One often-forgotten key to writing a winning scholarship essay

July 30, 2012

Scholarship essay prompts will ask you a variety of difficult questions, from the confusingly open-ended (“What is bravery?”) or exasperatingly difficult (“Sum yourself up in 500 words”) to the downright impossibly blunt (“Why do you deserve this scholarship?”). So how do you ace any and all of these prompts? There’s no true one word answer, but if there were it might be “honesty.”

Scholarship application readers are good at one thing above all else, sniffing out liars. Unearned boasting and dishonesty will get you as far as the actual content of your essay, so don't dig yourself a pit by staking claims you can't follow up on. But most students won't go out of their way to lie about false accomplishments on their applications anyway, so what's a more prevalent lie being told in scholarship essays throughout the country? Feigning passion.

It's pretty easy to pretend you're interested in something you're not. We do it often when speaking with people we care about, attempting to do them the favor of being a good audience. But passion is a much more difficult thing to fake. If you're applying for a scholarship in studying lepidoptery, you can only go on about your passion for butterflies so long before it becomes clear you're either citing Wikipedia or talking around the point.

This is why it's important to hunt down scholarships related to your interests. You can do so by searching online, checking in with your guidance counselor, talking with financial aid and admissions personnel at the college of your choice and a multitude of other options. If you have a passion for photography, pursue scholarships centered around that - more likely than not it won't require that you major in photography, just have a passion for it. Most importantly, you'll be able to use that passion to write on the topic with competence and honesty.

Nonetheless, you should feel free to apply for even the most esoteric scholarships. Not all are specialized by discipline or interest, and a good number will ask generic (if no less difficult) questions.

Applying for scholarships is one of the best ways to stay financially stable through college and minimize your loan debt. If you're looking for college scholarship opportunities, don't hesitate to start your search online now. It's only a click of the button away.

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