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Once you start preparing for college and searching for scholarships, it becomes very evident that there's a lot of scholarship money available. That doesn't mean that it's easy money. There are many other students also looking for scholarships; students who deserve to receive the scholarship just as much as you do. This creates fierce competition for almost every scholarship out there. In order to be the one who gets the award, you will have to stand out. You'll have to prove that you are something special and get the attention of those whose job it is to choose who gets the scholarship. In many cases, scholarship applications will require an essay. Sometimes the essay is on a specific topic. Other times you are allowed to choose the topic. The essay is a chance for you to shine, to show who you are and why you are the one that deserves the scholarship money. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the other applicants.

  1. Read (and be certain you understand) the instructions: This is sound advice to follow in all parts of each scholarship application. Many applications are removed from consideration simply because some portion of the application was not completed correctly. Don't let your application get rejected on a technicality. Make sure that you follow the instructions for the essay exactly, and that you omit no requested information.
  2. Find a way to tell your story: Make sure the scholarship understands who you are and why you deserve the money being offered. Even if the scholarship essay is on a specific topic, make sure you relate it back to you and tell your story somehow.
  3. Proofread your essay: Remember that spell check doesn't catch everything. Proofread your essay to make sure that you don't have any spelling or grammatical errors. Better yet, have a friend or teacher read your essay and give feedback before you submit it.
  4. Outline what you want to say: It's always good to prepare a general outline before you begin writing, so you have a good idea of what you want to say before you begin. This will keep your essay succinct and help avoid rambling and digression.
  5. Don't use the same essay for several scholarships: It's tempting to do this. Completing a scholarship application takes time, and writing a fresh essay for each application takes even more time. However, writing something for each scholarship application that requires an essay ensures that you are following the scholarship's specific guidelines and requirements and allows you to tailor the message of the essay to reflect the specific scholarship. An essay that is quite obviously written only for one specific scholarship will be more impressive, since it will show that you dedicated a lot of time and though specifically for that one application.
  6. Once finished with your essay, go over the instructions again: After you have completed your essay, read the instructions again and review the essay to make sure that it contains all of the elements provided in the instructions.

Those who award scholarships often receive hundreds of qualified applicants. Writing a great essay that follows the scholarship's guidelines is a way to show those awarding the scholarship that you respect their time and are truly desirous of the scholarship.