Scholarship Tips from All the Wisdom and None of the Junk: Avoid these Common Essay Mistakes

Scholarship Tips from All the Wisdom and None of the Junk: Avoid these Common Essay Mistakes

Over the years we have read thousands upon thousands of scholarship essays. And yet despite that massive amount, the types of mistakes we see tend to fall into similar categories.

Generally speaking, effective essays are emotionally honest and give insight into who the applicant is as a person. They illustrate genuine motivation and goals, rather than superficial or heavy-handed interest in issues or accomplishments that students THINK we want them to care about.

Boiled down, here are the most common essay mistakes we see:

  1. The essay reiterates the resume or transcript. Don’t fill your valuable essay space with information that can easily be found in other parts of your application.
  2. Students write more about another person than themselves. Many essay prompts will ask about a person you admire or who has influenced you. Even though you’re talking about someone else, make sure that you and what you’ve learned from the other person are the focus of your personal essay.
  3. Students write more about the issue than themselves. Again, some essay prompts will ask you to write about an issue or you may simply want to do so because it matters to you. Although you’re passionate about it, don’t make the mistake of writing more about the issue than about why it’s important to you.
  4. The essay is more about what happened than its significance. Don’t build up the tension with a great story that never ties back to its effect on you as a person.
  5. The student writes about challenges but doesn’t illustrate growth. Challenges and obstacles can be some of the most compelling elements of college or scholarship applications — that is, if applicants are able to demonstrate how they’ve overcome their circumstances and grown as a result.

For deeper insight into this tip and other secrets of applying for college admission and scholarships, check out our new book All the Wisdom and None of the Junk. It gives students inside information – but only what they truly need to create exceptional college and scholarship applications. Learn more.

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