Essay Guidelines

What Makes a Strong Scholarship Application?

When completing a scholarship application, many applicants are unsure of what exactly it is that will make their application stand out from the rest. “What makes a good applicant?” and “How can I improve my essays?” are common questions from those going through the application process.

A good applicant is not necessarily the individual with a 4.0 GPA. A student with a 4.0 GPA who has little involvement in other activities, whether it be a job, sports, extracurricular or volunteer activities, is not the strongest applicant. In contrast, a student with a 3.0 GPA, who has taken honors or advanced courses and been involved in extracurricular and/or volunteer activities, is a more competitive applicant. This individual is well rounded and demonstrates experiences that have contributed to his/her growth.

A critical part of a scholarship application is the statement of purpose section.  Responses are scored according to content (How well you tell your personal story and describe your aspirations and key influencers.)  Describing your particular goals and passions in life using examples.  Make sure you use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Length
Use the word count you think is necessary to communicate your points most effectively but try not exceed 2500 words.  This will ensure that your response is concrete and provides good examples.

Content
Make sure you describe you interests, motivations and achievements in a way that allows us to get to know you.  If you write a good essay but are too general in your descriptions, chances are that essay will receive a low score.

Use of Examples
Do not simply state what you did. Provide an example of an activity that directly contributed to that experience.

Follow these steps to help write excellent essays and make your application stand out:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Write a draft of the essay.
  3. Have a teacher, counselor, parent or academic advisor review your essay.
  4. Edit the essay using the suggestions made by your teacher, counselor or advisor
  5. Re-read the essay to make sure it says what you want.

If you follow these steps, you will improve your chances of earning a higher score and submitting an overall stronger application. Most importantly, do not be afraid to express yourself and share your experiences. The application is an opportunity to sell yourself and prove to the selection committee that you deserve the scholarship at hand.

Best of luck in the application process!