Depending on the particular scholarship you are applying for, the types of questions that you may be asked to answer can vary widely. There are certain questions, however, that are more common than others. One of those questions is ‘why do you deserve this scholarship’.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound as though it should be all that difficult a question to answer, but getting your all your thoughts on paper in a clear, concise way and stay within the parameters of the specifications can be a challenge.
For one thing, many young people find it hard to try to sell themselves, which is essentially what this question is asking you to do. It’s not just asking why YOU deserve the award, it’s asking why you deserve consideration over the other applicants. Trying to find a good answer to that question can often leave students struggling with self-doubt.
If you’ve done your homework ahead of time, and not only read the directions carefully but also done a little research about the group or organization you are approaching, you will find a little guidance in terms of what sorts of qualities the donors put the biggest emphasis on when considering potential recipients. Put that information to work for you.
Getting off to a powerful start
Open your discussion with a statement or thesis that will catch and hold the evaluation committee’s attention and make them want to keep reading.
A good way to begin answering this question is to give the committee your understanding of the evaluation criteria the donor has outlined, and why you think it’s being offered. Your opening should also include a brief summary of what you will be discussing in the bulk of your essay. Once you’ve gotten the committee’s attention you can quickly shift the focus to yourself and your achievements, and how they relate to the specific award you’re applying for.
Tell them why it should be you
You want to talk to the committee members about why you, in particular, are a great fit with what they’re hoping to accomplish by offering the funding opportunity. Instead of just talking about our traits, which are pretty general and difficult to demonstrate in a brief essay, give examples of things you’ve done.
If you’re applying for a scholarship being offered by a company involved in green technology, for example, talk about what made you develop an interest in environmental issues and things you have done in support of that interest. If the donor seems to be interested in students who are community-oriented you should use that as a prompt to talk about the volunteer work you’ve been involved in, and what it meant to you.
Do your best to express your passion and how it relates to the award you’re applying for, and don’t try to just pile up as many of your accomplishments as you can. Keep your points related to the topic and the specific scholarship you are trying to win.
It’s often very helpful to sit down before you actually begin your essay and create an outline of what you want to say and how you want to organize it. An outline will both help you stay on the points that you want to cover, instead of drifting off-topic and also not to accidentally leave something out that you particularly want to emphasize.
Tell them why it matters
In addition to telling the committee what you’re about, you should also talk a little about your goals for the future. Let them know how their help and your education fits into your future plans. Explain how their award is going to help you reach your future goals.
Does this sponsorship give you the opportunity to take on an internship that will give you valuable experience, instead of having to work? Does it give you the chance to be part of a demanding program at a first-rate institution that would otherwise be economically out of reach? Is it making it possible for you to study abroad and gain a cultural experience you would never otherwise have?
Wrap it up neatly
To close your essay, start by making another brief summary of the points that you made, tying them together in an orderly manner, relating it back to the topic, and make a solid conclusion. Express your thanks for the donor’s consideration as a candidate.
When you’ve finished your essay, read it over again to make sure that you’ve said everything you want to say, and to be certain it flows well. Check it for typographical errors, spelling issues, and punctuation. It doesn’t hurt to pass it to an editor, as well. Having a second pair of eyes go over it will help you catch any small mistakes, and they can give you feedback on sense, relevancy, and flow.
Things to keep in mind
There are usually guidelines set out in the instructions that dictate the specifics of how your essay should be approached, including issues of timing and, often, word count. Make certain that your essay is in compliance with the parameters that have been set out since failure to do so is often the fastest way to have your application passed over.
Since word count is often an issue, use your words wisely. Don’t use overly-flowery language, keep it simple, honest, and from the heart. Your essay should be in proper English but use your own voice. Don’t try to impress by using as many large words or as much jargon as you can cram in. Let yourself be yourself since the whole purpose of the essay is to convince the donors that they want to make an investment in you.