Now that you have your essay topic picked out, it’s time to complete those applications! Iowa College Aid’s Tracy Davis shares some tips from her time as Financial Aid Director at Southwestern Community College during which she evaluated scholarship applications.
“Read the directions. It’s a simple, yet often over looked step,” advised Davis. “We would receive essay responses that had nothing to do with the question we asked. Students had obviously just copied and pasted it from another application without reading what we were looking for.”
If the application requires an essay, focus on having a strong opening. This captures the reader’s attention right away and will ensure your application is memorable.
“Applications that stood out to me were always full of original thought, especially in the thesis statement,” commented Davis. “You could always notice which applicants were good writers. Also essays are not one paragraph long, be sure it includes an introduction, body and conclusion.”
A scholarship essay is a professional piece of work; make sure that your writing reflects this. Be sure to use proper grammar and spelling.
“Some students would use text lingo and poor grammar,” warned Davis. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of spell check and having a proof reader, such as an English teacher or counselor.”
Davis also saw some scholarships go unclaimed, such as one that required students be from a specific county and enroll in a certain program of study. While there were students who fulfilled these requirements, they didn’t apply for the scholarship.
Research all that your prospective school has to offer THOROUGHLY, and if you still have questions don’t hesitate to contact the financial aid office.