7. Authenticity — Don’t answer the question the way you think someone wants it answered. Be true to yourself and use your own voice. Don’t use words that you normally wouldn’t use. Admission counselors can tell when you are trying too hard and when you’re not being genuine.

8. Tone — Your application will be read by an individual judge. Write as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with this person. Move some of your best sentences with the most energetic tone to the top of your essay. Review your sentence structure and word choices to make them flow consistently.

9. Your Story — Illustrate a story or situation from your everyday life to reveal your character, values, and perspective. Reviewers want to be sure you are aligned with the culture and values of the institution — making you a good fit.

10. Cohesion — Review all pieces of your application before you write your essay. Are you demonstrating leadership, service, academic accomplishments, initiative, and persistence? Identify an area missing that you’d like to address and pick a prompt that will help you demonstrate it. From start to finish, your application should make sense and flow with cohesion.

The deadline to complete Phi Theta Kappa’s scholarship application is Friday, May 15, at 5 p.m. CT. Get more scholarship application tips and resources here.

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