College offers unprecedented opportunities to grow academically and professionally as you sprint towards your dream career, but unlike the student discounts you receive at the stores in your college town, college is not cheap. That’s why many students choose to find scholarships to help them pay for school.
While scholarships are often overlooked by prospective college students, those who do apply face staunch competition with one another in the application process. If you plan on maximizing your talents and money by applying for a scholarship this year, you will need to make yourself stand out.
To ensure your scholarship essay has a leg up on other applicants, follow these crucial steps:
Explicitly Follow All Guidelines
Almost every entity who offers scholarships will include guidelines for applicants to adhere to in their essays. While it is easy to justify straying from the guidelines just a little bit in your application, don’t be a rebel!
Fox Pest Control offers an annual scholarship that gives students four rules for their essay submission. The first guideline states:
Submit a 400-800 word essay explaining a philanthropic project that you organized or participated in after January 1, 2019. If you received this scholarship in the past, you must apply with an essay about a different project.
When writing your essay about the life-changing service project you organized in March of 2019 (not 2017 or 2018), you might be tempted to write 900 words as you share all about the project you are so passionate about. While passion is a critical component of your essay application — as we will discuss in the next step — so is the word limit.
What too many applicants don’t realize is that scholarship graders often utilize a rubric. In the case of the Fox Pest Control Scholarship, that rubric may consider whether the applicant stayed within the desired word limit.
So when you go to write your essay, remember that the rules count! You absolutely can — and will — write an outstanding essay all while staying in the limits of guidelines as seemingly inconsequential as word count.
Write with Conviction
Do you remember hearing teachers ask you to show them and not tell them with your writing? If so, that was sound advice — especially for scholarship writing! This is your time to stand out and make readers feel what you want them to so you can be the lucky student that walks away with extra money for tuition and books.
Let’s say you are writing about a project you organized where you and other individuals organized meals for the homeless.
Instead of saying:
Every morning at 8 a.m., we delivered homemade pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit to 50 homeless individuals camped out on the street. It made me feel good to see them receive what they needed.
As we walked through the crowd of sullen and hunger-stricken individuals at 8 a.m. each morning, we watched their faces light up with hope and relief at the sight of homemade pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit. I will never forget the joy our morning trips afforded them.
Apply Your Lived Experience
It’s always better to write about something you have personal experience with than something you have only thought of or hoped for. Writing about action you have taken in your life shows dedication and motivation — attributes scholarship granters look for in potential recipients.
In 2021, Delia Cote applied for the first annual Fox Pest Control Scholarship and received $2,000. While volunteering for Hope for NH Recovery — a nonprofit that helps people with substance abuse issues in Manchester, New Hampshire recover — Delia and her father created what they called the Post-It Project. In an effort to make each person in recovery feel loved and appreciated, they purchased close to 600 post-it notes, wrote inspirational messages on them, and posted them over three walls in the organization. Delia wrote a separate note of instruction next to the display: “Take one or leave one.”
Delia wrote about direct action she took in her life. By doing this, she showed how she went the extra mile in her service project and fulfilled Fox’s scholarship prompt.
If you’re seeking scholarship opportunities,have a service-oriented project to share, and live or plan to attend college in Virginia, Illinois, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or Texas, consider applying for Fox Pest Control’s 2022 Scholarship. Remember to follow the steps above when writing your scholarship essay, whether for Fox’s scholarship or any others you choose to apply to.
Put your writing to the test, and apply for a scholarship today.