Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Seven C's of Successful Scholarship Or College Entrance Essays By Ben Carlsen

Getting that scholarship or "acing" that college entrance essay will change your life. However, writing a scholarship or college admission essay can be a traumatic and difficult experience or a challenging and fulfilling one. Here are seven tips which will help you be successful.


Writing a winning essay is not all that difficult, but it does take time. Like anything, getting started is the toughest part. As in Toastmasters speeches, you're "Breaking the Ice," by introducing yourself to your audience. In this case your audience is readers not listeners so you will have to be even more creative. You won't have the advantage of eye contact, expressions and gestures. So you must make yourself stand out on paper!

THE 7 C's

Based on experience conducting Scholarship Workshops for graduating high school students, I developed a model to help participants focus on the essentials of the essay process. There are 7 C's to remember and practice in your essay preparation and development. These are: Conformance, Competence, Completeness, Clarity, Construction, Content, and Convincing. Your essay, in order to stand out from the others will need to include these:

1) CONFORMANCE - Of course you want your essay to reflect your individuality, but you must abide by the rules. This means precisely following the requirements and guidelines provided on the application form. Typical requirements include: minimum and/or maximum number of words, format, font size, margins, double or single spacing, etc.

2) COMPETENCE - You must demonstrate you're capable of doing college level work. Your essay will provide the reviewers with evidence of your writing ability, creativity, and thought processes. It will be substantial evidence of your ability to perform at an acceptable or superior level.

3) CLARITY - Thoughts, premises, ideas, positions, and so forth, must be clearly expressed. Ambiguity or confusion must not be demonstrated. Rather, it is clear thinking, and logic which will be rewarded. Be sure to say exactly what you mean, and make certain it will be understood.

4) CONSTRUCTION - The essay should observe all conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. One simple mistake may disqualify you, or at least cast suspicion on your abilities. Be sure to proofread, revise, and correct your essay before submitting it. "Spell check" will not catch grammar errors, incorrect terminology, or even some spelling errors. So use it, but don't rely on it. After your thorough proofreading, ask trusted friends, family or colleagues help you identify and correct errors.

5) CONTENT - Essays should follow the standard protocol of: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. Remember, the body is only supportive or explanatory. Extraneous facts, opinions or positions have no place in your final product. Your content should be substantive.

6) COMPLETENESS - Be certain to include everything of critical importance. Aside from completeness of facts and information make certain that you have not missed key elements that will assist the reader in following your "story." Again, have trusted friends, family or colleagues critically review your writing and make recommendations.

7) CONVINCING - Your paper should be convincing. It should reflect you; your goals passions and uniqueness. You will need an "angle" something that will grab the reader's attention, and make them interested in finding out more. One important consideration is to develop a great introduction, and a great closing. Your essay will stand out from the pack and gain favorable consideration if you are able to accomplish this.

The memorable introduction and closing are a must. Sometimes it's difficult to express your passion, excitement or other strong emotion on paper. Remember, your essay is akin to painting a picture - a picture that will capture the observer's attention, interest, and emotions and convince him of your sincerity.


Now get started. And, make it exceptional. You deserve that scholarship or entrance to that college. And now you have the tools to make it happen.

Ben A. Carlsen, Ed.D, MBA, is an experienced CEO and manager. Dr. Carlsen has over 30 years experience in management, consulting, and teaching. Currently the Head of the Business Department at Everest Institute, Hialeah, FL., he was Chairman of the Los Angeles County Productivity Managers Network and President of the Association for Systems Management (So. Calif. Chapter). Additional information can be obtained at

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