How to Write A Great Essay for Your Scholarship Application
There are hundreds of different scholarships you can apply for to receive financial assistance for college or post-secondary school. Most scholarship applications have some sort of essay portion where, if done right, you can really make your application stand out against the rest.
The NRAEF’s scholarship application for students, military service members and individuals pursuing a restaurant or hospitality related degree is open now through March 15. As you’re filling out your application, use these tips below to make sure your application is the best it can be.
Tip 1: Brainstorm your essay topics
Before you begin writing your application essays or long-form answers, take some time to read through the application and think about what you want to say. Make a list of ideas, stories, or experiences you could write about. Take some time to revisit this list and get input from family and friends who know you well and know what you are passionate about. Once you have a good idea of what you want to write about, it’s time to draft your responses. When you’re ready to begin writing your essay answers, use your list of ideas to develop an outline. Consider drafting your responses in a word document that you can go back and edit before typing or pasting them into the application form.
Tip 2: Keep your answers concise, honest and from the heart
It’s a good practice to start your essay responses with a brief introduction and then reference the main points you want to cover. Using your outline as a guide, continue to write your essay, adding detail as you go along to support each point you want to make. For example, if the first point you’d like to make is that you value teamwork, can you follow that with a story or example that helps show the reader exactly what you mean? Maybe you can talk about a school project where working together as a group was important. Or write about a problem you solved at work by working with fellow coworkers. Supporting your ideas with strong details and imagery will leave a more lasting impression on the reader. It will also help them get a better understanding of who you are and what you are passionate about. This is also a great opportunity to show some emotion or vulnerability – can you talk about a challenging experience, or when something didn’t go as planned, but you came out learning something valuable? The scholarship judging committee will not only appreciate your honesty but will be impressed with your ability to be open and show some self-awareness. An extra tip – keep the tone positive and inspirational when possible.
Tip 3: Double check the prompt
Once you’ve finished writing your responses, reread your answers and make any necessary edits. Check for proper spelling and grammar – though spelling errors or typos might not disqualify you from receiving a scholarship, these can be unnecessary distractions for the scholarship judges. You want them to focus on how amazing you are and what you’ve accomplished – not a misspelled word. This is also a good time to reread the prompt and make sure you covered everything in the question in your answer. If you’re unsure about a part of your essay, ask a trusted friend or parent to read your answers and see what they think. An extra set of eyes never hurts.
Tip 4: Submit!
Once you’ve edited your responses and double checked your work, submit your answers in the application form or online portal. Once you submit, make sure you received a confirmation email or message that your application was submitted. Add that same email sender to your email contacts so you don’t miss any correspondence from them over the next few months. Check their website for details on when you are expected to hear back about the scholarship application. And finally, congratulate yourself on a job well done!
Check out these other great resources for more tips on applying for scholarships:
- Tips to Avoid Common Scholarship Pitfalls – U.S. News & World Report
- Scholarship Basics and Tips – U.S. Department of Education
- Scholarships & Financial Aid for LGBTQ Students – Learn How to Become
- Applying for Scholarship and Grants – UnitedNegro CollegeFund (UNCF)
The NRAEF gives out nearly $1M in scholarships each year to students pursuing a post-secondary degree in restaurant, foodservice or hospitality-related field.
Submit your applications before the March 15 deadline – apply here.
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