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Writing a Strong Scholarship Application

By Matthew Butler

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What enables motivated students to attain their education more easily and are a great way to show your ability even before you step foot on campus? Scholarships of course!

Although scholarships have deadlines year round, across all years and fields of study, often students are more involved through their transition from high school to post-secondary. This is often the time of first contact with the dreaded application process.

Many important factors contribute to getting a scholarship—check SchoolFinder.com’s events page to keep an eye out for scholarship-related webinars—but the most important may be your personal statement or application essay.

Writing is an essential and important skill for students in academics, but it is equally important in everyday life. The scholarship application essay is a great way to merge these two writing worlds, while putting yourself to the new test of convincing scholarship providers to invest in you. Showing how your experiences, life story, skills, and academic history make you a qualified applicant for their award can be daunting.

The key to writing a successful application, aside from the obvious things like grammar, structure, organization, and professionalism, is the element of being able to transfer your experiences from your life onto paper in a meaningful way to best display your value.

Doing this can, and probably will, take time, practice, and several drafts, but will be essential in getting that money needed to lower your tuition. Imagine all the other things you could spend the money on!

Try writing down a couple of important or memorable experiences you have had, experiences that you believe set you apart from others and that have defined your life. Brainstorm with friends and family if you must, or write a personal list to organize your thoughts. Once done, practice articulating a few major points on why these experiences matter and how they have shaped you and others, and then transfer these points onto the page.

Striking the right balance between personal anecdote and formality can be tricky. Remember, the first draft is not what is going to get you the scholarship. Keep at it and remember that it is only a blank white page!

Modified on April 16, 2014

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