Scholarship Essays

Today, the cost of education can be prohibitive for many people. Besides grant funding, scholarships are one of the best ways to get money to help pay for college. Unlike student loans, you never have to pay back the money you receive from a scholarship. Whether it's $500, or $5,000, a scholarship (or more than 1 scholarship) can help you cover at least some (if not all) of the costs related to pursuing your degree.

Every year, scholarships go unawarded simply because not enough people apply for them. Since scholarship applications are free to submit, there's really no reason not to apply. All it takes is a little time and effort, including the effort of writing some essays. Some people choose not to apply simply because they don't think they can write a good enough essay for the application. However, it's often the case that scholarship committee members are not looking for "the perfect essay." Rather, they are looking to see if you are a good candidate for the specific scholarship, even if your grammar isn't error free.

One thing is for sure: there's no way you're going to get a scholarship if you don't apply. Why not take a chance?

See below for links to info about scholarships, as well as some tips for writing your scholarship essays.

Scholarship Essay Tips

Be Personal

Keep in mind that the scholarship committee is trying to get to know you as a person. As a result, you want your scholarship essays to give information about yourself. If you're asked to share your career goals, you might consider sharing [briefly] about your motivation for choosing your career choice.

They don't want to hear a long, detailed account about a family member, friend, or circumstance (unless they're asking for it); they want to hear about you and your life. Of course, those other things may make an appearance in your essay, but what you write should always focus on how it relates to you.

Be Specific

The less vague you are, the better.

Think about answering at least some of the "Who, What, When, Where, Why, How" questions. For example: If the prompt asks about your career aspirations, don't just say that you want to go into business. Are you going to work for a company in a specific field- which one? Do you want to be an entrepreneur- what are you going to sell/what service will you provide? Do you plan on making your company into a franchise? Do you ultimately want to be a VP, CEO, or accounts manager? Say so in the essay.

Stay Focused

When writing your essay, make sure to completely answer the prompt.

Try your best not to go off topic.

A Five-paragraph Essay may not be Required

Many of the scholarships that you might apply for at Valencia often don't allow you sufficient words to write a long essay. With typical caps of 150, 250, or 500 words, most of your "essays" are likely to be a paragraph, or maybe a few paragraphs.

Consequently, you shouldn't feel the need to have a proper essay with introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. You may have an introductory sentence or two, or a concluding sentence or two, but nothing like a 5 paragraph essay. That being said, you can be creative with how you introduce information, as long as it's on topic:

ex. Having a congenital heart condition, as a child I spent a lot of time in hospitals. Even though it was scary, it was the nurses' gentle care and soothing words that helped me through the difficult and painful experiences. Those caregivers--those lifegivers--are the only reason I made it through emotionally and physically. As a result, it is my desire to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse and care for children in the same way I was cared for.

In this example, the reader gets introduced to the scholarship applicant, but in a more meaningful way than "Hi, my name is _______ and my career goal is to be a pediatric nurse."

That is not to say that you won't or can't write a five-pararaph style essay for a scholarship application. Again, it would depend on the length allowed, as well as the prompt provided. If the prompt asks you tell the committee about yourself, for example, that might be an ideal time to construct an essay similar to the 5 paragraph model.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

As mentioned earlier, scholarship committees are trying to learn about you and see whether you're a good candidate, not whether you are a grammar or writing expert.

Make sure your essay is as good as it can be, but even if you think it's not perfect, don't let that keep you from applying.

Take Some Time

Don't feel pressured to submit your application the same day you start it. Unless the deadline is today, take some time to think over your essays. After you write your essays, leave them for a day or two and then reread them. You'll often find that doing this will give you a "fresher" perspective, and you may find something you missed before (or think of something else to say that you didn't think of before).

Get a Second Pair of Eyes, or Third, or Fourth...

Before you submit your scholarship essays, ask a family member, friend, teacher, coworker, or whoever, to read your essays and give you some feedback. Chances are, if they don't understand something in your essay, the scholarship committee won't understand either.