After evaluating these final drafts for the scholarship letter assignment, here are the top ten writing decisions I want to KILL:
1. KILL the "I feel," "I believe," and "I think" sentence starters because who cares?
2. KILL the preview sentence "There are many reasons why ...
a. I could use this scholarship
b. I deserve this scholarship
c. You should consider me for this scholarship
d. Any other phrase that reads like the three above because if you have so many reasons why you should have the scholarship, why not just pick - say, two or three, name them and write about the specific reasons that support them by using the rest of the scholarship letter to detail, explain, or illustrate (by example)?
3. KILL the "Let me tell you little about myself" and any sentence that sounds like you are putting off getting to the point
a. The audience for this type of writing expects you to tell them a little about yourself - SO - there is no need to tell them you are going to tell them about yourself
b. This kind of sentence wastes everyone's time
4. KILL the "It has always been my dream" because it is phooey-like junk talk
a. Instead approach your dream with confidence and name the DREAM! Don't turn your letter into a mystery, where the reader has no idea what your DREAM is about
b. Reconsider telling the scholarship committee that their scholarship will make the DREAM come true. They will not believe you. For most of the students I see in class, I don't believe that the average amount of a GRCC scholarship will make any of their DREAMS come true
c. Consider lower-casing the DREAM and tell the scholarship committee something concrete and real about why their scholarship will be useful for you at this point in your educational career
5. KILL the weak sentence - stop being weak! If you want to be a nurse, say so because sentences like, "One day I would like to be a nurse" are weak. This is money we are talking about - let the audience know you are definite about your educational plans and a career
a. NOTE: If you are not definite, be definite by letting your audience know you are currently exploring your educational options.
6. KILL the "pity-woe-is-me-hard-luck-I-aint-got-no-money story" in the scholarship letter.
a. How are you currently paying for your education?
b. Once you include how you are currently paying - you can explain how the scholarship can change your current payment circumstances
7. KILL the decision to ignore commenting on the kind of college student you are and your character. You need to include information about your academic behaviors in college not just high school - high school is over!
8. KILL the decision not to include information about your campus/community involvement, and time/life management struggles and skills. Talking about your community connection and ability to manage you time/responsibilities is probably a good idea
9. KILL these decisions: "Dear" is the only word you can use for the salutation line, or your name must be in the opening sentence/paragraph, or that "Sincerely" is the only word you can use for the closing line.
10. KILL the decision to ignore topic sentences, clear supporting sentences, and paragraph level transitions - these decisions are a must have for this genre of writing