iStock_000004647415XSmallMoney. It’s all about money. The admissions process is no exception, as the cost of higher education has continued to skyrocket in recent years. The price tag of a B.S., M.A., or Ph.D. has not only increased in the Ivy League and other esteemed private institutions, but also at less-competitive public schools. Tuition at many popular state and public schools, such as the University of Michigan and University of California institutions, can cost in excess of $10,000 per year for residents, while the total cost of attendance (including room, board, and supplies) can exceed $20,000. If you’re applying to one of those institutions and lack residency, you’ll likely pay nearly double those amounts. 

As a result, for many prospective students, earning admission to such a school is really only half the battle; the other half is figuring out how you’re going to pay for everything. Many schools offer generous financial aid packages to help defray their daunting costs. Other possibilities include low-interest student loans and private scholarships. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at this last option, as an essay can often play a vital role in helping you secure scholarship funds.

There are countless scholarships available, from ones recognizing general academic or athletic excellence to ones that award being tall or a fan of Ayn Rand. Many scholarships, including those for tall students and Ayn Rand buffs, require students to write an essay. If you want a great way to search through a huge number of scholarship options (1.5 million options from 5,000 providers totaling roughly $10 billion in available awards), check out the Peterson’s Scholarship Search tool. It can be an extremely effective way to identify scholarships that fit your unique abilities and situation.

When you do find a scholarship that you think you have a shot at, don’t be surprised if it asks you to write an essay as part of the application process. That’s what we’re here to help with. So now, using the tried-and-true bullet-point format, let’s go through three important points to consider when writing a scholarship essay.

  • Carefully analyze the prompt or directions. Scholarship essays can take countless forms. Some ask you to talk about yourself, while others want you to respond to a specific question or scenario. Some even ask you to read a book or other work and comment on it. It’s imperative that you pay close attention to the prompt and craft an essay that applies to that specific topic.
  • Consider yourself a commodity or business; why should someone invest in you? The individuals who read these essays will be deciding whether you deserve a financial award. If applicable to the prompt, focus on showcasing why you’re worth the money. What have you done in your life so far that demonstrates you are a good investment? How will the scholarship enable you to achieve your plans for the future?
  • Stand out from the crowd. Everyone knows that the admissions process is fiercely competitive, with top schools boasting admit rates around 10%. Scholarships are even pickier, though. Consider that hundreds and thousands of students apply for almost every scholarship out there. If you’re competing for one $1,000 scholarship and even 99 other students apply for it, you only have a 1% chance of earning it. Showing that you’re in the top 10% won’t cut it; you need to convince the reader(s) that you’re one who deserves the money. Thus, originality can pay off in scholarship essays even more than it does in admissions essays.

EssayEdge can help with your scholarship essay – our editors understand that securing money to pay for school is just as important as earning admission. We’ll help you ensure your essay is as good as it can be.