1. Make a list of desired scholarships with essays.
Whether through websites such as scholarships.com or recommendations from your high school counselor, the first step in scholarship essay contests is locating them. Look for contest topics that you have a strong connection to. Love history? Great. There are a number of essay contests on that topic.
2. Read rules carefully.
Disregarding rules such as length or attributing sources can eliminate you from a competition, even if you write the world's best essay. Compile a one-page note sheet with details you can refer to when you're writing. This helpful sheet could include rules you need to follow such as length, topic, and sources mentioned. It will also include anything you learned from reading previous winners.
3. Read the essays of former winners.
Take notes on commonalities among former winners’ essays. Did they use personal stories, historical facts, or sourced information? Note: You can find commonalities even if topics vary. For instance, you could use a personal story to talk about weight loss or student loans. They’re entirely different topics, but personal experience helps make your thoughts relevant to the reader.
4. Pick a subject you understand for your essay.
Don’t duplicate a past winner’s essay subject. Let's say the contest is always about the person you most admire. The last winner wrote about a fireman. So don't write about a fireman! The judges want to know who you are via the qualities you admire in others. Your essay topic or person should have a unique story to tell.
5. Use a second set of eyes.
It’s always important to have someone else read your work. This will help ensure your thoughts are translating to the page. Another person’s viewpoint will help you refine your copy. Plus, your reader may catch grammar mistakes you've missed.
Check out 6 Tips for Winning Scholarships for more ways to earn scholarship money.