3 Reasons to Ditch Essays as Part of your Scholarship Applications

If you got out of college in the past decade, you probably know that today’s generation is quite a lot different compared to millennials. Besides being more reliant on tech, they also have different values in life and as a result, different reasons for going into college.

However, scholarship applications ask today’s students for the same thing as they did 10 years ago – an essay. But is this really the best way to find out more about an applicant? Will it get more of today’s students to apply for your scholarship?

Probably not – let’s explain why.

It’s as outdated as it gets

Ever since scholarships were invented, essays were one of the cornerstone elements of every student application. The main point of an essay is to learn more about a student than their grades could tell. If you have two students with the same GPAs and similar achievements, the best way to decide who gets the scholarship is by letting them show more about themselves in the form of an essay.

It’s 2020 and we can do so much more than writing. In an era where everyone can grab a phone and record a video or an audio clip, writing an essay just seems outdated. After all, the generation of TikTok is all about videos, both recording and viewing them (on YouTube, in the form of webinars), so why force them to use a medium they’re not comfortable with?

Instead of an essay, ask your applicants to create a video, a slideshow presentation, an audio recording, or anything else that comes to mind. The closer you get to their preferred way of communication, the more applications you get.

It caters to students with a specific skillset

I’ve been writing for my entire career and I know that writing is a skill that needs to be taught. I also know some amazing and incredibly successful people who couldn’t write a few paragraphs to save their lives. The point is, writing is not something that we’re all good at, and it takes talent and skill to express yourself well in writing.

By forcing your students to write essays, you’re creating an obstacle for everyone who’s not used to using this format to express themselves. In other words, the scholarship you give out is more than likely going to go to the best writer and not the most deserving student.

While you could argue that the same holds true for other types of content (video, audio, images, etc.), these are the formats that today’s students have been exposed to their whole lives. As a result, you can expect them to do better with a video than an essay, for example.

It’s just time-consuming

The average scholarship essay is about 500 words, which takes 1.7 minutes to read. Okay, not bad. However, if you’re the one in charge of reading these scholarship essays, you know that you’ll more than likely have to read hundreds of essays. This translates to hours of tedious work that someone has to do. Also, you’re going to take more time than you would when reading a cake recipe, for example, since you’re deciding which student to help with a scholarship. Long story short, essays take hours to go through.

What to use instead

Don’t go for the convenience of using an essay as a scholarship application tool. Not only are you creating more work for yourself, but you’re also limiting your reach by giving students a platform that they’re not fully used to.

Instead of forcing them to write essays, use a modern scholarship application management platform. That way, you can choose from a variety of content formats. Images, videos, audio clips, slideshows, you name it. If it’s a file and it can be attached, you can use it as a criterion for student application.

Moreover, there is another great feature – your scholarship team can access the scholarship application in the cloud. This means that you and your team can collaborate on student applications and review the materials that your students send, no matter where you are.

Wrapping up

Essays have been around for a while and they’re still used today because we’re creatures of habit. If you truly want to help students show themselves at their best and get more eyeballs on your applications, ditch the essay format today. Instead, use a modern scholarship application program like ScholarshipOwl for business! Not only will your students love it, but it will save you a ton of time and money – since it’s completely free to use. Give it a try today!

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