OU’s Centralized Academic Scholarship Hub (CASH) is open from October 1st until February 1st every academic year. If you are a current OU student pursuing a degree on the Norman campus, this is the place to complete OU-specific scholarship applications for your future school years.
A major component of these applications involves writing essays — answering questions about yourself, your career and life plans, your financial circumstances, and who you are as an OU student.
But how do you write a good scholarship essay? Here are some tips to keep in mind!
First, remember that your essays will be read by real people. Every student has a unique and important experience they can write about in an application essay. The reviewers who are reading your essays want to learn about you: your goals, what kind of person you want to be, or what brought you to OU. If you are completing financial need-based scholarship applications, make sure you show how a potential scholarship is critical to your financial plan.
These are all things reviewers want to know. Seriously!
Don’t just copy and paste your answers from previous essays or from templates you found online. Spending time to create a thoughtful, well-written response to each prompt indicates that you have put intentional and clear thought into your career goals and life plans. This means that the person reading your application can gain a better sense of who you are and why you are applying for scholarships.
And the more specific you are, the better. Maybe a lot of applicants are part of student organizations, but you’re the only one who is part of the OU Afrobeatz Dance Club or the OU Lettuce Club. This is what makes you unique — put it in there!
Second, make sure that you read the prompts carefully and answer them to your fullest ability. A good rule of thumb is to write closer to the maximum word count. This allows space for details and thoughtfulness.
If the prompt has questions, make sure you understand what it is asking and how you would like to craft your essay to answer them. It is likely that there will be more than one question with each prompt, so read carefully — outline your answers, if needed, to help you cover all your bases!
Third, take your time. It sounds simple, but slowing down and spending time on each portion of your essay ensures that you are not only sharing a story you want to tell but telling a story – your story – that needs to be told. Make sure to start your essays early in the open application period so you aren’t rushing to write your essays at the last moment.
Slowing down also means there is less of a chance of spelling, grammar, or comprehension issues that might make your essay unclear or difficult to understand. But there might still be a few, so after finishing your first draft, set your essay to the side, take a break, and return to it later with fresh eyes – this may offer some necessary clarity.
If you feel stuck or want another opinion on your application, the OU Writing Center offers free resources to help, including online writing consultations and writing guides. Even though it might take extra time, use your resources and make sure you polish your essays until they shine!
There is no single right way to complete your scholarship essays but taking the time to figure out what you want to say, and how you want to say it, are important in crafting answers to your application prompts. Log into CASH to check out your scholarship applications today.