Scholarship essays need careful review
I have encouraged both of my children to apply for as many scholarships as they are/were able to. I’ve also made it clear that since every scholarship has the potential to be won by them to put more then an ounce of effort into the applications essay process. As a High School English teacher I have seen more then my share of VERY bad application essays over the years. I also have to admit that I’ve coached both of my kids on the proper plan of attack for the application portion of their particular scholarship(s).
That plan includes:
- reading the essay question in its entirety before launching an all-out pen attack
- writing a rough draft and having that draft edited
- writing another draft and proofreading for typos, grammar errors
- writing a final draft which also needs to be proofed making sure the core of the question has been answered with substance and not just emotional or vague statements.
With that done, the scholarship application may now be sent.
Sounds like the ideal plan doesn’t it? However, there are other variables that might come into play. For instance my son insists he has no time to write different essays for each scholarship he has copied off the Internet or received from the counseling center. In fact he said the other night, “Why can’t I just use the same essay over and over again and just tweak it to fit the essay question from a particular application?” Hmm! My son just might be a politician upon graduation. “You can’t,” I explain, “because each and every essay section on each and every scholarship will not lend itself to be tweaked!”
I know my argument is true because I have had numerous conversations with college reps and community service leaders who visit our school, and I make it a point, since I am an English teacher, to ask what makes a good essay application? More times than not they respond, “students get lazy when they’re filling out scholarship after scholarship. They let their guard down and start writing from a point of view that doesn’t pertain to the sponsorship’s question. Often they think that one essay will be applicable to the next – it’s not! Students need to take each scholarship application personally, as if this opportunity was specifically designed for them.”
“Because I said so!” will probably not work as a response to my son’s question about tweaking the essay. The response from those who sponsor such competitions should.