Six Application Essay Mistakes

Scholarships – a college student’s best friend, one of the few things to actually mitigate the seemingly insurmountable amount of college tuition, the simplest way to reduce debt after college graduation.

Yes, scholarship applications are important, and sometimes it can be hard to find that extra motivation to apply for them, especially when you’re not even sure if you’ll get any money out of it.

Below are six common mistakes to avoid while writing a winning scholarship essay, from the US News & World Report.

1. Hurried writing: Sure it’s great if you can work quickly and well under pressure. But, there is no need for that with a scholarship essay. Start thinking of fresh concepts early; seek help from a writing tutor, parent or English teacher, leaving plenty of time for polishing up your essay. Consider writing it over the summer when you’ll have more free time away from school.

2. Ignoring your audience: Scholarships can be funded by various organizations, some professional, some creative and some a little quirky. Try to ascertain the personality of the organization that is funding your potential scholarship and write appropriately for it. Check out the organization’s website and look specifically for its vision statement, history and programs. Then, write your essay correspondingly.

3. Choosing a plain topic: Topics such as something interesting about me, or what my favorite class is and why have been done before. Try something new, something original that speaks to your personality. Write about your favorite pen or compare yourself to Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon or any one of Saturn’s moons. Try to stand out, increasing your chances of getting that scholarship.

4. Boring, uncreative writing: Imagine reading hundreds, thousands of scholarship essays. It probably gets pretty boring after a while. Try to be as creative as possible without losing clarity. Instead of writing, “MVP first basemen Joey Votto inspires me because we are similar,” write, “MVP first basemen Joey Votto and I are both left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing quietly aggressive men, never content with good, always pursuing excellence in every aspect. Motivation?  Please, the man absolutely inspires me to always be great.” Try to take every sentence you write one step further because that makes for a more interesting essay.

5. Colloquialisms: If your essay sounds anything like a text message, you’re doing it wrong. Write professionally. Use all those vocabulary words you learned in English class, helping your essay stand out and sound more intelligent.

6. Not paying attention to grammar: Run on sentences, fragments, blatant grammar errors are all the obvious signs that you’re rushing through your scholarship essays. These organizations will be looking to quickly eliminate applicants, and simple, careless grammar errors are a sure-fire way to get your essay thrown out. Allow yourself plenty of time to write, rewrite and edit it. A writing tutor or one of your English teachers could help you correct petty grammar errors, making your essay more polished and intelligent.