What Makes a Strong Scholarship Application?
When completing a scholarship application, many applicants are unsure of what exactly it is that will make their application stand out from the rest. “What makes a good applicant?” and “How can I improve my essays?” are common questions from those going through the application process.
A good applicant is not necessarily the individual with a 4.0 GPA. A student with a 4.0 GPA who has little involvement in other activities, whether it be a job, sports, extracurricular or volunteer activities, is not the strongest applicant. In contrast, a student with a 3.0 GPA, who has taken honors or advanced courses and been involved in extracurricular and/or volunteer activities, is a more competitive applicant. This individual is well rounded and demonstrates experiences that have contributed to his/her growth. Many scholarship programs, including HSF, seek applicants who have both a strong academic background and a range of activities to which they are dedicated.
A critical part of a scholarship application is the essay section. This portion asks a specific set of questions and is evaluated on your responses. Responses are scored according to length, content, and use of examples, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Let’s break down these parts of the essay:
Use the maximum number of words allowed for each essay. If you are permitted 600 words, attempt to write an essay that reaches that number of words. This will ensure that your response is concrete and provides good examples.
Make sure you answer the question that is asked. If you write a good essay but never answer the question, chances are that essay will receive a low score.
Use of Examples
Do not simply state what you did. Provide an example of an activity that directly contributed to that experience.
Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation
This is an area where students make the most errors, especially if they are completing the essay last minute and/or do not take the time to have anyone read their work.
Follow these steps to help write excellent essays and make your application stand out:
- Write a draft of the essay(s)
- Have a teacher, counselor or academic advisor review your essay(s)
- Edit the essay(s) using the suggestions made by your teacher, counselor or advisor
- Re-read the essay(s) to make sure they say what you want them to and thoroughly answer the questions
- Submit your essay(s) on time
If you follow these steps, you will improve your chances of earning a higher score and submitting an overall stronger application. Most importantly, do not be afraid to express yourself and share your experiences. The application is an opportunity to sell yourself and prove to the selection committee that you deserve the scholarship at hand.
Best of luck in the application process!