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Essay Tips Part I: Outline

In honor of the New Year and the multitude of new scholarship applications available (including ours), the first “Application Tip” is based on everyone’s favorite section: the essay. While the essay gets a bad reputation for being arduous and time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be the most dreaded part. Instead, think of the essay as your chance to share your story and give the readers the opportunity to see how a scholarship would help you achieve your educational and professional goals.

The essay for the American Indian College Fund’s application, like many others, requires you to discuss three elements: an obstacle that you have overcome in order to get to where you are now, your educational goals and how this scholarship will help you achieve those, and how your education will help your Native community.

A great way to start is to create an outline of your thoughts and initial answers to each question. It does not need to look perfect, but it will allow your brain to start thinking about these questions and how they relate to each other. An outline helps to organize and plan the essay and also ensures that each part of the essay question is answered.

Here are two sample outlines to help get you started:

1. A Visual Outline for those who prefer to see the outline as part of the big picture.

2. A Textual Outline for those who prefer a more linear approach.

Whichever outline you choose, remember that they are not meant to be exhaustive.They are designed to help you organize your thoughts and begin planning for writing a great essay. There is no right or wrong answer for the essay, but it is very important that you address each of the three questions.

As always, don't forget to check your grammar and spelling!