8.25.2008

College Scholarship Workshop: Application Essay

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
                       -- Albert Einstein


The first day of part four focused on application documentation/information. The other main component of the application: the essay.  

The essay is arguably the simple most important part of the entire scholarship application.The essay differentiates you from other applicants. How do you make sure that your essay gets to the top of the pile? Be strategic. Be focused. 

Step One: Read the Question


Read the question or prompt. Give yourself time away from the paper and computer to think about the question in an unstructured way. 


Review Sample Scholarship Essay Questions:

http://www.fastweb.com/fastweb/resources/articles/index/101142


Step Two: Review Essay Requirements


Create a document that lists the requirements for each essay. When you are working on a particular essay, keep this document close by to reference. 


It should include:


-> Length of Essay

-> Specific questions to address

-> Specific topics to emphasize

-> Specific theme 

-> Overall purpose of essay


Step Three: Brainstorm


Before you begin to organize each essay and structure your response, brainstorm! That means step back from the ruled paper and jot down all your thoughts related to the essay. For most writers in general, brainstorming is the most valuable part of the writing process. 


Great article on How to Brainstorm: http://www.wikihow.com/Brainstorm

Another more detailed article on Brainstorming: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/brainstorming.html


What does brainstorming look like?

Here are a couple examples (one found on Google Images and one found on Flickr) -- there is no “right” way to brainstorm. Take out a piece of paper and just write -- however you like! 


 


[Image found on Google Images]


[image found on flickr - belongs to sougwen]


Step Four: Outline/Create Structure


There are many types of outlines that one can use for writing the scholarship essay. The purpose of this outline is to keep you focused while writing so that you don’t go off point and remember to meet all of the requirements. 


Please visit the Duke University Writing Studio for incredible resources to help you create the structure needed for a great essay: http://uwp.duke.edu/wstudio/resources/drafting.html


Step Five: Write Rough Draft


Use your outline and begin filling in the different sections. Your first draft should be a starting point. It doesn’t need to have perfect grammar. Writing a rough draft should reduce your anxiety because you know it’s not the final product. 


Great overview of the Scholarship Writing Process:

http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/financialaid/scholarship/essays.php


Step Six: Finalize the Essay


Work on your essay until you get to your final draft. It make take you 10 drafts -- that’s okay! Ask friends and family to give you feedback. It always helps to have fresh eyes look at the essay. And then when you have that final draft in your hand, check the requirements. Make sure that your essay meets everything that is required. 


Take it step by step and your essay will be golden!


---> Quick Tips from Whitney Ahneman, CCC Scholarship Director

  1. Give the reader insight into your personality and interests.  Include them and maybe use them to tell a story about yourself.  And trust me, we like getting a feel for who you are!
  2. Use the questions asked to show your values as a person.  How you feel about certain topics or how you react to certain words or situations will tell us a lot about you as a person.
  3. Please don’t list accomplishments.  Talk about various activities that have grabbed your attention and how they have become a part of your life.  You can be honest and proud of accomplishments but listing things you’ve worked on doesn’t show any passion.  Remember, we have a copy of your resume.
  4. The tone of your essay will come through based on the topic, your feelings, and your words.  There is no one right tone for an essay but it is the part of the essay that leaves a lasting impression so make sure it is a reflection of yourself.
  5. Proof read!  Typos happen, we realize that, but try to look over your essays so it doesn’t happen to you.

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