Last Update: March 12, 2021

5 Scholarship Essay Don’ts

I just wanted to follow up to my previous post, 5 Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay.  Over the last week I had to read numerous (52 applications in one night) scholarship applications in order to select the winners of this year’s Devon Rotary Scholarships.  Several egregious errors are still fresh in my mind, so I will share them with you to help you avoid making the same mistake.

Don’t Forget to Proofread the Essay.

 Remember, just because a word is spelled correctly, it doesn’t mean that it is the right word.  The best example for the applications I recently read, is that one student said he served his church as an “alter server”.  This mistake was picked up by all three members of the committee, as were several others.

Don’t Just Copy a Free Sample Scholarship Essay. 

While there are many sites that offer sample personal statements, college application essays, and scholarship essays, you should never copy them.  Look at them for ideas, but the best essay is one that is intensely personal and that only you could have written.

Don’t Write Just One Paragraph. 

Most organizations put considerable effort into raising the money that they give away, so they want to see that you have put some effort into your application.  We had several one paragraph essays, and one member of the committee automatically dismissed them from consideration.  We worked hard to be able to give this money away, so we don’t want to see a student who feels like they are entitled.  Scholarships are a reward, not a right.

Don’t Forget to Read the Instructions.

If a scholarship says applications are only accepted online, submit your application online.  If it requires financial aid information, make certain that you submit it.  We had several applications that were incomplete, so we did not consider them.

Don’t Be Disappointed if You Don’t Win. 

Unfortunately, times are tough, and there are more people than ever applying for scholarships.  If you don’t win, it isn’t personal, it is just a numbers game.  There are too many good applicants and not enough money.

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