I have been reviewing scholarship essays and I would like to address three common errors I have observed in most essays that could prevent you from being selected for a scholarship.
- Spelling and grammatical errors: Your essays should be 100% free from grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Common mistakes I have seen are acronym errors, wrong use of capital letters, using present tense instead of past tense. All these can cost you that scholarship because scholarship panels interpret such mistakes to be an indicator that you do not pay attention to details and you are not thorough. Avoid this by proofreading your essays multiple times, also install Grammarly on your Microsoft Word to help you identify these errors.
Avoid using long complex sentences in your essays, it makes it difficult for the reader to understand your point. I have seen a sentence occupy 5-7 lines with unnecessary commas and semicolons, please the shorter the sentence the better.
2. Generic and vague essays: For example, when you say things like “When I return, I will improve the health sector in my country” or “I will reduce poverty among the population.” This is very generic, what specifically about that sector do you want to improve? You cannot tackle all the problems in your sector, pick one or two major problems and give a specific plan of how you will contribute to its solution. Ensure you read research articles on the issues you have identified so you can get ideas on how to develop and implement effective practical interventions. Being specific in your essay shows the reader that you have a sense of direction and know exactly what you want to achieve.
3. Using ‘big’ words: I see this a lot in essays that I review and it hits me like deja vu each time because I used to write like that. I remember submitting my first essay during my Masters degree and the feedback from my tutor was to use words that are easily understood. I know we Africans (Nigerians in particular) like to speak ‘big English’ to sound smart but please, it is best to use simple words in your essay. You want the scholarship panel to grasp your message in a swift read, and not cracking their brains trying to figure out what you mean.
Important tip: Do not exceed the word limit for your essay.
I hope this helps, please share this post with someone who needs it. If you will like me to review your essay or personal statement, contact me for a paid service.
All the best and ‘see’ you next week.