This blog post originally appeared on How to WIN Scholarships in May 2015. 

College scholarship tip: Know the organization

One of the biggest obstacles stopping students from applying for college scholarships is writing the essay.  Learning how to write a strong, memorable essay is a important step in the scholarship process. This tip will help students write a more meaningful essay that gets the attention of the judges and brings them closer to winning money for college.

Scholarship essay is the heart of the application - Monica Matthews

Scholarship essay subjects and writing prompts vary for each organization offering scholarship money to students. Some are very specific, requesting the student to write in detail about a certain subject or answer a provided question. Others give students a list of questions to answer and the student is able to pick which one he or she wants to write about. I’ve even seen scholarship applications asking students to submit an essay that they have written for another scholarship or school assignment. No matter what the essay subject (or lack of) is, students always need to research the organization offering the scholarship money and learn about their ideals, beliefs, and supported causes. (This information is often found in the “About” or “Mission” page of the sponsoring website.) With these in mind, they can write about their own strengths, unique qualities, and what they believe sets them apart from the other applicants. Scholarship judges appreciate and recognize students who show leadership and have overcome obstacles in their lives.

The scholarship essay is the heart of the application and a chance for students to shine and impress the judges. Writing about real situations with honest emotions is a great way to become more than just a name on a scholarship application and a huge part of winning college scholarship money.  Once students have written a few great essays, they can use them again for other scholarship applications, making minor adjustments, if necessary. (Read more about recycling college scholarship essays here.)

Monica Matthews Bio Photo

Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regards to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process. You can find more scholarship tips from Monica on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.