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scholarship essays

How to Mess Up a Scholarship Essay

How to Mess Up a Scholarship Essay

Oh no, you spelled that word wrong! It happens all the time but mistakes like these and others can cost you free money aka scholarships. You wouldn’t want to miss out on $2,500 because you typed an “L” instead of a “Z” right? Well here are some common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

Fulfill the Criteria

Make sure you read the scholarship application description and follow the guidelines. If the scholarship asks you to write about a time where you overcame a struggle, don’t write about how your aunt’s cat is the most adorable cat. Be careful with copying and pasting other scholarship essays that you wrote - this could be a huge blunder if you replace it with the wrong topic. If the scholarship application says there is a maximum of 500 words, keep it to 500 words. Unfortunately, you won’t get any extra credit here for going over the word count.


We mentioned it briefly in the introduction but this is a very easy way to mess up your scholarship essay. One or multiple misspelled words show the scholarship reviewers that you didn’t take the time to proofread. If you’re competing against others for scholarship money, taking the time to proofread shows that you actually care about getting the scholarship. We suggest getting a second pair of eyes on your scholarship essays to check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, run-on sentences, and more.

Stay Humble

Although scholarship essays ask you to talk about yourself, they are no place to brag and boast. In acknowledging your accomplishments you should always carry a strong sense of humility. Scholarship reviewers are here to help support you and it helps if you have stories that reflect on how others in your community have helped you to achieve your goals. We’re all in this together and it’s hard to want to stamp ‘won’ on essays where people think they’ve got it all figured out themselves.

Stay Hungry

If you’ve experienced hardship in your life and your scholarship essays ask you to write about that, make sure that you write in stride. Try to tell your story in a frame that doesn’t sound like you’re complaining about your situation. How people write about their experiences can be very telling about how they deal with those experiences and reviewers of scholarships want to ensure that the individuals they’re supporting will use their resources to continue growing to advance themselves out of their situation.


4 Reasons to Apply for Scholarships During the Spring

4 Reasons to Apply for Scholarships During the Spring

Spring is here and while you are enjoying Spring Break, or preparing for Spring semester, it’s important to start looking into all the scholarships that are opening up to either help you pay for the rest of school year, your summer term, or next year. Here are a few reasons why you should be applying for scholarships during the Spring.

  1. New Scholarship Season: When March hits, a new wave of scholarships open up for students to apply for. Since students are only a few months away from having to make their college decision, it’s important to apply for as many of these awards as possible in order to be able pay the tuition bill when it comes.
  2. FASFA: By March, you should have submitted your FASFA (if you need to) in order to see what financial aid and grants you are eligible for. This only helps add to the funds you need and even if you don’t think you qualify, it’s super easy to apply and you never know what you could get.
  3. Recycle Essays: At this point, you have likely applied for a good number of scholarships so far. So a good tip would be to start seeing if any of the Spring scholarships you qualify for have similar essay prompts as scholarships you have applied for in the past. This allows you to reuse your essays and apply for several scholarships at once, saving you a ton of time during the process.
  4. Timing: A lot of scholarships that open in the Spring are awarded during the summer so while you are waiting to pick what school you are going to attend, it’s best to line up and time when things will be awarded so you can hedge your bets.

Spring is a time of great weather and lots of fun, but also full of scholarship opportunities waiting to be applied for. Go get ‘em!

Why haven't you heard back?

Why haven't you heard back?

So you applied for a scholarship and haven't heard back. I know the feeling, and it's not a great one. Here is why you may not have heard back from the scholarship you applied for ...

The Deadline: Sometimes the reason you haven't heard back from a scholarship is because you may have submitted your scholarship application before the deadline. The organization may not have started reviewing applications yet. Some students think they should hear back from scholarship organizations right away, but do your sanity a favor and wait until after the deadline has passed to expect a response.

Lots of Applicants: More often than not, scholarships get a ton of applications. These applications are usually reviewed by only a handful of people, the kind of people that want to take their time to review each application before choosing the right candidate to receive the scholarship. This process takes their time, and your patience.

Supplemental Materials:  You have to make sure to read the fine print of each scholarship to make sure they didn’t ask for something like your FASFA, a photo, an extra essay, or something else that you may need in order to complete your application. If your application is incomplete for any reason it might delay the process, or worse, make you ineligible.

Check the scholarship website: Check the scholarship website at the beginning or end of each month to see if they posted about the winners. Sometimes, scholarships may not let every applicant know a decision, so be sure to see if they announced winners without telling you.

Maybe you didn’t win: We have all been a position where we wanted something, but it went to someone else. When I won $1.3 million in scholarships, I didn’t win every scholarship, but applied for so many that I won enough to cover my education. You don’t have to win everything, but just keep working hard until you get something.

Also, if you are in high school and haven't received any scholarships yet, make sure you use Scholly to find scholarships when you enter college. There is still time, and a lot of money out there. You just have to find it, and Scholly helps you do that!

Chris Gray's Five Tips on Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

Chris Gray's Five Tips on Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

Winning scholarships isn't easy, trust me I know! But I did it, and so can you. I'll be dropping some hints right here on our blog from time to time, suggesting ways to shift the odds in your favor. Below are five quick tips for writing your scholarship essays that I hope you find valuable... and don't forget to use Scholly to match you with the scholarships that fit you perfectly!

  1. KEEP IT CONCISE: Unless a scholarship application tells you so, keep your essays around 500 words. The general rule here is that you want to get your message across in the most effective and efficient way possible, without boring the reader. 
  2. TELL A STORY: Try to avoid the “I’m awesome” essay, where you just go down a list of everything you have accomplished, reciting your resume (that they already saw in another part of your application.) Remember, the essays are sometimes the only way scholarship committees will be able to “meet” you. So, rather than giving them a laundry list of accolades, focus on a role or experience you had and tell that story. Let your character be shown throughout the essay. 
  3. BE CREATIVE: Be different. I know some students who have answered the “Tell me about yourself” sort of essay prompts with a poem about themselves, or even a drawing! Be mindful that you are taking a risk by doing this, but the point is to think about ways to be memorable and stand out from the pile of essays the organizations have to read.
  4. DON'T BE REDUNDANT: Once you finish an entire scholarship application, the scholarship organization has a pretty good view of who you are. So, use every essay to show them something different. As I said earlier, do not use your essays to essentially repeat your resume. Use the opportunity as a time show them another side of you.
  5. PROOFREAD EVERYTHING: Make sure you proofread your essays for grammar, and make sure they portray you in the way you want to be seen. Also, get the opinions of others, especially your English teachers. Let them take a look and maybe they will give you another perspective or spot mistakes you may not have seen.