Scholarships and bursaries abound in South Africa. Many local and international institutions continue to offer scholarships and give eager students various learning opportunities. Even government offices like the Provincial Treasury use them to provide better access to tertiary education—especially sponsoring students interested in economics, accounting, and financial career paths.

Despite the abundance of scholarships, competition remains high since many students want to learn. That’s why it’s important to do your best during the application process. One part that you may struggle with is writing your essay, as it’s one of your main opportunities to stand out from the other applicants.

With that said, here are some tips to ace your scholarship application essay to the university of your choice:

Cater to your audience

University scholarship committees have certain standards for potential candidates. These requirements and qualifications are usually included in the application or essay brief, so it’s crucial to fit your essay’s contents into these.

For instance, if the scholarship involves a research grant—such as Rhodes University’s Hugh le May Fellowship—it implies that the committee is looking for students with excellent research skills. Thus, highlight your abilities by these standards to make an impression on the committee. However, be careful not to excessively cater to their expectations, as you’ll want to showcase your other achievements and talents. Instead, create a balance by including what they want to see in your essay and adding personal anecdotes.

Use other essays for reference

Application essays can be tricky to write, particularly if this is your first time doing so. Fortunately, there’s no harm in using other essays as a reference to help you structure and word your own—as long as you don’t plagiarise them.

For this, you can use a dedicated note-sharing platform that features essays from students. Studocu hosts over 20 million study resources, including essays written by students from top institutions like the University of Cape Town, Central University of Technology, and Damelin. That means you’re likely to find works from the same university you’re applying to, and you’ll get a better idea of what its scholarship committees look for. If you’re aiming for a particular programme or course, you can even search for essays under a specific course category to see how and what students usually write. You can use all this information to create a clearer roadmap for writing your scholarship essay.

Mention real-life events

Apart from catering to the scholarship committee’s interests and using references to write your essay, it’s important to add a personal touch to your writing to stand out and boost your success. An easy way to do this is by mentioning real-life experiences related to the scholarship.

If the scholarship is focused on granting opportunities for mathematically-skilled students, for example, share your achievements in the subject. Perhaps you’ve represented your school in a maths competition, became president of a maths club, or volunteered as a maths tutor. Your personal and academic experiences related to the scholarship grant are worth mentioning because it shows your passion for learning.

Maintain perfect spelling and grammar

Only the best applicants are granted scholarships. As such, you must pay attention to detail in your essay to show that you produce high-quality work. Besides writing excellent content, you must check your grammar and spelling through multiple rounds of proofreading.

You can also use a language-checking tool on your computer to spot mistakes and make suggestions. Grammarly checks your spelling and grammar and makes recommendations to improve the wording and structure of your essay. Recently, it introduced a new feature where you can write your main points in bullet form so that AI can suggest how to turn them into paragraphs with proper flow. Using a language tool, you can correct small mistakes that could impact your scholarship application.

Scholarship application essays can be daunting to write. With proper preparation, writing references, and tools, you can ace your essay for a chance to study at the university of your choice. For more articles, read our other posts here at AfrikPage.