One of the best gifts you can give your future self is scholarship money in the bank to put toward your tuition bill. In terms of return on investment, pursuing scholarships is one of the best decisions you can make. 

Imagine winning a $3,000 scholarship. How many hours would you need to work a minimum wage job in Oregon to earn the same amount after taxes are accounted for? 250 hours. We aren't saying you should forgo a job in high school. Balancing school, a job, volunteering and extracurriculars is actually a great way to stand out. 

But what can make you really stand out is an amazing, captivating, purpose-filled scholarship essay. We're going to show you how to write one that may just help you be selected as a scholarship winner... with far less than 250 hours of effort.

Ready? Let's get started.

1.) Time management matters. 

You can't rush a good scholarship essay. You're better off skipping a rushed application if it means you can plan ahead for the next one.

2.) Be concise! 

The selection panel chose their essay prompt for a reason, so stick to it. Give the panel the opportunity to get to know you, but always through the lens of the prompt. Check to see if there's a word count, knowing that more words doesn't necessarily mean a better essay.

3.) Capture your readers with a personal connection right away.

It's okay to spend some time explaining who you are. Tell a story to build trust and unlock a window into your life.

4.) Briefly research the scholarship organization. 

A quick scan of their About Us, Mission and Vision pages tells you a lot of what they care about. Use aspects of your own life that align with the organization to help you stand out of the crowd.

5.) Show how your personal experiences are fueling your academic and career pursuits.

You should only pursue scholarships that you can relate to personally or are in a field you want to study. It's better to write fewer, well-rounded, and thoughtful essays in more niche categories than it is to rush the essay process in hopes of sending out as many scholarship applications as possible. Quality over quantity! 

6.) Show how your personal experiences have prepared you for success already. 

How have you demonstrated resilience? In what ways have you been proactive to pursue something you care about?

7.) The grand finale matters! 

Make sure the last paragraph of your essay confidently states why you are the very best person for this scholarship. 

8.) The work isn't over when the writing is done; the editing begins!

Find a trusted friend or advisor (or two) to read over your scholarship essay and offer suggestions, ask questions, and critique your grammar. No one comes to mind? Check with a favorite teacher or your school counselor.

As Ernest Hemingway said, "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." Once you write that sentence, the rest of your scholarship essay will follow. You can do this! Good luck!

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