What's Your Question?
15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
Do Your Research
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
MORE FROM QUESTIONSANSWERED.NET
- Partner with Us
How to Write a Scholarship Essay and Win BIG [2022 Edition]
With a new school year here, now’s the perfect time to get serious about searching for and winning scholarships to pay for college!
Since many applications for scholarships require an essay, you’ll want to know how to write one that persuades the scholarship program board that you’re the right person to receive the money available!
If done right, your scholarship essay is a window into your world. Similar to your personal statement for college applications, these essays should give the readers a sense of you as a dimensional person—beyond what your high school GPA and test scores alone can reflect.
At Scholly, we’ve collectively written and read TONS of scholarship essays. And, in this post, we’re sharing our favorite tips and strategies to help you write winning scholarship essays and drastically improve your chances of graduating debt free !
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll cover:
- 18 tips for writing a winning essay for scholarship applications
- 10 things to leave out of your scholarship essays
- An outline to help you format your essay
- 3 winning scholarship essay examples
Feel free to jump ahead to the section that interests you most or follow along as we begin with…
18 Tips for Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay
#1 adhere to the principles of writing any strong essay.
Like any other essay you write for school, you’ll want to format your scholarship essays in a way that makes it easy for the reader to consume and digest the content. In other words, a winning essay will have a good “flow.”
Here are some effective essay writing skills that will help you develop an effective scholarship essay format:
- Have a strong opening sentence to the essay, sometimes called a “hook.” This is a great overview of types of essay hooks , but remember, stay true to your own voice and tone (more on this later).
For example, you may want to come out of the gates strong with a snapshot of where you see yourself in 10 years, after getting the education of your dreams: “Diving deep into the mysterious reaches of the ocean daily may not be everyone’s central goal in life, but I can’t wait to search for and protect endangered aquatic life for a living.”
- Stick to the tried-and-true introduction, body, and conclusion structure. Even if the essay prompt seems relatively loose, you’ll want your essay to have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
- Start new paragraphs for new ideas. It’s MUCH better to have more short paragraphs than whopping paragraphs that are hard to read!
- Make sure to wrap up your essay neatly and don’t just dead-end it. You can round it out, for example, with a declaration of why you wish to pursue post secondary education: “Ultimately, I want to be a strong role model for other young women who may have been afraid to use their voices.” You may not have time for a whole conclusion paragraph, but a quick “bow” on the end is nice.
And because sometimes the hardest part is starting when writing a scholarships essay or personal statement, here’s a video that will give you some ideas on how to write an intriguing first line:
#2 Familiarize yourself with the essay prompt… and stick to it!
Read the prompt several times and be totally clear about what it’s asking. Many scholarship programs have similar themes for the essay prompts, such as how you’ve demonstrated leadership qualities or how greater financial freedom will impact your life as a college student.
If the prompt doesn’t seem to have a question in it (e.g. “Reflect on the state of the environment and your role in helping it”) then we highly recommend that you re-frame the essay prompt as a question. So for example, ask yourself: “What is the overall state of the world’s natural environment and how am I directly impacting it?”
And it may sound obvious, but do NOT deviate from the prompt. Your ability to address a highly specific topic is part of what scholarship committees will assess. It can be easy for your thoughts to meander, but stick directly to the prompt.
#3 Choose a topic that you genuinely enjoy
You’ll want to stick to the essay prompt. But in some cases, you may have some freedom to choose the topic, or at least the central focus. Write about a subject, event, or value that means something to you. You’ll produce better work and come across more authentically if you care about what you’re writing. This goes a long way in improving your scholarship essays without creating more hard work for yourself.
Here’s what we mean. Let’s say a prompt asks you to describe a time that you were proud of yourself. Several instances may come to mind. Maybe it was when you dove off the high diving board the first time. Or maybe it was when you returned a wallet you found with $100 inside.
Don’t choose which instance you think the scholarship essay readers want to hear . Choose the one that feels most resonant to you . It may sound cheesy, but when you write earnestly from the heart, your writing will be much stronger.
#4 Do a little research on the scholarship provider
Who is the company or organization running the scholarship program? Read up a bit about them on their website’s home page. Get familiar with their mission and their motivation for giving this scholarship. When you’re better informed about the scholarship committee, you’re better able to tailor your essay to them.
Many scholarship providers also feature previous scholarship winners on their website, sometimes with the essay (or an excerpt from it) that won. Study what the scholarship provider says about those previous winners to get an idea of which of your qualities to highlight in your essay.
#5 Know the word/character limit
Most scholarship essays have a word or character limit for your essay. If you’re not used to being mindful of these parameters, it can be hard to gauge what “250 words” actually looks like. As a rule of thumb, 250 words is equivalent to one typed page, double-spaced. (And therefore 500 words = 2 typed, double-spaced pages, and so on).
We suggest that you take an essay of yours (or any piece of written work, really) and run a word/character count on it so that you can get a feel for various lengths. Microsoft Word and Google Docs have functions for this, but you can also use a letter counter like this one .
Once you know the word or character length, stick to it! If you have to write a 500 word essay , don’t write 501 words. You can be disqualified for going over. And while you don’t necessarily have to write an essay that hits the limit, it’s a good rule of thumb to come as close as possible.
#6 Brainstorm and plan
We can’t stress this one enough. The entire essay writing process will go much more smoothly if you have a road map for where you’re going. The very first step is to get some organic ideas circulating so that you end up choosing an essay focus that makes the most sense for you. Here are some awesome essay brainstorming techniques .
After you have a clear sense of your essay’s focus, you can begin to outline. Some students like to skip the outline. But an outline actually makes the drafting process much faster. That’s why we’ve shared an essay outline you can use later in this post!
Depending on the length and depth of the essay, you can even just lay out the details you’ll want to include in your introduction, body, and conclusion. It can be as simple as that, but you don’t want to skip the planning process.
#7 Appeal to ethos, pathos, and logos
Uh, what-os? If you haven’t learned about ethos, pathos, and logos yet, let’s give you a quick primer. Ethos, pathos, and logos are modes of persuading your reader. In other words, they’re techniques to make your work more powerful and convincing.
Here is a great overview of ethos, pathos, and logos , but in short, here’s what each refers to:
Ethos = how you establish your own credibility, reliability, or authority on the subject matter (hint: you’ll be relying largely on your own life experiences in your scholarship essays).
For example, you might discuss how your experience working a part-time job has influenced your thoughts on minimum wage laws.
Pathos = how you use emotional appeal (including creativity, imagination, etc.) to tell your story or make your case.
For example, you might paint a picture of all of the wildlife lost in massive brush fires.
Logos = how you use logic or ration to convey your point.
For example, you may use statistics to convey how reliant high school students are on their cell phones.
Here’s a graphic that breaks down ethos, pathos, and logos clearly:
Basically, in the ideal essay, you’ll use all three types of support to make your essay as earnest and persuasive as possible.
#8 Be honest
Your life and experiences are interesting and important! You do not need to embellish or make up details to try to seem more deserving of the scholarship money. Nothing is more powerful than your authenticity. And trust us, it’s much easier for readers to spot baloney in an essay than you may think.
Here’s a simple example. If you’re a tutor, you may be inclined to say something a bit dramatic, like, “over the last 4 years, I’ve had the privilege of helping shape thousands of lives.”
Hmmm…have you really tutored thousands of students? Likely not—you’re busy! We get it. It’s easy to embellish.
Instead, you could say something to the effect of: “After 4 years of tutoring nearly 150 individuals in math and science, I feel my own math and material science skills have improved substantially.”
Trust us—your unexaggerated accomplishments are impressive!
#9 Show, don’t tell
This is the cardinal rule for creative writing. Try to paint a vivid picture for your reader instead of just explaining everything. For example, don’t just say that you’re stressed out by juggling work and high school. Illustrate what that stress looks like in your life. (Are you pulling all-nighters and pounding coffee? Doing homework on your breaks between work, school activities, and community service?) Create a picture, and provide specific, believable examples.
Here’s an example of something you might write if you’re asked to discuss a challenge you’ve faced:
Instead of saying “In middle school, I tore my ACL playing ice hockey,” you can be more vivid.
Try something like: “It was like an anvil had smashed down on my knee. In searing pain, I laid on the ice as the crowd fell silent. Something was very wrong.”
Notice how we immediately FEEL the impact of the injury in the latter example!
Here’s a video from Reedsy that shares some more creative writing tips to help you do more showing than telling when you start writing your scholarships essays:
#10 Be specific and concise
While we encourage you to be evocative in your language, we also want to stress that you should get to the point. Typically, the simplest, most direct word choices are the most effective. Avoid generalizations in favor of specific examples. Likewise, avoid flowery language in favor of more succinct sentences.
Let’s demonstrate. The following sentiment feels overly general and wordy:
“I love nature because nature is beautiful. Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like to do in nature. Really, it’s been my favorite place to be since a young age and any activity that involves being outside is just good for my soul.”
This rewrite expresses the same idea in a much more succinct way:
“Whether I’m hiking, wading in the ocean, or planting seasonal flowers in the garden, I am rejuvenated by being in nature.”
#11 Use exclamation points sparingly
We all know that exclamation marks indicate excitement! Right?!
Truthfully, we love exclamation points! And while winning financial aid in the form of scholarships IS very exciting, too many exclamation marks can be overkill.
So as a rule of thumb, don’t use more than a couple of exclamation marks throughout your scholarship essay. Also make sure they’re appropriate to the prompt. We’ve seen some pretty creative scholarship essay prompts in our day (like one that asks to share a funny story or joke). In this case, you can use exclamation marks more freely.
Many people falsely believe that an exclamation mark will make a sentence more powerful. But the truth is, empowering statements pack a punch without one.
For example, “I’m looking forward to becoming a lawyer as a means of creating a more just and egalitarian world” is a powerful statement. You don’t need to throw an exclamation point on the end to make it more resonant.
#12 Emphasize your resilience
Scholarship prompts often ask you about a hardship you’ve overcome. We love this type of question because it gives the reader a chance to understand a student’s resilience and ability to problem solve. These characteristics are huge on a scholarship essay.
The mistake many students make on this question is to write 100% about the hardships they’ve faced without acknowledging or discussing how they overcame them. Essay readers are not simply looking for the hardest story when selecting a winner, but rather a complete narrative that includes how the student has worked to overcome the challenge.
In addition, we recommend focusing on a central event or experience — which tends to read as more powerful, especially when faced with a word or character limit. You may have faced several hardships in your life, but your essay will be more focused if you choose one that you’ve overcome.
#13 Be professional… but also be yourself
While you’ll want to avoid swearing and overly colloquial or conversational language, you DO want to be yourself. That means writing in your own voice and tone. So long as you keep it professional, readers want you to sound like YOU. You don’t have to write a stuffy essay for it to be good! Keep it clean and clear, but also keep it real!
Here’s a great piece on the difference between voice and tone , and how you can improve your writing skills to stand out.
#14 Sell yourself… but also be humble
Is this the definition of a humble brag? Maybe. Your scholarship essay is a great place to share your accomplishments. But don’t just list all of your best qualities and accomplishments as a rationale for why you deserve the scholarship award. It’s important to strike a fine balance.
For example, the following sounds a bit like a brag “pile on:”
“As a straight-A student who is always the first to get the answers in my classes, the captain of my debate team, and a proud volunteer at the homeless shelter, I truly believe I deserve this scholarship.”
Instead, you can simply say something like, “The discipline I bring to my academics and volunteer work reflects how hard I intend to work in my college courses, and I would be grateful for the financial assistance to attend.”
#15 Be brief with your “thank you”
Your character, dedication, and integrity should come through naturally in your writing. You don’t need to add a long-winded “Thank you for reading this essay” paragraph at the end of your essay.
Most scholarship essays are fairly short, so avoid bloating your essay with gratitude and praise for the opportunity. Use your character and words allotments to answer the prompt thoroughly instead!
If you have space, a brief thank you is thoughtful and appropriate. But you’ll want to be as succinct as possible. For example, at the very end of your essay, you can simply say something like, “Thank you for this opportunity and for taking the time to read this essay.” Bam. Polite but to the point.
If you can’t fit your thanks in the essay due to the word count, you can also wait to write a thank you letter after you’ve received the scholarship.
#16 Pause, proofread, and revise
The author Robert Graves said, “There’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting,” and it’s true; nothing comes out perfect the first time. So revise, revise, revise!
In the revision process, we’re HUGE fans of taking breaks. Walk away from your work to clear your mind and then come back to it. You’ll see your essay with fresh eyes which will help you take it to the next level.
If you feel comfortable doing so, it’s also a good idea to hand off your work to someone else for feedback. Choose a trusted teacher, peer, or friend, and be open to their suggestions for improvement.
#17 Give yourself enough time
Like any written assignment, you’ll want to give yourself enough time to think about the prompt, plan, draft, and revise. A well-planned essay has a much higher chance of winning than one you crank out last minute.
We recommend giving yourself at least 2 weeks before the deadline of an essay to brainstorm, draft, and revise your essay. Ideally, you should leave a couple of days between each of these stages of the essay writing process. This break will help you avoid essay writing burnout. It’ll also give you a better chance to edit errors, typos, and places for improvement.
#18 Reuse your scholarships essays
Sometimes you don’t even need to write a new scholarship essay. If the essay prompts and directions are nearly identical between one scholarship application and another, you can reuse the essay. If you’re a high school senior, you might even be able to reuse the personal statement you write for college applications. And this will save you a ton of time!
For example, let’s say one scholarship asks you to write an essay addressing a prompt that says something like “Why should you receive this scholarship?” and another gives you a prompt like “Why do you deserve this scholarship?”. Your answer to both prompts is probably going to be the same, right?
Write the essay for one application. Then, reuse and adapt that same essay to fit the word count, directions, etc. of the second application.
Just make sure of one thing: if you mention the scholarship provider’s name (e.g. Coca Cola Foundation) in your essay, remember to change the name when reusing the essay for another scholarship application!
10 Things to Leave Out of Your Scholarship Essay
Now that you have a sense of how to attack your scholarship essay, let’s take a look at what to leave out of it.
Keep in mind that these rules aren’t written in stone, of course, but they’re guidelines that will help you write the most unique and compelling scholarship essay possible.
Okay, so here’s what you’ll typically want to avoid…
#1 Inspirational quotes
Who doesn’t love an inspirational quote?! We sure do. Whether you find them scrolling Instagram or keep them tacked up above your desk, a great quote can be super empowering. But when it comes to scholarship essays, it’s better to leave them out.
DON’T drop in famous quotes, many of which are overused. For example: “Mahatma Gandhi said to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ which is why I’m applying for this scholarship award. I want to attend college so I can become a nurse and change the world.”
Here’s the thing: wanting to be a nurse is incredibly admirable in its own right! It doesn’t have to be attached to anyone else’s sweeping statements about life or humanity. This essay is about you , so famous quotes are just a distraction.
DO include meaningful advice or wisdom you’ve received directly from the important people in your life. This is much more personal and will provide a unique account of who you are and what you’re all about.
For example: “My mother, a registered nurse for 20 years, has always encouraged me to help care for others as a means of making the world a better place. This is why I’m planning to follow in her footsteps and go to nursing school.”
#2 Overly general phrases and platitudes
The name of the game for winning scholarships is standing out from the mix. This means you don’t want to say the exact same thing as hundreds of other applicants.
Platitudes are common, overly simplified statements that people use all the time. For example, “Good things come to those who wait.” These are okay phrases to say, but refrain from using them in your scholarship essays to avoid sounding like every other high school student.
DON’T discuss the scholarship opportunity in platitudes like, “It would mean the world to me to win this money” or “Winning this scholarship would be life-changing.” These statements may be true, but they don’t really tell us much about you.
DO illustrate specifically how things will change if you win the scholarship money. For example, “This scholarship award would enable me to have only one part-time job instead of two, providing me more time to focus on my college courses.”
#3 Cliche stories or themes
Many scholarship essay prompts ask you to discuss how winning a scholarship would impact you. And this is often where cliches creep in.
Cliches are phrases, stories, or themes that are overused to the point that they lose their power and meaning. And they’ll definitely weaken your scholarship essay.
The most common example of a cliche theme in scholarship essays is the “Cinderella” or “underdog” storyline (think: Cinderella getting her glass slipper, only the scholarship is the glass slipper). Many cliches involve a person who, with a little help, turns it all around and prevails.
In real life, we LOVE a Cinderella story as much as anyone. But you can imagine why this type of story ends up in scholarship essays a lot!
DON’T simply share a story about yourself that paints you as a down-on-your-luck student who could have it all if ONLY you won this scholarship money. Here’s what this might look like: “I’ve never really won anything in life: no contests, giveaways, or competitions. But if I win this scholarship and save money on college, I’ll be able to focus 100% on my academic performance and become the youngest Supreme Court Justice in American history.”
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about dreaming BIG! But when it comes to scholarship essays, we want to help you to avoid falling into cliche narratives that dampen the power of your story and hurt your chances of winning.
DO be realistic and specific when talking about yourself, your background, your career goals, your leadership qualities, and your aspirations. Focus on one primary goal that you’ll be better able to attain if you win the scholarship money. For example: “As a Spanish double major, I would love the opportunity to study abroad as an international student in Madrid to immerse myself in the culture and become fluent in Spanish. Winning this scholarship money would help fund my semester overseas.”
Here’s another one that probably seems WAY obvious. You’d never swear in a scholarship essay, right? But you may be surprised at how many people do!
DON’T use any profanity or curse words, even if they’re part of common phrases that we hear all the time on TV and in the real world.
For example, try not to say things like: “I’ve worked my ass off for 18 years and now I am ready to apply myself even further in this rigorous pre-med program.”
Will you actually offend anyone with that kind of conversational tone? Probably not. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, we know you can be more creative than that!
DO stress your excitement, perseverance, and preparedness for this next chapter without the curse words. You can always use a thesaurus to look up new and exciting ways to say things or use imagery to paint a picture of your experiences.
For example: “Being a college student has been a marathon and at times I’ve worried I may not cross the finish line. But now that I’ve graduated, I know what I’m capable of and I’m thrilled to be starting this graduate program.”
#5 “Text speak”
We realize that texting is the way of the world. And we’re all pretty accustomed to abbreviating words and using acronyms daily (smdh and lol-ing about how common this language is now). But keep your “text speak” in your group chats and out of your scholarship essays.
Your scholarship essay is a great place to showcase your eloquence and professionalism, so (unless directed otherwise), write as you would for a teacher or a boss.
DON’T use statements like, “College should be free for everyone IMO, but because it’s not, I need this scholarship 2 help fund my education.” It looks hilarious taken out of context, right? This kind of thing is super common and distracting for the reader.
DO remove any and all “text speak” in favor of your own unique voice and tone. You can still use mild humor and even talk like you , but keep it academic and professional.
#6 Controversial topics
Unless the essay prompt explicitly asks you to address a currently trending, controversial topic and take a stance on it, don’t. These essays are about you.
Based on the prompt and your personal experiences, perhaps you’ll discuss a “hot topic,” but don’t do so just to make your essay stand out. You’ll risk alienating your reader(s).
We definitely encourage you to be yourself, and to be open and honest about your life experiences, but “hot takes” are better left for Twitter than used in scholarship essays.
DON’T treat your scholarship essay like a platform to tackle a trending topic. A thoughtful essay reads 100 times better than your stance on a popular topic of the moment.
DO take firm stances on causes that you believe in and articulate how winning this scholarship will help you advocate for them. For example, you can certainly discuss your commitment to advocating for gender equality or against wage inequality.
To be clear: we’re NOT suggesting that you sanitize your beliefs or your writing, or dampen your beliefs to cater to specific readers. The key is to be mindful of the prompt and to avoid unnecessary detours or tangents that tread into hot take territory unrelated to the prompt.
#7 Emojis, photos, and funky fonts
We love emojis too, but they shouldn’t make their way into your scholarship essay (and, yes, we’ve seen it happen plenty of times). Unless for any reason you’re asked to creatively use an emoji in your response, just resist the urge.
The same goes for photos, fun fonts, or anything that isn’t straightforward typeface. Unless, again, you’re given the green light.
DON’T turn your scholarship essay into an art project. It may seem like a good idea, but keep it professional. More importantly, you want your essay to be as easy to read as possible, without overwhelming the readers.
DO stick to the standard: Times New Roman font, size 12 if you’re attaching your essay as a Google or Word document. If you’re pasting your essay into the text box on a website, this will format your content automatically.
And of course, read the directions carefully so you know how to format your scholarship essay when it comes to things like single vs double spacing, margins, headers/footers, etc.
#8 Extreme declarations
It’s almost always a good idea to avoid extreme, either-or perspectives. And this is definitely true when it comes to scholarship essays. An extreme declaration involves only seeing one side of a situation (often the negative side) and presenting it as fact.
DON’T make fatalistic declarations about the future and take unnecessarily strong stances on topics.
For example: “If I don’t get this scholarship, I won’t have enough financial aid to attend college and I’ll never get a good job to support myself.”
Or, “The education system in the United States is entirely broken and there’s no way to turn it around.”
See how both of these statements can give the reader a feeling that the writer is not seeing the full picture?
DO replace extreme declarations with hopeful and open-minded approaches to the future. This is not to say that you can’t take a firm and realistic stance on a topic. But try to reflect a generally optimistic and proactive mindset.
For example, if the prompt asks you about an issue facing the world today, you may say something like: “While there has undeniably been immense damage done to the planet, I’m excited to pursue a double major in environmental science and computer science as a means of taking action to reverse these toxic effects of climate change.”
Much more dynamic and compelling, right?
#9 Put-downs of other applicants
Speaking ill of anyone or saying why other students are less deserving of scholarship money isn’t a good look. You can absolutely articulate why you’re deserving without putting anyone else down!
DON’T speak unkindly about anyone, especially hypothetical applicants who you see yourself as more deserving than. This may be well-intentioned, but it’s sure to come across as distasteful no matter how well it’s written.
DO “stay in your own lane,” as they say, and don’t let the essay wander to focus on and nitpick others. Feel free to provide compelling reasons for why you’re a great candidate to receive scholarship money without bringing others into it!
#10 Your autobiography
As discussed, most scholarships require a pretty tight word or character limits, so you won’t have a lot of room to tell your whole life story. When talking about yourself, it can be easy to get on a roll and include more details than necessary. But try to stay focused.
DON’T write a complete autobiography of your life. It can be easy to believe that going beyond the word limit will come across as working harder or putting in more of an effort. In reality, scholarship committees actually put a lot of weight into your ability to follow directions. So while your autobiography may be incredible, it’s unlikely you’ll do it justice in 500 words or less (or whatever the requirement is).
DO choose and focus on a central incident, challenge, personality trait, hobby, or aspiration. For example, discuss only your love of animals, your passion for community service, your memory of the day your younger sister was born, etc.
Scholarship Essay Outline Example
We know there’s a lot of information packed in the tips we just shared. And it’d probably be a challenge to remember everything when you start writing. So, here’s an outline you can use to easily format your scholarship essays!
- Hook Introduction : Open the essay with an intriguing excerpt of the story you’ll share to address the writing prompt.
- 1-3 Body Paragraphs : Continue to share relevant details of the story, explaining how it relates to the prompt and makes you a good candidate for the specific scholarship. Be sure to highlight things scholarship committees are looking for, like leadership skills in school activities, your academic and career goals, why you’re specifically applying for this scholarship, etc.
- Conclusion : Wrap up your essay by restating your interest in the scholarship and showing how the story you’ve shared demonstrates your readiness for college.
Winning Scholarship Essay Examples
So far, we’ve shared a lot of tips and strategies to help you write the best scholarship essay possible. But what does all that look like in practice?
Here are 3 videos with scholarship essay examples from now college students who knew to apply many, if not all, of the tips we’ve shared in this blog post!
This student’s scholarship essay helped him win over $100,000 in scholarships to attend the University of Maryland, College Park!
This student’s scholarship essay helped her win a full-tuition scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University!
This student’s scholarship essay helped her win $60,000 in scholarships to attend an Ivy League university!
Want More Scholarship Opportunities?
There are tons of scholarships that you can apply for and win. So, don’t just focus on the scholarship program you’re currently writing an essay for. Apply for as many scholarships as you can!
To easily find them, download Scholly Search , the #1 scholarship app that instantly matches you with hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in scholarships based on your interests, accomplishments, and traits!
You can also check out the rest of our blog where we share tips on topics, like how to find jobs with tuition reimbursement programs, understand and apply for FAFSA , and win scholarships like the National Merit Scholarship .
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)
You may also like
How to Choose a College Student Loan [2022 Experts Guide]
How to Build Credit Fast [2022 Expert Guide for 18-35 Year Olds]
Pierce College is open, but our systems are currently down. For general questions, call the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom Welcome Center at 253-912-3640, Pierce College Puyallup at 253-840-8331, or Pierce College at JBLM at 253-964-8635. Information for students, employees, dental hygiene clinic and the community .
In case of emergency, call Campus Safety: Fort Steilacoom – 253-964-6225 or Puyallup – 253-864-3360.
Scholarship Application Essay Tips
Writing your scholarship application essay, 1. plan ahead.
- Don’t procrastinate!
- Give yourself plenty of time to review and edit your essay
- Be aware of the deadline date (i.e.: received vs. postmark)
2. Talk about your accomplishments
- Be clear and to the point
- Don’t brag or over-sell yourself
3. State your need
- What is your financial situation?
- Do you work?
- Do you receive support from your family?
- Do you receive financial aid?
4. Keep it simple
- Don’t use unnecessary words (i.e., don’t use three words when one will do)
- Don’t include unnecessary information just to “fill the page”
5. Make it easy on your reader
- Have someone else read your essay for clarity
- Write complete sentences and paragraphs
- Spell check your essay – make sure words are used correctly (e.g.,: “two,” “to,” “too;” or “there,” “their,” or “they’re;” “its” or “it’s,” etc.)
Organize Your Thoughts
- Who are you?
- Why are you who you are?
- What are you doing?
- What have you done?
- Where are you now?
- Where are you going?
- How are you going to get there?
- Why do you need a scholarship?
- How will it make a difference?
- How did you make the decision to continue your education?
1. introductory sentence.
- State your name
- What quarter you are in at Pierce College
2. Educational Objectives and Career Goals
- Identify your major
- Why did you choose this major?
- What will you do with a degree in this field?
- What career path have you chosen? Example: I have always enjoyed working with computers and I love to write. I’m pursuing a career in technical writing; this will allow me to pursue both interests - focusing on a viable career and doing something that I enjoy.
3. Brief Background
- Who are you? (not your name) – family, children, siblings, etc.
- How did you get to where you are today?
- Insert extra-curricular interests, volunteer work, hobbies – things that make you stand our or are unusual.
- Academic Accomplishments: GPA, level of difficulty of courses taken, types of courses taken, etc. Examples: During my free time, I volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Tacoma as a Big Sister. Much of my free time is spent with my children, teaching them by example that education is important. I am currently enrolled in 16 credit hours and I work two part-time jobs.
- How will it make a difference to you? Examples: Although I work two part-time jobs, I find it difficult to meet the financial demands of supporting myself and paying for an education. A scholarship will allow me to continue with school in the fall. My parents provide me with room and board, but because I have younger brothers and sisters, they cannot help me with my educational expenses. The money I earn at the car wash part-time is barely enough to cover my books and supplies. A scholarship would help a great deal. Receiving a scholarship would allow me to reduce the number of hours that I work at the daycare, which would then allow me more time to concentrate on my studies.
- Wrap it up with a simple sentence or two. You can include how your education to date has made a difference to you.
- End with a “thank you for allowing me the opportunity to apply.”
Writing Your Essay
Take the outline and begin with the first sentence (which may be the most difficult) and then just write to include everything you think is important. Don’t worry about the length of the essay at this point. Use your outline as a guide.
1. First Sentence (the most difficult part)
- Who, What, Where, When, Why Example: My name is Paula Henson and I am (applying, seeking, asking) for a scholarship for the Fall Quarter 2015. My educational objective is to graduate in 2016 with an Associate Degree in Marketing (or transfer to the University of Washington and obtain a degree in Business to pursue a career in Accounting).
2. Now go back and look at what you’ve written.
Read it for content and organization of the information. At this point, it is probably too long. What can you eliminate and/or incorporate? Are you redundant? Are you too brief? Does this essay paint an accurate picture of YOU?
3. Spell check, spell check, spell check
4. have someone else read your essay. is it you what do they think, 5. do you like what it says about you reread it one last time and spell check it again.
Remember: The essay is your chance to communicate your needs, accomplishments, goals, etc. The scholarship reviewers should be able to read your essay and feel as if they know you personally.
Download a PDF version of these tips.
13 Tips to Bring Your Scholarship Essay to the Next Level
Applying for scholarships would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for the essay, which often forces us to reflect on ourselves, who we are as people, and what we’ve accomplished so far in life. While it can be the most difficult part of the application, it’s also the most important part.
The Planning Phase
1. plan far in advance, 2. know your audience, 3. follow the instructions & answer the prompt, 4. choose a topic that you’re interested in and passionate about, 5. consider reusing an existing essay., the writing phase, 6. create a strong introduction, 7. keep a good structure, 8. show emotions, 9. use real life examples (“show, don’t tell”), 10. keep the tone inspirational & positive, 11. stay away from dreary & boring conclusions, the editing phase, 12. proofread and ask for help, 13. take advantages of resources, but where you do apply.
The scholarship essay is your chance to make a case for yourself and to show the committee why you deserve to win. It gives you the chance to show your personality and what you’re most proud of in life. Your scholarship application should inform, but your scholarship essay should persuade. Scholarship committees read hundreds, or even thousands, of essays, so making your application stand out from the rest is crucial.
Luckily, you don’t need perfect writing skills to make it happen. With a few scholarship essay tips and tricks in mind, you can easily bring your scholarship application to the next level.
Here are our 13 scholarship essay tips to help you succeed:
If you wait until the last minute to write your scholarship essay, the quality will likely suffer. To make sure that you have enough time for the planning phase, create a calendar ( like this one ) with the deadlines and requirements for all the scholarships you want to apply for. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for brainstorming and proofreading!
Hot tip : If you use Going Merry to find and apply for scholarships , you can save your favorite scholarships, and then our dashboard will keep track of all your upcoming deadlines for you. We’ll even email you reminders so you don’t miss out! Learn more about how Going Merry works here .
The best way to give the scholarship committee what they’re looking for is to actually know what they’re looking for. Figure out who their ideal candidate is and how you fit into that picture. But be careful not to cater to their expectations too much.
Don’t sacrifice your voice and personality to fit the bill. Rather, take a look at your strengths and then determine how you can spin them to become the ideal candidate.
Hot tip : Not sure how to do this? Check out the “Financial Literacy for Hispanic Women” and “Life Happens” scholarship essays here , for examples of past winners who’ve clearly taken the scholarship provider’s missions into account.
It might seem like one of the more obvious scholarship essay tips, but many applicants make their first mistake before they even begin – they don’t read the directions. Exceeding (or not meeting) the word count can hurt your chances since it shows that you didn’t prepare your essay as well as other applicants. Also, double check to make sure you’re responding thoroughly to all parts of the prompt and that you’re following the correct scholarship essay format.
Get matched to scholarships
See how much money you qualify for. Personalized matches . Click below to get started.
Match me to scholarships
Your topic can have a heavy impact on how well your essay turns out. If you choose a topic that bores you, you’ll likely bore your reader too! Try to choose a topic that you’re passionate about or that interests you in some way, rather than a topic that you feel you should write about – that way, your personality and excitement can shine through in your writing!
Many scholarship essays use the same essay prompt. Some scholarship providers even use the ones from the Common App or allow you to choose your own topic. This means you can literally copy and paste your essay to submit to multiple applications (yay!).
Other times, scholarships use similar essay prompts, or ask questions that can be answered in the same way. You might be able to slightly change an existing essay, rather than writing a new one altogether. For example, these two prompts can often be answered the same way:
- Discuss a moment or experience that caused significant personal growth.
- Discuss a time when you had to overcome an obstacle.
Since overcoming an obstacle often results in personal growth, if you have an essay for one of these prompts, you can usually tweak it to make it work for the other prompt.
Hot tip : Going Merry makes it easy for you by combining scholarships with similar essay prompts into application bundles . This way, you can apply for multiple scholarships with just one essay. Sign up today .
Since the introduction is what draws the reader into your essay and convinces them to keep going, it should be one of the strongest parts of your essay . Instead of starting off with a general overview, why not hook your reader with a surprising first line?
For example, which of these two opening lines pulls you into the story more? Which one makes you want to keep going?
My first time traveling abroad was during a family vacation to Mexico in 2010.
It was 2010; I had just crossed the border into Mexico and my life was about to change.
The second sentence gives the reader something to look for; it makes them curious about not only how your life changed during your trip but also why it changed. It gives the readers unanswered questions and they have to keep reading to find the answers.
Overall, you’ll want to give your reader a quick preview of what they can expect from your essay – think of it like the written version of a movie trailer. Why should they keep reading?
After the introduction, it’s important to make sure that your reader can follow along with your essay without too much effort. Creating a basic outline is a great way to make sure this happens!
To create an outline, first organize your thoughts. Write down the main points that you definitely want to cover in your essay. Next, organize those thoughts into various sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Your ideas can either be in sentence form, short phrases, or simple words – whatever you prefer! Lastly, make sure your ideas flow in a logical order and, if necessary, add more detail under each point. Check out this source for more information .
Also, try to avoid going off on a tangent by taking the time to determine which information is relevant and which isn’t . Similarly, consider just how much detail you should include. Providing some detail can make your point clearer or more compelling, but too much detail can bog down your essay.
Hot tip : Check out Joseph Lee’s “What makes a good doctor?” essay here , for an example of a well-structured scholarship essay.
Connecting with an audience through writing can be challenging but, when done right, it can create a very powerful connection between the reader and the author. Showing your emotions is a great way to do that and to get the reader personally invested in your essay. Showing emotion can help the reader see you as a person, rather than a faceless author. Even though it’s crucial, it’s one of the scholarship essay tips that people tend to ignore the most.
We all have vulnerabilities, so don’t be afraid to show them. Scholarship committees don’t expect you to be perfect and want to see how you’ve grown as a person and handled the obstacles that life has thrown your way. In fact, opening up about times where you felt nervous or scared demonstrates maturity and self-awareness – two great qualities for a scholarship applicant to have.
Hot tip : Check out Jesus’ winning scholarship essay here, which discusses a really tough moment in his life. It’s a great example of showing vulnerability.
Instead of telling your reader about your experiences, show them. Don’t be afraid to provide real-world examples of your experiences and/or how you’ve changed as a person. Nearly every applicant will have a somewhat similar response to the essay prompt and your personal examples are your chance to transform your essay from generic to unique.
Consider the difference between these two passages explaining why the scholarship applicant wants to pursue a career in science:
VERSION 1: I have always been interested in science, even from a young age. Since my family supported my interest enthusiastically, I continued to pursue it throughout school. As I’ve gotten older, though, my scientific endeavors have become increasingly complex.
VERSION 2: Too young to enter the school science fairs, I took to my family. Force-feeding different animal food to my siblings and parents, I graphed their favorite types. While I was only six, my family has never forgiven me; my “experiments” remain the family joke. Nevertheless, I have progressed from my dog food days, leaving taste tests for DNA gel electrophoresis experiments. [ essay from Lauren Croda ]
Which is more engaging? While Version 1 explains things and may be well-written, it’s a bit boring, right? Version 2 makes the subject come alive and showcases the author’s quirky personality. While anyone (and probably many applicants) could write Version 1, only Lauren could write Version 2. It helps her stand out. That ‘s the power of examples and “show, don’t tell.”
One of the most important scholarship essay tips is based entirely on your perspective and tone. Nobody wants to read a depressing and self-pitying story. Even if you’re writing about difficult or sad events in your life, try and keep the tone positive and inspirational. Rather than just writing about how you were negatively affected by an event, focus on how you grew from the experience and overcame the obstacle.
Most people use the conclusion to simply paraphrase their entire essay…but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Do something surprising and innovative. Make your essay interesting and attention-grabbing from the first letter until the last period.
One great way to bring your conclusion to the next level is to leave your readers with an interesting question for them to think about. For more ideas, check out these helpful tips .
As much as we like to believe that we’re perfect, we all make mistakes…which is why it’s so important to take the time to proofread your essay. One great way to find mistakes is to read your essay out loud. For more ideas, check out these helpful tips .
Once you’ve taken the time to proofread your own essay a few times, have someone else do it for you. Asking a family member or friend for help can provide you with a different perspective on your writing and a second set of eyes might catch a mistake that you didn’t.
When it comes to writing, you don’t have to do it completely on your own. Check out some of our resources including scholarship essay examples from Going Merry winners ,; a breakdown of why these 5 scholarship essays worked; and our guides to writing personal statements , academic goals essays , or career goals essays .
If you’re in college, most schools have a writing center that offers free feedback and guidance to students. They might even have some insightful scholarship essay tips that you (or we!) didn’t think about. Some high schools, communities, or libraries might also have similar services.
Now that you’re writing stellar essays, start applying for scholarships! Here’s a list of 10 scholarship search sites , but we’d just recommend you go straight for the best one: Sign up for free with Going Merry , and then upload your essays to your documents section. Get started with your scholarship applications today.
- Recent Posts
- 7 Outstanding Oregon Scholarships for 2021 - November 6, 2020
- Great Scholarships for Students in Ohio for 2021 - November 4, 2020
- 38 Weird Scholarships for Unique Students in 2023 - August 2, 2020
Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?
Don’t want to sign up?
Get an estimate of how many scholarships you’re eligible for, instead. Just answer 7 quick questions. No sign-up required.
US South Carolina
Recently viewed courses
Find Your Dream School
COVID-19 Update: To help students through this crisis, The Princeton Review will continue our "Enroll with Confidence" refund policies. For full details, please click here.
Enter your email to unlock an extra $25 off an SAT or ACT program!
If you need more money to pay for college, chances are you will be applying for several college scholarships . A great scholarship essay helps the scholarship provider understand the real person behind the application and can be the key to winning the award (assuming you meet the other scholarship criteria).
Scholarship Essays vs. College Essays
Scholarship essays are very similar to your college application essays in terms of strategy. Many scholarship hopefuls will share the same grades, test scores, and ambitions: the essay is your chance to shine (and grow that dream college fund!).
How to Write a Scholarship Essay
When you’re drafting your scholarship essay, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Start the essay writing process early.
Leave yourself plenty of time to produce a well thought-out entry. Take the time to brainstorm your ideas, create an outline, and edit your entry as you would for any essay writing assignment for your English class.
Read More: How to Craft an Unforgettable College Essay
2. Understand the scholarship provider’s overall mission and purpose.
Each scholarship provider is looking for students who meet certain criteria. Consider writing about an experience or interest that highlights your strong ties to the organization’s mission. Genuine passion and enthusiasm for your topic will show through in your essay writing.
3. Follow the scholarship essay instructions.
Make sure to follow all of the necessary steps and review them before submitting your scholarship essay. Trust us, some of the brightest students have missed out on the chance to earn scholarships dollars all because they neglected to follow instructions. You don’t want to fall into that category!
4. Steer clear from essay topics that focus on negativity or pessimism.
Scholarship committees would rather see how you overcame hardships and succeeded despite the obstacles in your path (or what you learned from the times you failed).
Read More: 200 Colleges That Pay You Back
5. Don’t be afraid to get personal.
Share something about who you are. This is your chance to elaborate on elsewhere on your application you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so. Telling your story makes an essay genuine and ultimately more memorable to the scholarship committee.
6. Seek out writing advice and feedback.
Asking teachers, counselors, family members, or trustworthy friends for feedback on your essay will result in a better final product.
7. Yes, spelling and grammar matter.
Scholarship committees do notice grammar mistakes . Eveny tiny errors can distract a reader from your overall message. Before you submit your application make sure you take the time to proofread your essay from beginning to end.
8. Don’t give up!
When you’re tired, take a break, but don’t throw in the towel! Our online essay writing tutors are here for you anytime you get discouraged. We can help with everything from brainstorming and outlining to revising the final draft.
Looking for strategic college advice?
Get one-on-one help from former Ivy League and top tier admission officers. Our College Admission Counselors will help you find, apply, and get accepted to your dream school.
Explore Colleges For You
Connect with our featured colleges to find schools that both match your interests and are looking for students like you.
Take our short quiz to learn which is the right career for you.
Get Started on Athletic Scholarships & Recruiting!
Join athletes who were discovered, recruited & often received scholarships after connecting with NCSA's 42,000 strong network of coaches.
Best 388 Colleges
154,000 students rate everything from their professors to their campus social scene.
SAT Prep Courses
1400+ course, act prep courses, free sat practice test & events, 1-800-2review, sat® 1400+ course, our top sat experts teach the strategies proven to have helped our students join the top 5% of test takers..
Free MCAT Review Guide
Thank you! Look for the MCAT Review Guide in your inbox.
1-800-2REVIEW (800-273-8439) ext. 1
1-800-2REVIEW (800-273-8439) ext. 2
- Teach or Tutor for Us
- Enrollment Terms & Conditions
- Cigna Medical Transparency in Coverage
Mon-Fri 9AM-10PM ET
Sat-Sun 9AM-8PM ET
Local Offices: Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM
Mon-Fri 9AM-9PM ET
Sat-Sun 8:30AM-5PM ET
- SAT Subject Tests
- Social Studies
Find the Right College
- College Rankings
- College Advice
- Applying to College
- Financial Aid
School & District Partnerships
- Professional Development
- Advice Articles
- Private Tutoring
- Mobile Apps
- Local Offices
- International Offices
- Work for Us
- Affiliate Program
- Partner with Us
- Advertise with Us
- International Partnerships
- Our Guarantees
©2023 TPR Education IP Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University
TPR Education, LLC (doing business as “The Princeton Review”) is controlled by Primavera Holdings Limited, a firm owned by Chinese nationals with a principal place of business in Hong Kong, China.
How to Write a Scholarship Essay + Template 2023
Applying for college takes a lot of effort. All applicants must pass exams, collect all the necessary documents, complete various forms, etc. However, what is often even more complex is to apply for a scholarship and win it!
Due to growing tuition fees, most students decide to apply for financial aid to cover part of their expenses. However, if you opt for a scholarship, you must write an essay yourself or get help from scholarship essay writing service .
. For example, if the topic of your scholarship essay is related to history, ask our history essay writer for help.
What Is a Scholarship Essay?
A scholarship essay is a paper students submit along with their scholarship applications. It is an essential part of your application. This work can either help you win or lose the opportunity to get a grant. In addition, the well-written piece should make your application stand out and give the committee a sense of who you are, what goals you pursue, and what makes you deserve to receive a reward.
Need Help With Your Scholarship Essay?
Our skilled writers only need your requirements to create an original paper for you.
Scholarships often come from individual organizations that strive to support education. Therefore, application essays should often demonstrate the author’s passions and beliefs that align with the organization’s interests. Frequently, people refer to scholarship essays as scholarship application letters.
How are scholarship essays different from college essays? These two types of work have one main thing in common – both must represent you and your opinion or beliefs. But, several distinctive features differentiate the two types:
- Purpose – a college essay reflects your personality, while a scholarship essay often has to show that you share the beliefs and interests of the organization that offers the aid.
- Length – scholarship essays are usually under 500 words. College essays can be longer (up to 650 words).
- Prompt – often, college essay prompts are much broader than those for scholarship essays. Also, many colleges let you choose the topic, while a scholarship organization may ask you to answer specific questions in your text (for instance, “why do you deserve this scholarship?” is a very common topic).
A general structure of a scholarship essay should look like this:
- A hook that grabs the reader’s attention
- Thesis statement (why do you deserve a scholarship?)
- What has been a significant challenge in your life?
- How did you overcome this?
- What is/are your educational and career goal(s)?
- Why did you choose this particular college or university?
- Why did you choose this field of study?
- How can a scholarship help you achieve your educational goal(s)?
- What are you going to do with your degree?
- How should the scholarship help you achieve your long-term career goal(s)?
- Real-life examples that support the main arguments
- Summary of your key points
- Restate the thesis (how the scholarship can help you reach your goals)
- Express gratitude to the scholarship committee for reading your piece
Do You Need a Helping Hand With Your scholarship essay?
Contact our essay writing service and get a support of our scholars.
The introduction is the first section of your essay. However, your work toward receiving a scholarship essay should start long before you begin to write your intro.
To get ready for the writing process, allocate enough time to it. Quit thinking that you can simply create a flawless essay overnight. Instead, before getting started, ensure that you know the deadlines and have enough time to work on your paper.
Get Familiar With the Prompt
Scholarship essay prompts are sometimes tricky, so read them carefully multiple times to understand what an organization expects from you.
To become eligible for financial aid, submit an essay of about 400-500 words. A submission usually illustrates your perspective on why you deserve this scholarship while answering the following questions:
- What makes you unique?
- How do your beliefs align with the organization’s interests?
- What unique contribution can you make in this particular field of science?
Choose a Topic
At this stage, keep in mind that your essay's main goal is to persuade the organization to sponsor your education essentially. You show them what makes you worthy of their money. Your topic should reflect this purpose. To choose essay topics, ask yourself a few questions:
- What have you accomplished so far?
- What distinguishes you from everyone else?
- What life lessons have you learned?
- What are your strongest traits?
- Have you ever struggled for something? Did you succeed or fail?
Answering these and similar questions helps you generate some ideas. Also, here are a few examples of common scholarship essay topics:
- Why Do I Deserve This Scholarship?
- The Goals I Must Achieve in 10 Years
- The Doors I Have Opened
- What I Do Best – My Biggest Success
- My Inspiration
- The Person Who Has Influenced My Views the Most
- Destiny in My Hands
- Who I Want to Become in Future
- My Unique Skills
Write a Hook
What is a hook in writing? It is an opening statement with two goals – to grab the readers’ attention and make them want to continue reading. The hook plays an important role in a scholarship essay. The committee reviews dozens of works, which is why it is important to make your paper memorable, and that’s when a powerful hook comes in handy. Here are three effective ways to make your first sentence thrilling:
- Question: What helped me realize that I want to help people?
- Quote: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill.
- Statistic: ADHD (9.4%), behavior problems (7.4%), anxiety (7.1%), and depression (3.2%) are the most common mental disorders diagnosed in children aged 2-17 years old.
Now, when you have a hook, begin writing your intro. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep it short and clear
- Remember to follow your hook with a thesis statement
- Provide relevant background for the topic without starting your argument
- Provide only helpful, relevant information
- Try to avoid clichés
- Convince the reader that your essay is worth reading
These tips may help you to make an engaging introduction and make your essay stand out.
What Should the Body Contain?
The body of your essay is its longest part, providing the scholarship committee with the answers they want to see. Since we are discussing the scholarship essay sample called “why I deserve the scholarship,” here are some relevant ideas to include in the body of your paper:
- Talk about some obstacles you have overcome in your life, like in a reflection paper about personal experiences
- Highlight your achievements and positive traits
- Speak about your aspirations
- Talk about your motivation
- Share real-life examples that support your statements
The two main tips for writing the body of your essay are to avoid generalization and to make sure that your statements resonate with the interests of the organization that provides the scholarship. Also, use only familiar words to prevent miscommunication.
How to Conclude the Essay
The conclusion of your essay is the most important part of your essay. The ending of work defines whether the committee remembers it or lands in a pile of papers. To stand out from the crowd, you need a powerful conclusion with:
- Reflection – this type of conclusion is perfect for demonstrating personal growth and presenting your weaknesses as stepping stones.
Example: “I decided to study medicine to help people. It took me a lot of hard work and time to get where I am now, and I don’t want to stop there. I’ve been through numerous ups and downs on my path to this moment. And while I never define my obstacles as ‘failures,’ I mark my success through repeated perseverance through adversity. If I get this scholarship, I will use it to further my education and serve people, which is why I deserve it.”
- The Future Tense – if your essay is about your past or present experiences, this type of conclusion is the way to go. Tell the committee how your experiences have influenced you and what you want to do with the lessons you have learned in the future.
Example: “Having experienced the problems that exist in my community first-hand has taught me a lot. In the future, I see that my mission is to increase the efficiency of low-income housing development. This scholarship will help me complete my education in construction management and start solving problems that my and similar communities are facing.”
- The Cycle – aiming to empower your introductory statement, you can restate it in your conclusion. Such an approach is very effective and makes the reader connect more to it. To illustrate, if you started by giving statistics on the number of children who need psychological treatment, bring up the same issue in your conclusion for a more powerful effect.
Example: “So, why do I deserve this scholarship? I have the passion and determination to help children receive high-quality psychological treatment at an early age—to give them the best chance of finding success. You won’t just help me complete my education by awarding this scholarship. You will allow me to improve the quality of life for countless families in the future.”
We also recommend that you read an APA format example and Pride and Prejudice short summary . That articles will help you understand more in essay writing.
Scholarship Essay Formatting
Formatting plays a vital role in writing any kind of paper. No matter how great the content of your scholarship essay is, it is unlikely to do much unless you format it properly. After all, formatting your piece shows the committee that you understand and follow the instructions, which is crucial in college.
A standard scholarship essay format has the following characteristics:
- Times New Roman font
- 12-point font size
- Double spaced
- 1” margins (top, bottom, and side)
- An indent before each paragraph
- Your last name and page numbers (only for long essays) on the top, left side of the page
- Use PDF format by default unless the website requires something else
Follow the prompts above to ensure the appropriate format for your text.
Scholarship Essay Samples
Using our tips sets you on the right track. Still, having a good sample essay at hand is vital for success. So, to make the writing process for your scholarship essay even more smooth and amazing, enter the dissertation service to look at the following samples:
I am a Business Data Analytics major in my 3rd year, and I’m from Arizona. The undergraduate business data analytic degree combines skills, such as applications, technologies, and processes that organizations use to understand their businesses, based on available information and statistics. Business analytics explore the science of big data. Big data entails the transformation of data into predictive and powerful information. This information then helps businesses during their decision-making processes, thus, deriving optimal results and performances.
This course enables students like me to investigate data management principles, representation, analysis, and statistical modeling. The program provides machine learning, data management, visualization, statistics, business and optimization courses, and various tools and systems training. After completing my degree, I can apply the concepts to discover trends, relationships, and patterns.
As an international student in the USA, coming from a humble background in Haiti, furthering my education proves to be a challenge. According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere — with about 80% of residents living in abject poverty (CNN, 1). Additionally, Haiti, as a third-world nation, Haiti also suffers from social vices, such as corruption and high levels of political instability. Moreover, natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake, further weakened the nation’s economy, setting us back in numerous ways.
Scholarship Essay Tips
Here are a few more tips from our service to allow you to create a top-notch scholarship essay:
- Follow a narrative structure
- Add as much personalization to your paper as you can
- Have a detailed outline before you start writing
- Make sure you are eligible for each scholarship you apply for
- Promote yourself
- Provide real-life examples in your essay to back up your arguments
- Keep it clear and concise
- Include transitions between paragraphs to keep the writing eloquent
- Write similar-sized paragraphs
- Tell a unique story
- Carefully proofread and edit your essay before submitting it
- Ask a teacher or a counselor to assess your work
If you need help with your home task, click the ' write a paper for me ' button.
Generally, the competition for financial aid intensifies every year. Memorizing the professional tips or turning to our service increases your chances of winning a scholarship to your dream college. Luckily, the article review shows various ways to improve your scholarship essay.
Need Help with Writing Your Scholarship Essay?
Writing a scholarship essay can be rather challenging. Not having solid skills and enough time to allocate to writing can make you feel stuck and not capable of overcoming the challenge. But, the stakes are too high. Only a killer scholarship essay can complement your admission package and contribute to you getting your desired scholarship. If you lack the time, or don’t feel like risking your success, feel free to ask professional essay writers for help. Leave us a ' help me with my homework ' request to get a scholarship essay of the highest standards!
5 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out
When writing a scholarship essay, follow these tips to win the most money for college.
Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out
Writing a scholarship essay isn't like writing an essay for a high school class, experts warn.
Students hoping to earn scholarships, a form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid, often must compete with hundreds of other applicants and sometimes for a very limited number of awards.
Free financial aid plays a significant role in helping students in the U.S. pay for college. According to the 2019 How America Pays for College report from Sallie Mae, 31% of college costs in 2018-2019 were paid for with money that does not need to be repaid; three-fifths of that were scholarships and two-fifths were grants.
To get the most of this highly desirable aid, students can take advantage of a few expert-recommended strategies to make their application stand out. Below are a few tips for writing scholarship essays that pack a punch.
Get Personal and Be Specific
The key to a successful scholarship essay is making it personal, experts say, and including impactful details. An essay that feels genuine and offers insights into who the applicant is on a deeper level will stand out in a crowd of academic essays that may be boring for readers who review hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications.
Find the Best Student Loans for You
Scholarships awarded by the Pride Foundation, for example, require an application that involves multiple essays in which students are asked to describe themselves, what they plan to study and the kinds of work they hope to do. The social justice-focused philanthropic foundation aims to support the LGBTQ community in the Northwest region and awards more than 60 scholarships for any accredited postsecondary school or program, according to its website.
College scholarships had an average award amount of about $5,000 to $8,000 last year, says Katelen Kellogg, the foundation's communications and outreach manager. She says the scholarships are for LGBTQ or strongly LGBTQ-allied students who are residents of the Pacific Northwest.
Kellogg, who helps read essays from applicants each year, says the scholarship essays that stand out to her include "details that paint the picture of their lives." She says the most successful essays are "less about something you do and more about who you are as a person."
Eden Shore, a volunteer manager at the Pride Foundation who also has experience reading hundreds of scholarship essays, says the writing process should be meaningful for students – and that comes across in the essay.
"Your essay can be an opportunity for you to make sense of something yourself," Shore says. "Illustrate you can thoughtfully reflect."
Tell a Story
A standout essay hooks the reader from the first sentence, says Monica Matthews, author of the scholarship guide, "How to Win College Scholarships."
Think about the structure of the essay, and how the reader can be drawn in by it, experts say. The story should feel real and true to the student's life.
"Students need to begin with a hook and share personal and tangible details about their life," Matthews wrote in an email. "Simply stating that they have helped others, for example, does not let the judges see the kind of person that they really are. Writing about specific experiences with real-life situations using interesting details makes compelling and memorable essays."
Tailor the Scholarship Essay to the Prompt
In some cases, it may be acceptable and even smart to repurpose an essay the student has already written and use it for another application. But experts say students should exercise caution.
"Many times, students try to re-purpose essays from the admissions process for scholarship essays, and the result ends up being so-so," Colleen Paparella Ganjian, an independent educational consultant and founder of DC College Counseling in Virginia, wrote in an email.
Instead, essays should be on topic and specific to the unique question being asked and the organization to which students are applying.
A typical scholarship essay topic will likely ask students about their career goals and their plan to achieve those goals, Matthews says. Other essay prompts might ask students what they've done to make their community a better place or to describe a personal achievement and how they overcame challenges to reach it.
Don't Tailor Yourself to the Reader
Students often feel they need to project a certain image or side of themselves in scholarship applications and essays. This isn't always necessary.
"The only person an applicant has to be is themselves," Shore says of applicants to the Pride Foundation Scholarship.
The trap of tailoring themselves can be particularly tempting for students who are nontraditional or have an international background, says Mandee Heller Adler, founder and president of International College Counselors based in Florida.
"Don't shy away from talking about your culture, traditions, and experiences. If you're an international applicant , a minority, or non-traditional student, don't try to 'Americanize' or 'mainstream' your application," Heller Adler wrote in an email. "Scholarship committees like diversity, and the goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants. Don't be afraid to expand on details about your culture that are meaningful to you and essential to understanding who you are."
The greatest frustration in reading scholarship application essays, Shore says, is when students fail to follow directions. This means taking note of any formatting specifications, length restrictions and answering the question posed.
"Make sure you're answering the question that has been asked and stay within the word limit you're given," Shore says. "Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. If students are bored by the essay they write, the reader will be too."
Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.
12 Ways to Win a Scholarship
Tags: scholarships , paying for college , education , students , financial aid
College Admissions: Get a Step Ahead!
Ask an Alum: Making the Most Out of College
Paying for College
College Financial Aid 101
College Loan Center
College Savings Center
529 College Savings Plans
Get updates from U.S. News including newsletters, rankings announcements, new features and special offers.
Sign in to manage your newsletters »
You May Also Like
Private student loan consolidation.
Erika Giovanetti Aug. 18, 2023
Get a 401(k) Student Loan Match Payment
Brian O'Connell Aug. 11, 2023
About Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Sarah Wood July 31, 2023
15 Ways to Cut Your Textbook Costs
Emma Kerr and Cole Claybourn July 25, 2023
Tips for Resuming Student Loan Payments
Cole Claybourn July 18, 2023
Thousands to Receive Student Loan Relief
Lauren Camera July 18, 2023
Tips on College Tuition Payment Plans
Sabine Martin July 6, 2023
FAQ: Student Loan Forgiveness
Cole Claybourn June 30, 2023
25 Highest-Paying Associate Degree Jobs
Ilana Kowarski and Cole Claybourn June 26, 2023
Ways to Lower Your Student Loan Payments
Erika Giovanetti June 20, 2023
Find Free College Textbooks
Cole Claybourn June 14, 2023
10 Unexpected College Costs
Emma Kerr and Sarah Wood June 12, 2023
Should Parents Pay for College?
Emily Sherman June 5, 2023
Refinancing Student Loans More Than Once
Erika Giovanetti May 26, 2023
Most Expensive Private Med Schools
Sarah Wood May 17, 2023
College Fees You May Have to Pay
Sarah Wood May 11, 2023
Facts About Merit Aid Scholarships
Emma Kerr and Sarah Wood April 26, 2023
How to Get a Student Loan
Erika Giovanetti April 21, 2023
Financial Aid For Undocumented Students
Sarah Wood March 31, 2023
What's New on the 2023-2024 FAFSA
Sarah Wood March 29, 2023
Don't have an Account?
- International Student
- Essay Writing Center
- Sample Essays
Sample Scholarship Essays
If you’re applying for a scholarship, chances are you are going to need to write an essay. Very few scholarship programs are based solely on an application form or transcript. The essay is often the most important part of your application; it gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and your dedication to your goals. You’ll want to make sure that your scholarship essay is the best it can possibly be.
See the sample essays:
The book that made me a journalist, planners and searchers, saving the manatees.
Unless specified otherwise, scholarship essays should always use the following formatting:
- Double spaced
- Times New Roman font
- 12 point font
- One-inch top, bottom, and side margins
Other useful tips to keep in mind include:
- Read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you completely understand them before you start writing.
- Think about what you are going to write and organize your thoughts into an outline.
- Write your essay by elaborating on each point you included in your outline.
- Use clear, concise, and simple language throughout your essay.
- When you are finished, read the question again and then read your essay to make sure that the essay addresses every point.
For more tips on writing a scholarship essay, check out our Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay .
I was taking a composition class, and we were learning how to write persuasive essays. Up until that point, I had had average grades, but I was always a good writer and my teacher immediately recognized this. The first paper I wrote for the class was about my experience going to an Indian reservation located near my uncle's ranch in southwest Colorado. I wrote of the severe poverty experienced by the people on the reservation, and the lack of access to voting booths during the most recent election. After reading this short story, my teacher approached me and asked about my future plans. No one had ever asked me this, and I wasn't sure how to answer. I said I liked writing and I liked thinking about people who are different from myself. She gave me a book and told me that if I had time to read it, she thought it would be something I would enjoy. I was actually quite surprised that a high school teacher was giving me a book titled Lies My Teacher Told Me. It had never occurred to me that teachers would lie to students. The title intrigued me so much that on Friday night I found myself staying up almost all night reading, instead of going out with friends.
In short, the book discusses several instances in which typical American history classes do not tell the whole story. For example, the author addresses the way that American history classes do not usually address about the Vietnam War, even though it happened only a short time ago. This made me realize that we hadn't discussed the Vietnam War in my own history class! The book taught me that, like my story of the Indian reservation, there are always more stories beyond what we see on the surface and what we’re taught in school. I was inspired to continue to tell these stories and to make that my career.
For my next article for the class, I wrote about the practice of my own high school suspending students, sometimes indefinitely, for seemingly minor offenses such as tardiness and smoking. I found that the number of suspensions had increased by 200% at my school in just three years, and also discovered that students who are suspended after only one offense often drop out and some later end up in prison. The article caused quite a stir. The administration of my school dismissed it, but it caught the attention of my local newspaper. A local journalist worked with me to publish an updated and more thoroughly researched version of my article in the local newspaper. The article forced the school board to revisit their “zero tolerance” policy as well as reinstate some indefinitely suspended students. I won no favors with the administration and it was a difficult time for me, but it was also thrilling to see how one article can have such a direct effect on people’s lives . It reaffirmed my commitment to a career in journalism.
This is why I’m applying for this scholarship. Your organization has been providing young aspiring journalists with funds to further their skills and work to uncover the untold stories in our communities that need to be reported. I share your organization’s vision of working towards a more just and equitable world by uncovering stories of abuse of power. I have already demonstrated this commitment through my writing in high school and I look forward to pursuing a BA in this field at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. With your help, I will hone my natural instincts and inherent writing skills. I will become a better and more persuasive writer and I will learn the ethics of professional journalism.
I sincerely appreciate the committee’s time in evaluating my application and giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts
Being African, I recognize Africa’s need for home- grown talent in the form of “planners” (assistants with possible solutions) and “searchers” (those with desperate need) working towards international development. I represent both. Coming from Zimbabwe my greatest challenge is in helping to improve the livelihoods of developing nations through sustainable development and good governance principles. The need for policy-makers capable of employing cross-jurisdictional, and cross- disciplinary strategies to solve complex challenges cannot be under-emphasized; hence my application to this scholarship program.
After graduating from Africa University with an Honors degree in Sociology and Psychology, I am now seeking scholarship support to study in the United States at the Master’s level . My interest in democracy, elections, constitutionalism and development stems from my lasting interest in public policy issues. Accordingly, my current research interests in democracy and ethnic diversity require a deeper understanding of legal processes of constitutionalism and governance. As a Master’s student in the US, I intend to write articles on these subjects from the perspective of someone born, raised, and educated in Africa. I will bring a unique and much-needed perspective to my graduate program in the United States, and I will take the technical and theoretical knowledge from my graduate program back with me to Africa to further my career goals as a practitioner of good governance and community development.
To augment my theoretical understanding of governance and democratic practices, I worked with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) as a Programs Assistant in the Monitoring and Observation department. This not only enhanced my project management skills, but also developed my skills in research and producing communication materials. ZESN is Zimbabwe’s biggest election observation organization, and I had the responsibility of monitoring the political environment and producing monthly publications on human rights issues and electoral processes . These publications were disseminated to various civil society organizations, donors and other stakeholders. Now I intend to develop my career in order to enhance Africa’s capacity to advocate, write and vote for representative constitutions.
I also participated in a fellowship program at Africa University, where I gained greater insight into social development by teaching courses on entrepreneurship, free market economics, and development in needy communities . I worked with women in rural areas of Zimbabwe to setup income-generating projects such as the jatropha soap-making project. Managing such a project gave me great insight into how many simple initiatives can transform lives.
Your organization has a history of awarding scholarships to promising young students from the developing world in order to bring knowledge, skills and leadership abilities to their home communities. I have already done some of this work but I want to continue, and with your assistance, I can . The multidisciplinary focus of the development programs I am applying to in the US will provide me with the necessary skills to creatively address the economic and social development challenges and develop sound public policies for Third World countries. I thank you for your time and consideration for this prestigious award.
It is a cliché to say that I’ve always known what I want to do with my life, but in my case it happens to be true. When I first visited Sea World as a young child, I fell in love with marine animals in general. Specifically, I felt drawn to manatees. I was compelled by their placid and friendly nature. I knew then and there that I wanted to dedicate my life to protecting these beautiful creatures.
Since that day in Orlando, I have spent much of my spare time learning everything there is to know about manatees. As a junior high and high school student, I attempted to read scholarly articles on manatees from scientific journals. I annoyed my friends and family with scientific facts about manatees-- such as that they are close relatives of elephants--at the dinner table. I watched documentaries, and even mapped their migration pattern on a wall map my sister gave me for my birthday.
When I was chosen from hundreds of applicants to take part in a summer internship with Sea World, I fell even more in love with these gentle giants. I also learned a very important and valuable lesson: prior to this internship, I had imagined becoming a marine biologist, working directly with the animals in their care both in captivity and in the wild. However, during the internship, I discovered that this is not where my strengths lie. Unfortunately, I am not a strong student in science or math, which are required skills to become a marine biologist . Although this was a disheartening realization, I found that I possess other strengths can still be of great value to manatees and other endangered marine mammals: my skills as a public relations manager and communicator . During the internship, I helped write new lessons and presentations for elementary school groups visiting the park and developed a series of fun activities for children to help them learn more about manatees as well as conservation of endangered species in general. I also worked directly with the park’s conservation and communication director, and helped develop a new local outreach program designed to educate Floridians on how to avoid hitting a manatee when boating . My supervisor recommended me to the Save the Manatee Foundation so in addition to my full-time internship at Sea World, I interned with the Save the Manatee Foundation part-time . It was there that I witnessed the manatee rescue and conservation effort first hand, and worked directly with the marine biologists in developing fund-raising and awareness-raising campaigns. I found that the foundation’s social media presence was lacking, and, using skills I learned from Sea World, I helped them raise over $5,000 through a Twitter challenge, which we linked to the various social media outlets of the World Wildlife Federation.
While I know that your organization typically awards scholarships to students planning to major in disciplines directly related to conservation such as environmental studies or zoology, I feel that the public relations side of conservation is just as important as the actual work done on the ground . Whether it is reducing one’s carbon footprint, or saving the manatees, these are efforts that, in order to be successful, must involve the larger public. In fact, the relative success of the environmental movement today is largely due to a massive global public relations campaign that turned environmentalism from something scientific and obscure into something that is both fashionable and accessible to just about anyone. However, that success is being challenged more than ever before--especially here in the US, where an equally strong anti-environmental public relations campaign has taken hold. Therefore, conservationists need to start getting more creative.
I want to be a part of this renewed effort and use my natural abilities as a communicator to push back against the rather formidable forces behind the anti-environmentalist movement. I sincerely hope you will consider supporting this non-traditional avenue towards global sustainability and conservation. I have already been accepted to one of the most prestigious communications undergraduate programs in the country and I plan to minor in environmental studies . In addition, I maintain a relationship with my former supervisors at Save the Manatee and Sea World, who will be invaluable resources for finding employment upon graduation. I thank the committee for thinking outside the box in considering my application.
Get the international student newsletter.
How to Write a Scholarship Essay
- Read the scholarship essay prompt and instructions
- Outline your scholarship essay
- Start writing your scholarship essay
- Open with a hook
- Use basic writing skills
- Keep your scholarship essay descriptive but concise
- Be professional
- Be creative and different
- Let your voice shine through
- Make your scholarship essay stand out
- Make your conclusion powerful
- Revise and edit your first draft
- Read your scholarship essay out aloud
- Prepare to submit your scholarship essay
Frequently asked questions about writing scholarship essays
How do you write a winning scholarship essay, how do you begin a scholarship essay, do scholarship essays need a title, where do i put my name in a scholarship essay.
- How do you answer "tell me about yourself" in a scholarship essay?
How do you start a scholarship essay about yourself?
What to say when asked why you deserve a scholarship, how do you sell yourself in a scholarship essay, how to make a good impression in a scholarship essay, how long should a scholarship essay be, can i reuse my scholarship essays, where can you find scholarships to apply for, top scholarships with upcoming deadlines.
1000 Bold Points No-Essay Scholarship
"Be Bold" No-Essay Scholarship
Forget Your Student Debt. No-Essay Grant.
Writing a scholarship essay is a required part of many applications as a way for the scholarship committees to learn more about the candidates and their motivations. They have the power to make or break your scholarship application. Because of this, writing a scholarship essay can often seem stressful and daunting.
As a way to ease the essay writing process, we have compiled steps for writing strong scholarship essays, tips to make them stand out to a scholarship committee, and questions students often ask as they begin their scholarship applications. Here are the top scholarship essay tips to earn scholarship money:
- Thoroughly read the prompt and instructions
- Create a solid essay outline
- Start writing early
- Open with a solid hook
- Prioritize basic writing skills
- Keep it descriptive, yet concise
- Be creative
- Let your individual voice shine through
- Stand out from the rest
- Finish with a powerful conclusion
- Read your scholarship essay out loud
Read below for more context and frequently asked questions about scholarship essays and create an account with Bold.org to unlock hundreds of exclusive scholarships ! .
1) Read the scholarship essay prompt and instructions
Always read the prompt before writing. It sounds like a simple suggestion, but if you don't understand what the prompt is asking, you won't be able to properly answer the question. Additionally, do research on the donor to understand the purpose of their scholarship . Many organizations have a mission statement and individual donors are often giving the scholarship in memorial of a loved one. Keep in mind the purpose of the scholarship provider's essay topic so you are able to understand and appreciate the scholarship program.
Get Matched to Thousands of Scholarships
Create your Bold.org profile to access thousands of exclusive scholarships, available only on Bold.org.
Understand what the scholarship committees are asking for, and ensure that you know the word limit, page requirements, and/or other scholarship requirements in advance. If the essay question has multiple parts, pay attention to each part to make sure you are fully answering the question. It seems simple, but a scholarship provider looks to make sure you are properly answering the question.
2) Outline your scholarship essay
Don't start writing blindly. Once you have a good understanding of the scholarship essay prompts, make note of what you want to say and in what order . How do you want to open it? What are the key points you want to address? Answering questions like these can help ensure your essay is cohesive and well-written.
Browse scholarships with 2022 deadlines and use the drop-down filters to find the perfect scholarship for you!
3) Start writing your scholarship essay
Don't wait until the last minute to start writing your scholarship essay. The earlier you start writing your essay, the more time you have to plan, write, and edit. You have a better chance at success if you start early , rather than waiting until just before the scholarship application deadline to begin.
4) Open with a hook
Now that you have your scholarship essay format, it's time to begin the writing process. When you read strong scholarship essay examples, they almost always lead with something insightful or intriguing. Grab the reader's attention in a way that encourages them to read on. Don't start with a quote, a dictionary definition, or a generic cliché. Make what you have to say original , and show the committee right off the bat that you have something to say.
5) Use basic writing skills
Never underestimate the importance of good writing skills. Whether you're a high school student or a college student, using proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar is extremely important . Scholarship applications will be more credible, and it will show donors you have put thought and care into your essay.
6) Keep your scholarship essay descriptive but concise
As you get into your main paragraphs, remember that you are telling some sort of story. If your writing is bland and provides little detail, you are less likely to illustrate your point. Using the "show, don't tell" method is a helpful way to keep your writing interesting and descriptive. At the same time, don't go overboard with your descriptions. Be detailed, but don't let that cover up the point of your essay.
7) Be honest
Not every essay prompt is easy to answer. However, it is important that you are honest in what you write about in your essay. Don't make up a story that you think sounds impressive. A personal statement is looking to hear about what makes you special, not what stories you can create to make yourself sound more qualified.
8) Be professional
One of the most important scholarship essay tips to remember is to be professional. Put personality in your writing, but remember that you aren't talking to your best friend or sending a text. In other words, steer clear of slang words, excessive punctuation, and text lingo .
9) Be creative and different
The review committee will read many essays when choosing who will receive their scholarship award. When deciding who they give the scholarship money to, the review committee will look for essays that stand out. This means combining all of the scholarship essay tips from above to create a scholarship application that highlights your strengths, uniqueness, and personality. Be personal and follow scholarship essay tips, and you will write a compelling essay.
10) Let your voice shine through
Scholarship essays are brief but give you the time to tell the scholarship committee who you are and why you are the best candidate for the scholarship. Robotic and strictly informative essays may be technically adequate, but if you want your essay to stand out, make your personal statement personal. Showcase your personality in a way that is professional but shows the committee what makes you special.
11) Make your scholarship essay stand out
It's easy to write just anything, but it's harder learning how to write a scholarship essay that stands out from all the other scholarship essays the committees receive. If you want your scholarship to be creative and unique, steer clear of common clichés , song lyrics, and quotes. Scholarship committees want to hear what you have to say, not what somebody else already said.
The best essay examples are those that tell a clear story. While you may be tempted to share your whole life story in a scholarship essay, not every moment from your life is relevant to the essay prompt. Plus, the word count often doesn't allow this anyway. Instead, pick a key moment that highlights your character, your accomplishments, or something that you feel passionate enough about to write about. Stick to a scholarship essay format that allows you to share about yourself while still being concise and answering the essay prompts.
12) Make your conclusion powerful
When thinking about how to write a scholarship essay, remember the importance of a powerful beginning and ending. The end of your essay is the last thing read and therefore is the last thing the reader remembers. Bring the scholarship essay full circle without making general statements, such as "this is why you should pick me as your scholarship winner."
13) Revise and edit your first draft
No matter how good of an essay you've written, there is always room for improvement. Rough drafts are just the start . Take the time to look at your scholarship essay with a critical eye, pinpointing areas you can improve for the finalized draft.
14) Read your scholarship essay out aloud
A helpful part of the reviewing process is reading your essay out loud. This will allow you to catch mistakes you may not have noticed in your first edits. It also helps you get a sense of the essay's flow . When you read your scholarship essay out loud, ask yourself if there are parts that sound unnatural, forced, or out of place.
15) Prepare to submit your scholarship essay
Before submitting your scholarship essay, double-check that your spelling and grammar are correct, that you answered the essay prompt, and that you met the word count. If you have given yourself enough time to complete the essay before the deadline, you will have had the chance to review your essay before submitting it. Don't wait until the last minute to submit , so that there is no panic if something goes wrong before the deadline.
Now that you're prepared to write your scholarship essay, click below to start applying to scholarships!
There are so many questions that come with writing essays, but we've chosen to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about how to write essays, ways to win scholarships, etc. You can learn more about how to apply for scholarships in this guide .
Earning financial aid from scholarship programs is heavily reliant on the strength of the essay submission. Just like writing college applications, the scholarship essay process takes thought and is often focused on the applicant's life or experiences. Because the topic often focuses on the student's life, it is helpful for students to think back to important moments in their life, ranging from experiences at a young age to middle school times up through the present.
Take these experiences and be creative , writing about personal lessons and experiences, rather than relying on clichés. Use what you're passionate about, for an essay about your dream school or career goals would be more compelling than one simply listing test scores and academic performance successes.
Follow the essential tips from above, layout a strategic essay structure, and submit the best representation of you. There isn't a guarantee for earning this financial aid through scholarships, but following these suggestions will give you a higher chance for future success on scholarships.
Open your first paragraph with something interesting that hooks the reader. At the same time, avoid corny statements and overly dramatic retellings. Don't tell the reader what you're going to do, such as saying "in this essay, I will..." for this is unnecessary. Use your intro to pique the reader's interest , while still giving an idea of what your essay will be about.
This depends on the scholarship. Some essays may require or request a title, but most scholarships on Bold.org do not have a place to add a title. They are rarely required for Bold.org essays, but there are still exceptions. Additionally, other scholarships sites may prefer essays to be titled .
This is another circumstance that depends on where you are applying for the scholarship. On Bold.org , you are submitting your application using your profile , so your name has already been shared in the application. Because of this, it is not necessary to include your name in the essay. Preferences may change depending on where you are applying for scholarships.
How do you answer "tell me about yourself" in a scholarship essay?
This question can be answered in so many different ways, but the most effective essays write less about academic credentials and more about interesting lessons and experiences that make them unique. If filled out thoroughly, your profile should already display your credentials, so use this space to share unique information about yourself, such as experience in the performing arts, time spent in a study abroad program, reasoning behind a college double major, work as an international student, and so on. Each person has a story; use this space to share it .
One of the hardest parts of writing an essay about yourself is figuring out how to start. You want to sell yourself but still be humble, come across as fun but not stupid, show your strengths without ripping on others, etc. So, how should you start?
Don't start with a basic list of your accomplishments, for that doesn't draw readers into your essay. Begin with a hook that illustrates the point of your essay, without explicitly saying it. There is no right or wrong way to start your essay as long as you promote your strengths without being boastful. This is a difficult line to teeter on, but if you are able to showcase yourself in a genuine way, your chances of receiving scholarship financial aid will be much higher.
Scholarships essays are a great place to show off your achievements, experiences, and personality, and this doesn't have to be in an arrogant way! Use a prompt about why you are deserving to share your story. When people know more about you, it becomes more apparent why you are qualified for the scholarship.
Use this section to show how you excel in different areas, giving examples, instead of simply saying that you are adequate in those fields. Share about your community service experiences, talk about your post-secondary education or plans to attend college, and include a note of how many scholarships you are earned in the past and what they were for. Don't be afraid to highlight your credibility, but do it in a way that gives examples . The "show, don't tell" technique is preached throughout schooling, and these essays are a perfect time to put that skill to use.
After you lead into your essay with a strong hook, begin by focusing on your morals and personal strengths. Do this in a way that doesn't just say you are strong in a certain area but shows it. Maybe this is a personal anecdote that shows your helpfulness, or maybe it's an example of your previous awards to demonstrate your academic excellence. Focus less on general academic achievement and more on specific awards, extracurricular activities, community service, and other notable accomplishments.
If your profile already shows your GPA, research experience, awards, and other information in your bio, don't feel that you have to go into depth with a specific list of all of your academic achievements. Stick to the aspects of your resumé that are individual to you , and you'll be more likely to find success in the different scholarship opportunities you apply for.
Many of the things to put in a scholarship essay have already been mentioned, but it is also important to mention what should not be added to an essay. In making a good impression on the scholarship committee, you must ensure that your message is clear. Avoid getting into controversial topics that detract from the focus of your essay, and stay on track to show your organization and thoughtfulness in approaching the scholarship application.
Additionally, don't flat-out say you need the money, even if you are in desperate need of financial assistance. Begging for money or using lack of financial stability as a way of appealing to the committee does not send a good message and often reflects badly on the rest of your application . If you do mention your economic background, do it in a respectful way that doesn't come across as offensive to the donors.
The committees ask the questions they do to get a good judge of a person's ambitions, interests, and most importantly, character. There are possibly many reasons you deserve this scholarship, but many other students are worthy too. Don't insult other applicants in order to make yourself look better. At the end of the day, you can only control yourself, so keep the focus on the positives about you, instead of the negatives about other people.
Most, if not all, scholarship essays have a required word count range for your essay to stay between. Look at this when reading the prompt and preparing to write your essay so that you have an idea of how much to write. Keep your essay well inside the range to be safe.
Strong essays are less reliant on the number of words and paragraphs and more reliant on the quality of the writing. A 400-word essay packed with power can be more effective than a 1000-word essay that is poorly written. Because of this, it is less important to worry about what the committee will think of the length of your essay, as long as it's within the limit, and more important to make your scholarship effective.
In some cases, it is okay to use the same essay, but be aware of what the question is asking and the purpose of the scholarship. For example, if you are applying to a computer science scholarship that wants to know about your interests in the subject, don't use an essay that focuses on your relationship with your family members.
If the prompt is the same for several scholarships and you want to reuse an essay, there is no rule against it. However, be aware of the little changes you can make to improve the applications for various scholarships .
Scholarships are a great way to combat student loans , and Bold.org's mission is to help reduce the cost of student debt, providing a scholarship opportunity for all sorts of people, with different experiences, educations, and interests. In addition to looking for local scholarships in your area, and scholarships offered by your college, use Bold.org as a starting point to find scholarships that are right for you!
How to get scholarships, find the best full-ride scholarships to apply for in 2023, can you get a scholarship for being left-handed.