ten easy steps to formulate a strong scholarship essay
as i enter into my first year of graduate school, i figured it was finally time to tap into all this free internet money folks kept saying exists. writing essays is easy, right? we do it all the time in academic settings, why not try to get paid for it…??
before you get to writing it’s important to actually find some scholarships. here’s an excellently organized post by @jesussbabymomma that covers multiple databases. got some? great. let’s get to work.
>> the way i organize a scholarship essay is breaking it down to individual tasks [makes the whole situation far less daunting]; i top each task list with the scholarship name and the due date <<
1. the easiest way to start is to specify the requirements of your scholarship essay. go straight to the source, copy-paste the directions, write them down, put em somewhere you can continually look back on. is it a personal statement? are they expecting you to present knowledge on a certain subject? do they just want you to talk about how worthy you are of free money? asking your educated opinion on a topical issue? whatever it is, know it in and out. the actual worst thing is putting hella time into a scholarship essay only to realize you misunderstood the directions.
2. if this essay requires you to write expertly on something you know nothing about, gather your sources. tap into those databases you’ve used for research papers in academia [or google scholar is always a great free resource]. hone in on that subject and get to searching.
3. as you find usable sources, begin to create an essay outline. mine tend to be pretty lengthy and detailed.. by all means use an outline style that fits your needs. there’s a few different components to this step; i handle this pretty much the same way i would a regular research paper..
- solidify your argument; (if there is an argument you need to make); i’ve found delving into my new-found sources helps me sort of figure out my stance along the way. look at all sides of the issue, bring them up in your essay, impress them with your ability to think critically. you got it, superstar.
- consolidate sources; i will often paste links right in my outline. i then copy the specific quotes from the source and place them exactly where i want to use them in my argument. this helps so i don’t have to go fishing later.
- gain understanding of the content; it’s.. it’s pretty important to know what it is you’re writing about.
4. after your outline is created, take a detour and write the works cited [bibliography, reference page, get-out-of-plagiarism-free card]; you certainly don’t have to do this step here.. i know some people like to wait until the end. i just think it’s good to get out of my head a little bit… put the critical-argument-creating/ stream-of-consciousness-writing on hold and do some good old-fashioned citing.
5. at this point you’re likely ready to begin the first draft. which in my case is essentially is taking the bullet points out of my outline and changing the font to something that may even look like it’s work the thousands of dollars i’m hoping to receive.
6. if you’re anything like me, this next step is the hardest.. proofread && DEDUCE. we’ve developed this amazing skill of cranking out ten-page papers… but now we’re being asked to operate within a 500-1000 word parameter. (sometimes less?!? like some have 140 characters yeah uhm okay). here i take out any extraneous adjectives and run-on sentences. i blame the lack of brevity on my degree in the humanities sector.
7. once you get sick of reading your own work, find friends to edit. peer reviewing is certainly worth the shot at deduced tuition. when i’m crunched for time, this is the step i skip.. but i always feel more comfortable submitting something i wrote that a few others have looked over as well.
8. next, take the time to research the scholarship organization. for schmoozing purposes. this can happen earlier in the process too..
don’t ask me why i decide to see where the organization’s principles lie until after i’ve written the paper.. i take this time to learn a bit about who i’m asking money from, and make a few tweaks to the essay if i need to.
9. almost done!! final proofread aloud. this really helps with cutting down on word count, and just ensuring the whole thing moves smoothly. i’m always pleasantly surprised how much better my essay flows after i read it out loud.
10. once you feel confident in your paper, send it off! my final step is submit & schedule a time to check back. sometimes organizations will post on the scholarship site which day they make their decision. make a note to come back that particular day to see the results! hopefully, you’ll get an exciting congratulatory email beforehand.. but it doesn’t hurt to be sure.
try these out, let me know if they work for you! now get out there and make that moneyyyy :}