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We know you’re busy, so we're here to take the guesswork out of financial aid, college applications, and how to survive college life.

You've probably heard it thousands of times, middle school, and high school: A college degree is essential to be successful in most career paths. Getting into college has been on your mind for years, and you know you have to find a way. College is expensive, and the cost to attend a University continues to increase.

Unless you have parents who are able to pay the very large bill, then you'll have to really, at least partially, on scholarships and student loans. Student loans are a reality for many, and many students leave school with piles of debt to pay back. If you are an average student, with a C average rather than an A or B average and SAT scores to send to your prospective school, getting scholarships can be daunting. At first glance, it may seem near impossible to get scholarship money, competing with other students who have a much better GPA's. Yet for many scholarships grades are only part of the consideration for the award, along with the answers on the application and, in many cases, an essay. If you don't have the best grades, then your essay will likely be your opportunity to set yourself apart from other students and prove that the scholarship should be awarded just to you. Here are some Dos and Don'ts for writing an essay that will stick out.

Dos:

Read all the directions thoroughly and follow them

Scholarships that have an essay section will most often have very detailed instructions relative to the topic and structure of the essay. Those involved in deciding who gets the scholarship want to know that you can follow directions. You don't want to get disqualified because you skipped a step, or because you misread or misunderstood a question.

Make it personal:

There will be a variety of essay topics, because you will be applying to a lot of different scholarships. Sometimes the subject of the essay will be an interview type question such as; "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?", or "Describe why you want a degree in business." Other times the essays will be regarding a particular subject, event, or even a book. Remember when you are writing that the scholarship committee is wanting you to write a specific essay, but that essay should tell about you. Do whatever you can, regardless of the essay topic, to make sure that you explain how the topic influences you, affects you, or alters your perspective.

Don'ts:

Write a generic essay for several different scholarships

Applying for scholarships can be time consuming, but if you cut corners you are wasting your time. Remember that in order to win the scholarship, you are going to have to show your best. You'll have to prove that you have something different and original to put forward. They are taking the time to review every scholarship application, and they will show appreciation for applicants that give time and attention to their submission.

Send in an unedited essay

Essays with spelling and grammar errors will likely not move forward. Make sure you have read your essay through, checked spelling and grammar. It's recommended that you have someone else also read through and edit your essay.

Just because you don't have the best grades in the world does not mean you don't deserve scholarship money. Many scholarships understand this. They are just waiting for someone like you to set themselves apart from the crowd and prove that they are willing to follow directions and work for the opportunity.