By: Kelly Tanabe
Co-founder of SuperCollege.com and co-author of “Get Into Any College” and “Get Free Cash For College.”
If you think that writing essays for college applications was an exhausting experience, we’re sorry to break the bad news to you–there are more to come. Many scholarship applications require at least one essay–although they are usually (but not always) shorter than those for college admissions.
Before you begin wondering if it’s worth the trouble to apply, the good news is that because you have already written quality essays for your college applications, you have some very good recycling possibilities. Plus this time you have the motivation of writing to be paid money instead of writing to spend money as you did for the college application essays.
Similar to admissions officers, scholarship committees see the essay as a window into the hearts and minds of the applicants. Because of this, essays for scholarships should be written similarly to college essays. They should be original, well-written, honest, and describe something meaningful about you. Scholarship essays should captivate the readers and make them care about the writer. All the strategies that you learned in the college essay writing chapters also apply to scholarship essays.
While a scholarship application may give you the luxury of writing on any subject–in which case you can easily submit one of your college essays–most give you a much more focused topic. For example, if you are applying to an organization dedicated to promoting world peace they may ask you to write about–what a coincidence–world peace. If you are applying to a civic group, they may ask you to write about your volunteer experience. In these cases you need to demonstrate in your essay that you are strong in that particular field or area or that you are the most suitable candidate because you fulfill the specific criteria of the award better than anyone else.
This may mean that you will have to write a new essay. However, since these essays are shorter and it is not expected (like the college application essays) that you spend weeks on them, they should be much easier to turn out. Once you get going you can usually whip out an essay pretty quickly, especially if you can cut and paste one together from several previous essays.
The final thing you should keep in mind when writing is to consider the kinds of people who will be reading your essay. An essay about how you wished you were born in a communist country because of your love for Marx may not go over well for an American Legion scholarship–many of whose members risked their lives fighting communists. An essay about the evils perpetrated by big business may not find much sympathy in a scholarship committee composed of Rotarians. Keep in mind, at all times, who your readers will be and make sure what you write will not offend them.