HOW TO WRITE A WINNING SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY AS A NIGERIAN STUDENT
Most scholarship applications will require that you present an essay. Very few scholarship programs are based solely on application forms and transcripts.
The essay is almost the most important part of the application, it gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and your dedication to your goals. You need to make sure that your scholarship essay is the best it can possibly be.
You need to read the instructions thoroughly and make you completely understand them before you start writing.
Follow these steps to write a winning scholarship essay
1. Identify your audience
Every scholarship provider is looking for a unique student who meets certain criteria.
When you get the scholarship application, look closely at the questions and do some detailed research on the organization giving the scholarship. As with any written undertaking, one of the first things you need to think about in writing a scholarship essay is who you are writing for.
Understanding your audience is fundamental to writing a winning scholarship essay. Find out the who and who is on the committee and their background.
Are they educated non – specialists or are they academic PhD holders in your specific academic sub – fields?
Do they represent universities?
A scholarship committee from Amnesty International will have a different agenda from a committee overseen by the PTDF.
Is the scholarship offered by an organization committed to fighting climate change?
Is it promoting traditional values among today’s youths or is it one involved mainly in promoting education?
Written communication simply cannot take place in a vacuum. Your reason for writing the essay is for someone to read it and get informed through that medium. Scholarship essay should be written such that reviewers can easily relate with it. It should also be tailored to suit them and what they want to see.
2. Pay attention to the introduction
A strong introduction is key to nailing a winning scholarship essay. Once you understand your audience and have identified the guiding light of your question. You will next have to start crafting the essay.
This is usually the biggest hurdle in the writing process and is as a matter of fact a very powerful weapon. Even your very first line has the potential to set you apart from the crowd. It’s the most effective way to signal to the essay reviewer right away that you’ve come to rescue them from the monotony of reading a lot of indistinguishable essays.
They want to see you have a fresh take on the topic which they will surely enjoy going through
Here are some introduction lines you should never use:
Don’t state the obvious: “I am writing to express my interest in and qualifications for the World Health Organization Scholarship Awards”
The reader already knows why you have written the essay, using such lines can squash your chances of winning that scholarship. More so, consider the fact that dozens of other essays might take that same form.
Another introductory line you should avoid is this: “I will first discuss my motivations. Then my qualifications and finally what this scholarship would mean to me, personally and professionally
In the last step, you “answered” the question for yourself and now you’re answering it for the reader.
Tell, don’t show
The introduction should comprise a few concise sentences that establish and also frame an argument that you will support with the rest of your write-up. The introduction is not the place for details of how you will spend your weekends, teaching children and volunteering at some adult education center.
What it should tell is that your extensive background in volunteering with the economically disadvantaged persons in your society has given you the appropriate mindset to tackle a social problem that the grant will fund.
3. Your message
Now, think about what you are going to write and organise your thoughts before you start writing. Read the instructions and make sure that you understand them. Then you can begin the process by writing an outline.
Make sure that your outline touches every aspect required by the instructions.
A good understanding of your audience and a strong introduction are important prerequisites to a good scholarship essay but they are not enough to give you the money. It’s ultimately the content of your essay that matters.
What you say and how you say it that will determine your success. The body of your essay is not the place to narrate your CV or show off your broad vocabulary skill.
Be clear and concise.
A centerpiece of your writing strategy should be finding the shortest, most direct and logical route to convey your message and ideas.
4. Make it personal/passionate
When you start writing, keep in mind that the main purpose of your essay is to convince the scholarship provider that you are the students they’ve been looking for.
Don’t just mention that you work with the economically disadvantaged in the community.
Say how your love for the economically disadvantaged got you into teaching poor kids and the elderly in the community.
Answer the questions that you have set out in your outline but when you do, make sure that every point is illustrated with a specific detail that shows you care about the subject.
5. Follow instructions
When writing your scholarship essay, make sure you pay attention to every detail.
Nothing turns a scholarship essay reader off faster than an essay that “almost” but not totally applies to the competition guidelines.
Do not write under the limit. Don’t write too much over the limit. Just stick to what is required of you and give them what they want.
6. Have a point
Make sure that your essay write-up has one unified theory or statement of thesis. This should be the centerpiece of your essay.
Your thesis should represent a one – statement answer to the question.
For example; If you are asked;” describe a time in your life where you demonstrated courage?”
Your thesis could come in this form; “A time in my life I demonstrated courage was when I rescued an old woman from an armed robbery attack”
7. Review and Edit
The final phase for your essay writing is revising and editing your work. You can do this by reading aloud to help you identify awkward sentence structures and unnatural phrasings that should be edited or removed.
Next, you need to either find or contract a professional to edit and proofread your work.
To access professionals to proofread your essay; you may send an email to email@example.com