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What are scholarship essay judges usually looking for, aside from good grammar and syntax?

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When someone is applying for a scholarship that includes an essay, how do the judges usually choose the winner? Obviously it will vary based on the topic, but what makes up a good scholarship essay?

#scholarship #scholarships #scholarship-essay #college-essay

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4 answers

Lindsey’s Answer

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Hi MaryAnn,

I'm sorry your question still hasn't been answered. While we work on getting you more advice, I thought I'd share my two cents:)

What scholarship judges are looking for depends on the grant or scholarship you're applying for. In most cases, the prompts you're given and things you're asked to do to apply are unique to the organization hosting the giveaway. No matter what, though:


  • Be authentic. Show them who you are and what you stand for by telling stories about where you come from, what you're most passionate about, and what you've learned along the way.. they'll be the most compelling!
  • Goes without saying, but follow *all* the criteria, pay close attention to the requirements!
  • Have a couple well crafted stories thought through and written down- chances are you'll use them in some capacity in a lot of applications.
  • Start sourcing opportunities you see early. Make an ongoing list of scholarships throughout the year (most have application windows with deadlines, so mark your calendar accordingly) and apply when the time comes.

Lindsey recommends the following next steps:

  • Read this article and find others like it to get more of an idea about what these folks are looking for: https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2013/01/31/4-ways-to-make-your-scholarship-essay-stand-out
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Sheila’s Answer

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Hi MaryAnn: First, you want to ensure that your application impresses the scholarship committee. Fastweb.com has a very good article on "how essays are judged". Here's the link to the site: https://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships/articles/how-scholarships-are-judged-an-inside-look

Judges look for different things on essays; so start early practicing writing them (ie, during the summer or breaks). I'd suggest that you keep a file on the types of questions you are answering just in case the same question shows up again on another scholarship.

When writing and applying to scholarships you want to take your time and not rush the process. So make sure you have dedicated time allotted when you apply to them.

I wish you well on your journey.

Best of Luck to You!

Sheila recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out Fastweb.com site - - https://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships/articles/how-scholarships-are-judged-an-inside-look
  • Practice responding to essay questions by researching the following sites - - 1) Fastweb.com (Sample Essay Questions) - - https://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/sample-essay-questions-for-college-apps 2) Princetonreview.com - - https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/application-essay-topics
  • Keep a log/spreadsheet/journal of your essay questions so you could identify similar questions. This will save you time as you've already prepared an answer for the question
  • Keep good tracking logs
  • Bookmark the sites identified in my comments and any new sites you find during your research
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KRISTY’s Answer

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Good question!  Write your essays with detail (who, what, when, where, why, how).  What sets you apart from other applicants?  Focus on your strengths.  Do you volunteer?  Quantify where possible.  For example,  I volunteered weekly with Boy Scouts Troop 123 in Town, Ohio for the last two years as their Troop Secretary.  My responsibilities include...  I raised $2000 by organizing a pancake breakfast fundraiser on MM/DD/YYYY.  The Boy Scouts Troop used the funds to send four scouts to summer camp! 

Lastly, ask someone else to proof read the essay for you.  Preferably someone objective who will point out gaps/missing details and provide honest feedback.  

I hope this helps you!  Best wishes!

       

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Karen’s Answer

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Having read many scholarship essays recently, I looked for creative writing (simply using interesting words) and creative content. For example, if your essay is about how you served meals to the homeless, write about why you chose this group of people and try to include comments from those you served. Make it a personal story rather than an essay.

Short paragraphs can make it easy to read and an impressive ending will make the judges remember what you said.

With every good wish!

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