Why an Essay?

A scholarship application does not always require an essay. Sometimes the unique element that distinguishes competitors from one another is something more specific to the sponsor’s purpose. For instance, The Gallery Collection, a company that produces holiday cards, holds an annual “Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest.” To enter, all an applicant is required to do is submit some basic information and an original design for the front of a greeting card. A scholarship awarded to future green scientists might ask that each hopeful recipient conduct and document a project related to environmental conservation. You get the point.

In the majority of cases, the sponsoring organization wants to learn more about you through a written essay. Why is this? You might be tempted to answer, “Because it’s quick and easy, duh!” Not so much. It takes time and energy for a panel of judges to read and evaluate a few thousand essays, even if they are 500 words or less! The real answer is that scholarship sponsors, whether from academic institutions or simply your local Lions Club, understand that communication is important. Wherever your life happens to meander, you will encounter numerous situations where the ability to clearly express your ideas, desires and expectations can save your butt! Clear, concise writing may easily be the key to your future success in life.

“Forget that!” you might say. “I’m going to be a physical therapist; I’ll never need to write.” Not true. Everybody writes! You plan to go to college, don’t you? Do you think your scholarship essay will be the last one you’re asked to compose? Of course not, but let’s take a look beyond your college application essay, your assignments for English 101 and, potentially, your graduate dissertation. Will you ever need to communicate through writing in real life? Unless you suddenly fall into a coma, the answer is yes. You were probably right when you complained to your Algebra teacher that you would NEVER have a reason to solve a trigonometric equation once you left her class, but using words to accomplish your goals is a process that occurs on a day-to-day basis. A physical therapist, for example, may need to type up a list of instructions to explain what his patient needs to do at home to care for a dislocated kneecap. If the benched football player gets confused by your unclear writing and makes his injury worse, it could be curtains for his team that season and no business for you the next season when the same athlete tears a tendon.

Even an agoraphobic living in his grandma’s basement, who never talks face-to-face with anyone, can bene t from well-honed essay writing skills. He might purchase a piece of unstable software through an online vender that crashes his whole computer system. Once the man’s PC is up and running again, he will probably want to ask for a refund. Do you think the company will respond to an e-mail reading, “You suck. I want my money back!”? Not likely. The unfortunate loner is more apt to have his PayPal account credited if he presents his argument more effectively, by using the same structure and style you will find in a scholarship essay:

  •  Introduction = I’m not satisfied with the quality of your product.
  •  Thesis Statement = I want a refund.
  •  Body = List of examples and evidence of why the product doesn’t work.
  •  Conclusion = Here is the action I will take if you refuse to refund my money.

Even if you never win a scholarship and even if you give up on your dream of attending college, an ability to communicate effectively with others will serve you well in life. Scholarship committees and educators know this, which is why the essay has become such a staple of academic learning. Just think of the revolution we could have in the area of male/female relationships if all men were practiced at expressing their thoughts and feelings, and if all women could learn to stay on topic and get to the point!

Okay, enough about the future. Developing good writing skills will benefit you on life‘s journey. Blah, blah, blah. Sure it will, but you need to produce a winning essay RIGHT NOW to collect your share of scholarship awards – so check back soon for more tips on writing the essay that will blow those committees away!

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