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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Top 5 Scholarship Essay Mistakes to Avoid

1. Waiting to the last minute: Deadlines really light a fire under most people, but in order to do your best, start writing early!  Nothing is worse than sending out your application materials and then thinking of a great way of saying something better two days later.  Also!  Write when you are on vacation, the weekend, or other times when deadlines and demands on your time are at a minimum.
2. Not researching who/what you are writing for or about: Don't fall into the cookie cutter mentality!  While the bottom line is getting money for school, each application is to be approached appropriately.  Take your time to get to know your audience.  You know you can tell when someone is recycling, they can too!  Moreover, follow directions to the "T".  If they call for 12pt TNR font, and 1" margins, do it without question!
3. Blah Writing: The scholarship committees don't want to read dry, sterile drivel and incidentally, you don't want to sound this way, especially since you are talking about your favorite topic: You!
Be creative!  Use an original opening and ending that comes from the heart - your heart! not someone else's!
4. Using slang, and abbreviations: Your scholarship essay may require you to write only 300 words.  This does not mean that you use abbreviations that should be reserved for the cellular device!  Avoid slang at all costs, however, some colloquialisms are OK, but only in extreme moderation, maybe once per 300 words.  Be professional not texty!  For example, "through" is not spelled "thru", and "espc" is not an acceptable replacement for "especially"!  IMHO...
5. Spell check and grammar check are not enough: 
Will you please read your essay carefully before printing it or sending it out?  Spell and grammar check are good for picking up glaringly obvious errors, but leave plenty behind.  They are not perfect and may never be completely perfect. It doesn't pick up on the fact that you said, "amazing" three times in your essay, so proof it yourself before letting Dr. Grammar Check at the patient.  Have a friend read it over, or if your best friend is a rock, then try your school's writing center.