The scholarship essay or personal statement is a very common requirement on scholarship applications. For many people it is also the most dreaded part of the application process. And for some, it is the reason why they will not even bother to apply.
We know that many people struggle with the writing process. However, with the following tips and resources, we hope to demystify the scholarship essay and make the process manageable.
Read the essay topic and, if necessary, break it down into manageable pieces – Is the essay topic one question, or multiple questions? However many questions you have to answer, take a piece of paper and write each section of the question down. Then start drafting your answer to each question. It does not have to be in essay format yet, just write out how you would respond if someone were asking you the question in person.
Gather your thoughts, and start creating a framework for your essay – Once you have your response to the question, start building the framework for your response. Again, on a sheet of paper, write headings for each section of your essay starting with your Introduction, then your Body (one to three paragraphs usually), and finally your Conclusion. Under each category, include the important points that you want to cover in each.
Using your framework, start “building” your essay – Now that you’ve got your framework, start “filling-in” your essay. By this point you should already know what you want to say in your introduction, each body paragraph, and your conclusion.
Let the essay sit for at least a day, then come back and re-read – After you’re done with your first draft, revisit your essay and read it with fresh eyes. Read it out loud. Make sure you stayed on topic and make any changes you feel necessary. Then, have a friend, professor, and perhaps even someone else you trust read it and provide feedback. Make more changes. Let it sit again, and then revisit it once more.
RELAX!! You’ve just completed the most challenging portion of your application. Give yourself a pat on the back, and enjoy the fact that the most difficult part is over. Now you just have to make sure to complete the rest of your application and submit it on time!