Scholarship Essay Traps to Avoid

You know scholarship essays that are written at the last minute always sound like they were written at the last minute. Its proven that every piece of writing improves with time and constant revision. Even so,  It is very common for students to spend some time on an essay and end up discarding it for another topic. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s all part of the process. Review the deadlines and allow yourself ample time to work on essays and let them sit so you can come back to them with fresh eyes.

Inviting too Many Editors

While we do not advise that students keep their essays entirely to themselves, however make sure you are not inviting too many people with divergent opinions to read through your essay and provide feedback.  It is important to have other people read and comment on your work. This should happen in two phases – both in the early idea stage and again as a final proofread to catch those pesky little proofreading errors that can be hard to spot yourself. While it is important to have other people read your work, it can also be stifling if you invite too many highly opinionated people to offer opinions. It can be difficult and discouraging if too many people try to insert their ideas. Choose your readers carefully and keep the numbers down.

Getting Carried Away with Recycling

It is true there can be overlap in essay topics between different colleges and scholarships. It is good to look for common themes and find ways to make one strong essay work for more than one purpose. There are limits to repurposing, though. Seeking to cut down on the drive-by applicants who just throw in applications with no real interest in the school, some colleges ask much more specific essays that require more careful writing. Try not to push the bounds of recycling in these situations because it will be obvious, particularly if you make the classic mistake of including the wrong college name in your essay.

Diminishing Returns

Assemble a realistic college list that includes both schools that you have a good chance to be admitted to and can afford, but also that you have time to really put good effort into the application. Make sure you prioritize your applications and put the most effort into the schools where you have a realistic chance at admissions. Some students will getting excited about questions from a school with slim admissions odds, and then shortchange the application to a more realistic chance school that might offer a good scholarship. Try to get a sense of the overall number of essays you need to write before you start and only put in the number of applications you can do a good job on.


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