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  • How to Write a Scholarship Essay | Template & Example

How to Write a Scholarship Essay | Template & Example

Published on October 11, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.

A good scholarship essay demonstrates the scholarship organization’s values while directly addressing the prompt. If you plan ahead , you can save time by writing one essay for multiple prompts with similar questions.

Table of contents

Apply for a wide variety of scholarships, make a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, tailor your essay to the organization and the prompt, write a focused and relevant personal story, scholarship essay example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Scholarships are a type of student financial aid that don’t require repayment. They are awarded based on various factors, including academic merit, financial need, intended major, personal background, or activities and interests.

Like college applications, scholarship applications often require students to submit their grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and an essay.

A scholarship essay shares your values and qualities in the context of a specific question, such as “How does technology affect your daily life?” or “Who has had the greatest impact on your life?”

Be wary of scholarship scams

While some applications may not require an essay, be wary of scholarship scams that do the following:

  • Guarantee you scholarship money for a fee
  • Claim scholarship information is exclusive to their company
  • Ask for your bank or credit card information to hold the scholarship

Some legitimate companies do charge for releasing comprehensive scholarship lists or creating a tailored list of scholarship opportunities based on your profile.

However, you can always discover scholarship opportunities for free through your school counselor, community network, or an online search.

Many students focus on well-known, large scholarship opportunities, which are usually very competitive. To maximize your chance of success, invest time in applying for a wide variety of scholarships: national and local, as well as big and small award amounts. There are also scholarships for international students .

In addition to charitable foundation and corporate scholarships, you should consider applying for institutional scholarships at your prospective universities, which can award money based on your application’s strength, your financial situation, and your demonstrated interest in the school.

Check with your guidance counselor, local organizations, community network, or prospective schools’ financial aid offices for scholarship opportunities. It’s a good idea to start applying as early as your junior year and continue throughout your senior year.

Choose the right scholarships for you

Choose scholarships with missions and essay topics that match your background, experiences, and interests. If the scholarship topic is meaningful to you, it will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay.

Don’t shy away from applying for local scholarships with small dollar amounts. Even a few hundred dollars can help you pay for books.

Local scholarships may be more tailored to your community, background, and activities, so they’re likely more relevant to you. Fewer students apply for these scholarships, so you have less competition and a higher chance of success.

Some places to look for local scholarships include

  • Civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc.
  • Your church, mosque, synagogue, or place of worship
  • Community groups, such as the YMCA
  • Ethnicity-based organizations
  • Your local library or local small businesses
  • Organizations related to your intended major
  • Your city or town
  • Your school district
  • Unions, such as SEIU, the Teamsters, CWA, etc.
  • Your employer or your parents’ employers
  • Banks, credit unions, and local financial institutions

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

While researching scholarship opportunities, create a scholarship tracker spreadsheet to keep track of the following:

  • Scholarship amounts
  • Required application materials

You can use our free Google Sheets template to track your scholarship applications.

Scholarship application tracker template

You can also include scholarship essay prompts in your college essay tracker sheet . By grouping or color-code overlapping essay prompts, you can plan to write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can also reuse or adapt your main college essay .

Even if you’re adapting another essay, it’s important to make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, stays within the word count limit , and demonstrates the organization’s values. The scholarship committee will be able to tell if you reuse an essay that doesn’t quite respond to the prompt, so be sure to tailor it to the questions asked.

Research each organization

Before writing, research the scholarship organization’s mission and reason for awarding the scholarship. Learning more about the organization can help you select an appropriate topic and relevant story.

While you should tailor your essay to the organization’s values, maintain your authentic voice. Never use false or exaggerated stories. If the organization’s values don’t align with yours or you can’t brainstorm a relevant story for the scholarship, continue searching for other scholarship opportunities to find a more appropriate one for you.

After researching the organization, identify a specific personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies why you will be a successful student.

Choose a story with the following criteria:

  • Responds to the prompt
  • Demonstrates the organization’s values
  • Includes an authentic story
  • Focuses on you and your experience, not someone else’s

A good scholarship essay is not

  • A resume of your achievements
  • A lengthy opinion piece about the essay topic
  • An essay featuring a negative tone that puts down others

If appropriate, you can briefly address how the scholarship money will help you achieve your educational goals. You should also end with a brief thank-you.

Take a look at the full essay example below. Hover over the underlined parts to read explanations of why they work.

Prompt: Describe how working for Chelsea’s Chicken restaurant has developed leadership skills that will help you succeed in college. Give specific examples of leadership characteristics that you have exhibited during your employment with us.

As a nervous 16-year-old, I walked into Chelsea’s Chicken for my first day of work determined to make enough money to put gas in my car and buy pizza on the weekends. My only previous job was mowing my neighbors’ lawns when they were on vacation, so I had no idea what to expect. I was a bit intimidated by my new responsibilities, especially handling money and helping disgruntled customers.

However, it didn’t take me long to learn my way around the cash register and successfully address customer complaints. One day, Roger, the store manager, asked me if I wanted to join Chelsea’s Chicken Leadership Training Initiative. He said he saw leadership potential in me because of my attitude with the customers and my enthusiasm for learning new job responsibilities. It surprised me because I had never thought of myself as a leader, but I quickly agreed, and Roger handed me a three-ring binder that was thicker than my math and science textbooks put together! He told me to take it home and read over it during the following week.

In that binder, I discovered that being a leader means taking the initiative, especially when the job is undesirable. One week later, I got to practice that idea when a little kid threw up in the bathroom and missed the toilet. It smelled terrible, but I stepped forward and told Roger that I would clean it up. My coworkers thought I was crazy, but I started to believe in my leadership potential.

That night as we closed the store, Roger pulled me aside in the parking lot and told me that he could tell that I had been studying the manual. He wanted to give me more responsibility, along with a dollar-per-hour pay raise. I was surprised because I had been working there for only a couple of months, but his encouragement helped me make a connection: good leadership helps other people, and it often is rewarded. I was determined to experience more of both.

Within a month, I was ready to take the Team Leader exam, which mattered because I would receive a promotion and a much bigger raise if I passed. But, when I got to work, two of the scheduled team members had called in sick. We were noticeably short-handed, and our customers weren’t happy about it.

I walked back to the lockers, put on my vest and hat, and took my place behind an open register. Customers immediately moved into my line to place their orders. Roger looked at me with surprise and asked, “Did you forget that you’re testing tonight?” I responded, “No, sir—but what’s the use of taking a leadership test if you aren’t going to lead in real life?” Roger smiled at me and nodded.

He stayed late that night after we closed so that I could leave early and still take the test. I noticed that Roger was always staying late, helping employees learn new skills. His example taught me that leaders take the initiative to develop other leaders. He gave me a clear picture of what shared leadership looks like, making room for others to grow and excel. When I asked him where he learned to do that, he said, “From the same leadership manual I gave you!”

Chelsea’s Chicken has offered me so much more than a paycheck. Because of Roger’s example, I have learned to take the initiative to care for my family and friends, such as being the first to do the dishes without my mom asking or volunteering to pick up my friend for our SAT prep course. Now, as I prepare to enter college, I have confidence in my leadership ability. I know I’m signing up for a challenging major—Biology, Pre-Med—yet I also know that Chelsea’s Chicken has helped me to develop the perseverance required to complete my studies successfully.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
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  • How to end an email
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A scholarship essay requires you to demonstrate your values and qualities while answering the prompt’s specific question.

After researching the scholarship organization, identify a personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies how you will be a successful student.

Invest time in applying for various scholarships , especially local ones with small dollar amounts, which are likely easier to win and more reflective of your background and interests. It will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay if the scholarship topic is meaningful to you.

You can find scholarships through your school counselor, community network, or an internet search.

You can start applying for scholarships as early as your junior year. Continue applying throughout your senior year.

Yes, but make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, respects the word count , and demonstrates the organization’s values.

If you plan ahead, you can save time by writing one scholarship essay for multiple prompts with similar questions. In a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, you can group or color-code overlapping essay prompts; then, write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can even reuse or adapt your main college essay .

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  • Writing Tips

​How to Write a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

​How to Write a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

  • 6-minute read
  • 22nd August 2022

Writing a scholarship essay can seem like a daunting task. For many students , higher education isn’t possible without financial aid, and scholarships are especially valuable because the money awarded doesn’t have to be paid back.

Even though the stakes are high, there are a few manageable steps you can take to ensure you write a great essay to submit with your scholarship applications. We have a few top tips to help you get started, along with writing examples to demonstrate some key points. Check out our guide below to learn more.

A scholarship essay is a great opportunity to present yourself and your accomplishments in an impactful way. It is, therefore, essential to be aware of each scholarship deadline so you can allow sufficient time for the writing process, which typically includes the following:

·   Read the essay prompt and brainstorm ideas.

·   Create an outline covering the key points you want to address.

·   Write a draft and seek feedback from trusted teachers, family, or friends.

·   Make any necessary revisions and proofread before submitting your final draft.

Scholarship review committees will be able to tell if you rushed through your essay, so give yourself the best chance of winning an award by staying organized and on schedule!

Who and What?

Researching the scholarship provider and diligently reviewing the essay prompts can help you write an essay that makes you stand out as a top candidate.

1. Who are you writing to?

Learn more about the organization offering the scholarship and why the scholarship fund was created.

For instance, a scholarship may honor its organization’s founder, and the founder’s qualities (e.g., integrity, good citizenship, and leadership) might be the same values guiding the scholarship program as a way to continue the founder’s legacy.

If you identify with any of the same qualities, you can incorporate those keywords into your essay to demonstrate your shared values. Remember to remain authentic, though!

2. What are you writing about?

You must read the essay prompt carefully to identify precisely what you need to accomplish with your essay.

Some prompts ask about your career goals and how you plan to achieve them or your achievements and the challenges you overcame to reach them.

You’ll write about common topics across multiple scholarship applications – some may even be similar to your college admission essay – so you can repurpose your essays as long as you’re diligent about tailoring each one to its prompt.

Your application will likely require other items such as transcripts and test scores, but the essay is your chance to offer something entirely unique. Write about key experiences that highlight who you are and what you’ve accomplished, or you could mention something you’re passionate about.

Remember to follow any specific instructions regarding length and formatting, and be sure to answer all questions listed in the prompt. It can hurt your chances if you’re unable to show the committee that you’re detail-oriented and can follow directions.

Structuring Your Essay

Your essay should follow a standard format that includes a clear beginning, middle, and end. Typically, you should:

·   Establish your main idea in the introduction.

·   Include a separate body paragraph for each key point that supports your main idea.

·   Draw it all together and revisit your main idea in the conclusion.

Scholarship committees read thousands of essays each year. And often, there are hundreds of applicants for an award that can only go to a select few candidates. Writing a powerful introduction and conclusion gives you a chance to make a lasting impression.

1. Introduction

Write an introduction that hooks the reader and encourages them to stay engaged till the end of your essay. Don’t be afraid to add personal, tangible details and an anecdote .

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For example, if you’re writing about your career goals, demonstrate why you’ve chosen that career:

It was the biggest game of the season, and the stands were packed despite the bitter cold. My heart was beating louder than all of the cheers, and I was filled with the anticipation that one more run into the end zone would give us the championship. Everything went silent during that run when the tackle shattered both my leg and my dreams.

My world has always revolved around being an athlete – until one day it couldn’t. I spent many frustrating months rehabilitating, but I got through it because of my dedicated physical therapist, who helped me recover both physically and mentally after a devastating loss. And it was that profound experience that led me to pursue a career in the exercise sciences.

2. Conclusion

The conclusion is the last thing your reader will see, so it’s another opportunity for you to make your essay memorable.

Rather than summarizing with a general statement such as “this is why you should award me a scholarship,” perhaps explain what the financial assistance will help you achieve:

My parents never had the opportunity to go to college, and neither did their parents. I watched them work hard every day just to make ends meet, and I often questioned whether I could achieve anything more. Nevertheless, I spent four years working as hard as I saw my parents work, and I beat the odds by getting accepted to college. A scholarship could be invaluable for me, as it would allow me to attend and be successful without having to worry about finances.

Persuasive Writing

While you don’t want your scholarship essay to be overly informal, you’re certainly allowed to add some creativity and personal details to help persuade your readers.

One of the best ways to do so is by writing with the modes of persuasion ; that is, ethos, pathos, and logos.

Demonstrate your credibility. Use your real-life experiences and interesting details to establish, for example, how you’ve contributed to your community:

I saw how much bullying was impacting so many students at my school, so I founded my high school’s first anti-bullying club and organized campaigns to bring attention to the harm that people can cause one another.

Evoke an emotional response. The “show, don’t tell ” writing technique, which involves using descriptive words when discussing actions and emotions, can be especially useful here:

During one of our first awareness assemblies, the theater was completely silent as I read aloud anonymous stories from students about the scars bullying had left on their lives. Tears were stinging in my eyes as I described the struggles my classmates were facing, but I persevered to give a voice to those who didn’t have one.

Convey your point with reason and facts. Use statistics to demonstrate what you’ve accomplished:

In the first year alone, our club improved students’ feelings of safety and acceptance at our school by 53%.

Proofreading and Editing

Don’t forget the importance of proofreading your essay, as spelling and grammar mistakes can leave a bad impression on your reader. Our expert editors can help ensure your writing is clear, concise, and error-free. Give yourself a better chance at impressing scholarship committees by submitting a free trial document today!

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., writing a winning college scholarship essay.

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).

Student writing scholarship essay

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.

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Table of Contents

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

  • Financial Aid
  • April 7, 2023

Mastering the Art of Scholarship Essay Writing: Proven Tips and Techniques

Writing a scholarship essay is a critical step in the journey towards securing financial aid for your education. It’s an opportunity to showcase your strengths, aspirations, and personality to the scholarship committee. 

This guide will walk you through the process of crafting an essay that not only meets the criteria but also stands out in a pool of applicants. From understanding the prompt to submitting your final draft, each step is crucial in articulating your story compellingly.

A well-written scholarship essay can make a significant difference in your application. It’s your chance to make a personal connection with the committee and demonstrate why you are the ideal candidate for the scholarship.

When it comes to advancing education as an adult, seeking out Scholarships for adults becomes a pivotal step. These specialized scholarships cater to the unique needs and circumstances of mature learners, offering invaluable financial support for their educational pursuits. Understanding the availability and application process for such scholarships is key to empowering adult learners in their academic journeys

Exploring scholarships for single parents opens doors to crucial educational opportunities tailored to the unique challenges and aspirations of those raising children on their own. These scholarships aim to provide essential financial support, acknowledging the resilience and determination of single parents pursuing higher education. Understanding the eligibility criteria and application process for these scholarships is key to accessing this targeted assistance.

I. Understanding Scholarship Essay Prompts

The first step in writing a scholarship essay is to thoroughly understand the prompt. Scholarship essay prompts are designed to elicit specific information about your background, experiences, goals, and perspectives. 

They often focus on topics like personal achievements, challenges you’ve overcome, career aspirations, or your impact on the community.

Read the prompt several times and highlight key words or themes. Ensure you understand what the prompt is asking and keep these requirements in mind throughout the writing process. 

Addressing the prompt directly and thoughtfully is essential to creating a relevant and impactful essay.

II. Research and Preparation

Before you start writing, research the scholarship provider and understand their mission and values. This knowledge will help you tailor your essay to align with their expectations and criteria. 

Look for any specific qualities or experiences they might be seeking in a candidate.

Gather information about your own experiences, achievements, and goals that are relevant to the scholarship. This preparation lays the groundwork for an essay that is both personal and aligned with the scholarship’s objectives.

III. Brainstorming and Outlining

Begin by brainstorming ideas for your essay. Think about your life experiences, challenges, achievements, and goals that relate to the prompt. 

Make a list of these ideas and consider how they reflect your character and align with the scholarship’s criteria.

Create an outline to organize your thoughts and structure your essay. 

An outline helps ensure that your essay has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion, and that each part contributes cohesively to the overall narrative.

IV. Writing the Introduction

The introduction of your scholarship essay is crucial in capturing the reader’s attention. Start with a hook – a compelling statement, anecdote, or fact that piques interest. 

Your introduction should provide a glimpse into the theme of your essay and set the tone for what follows.

Briefly mention the main points you will cover in your essay. However, keep the introduction concise and focused, saving the detailed explanations for the body of the essay.

V. Developing the Body of the Essay

The body of your essay is where you delve into the details of your story. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point or aspect of your narrative. 

Use examples and experiences to illustrate your points, making your essay vivid and engaging.

Connect your experiences to the scholarship prompt, demonstrating how they have shaped you and prepared you for the future. 

Be honest and reflective, showing personal growth and a clear understanding of your goals.

VI. Crafting a Memorable Conclusion

Your conclusion should leave a lasting impression on the reader. Summarize the key points of your essay, reinforcing how they make you a suitable candidate for the scholarship. End with a strong closing statement that reflects your aspirations and gratitude for the opportunity.

The conclusion is also a chance to reiterate your enthusiasm and readiness for the challenges and opportunities that the scholarship will bring.

VII. Polishing Your Scholarship Essay

Once your draft is complete, it’s time to revise and polish. Read your essay several times, checking for clarity, coherence, and flow. 

Ensure that your essay directly addresses the prompt and stays focused on the main theme.

Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Consider asking a teacher, mentor, or friend to review your essay and provide feedback. Their insights can help refine your essay further.

VIII. Capturing Your Unique Voice

Your scholarship essay should reflect your unique voice and perspective. Write in a tone that is true to yourself, avoiding overly formal or academic language if it doesn’t fit your natural style. Your authenticity will make your essay more relatable and memorable.

Use your voice to convey your personality, enthusiasm, and sincerity. Remember, the scholarship committee is interested in getting to know you as an individual, not just as a list of achievements.

IX. Adhering to Formatting and Style Guidelines

Pay close attention to any formatting and style guidelines provided by the scholarship committee. These might include word count limits, font type and size, margin requirements, and document format. 

Adhering to these guidelines demonstrates your attention to detail and respect for the application process.

If specific guidelines are not provided, use a standard format: 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced text, and one-inch margins. Keep your essay clean and professional in appearance.

X. Reviewing Sample Scholarship Essays

Reviewing sample scholarship essays can provide valuable insights into what makes an effective essay. Look for essays that successfully address the prompt and convey the writer’s personality and experiences. 

Analyze how these essays are structured, how they develop their narrative, and how they engage the reader.

Use these samples as inspiration, but remember to maintain your own voice and style. Your essay should be a reflection of your unique experiences and perspectives.

XI. Submitting Your Scholarship Essay

Once your essay is polished and ready, it’s time to submit. Double-check the submission requirements, such as the format (e.g., PDF, Word document) and method (e.g., email, online form). 

Ensure that your essay is correctly named and includes any required information, such as your name and contact details.

Submit your essay before the deadline, allowing time for any technical issues or last-minute revisions. Keep a copy of your submitted essay for your records.

Understanding the process by which scholarship winners are determined involves considering various factors. Academic achievements, demonstrated leadership, community involvement, essays or interviews, and sometimes financial need all play roles in the selection process. Additionally, each scholarship program may have its specific criteria for evaluating and selecting recipients.

XII. Conclusion

Writing a scholarship essay is a journey of self-reflection and communication. It’s an opportunity to share your story, aspirations, and qualities with the scholarship committee. 

By understanding the prompt, preparing thoroughly, and expressing your unique voice, you can craft an essay that not only meets the criteria but also resonates with the readers.

Remember, a great scholarship essay is more than just words on a page; it’s a window into who you are and what you aspire to achieve. 

With dedication and authenticity, your essay can be a powerful tool in securing the financial support you need to pursue your educational goals.

How to write a winning scholarship essay . (2023, September 15). Top Universities. https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/scholarship-advice/how-write-winning-scholarship-essay 8

Steps for Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay . (n.d.). https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/scholarship-essays

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How to Write a Scholarship Essay - The Complete Guide

Student writing scholarship essay

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 12/8/23

If you’re a student hoping to secure a scholarship, it’s vital to understand how to write a scholarship essay. Keep reading to learn how. 

Scholarship essays provide an opportunity for students to showcase their aspirations to scholarship committees and serve as a platform to demonstrate academic achievements, leadership abilities, community involvement, and future goals. 

They play a crucial role in determining the recipients of financial assistance , as they allow committees to assess candidates' suitability for the scholarship. By carefully crafting a compelling scholarship essay, you can significantly increase your chances of getting funding for your education and opening doors to your future.

There are a ton of diverse scholarships to choose from, including many full-ride scholarships , providing students with ample opportunities to pursue their education without the burden of financial constraints. Some excellent scholarships include the Fulbright Scholarship and the National Merit Scholarship , among many others. 

If you’re seeking guidance on how to write a good scholarship essay, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll go over everything you need to know and show you examples of successful scholarship essays. 

10 Tips to Write a Successful Scholarship Essay

female student writing on paper

Crafting quality scholarship essays requires careful planning, thoughtful execution, and a deep understanding of what scholarship committees are looking for. Here are some key strategies and scholarship essay tips to help you create a standout essay:

Understand the Prompt

Start by thoroughly understanding the essay prompt and any specific guidelines provided. Pay attention to the key themes, requirements, and expectations outlined.

Research and Personalize

Researching the scholarship organization is crucial. Understand their values and goals, and ensure your essay reflects them. Show genuine interest and connection.

Thorough research helps tailor your essay, aligning with the scholarship's objectives. It demonstrates dedication and sets you apart.

Research also provides compelling information, supporting your arguments and boosting credibility. A well-researched essay effectively communicates your qualifications and motivations.

Tell Your Unique Story

Your essay should reflect your authentic voice and experiences. Share personal anecdotes and impactful moments that highlight your character, resilience, and achievements. Make it compelling and memorable.

Be Clear and Concise

Write with clarity and precision. Use simple and concise language to effectively convey your ideas. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complex sentences that may confuse the reader. Taking care of both writing simplicity and conciseness at once may not be easy for some of you. If you are one of them, then get some help from a summarizer . It will quickly make your given essay both simple and short by removing all the unnecessary words and phrases.

Structure and Organization

Develop a well-structured essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Ensure a logical flow of ideas and maintain coherence throughout the essay.

Planner and cup of coffee

Address the Selection Criteria

Explicitly address the selection criteria specified by the scholarship committee. Showcase how you meet and exceed their expectations, emphasizing your academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement, or any other relevant qualities.

Proofread and Edit

Always proofread your essay for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and clarity of expression. Edit it to improve sentence structure, coherence, and overall effectiveness. Consider seeking feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers.

Stand Out and Be Memorable

Capture the attention of the reader with a strong opening and a compelling conclusion. Be creative, passionate, and genuine. Make your essay memorable by showcasing your unique perspective and contributions.

Follow Instructions and Deadlines

Ensure that your essay adheres to all the guidelines and requirements set by the scholarship program. Submit your essay well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications.

Be sure to look into specific guidelines and instructions to avoid scholarship displacement . Always read the fine print!

Revise and Refine

Continuously revise and refine your essay. Seek feedback, incorporate suggestions, and make necessary improvements. Aim for a polished and refined final draft.

Remember, writing a winning scholarship essay takes time and effort. Stay true to yourself, express your aspirations, and demonstrate your potential. With careful attention to detail, you can write an engaging essay that sets you apart and increases your chances of securing the scholarship you desire.

person writing on paper with pen

Mistakes to Avoid in a Scholarship Essay

It can easily fall into certain common traps when writing your scholarship essays. Here are some errors that you need to stay far, far away from! 

  • Not Answering the Question or Prompt : Don’t let your essay wander off-topic; it makes you look thoughtless and absent-minded. To show that you’ve read the instructions and care about writing a good essay, stay focused on what the prompt asked you to write about. 
  • Using Quotes : Not only are quotes often cliche, but they also take up valuable space in your essay. You only have a certain number of words to play with, and your readers want to know about you , not Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • Repeating Your Application : Your scholarship essay is a place for you to provide new information that can’t be found anywhere else on your application. Use it to talk about your passions, motivations, and future goals - things that the committee couldn’t otherwise know about. 
  • Telling, Not Showing : Use examples and anecdotes to show the committee who you are. Don’t just say, “I’m a very determined person.” Instead, share a story about a time you demonstrated determination to prove it.  
  • Not Proofreading : Avoid grammar and spelling errors at all costs! Almost nothing makes you look less professional than a typo. Proofread your work several times. You can even ask friends or family members to read it over for you, too. 

Male student reading paper

Scholarship Essay Format

The scholarship essay format plays an important role in effectively conveying your story to the scholarship committee. While specific requirements may vary, there are some common elements to include in your essay.


Begin with an opening that grabs the reader's attention and introduces the main theme or topic of your essay. The introduction is an important part of a scholarship essay as it sets the tone and serves as your first opportunity to make a strong impression and engage the scholarship committee. 

A well-crafted introduction should provide a clear overview of your essay's main theme and establish a sense of your unique voice and perspective. Your introduction should compel the reader to keep reading.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a chance to share everything that shapes your academic journey. To write a strong one, it’s always helpful to draw inspiration from personal statement samples . They can help demonstrate how to stand out by highlighting achievements and lessons learned.

Scholarship committees seek academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. Align your values with the scholarship's mission and show how you'll contribute positively to your field or community.

person writing on paper

Goals and Aspirations

Clearly articulate your educational and career goals, explaining how the scholarship will contribute to your future plans and how you intend to make a positive impact in your chosen field.

Clearly expressing your goals in a scholarship essay allows the scholarship committee to understand your commitment and aspirations. It shows you have a clear plan for your future and that the scholarship funds will be used effectively to support your educational and career endeavors. 

Articulating your goals also helps the committee assess how well the scholarship aligns with your ambitions, increasing your chances of being selected as a deserving candidate.

Relevance to Scholarship

A key part of grasping how to write a scholarship essay is understanding how to make it contextually relevant. Connect your experiences, goals, and values to the specific scholarship you’re applying for. Explain why you’re an ideal candidate and how the scholarship aligns with your academic, professional, or personal aspirations.

blank notebook with pen

Let's say you’re applying for a scholarship that supports students pursuing environmental science. In your essay, you would want to demonstrate your passion for environmental conservation and your dedication to making a positive impact in this field. 

You can start by sharing a personal anecdote about a formative experience that sparked your interest in environmental science, such as participating in a community cleanup or witnessing the effects of pollution in your hometown.

Next, you can highlight your academic achievements and extracurricular activities related to the environment, such as taking relevant coursework, conducting research on sustainable practices, or volunteering for environmental organizations. 

You can emphasize specific projects you’ve worked on, such as creating a recycling initiative at your school or organizing a tree-planting campaign.

You should also directly address how the scholarship aligns with your goals and aspirations. For example, you can mention how receiving the scholarship would enable you to pursue advanced studies in environmental science, conduct research on climate change, or develop innovative solutions to environmental challenges. 

It’s helpful to emphasize how the scholarship will not only support your academic journey but also empower you to contribute to the scholarship organization's mission and make a meaningful difference in the field of environmental science.

By weaving together your personal experiences, academic achievements, and future goals in a way that directly relates to the scholarship's focus on environmental science, you can create a scholarship essay that resonates with the scholarship committee.

scholarship essay writing tips

Supporting Evidence

If you're wondering how to write a good scholarship essay that still feels like you, remember to tie in your own experiences. A key part of doing this effectively is providing evidence to support your narrative. 

Provide examples, anecdotes, and specific achievements to support your claims and demonstrate your qualifications. Use vivid language and storytelling techniques to make your essay engaging and memorable. Consider including the following to strengthen your essay.

  • Academic achievements
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer and community service
  • Work experience
  • Personal challenges and growth
  • Research or projects
  • Excerpts from letters of recommendations

Summarize your key points, reiterate your passion for your chosen field, and express gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for the scholarship.

Remember to adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by the scholarship committee, such as word count limits, font styles, or document structure. Proofread your essay carefully for grammar, spelling, and coherence.

It’s also a good idea to consider seeking feedback from teachers, mentors, or writing centers to enhance the overall quality of your essay.

Two men sitting at desk talking

Common Scholarship Essay Prompts

The following scholarship essay prompts are courtesy of the University of Alaska . Use them to brainstorm how you’ll approach your own scholarship essays. If you land a scholarship interview , you’ll likely face similar questions to these as well. 

Looking closely at these prompts will help you understand how to write a scholarship application essay. 

Tell Us About a Mistake You Made or a Time You Failed and What You Learned. 

Mistakes happen to everyone—it's a fact of life. But here's the thing: acknowledging your mistakes shows maturity and readiness for college. It's not just about admitting you messed up; it's about explaining what you learned and how you've grown as an individual. Interviewers value self-awareness and a willingness to learn from slip-ups.

Scholarship providers understand that perfection doesn't exist. They're interested in how you've learned from failures, whether they were academic, professional, or personal. Break down the failure, its reasons, and how it ultimately made you a better person.

Additionally, share a valuable lesson you've gained, like how you would approach similar situations in the future or how that experience transformed your life. This is your chance to showcase your ability to learn and persevere, leaving a lasting impression.

Female student working on computer

Tell Us About a Time When You Had a Belief or Idea Challenged. 

Have you ever been abroad or taken a family trip to a foreign country? You may have had an eye-opening conversation with a teacher, religious leader, or friend. Here's something to think about: recall a moment that pushed your beliefs or ideas to the edge–or maybe even changed them completely.

Start by explaining your initial understanding of the idea, then dive into that moment when it got challenged. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you feeling? Share all the juicy details!

Afterward, talk about how it impacted you. Did it make you question everything? Or did it open your mind to new possibilities? Scholarship providers love to see reflection and growth, so make sure to paint the whole picture in your essay.

What Is Your Greatest Strength? 

If you're a skilled performer, talk about how much you loved your high school drama class or share your approach to tackling a monologue. If math is your thing, share a story about how you helped someone get a handle on the quadratic formula. This is also a good question for an athletic scholarship essay. 

For the writers out there, let them know about your talent and how it has brought positivity to your life or how you use it to assist others. No matter what your strength is, be specific and provide examples to back it up. Show them why you're exceptional in your field, and let your skills shine through.

Man flexing muscles

What Is Your Biggest Weakness? 

When discussing your weaknesses, it's important to present them in a positive light. Let's say you struggle with time management. Instead of simply admitting this, you can explain how you recognized the issue and took proactive steps to improve. 

For example, you could share how you implemented a daily planner or started using time management apps to stay organized and meet deadlines effectively. Be honest about the initial difficulties you faced, but emphasize the strategies you adopted to overcome this weakness.

By demonstrating your proactive approach and growth mindset, you show that you're committed to personal development and constantly striving for improvement.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? 

You don't need to have your entire future figured out, but the scholarship committee wants to know you have some sort of plan. What are your goals in college? And what do you see yourself doing after graduation? 

Show how this scholarship can help you achieve those goals and give you a head start. Maybe you’re hoping to pursue a specific career or make a difference in your community. 

Talk about how this opportunity will give you the resources, support, or experiences you need to succeed. Let them see your vision and how this scholarship fits into your game plan. 

Man writing on paper

Scholarship Essay Examples

You can find real-life samples of successful scholarship essays below, provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Penn State . Use them as a source of inspiration and to guide you in your own writing journey. 

These scholarship letter examples will offer insights into the content and writing style that can help you craft a compelling essay that stands out among the competition.

Scholarship Personal Statement Example A

Feet like lightning. Arms pressed to the sides. Instruments sounding like nothing I had previously heard. The airing of Riverdance on PBS was my first introduction to anything that could be considered “traditional Irish.” At that time, I had been dancing since I was five years old, so this newfound form of dance was naturally intriguing. My interest in dance and the arts continued to grow and at the age of nine, I began to play the flute. Almost immediately, music was my passion, and I knew someday I wanted to perform. For years, I focused solely on concert flute repertoire, assuming I would become a concert performer. During high school, though, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a hammered dulcimer player who gave me notated Irish music to read, and my interest skyrocketed. I began to listen to traditional Irish groups such as the Chieftains and “Celtic rock” groups such as Seven Nations. During my sophomore year as a flute performance major at Mythic University, I realized study in Ireland was the only way for me to properly learn traditional Irish music and culture.

Fall 20xx was my semester in the Junior Year Abroad (JYA) program at University College Dublin (UCD). Because the JYA program required two areas of emphasis, chose Music and Celtic Civilization. Before arriving in Ireland, I knew the music department at UCD did not offer lessons with private instructors, so I contacted Mr. Bill Dowdall, professor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and principal flautist of the National Concert Orchestra. Mr. Dowdall was willing to give me “classical flute” lessons, but he did not play traditional Irish music (often called “trad”). As my main reason for going to Ireland was to learn trad music, I had to find a teacher. With the help of Mr. Adrian Scahill, my “Irish Traditional Music” lecturer at UCD, and Mr. Dowdall, I found an Irish flute teacher, Mr. Seán Ò Broin.

At least once every week during my time in Ireland, I went to McNeill’s Traditional Music Shop on Capel Street in Dublin to take a trad lesson with Mr. Ò Broin. Irish music is an aural tradition—meaning that in order to perform it authentically, one must learn tunes by ear. Being trained classically, I was used to reading notes on a page, but one cannot analyze Irish music from a classical viewpoint. Trad is a separate and unique art form with its own set of special rules. I learned that lesson firsthand and through an ethnomusicology course at UCD.

Since returning to the United States, I have observed that most people who play Irish music read from “fake books,” which tend to approximate and simplify the complicated, time-honored tradition. Irish music must be learned aurally and personalized by each player with her own ornamentation, nuances, and interpretation of her teacher’s style. I realize that when it comes to seriously studying traditional Irish music, I have only scratched the surface with one semester of lessons. I must return to Ireland if I am to continue the pursuit of knowledge that was begun.

During my graduate study in Ireland, I plan to attend the Irish World Music Centre (IWMC) at the University of Limerick to attain the MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance. The Centre is the only one of its kind in the world, and the degree is unique to this university. Although University College Cork offers a one-year MA in Music, and NUI Maynooth offers a one-year MA in Music (Performance and Musicology), the IWMC is the only school to offer Irish Traditional Music Performance. At my target University of Limerick program, advanced instrumental tuition is provided by world-renowned traditional performers and tutors, and the examinations of repertoire sources and styles of performance are supplemented by important modern non-performance skills such as music business and music technology. The IWMC offers other specialized courses besides my proposed MA, and elective modules in the program will allow me to pursue some of my other interests.

I believe other interests are an integral part of my education and plan to continue gaining more knowledge in each area while studying abroad again. Classes offered through the Irish Traditional Dance and Contemporary Dance Performance programs at the IWMC will allow me to further my dance knowledge outside my world of ballet. Mr. Niall Keegan, Course Director of my prospective MA program, tells me there will be

opportunities to continue my concert studies in ensembles. Not only do I plan to continue with concert flute studies, I also intend to teach private classical lessons. My first ethnomusicology experience at UCD whetted my appetite for exposure to diverse musical cultures and inspired me to apply for the newly approved International Arts Minor at Mythic University. Classes through the Ethnomusicology program at the IWMC will teach me more about other cultures and their special musical traditions. Irish language studies will broaden my understanding of Irish music traditions, and I look forward to beginning these classes while in the country.

Eventually, my goal is to perform in ensembles that incorporate varying musical styles, especially Irish traditional music. Since returning from Dublin, I have led workshops, given recitals, performed a jury for the Mythic University woodwind faculty, and spoken with many people about my Irish learning experiences. My joy comes from educating people about trad music through performance and conversation. I am determined to follow my ambition to share this passion. When my JYA semester ended with my first experience studying in Ireland, I realized how much more I needed to learn about traditional Irish music and culture. I do not merely want to study in Ireland; I must study in Ireland if I plan to pursue my passion. Now, with the Mitchell Scholarship and its many benefits, mastery of Ireland’s distinct musical art form and immersion in its culture are within my grasp. It is an honor to be considered for this perfect opportunity.

girl with flute

Why It Works 

This scholarship sample effectively communicates the applicant's passion for traditional Irish music and their dedication to pursuing a career in the field. The essay starts with an engaging opening anecdote that introduces the writer’s interest in Irish culture and the development of their passion for traditional music. 

The essay also highlights their specific goals, such as participating in the unique program at IWMC, and how this experience will contribute to their growth as musicians, artists, and performers. It also demonstrates the writer’s drive and ambition through the story of how they needed to search for a teacher.  

This essay does a good job of emphasizing the applicant's passion, determination, and resilience, as well as their reliance on the Mitchell Scholarship to make their educational goals a reality. Overall, the essay combines personal experiences, career aspirations, and financial need to make a compelling case for the scholarship.

Scholarship Personal Statement Example B

“I have enough faith in human nature to believe that when people are both economically secure and aware of the value of biological wealth they will take the necessary measures to protect their environment. Out of that commitment will grow new knowledge and enrichment of the human spirit beyond our present imagination" - Edward O. Wilson 

The Earth and every tiny microbe that dwells here is my inspiration, and the intricate functions of a single cell are the only proof I need to believe that the spirit lies in life itself. My one goal is to do anything I can to protect the purity of life.

I am astounded by the rate at which we destroy what can never be replaced, but I have not lost hope. Since I have been at Ohio University I have explored many different areas of study, always pursuing a way to defend the defenseless. 

Through our environmental group at school, Campus Greens, I began to realize the Earth needs scientists who are willing to speak for it. Our latest goal has been to stop long-wall coal mining in Dysart Woods, a virgin forest in Ohio. Many people believe the mine will destroy the woods. 

However, there is not enough evidence to back up that claim. I feel the only way to end the destruction of the forests is through evidence of its importance. During my junior year of high school, I studied in Israel for a quarter. This was the single most important experience of my life.

I saw how diverse life is and how beautiful all of those differences are. In three months my world expanded halfway around the globe. I began to realize that there were millions of species I knew nothing about. 

This idea is what draws me to Costa Rica. I would love to study the amazing diversity of life that the rainforests offer and the communities that they support. What intrigued me the most about Israel was the way Zionists had managed to grow food in a desert. They came and transformed a barren land into a garden.

 Digging into deep rocks to find aquifers and developing elaborate drip irrigation systems to conserve water permitted the beginning of a new culture with new crops. The entire society grew from a dream of living in peace with enough food to eat. 

When I learned about this I decided that after graduating I would like to go into the Peace Corps. My goal is to help improve agriculture in third-world countries, without imposing cultural assimilation. I feel this program would give me insight into rural communities that thrive without submitting to Westernization. 

Eventually, I would like to become a professor of Tropical Agriculture. Since I have been at Ohio University, I have realized what an impact one instructor can have on future generations. Last year I took a class entitled, "Plants and People". We learned about various plants, their origin, and how they have affected humans. 

While the subject was interesting, it was the professor that inspired me. Her lectures came to life with slides of trips she had taken and stories of collecting cassava with local shamans. Her passion is what led me to pursue Tropical Agriculture. I feel that the best teachers are those who can share their own experiences.

I also feel that knowledge gained through experience is of greater value than hours of reading. When I am able to meet the people and smell the plants that I am learning about, the lesson becomes my reality. It is hard for me to comprehend the full beauty that lies in Costa Rica. 

Hopefully, this program will give me the opportunity to explore what textbooks have only begun to explain. 

palm trees

This scholarship essay does a good job of emphasizing the applicant's deep commitment to environmental conservation and their determination to create a meaningful impact on the world. 

The essay begins with a powerful quote that sets the tone for the applicant's commitment to protecting the environment. It highlights their involvement in environmental activism, such as their efforts to stop long-wall coal mining and their belief in the importance of scientific evidence in environmental advocacy. 

This essay also demonstrates the applicant's global perspective gained through studying in Israel and their aspiration to join the Peace Corps to improve agriculture in developing countries. Additionally, it emphasizes the applicant's desire to become a professor of Tropical Agriculture and their belief in the value of experiential learning. 

Overall, this scholarship essay combines personal experiences, environmental advocacy, and career aspirations to make a compelling case for the scholarship.

FAQs: Writing a Scholarship Essay

Are you still wondering how to write a scholarship essay? Here are some frequently asked questions and expert guidance on writing good essays that will increase your chances of securing scholarships.

1. How Do You Start a Scholarship Essay?

To start a scholarship essay, begin with a captivating introduction that grabs the reader's attention and clearly states your purpose. Introduce yourself and provide background information relevant to the scholarship. 

Consider using a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a powerful statement to engage the reader from the very beginning.

2. What Is the Format for a Scholarship Essay?

The format for a scholarship essay typically follows a standard structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction should both grab your reader’s attention as well as introduce the topic. 

The body paragraphs should present your main ideas, provide supporting evidence, and showcase your achievements and experiences. The conclusion should then summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression on the reader. It's important to adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by the scholarship organization.

3. What Not to Write in a Scholarship Essay?

When writing a scholarship essay, it's important to avoid certain pitfalls. First, avoid sharing irrelevant or unrelated information that does not contribute to your application. Second, steer clear of excessive self-promotion or bragging.

Instead, focus on highlighting your accomplishments and experiences with humility. Make sure to avoid controversial or sensitive topics that may offend or alienate the reader. Lastly, be cautious about using clichés or generic statements that don’t highlight your unique qualities or perspectives.

Now that you have a solid understanding of how to write your essay, you can get started. If you ever need a refresher, simply refer back to this guide. 

Mastering the art of writing a scholarship essay can open doors to numerous educational opportunities and financial support. By following the complete guide we've provided on how to write a scholarship essay, you now have the tools and knowledge to understand exactly how to ace your essay.

Remember to carefully plan your essay, focus on highlighting your strengths, and demonstrate your passion and commitment. With practice and dedication, you can craft a scholarship essay that sets you apart and increases your chances of getting the scholarship you deserve. Best of luck on your scholarship essay journey!

Final Thoughts

Writing a scholarship essay gives students a chance to potentially secure valuable educational opportunities, like getting into prestigious Ivy League schools . It also helps to reduce the high costs of education and is a great option for students who are on a tight budget or are applying from out of state . 

Be sure to follow our guide on how to write a scholarship essay, and make sure you have a clear understanding of the essay prompt before highlighting your personal experiences and achievements in your responses. 

Remember to proofread your essay and seek feedback for that extra polish. So, start writing, believe in yourself, and you’ll make a lasting impression with your scholarship essay. It's your time to shine and secure that scholarship!

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How to Start a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

scholarship essay writing tips

Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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scholarship essay writing tips

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

scholarship essay writing tips

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Start a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

As an admissions officer, I reviewed thousands of essays for students seeking admission and scholarships. The essay is one of the most important parts of the scholarship application process–a strong essay can go a long way. However, with so much competition, it is important for your scholarship essay to stand out. That’s why it’s important for you to start a scholarship essay off right!

There are some very simple things that you can do to ensure that your essay is engaging from the very first sentence. In fact, beginning your essay with an exciting opening is one of the most important things you can do, because it will immediately distinguish your essay from the others. 

Keep on reading to learn more about how you can nail the very first sentence and start your essay off right!

Engage the reader with the first sentence

No matter what type of essay you are writing, you will want to ensure that the very first line grabs the attention of the reader. One of the biggest mistakes that students make when starting their essay is simply restating the prompt. This is bland and boring. 

Now, you might be wondering, “how do I engage the reader with the very first line of my essay?”. The good news is that there are several ways that you can do this that are very simple to do. 

Related:  How to answer scholarship essay questions about your career goals

Begin with dialogue

First, you could begin your essay with conversation. This can be an interesting and unexpected way to start your scholarship essay. Maybe someone asked you an unexpected question? Perhaps you were having an interesting conversation with a friend or family member? Either way, dialogue can be a powerful tool to start your essay.

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Put the reader in your shoes.

Alternatively, you can choose to start your essay by placing the reader right in your shoes and show them something from your life. Appeal to the senses and show the reader what you see, hear, smell, or taste. These specific details will help your essay come to life and make it even more memorable. 

Also recommended: What’s the best scholarship essay format?

Scholarship essay introduction example

Next,  we’ll look at a specific example of how you can open up your essay. Let’s say you are applying for the Questbridge scholarship program . One of the essays that you will be asked is:

We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations, and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most influenced you. How are they shaping your future aspirations?

You might be tempted to rephrase the question and start your essay with something like:

“I have grown up in a rural context and this has formed my aspirations and allowed me to accomplish academic success…”

This is generic and will not engage your reader at all. 

Instead, what if you started off your essay with something like this:

“I look outside my bedroom window and see Henry, my favorite chicken, pecking at something in the dirt.” 

Makes a big difference, right? As a reader, you are probably wondering: why does this person have chickens outside their bedroom window? Why did they name this particular chicken Henry?

See also: Here are our top writing & essay scholarships for students!

Keep the ending of your essay in mind as you write the opening

While crafting your opening, be open to ideas about how to close your essay. There is no need to stress about the ending now, but being mindful of effective ways to end an essay is always a good idea. Say you are opening your scholarship essay with Henry the chicken. Is there a way for Henry to make an impactful appearance at the end of the essay to close things out in a way that perfectly wraps everything up? The key is for the essay ending to be meaningful and memorable for the reader. 

Don’t miss: Our free scholarship search tool

If you can’t think of a “wow” scholarship essay beginning, keep writing!

Sometimes, we know what we want to say, point by point, but we are not ready to be creative when it comes to opening an essay. In that case, keep writing! There is always the option of going back and crafting an engaging opening after your essay is written. Simply write your main idea where the first paragraph would be to guide you as you write. After, go back when your creative juices are flowing, and craft the amazing opening (and closing) that your scholarship essay deserves!

Final thoughts

As shown, there are many questions that we as readers will have after reading an engaging essay opening such as the one just shared; We want to learn more about the student who is writing this essay. After all, as a writer trying to stand out in a pile of essays, that is our main goal. 

We hope that you have a better understanding of how to start a scholarship essay so you can maximize your chances of winning scholarships!

Additional resources

Scholarships360 is the go-to for all things college admissions and scholarships! Wondering how to write a 250 word essay and how to write a 500 word essay ? Curious how to write an essay about yourself ? Wow, do we have the resources to help! Additionally, check out our free scholarship search tool to help you finance your college education. Best of luck to you and your future endeavors! 

Key Takeaways

  • The first sentence of the essay is what makes the reader want to continue reading 
  • Engage the reader by appealing to the senses
  • Create a sense of wonder in your essay, making the reader want to learn more about you
  • Keep the ending of the essay in mind as you craft the beginning

Frequently asked questions about how to start a scholarship essay

What is an essay hook, how long should my scholarship essay be, scholarships360 recommended.

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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:

Student on computer, brainstorming

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.

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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 .

Scholarship essay tips for students

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 .

Scholarship Essay Tips - Student on computer

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.

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The Ultimate Guide To Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

Stand out from the rest.

Students sitting together and helping each other with how to write scholarship essays

With the cost of higher education skyrocketing in the last few decades, it’s no surprise that many students seek out scholarships to help cover tuition. As a result, it’s a very competitive endeavor, which is why students need to find ways to stand out. We’ve put together this resource to help write a scholarship essay that will get the application committee’s attention.

How To Find Scholarships

Many students know that they want to apply for scholarships but don’t know where to find them. Honestly, this can be the most difficult and intimidating part of the process for students! Here are some suggestions for where to start. 

Ask a Guidance Counselor

One of the best resources for high school students is their guidance counselor. They are prepared to help students make academic and career plans and should be aware of scholarship opportunities to align with your needs and goals. 

Talk to the College or University

Already have a college or university picked out? Reach out to the school’s financial aid department. In addition to the many scholarships you can find online, they may offer information about funding offered directly through the school. 

Submit a FAFSA Application

Even if a student isn’t planning to accept student loans, they should definitely consider completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not only will the resulting report inform them of any financial assistance for which they qualify, but many scholarship committees require applicants to submit a FAFSA. 

Search Scholarship Websites

There are many scholarship websites where students can find awards and applications. Sites such as Scholarships.com and Scholarship 360 allow you to use filters to narrow down your search results based on your needs and interests. 

We’ve also put together the following guides:

  • How To Get a Full-Ride Scholarship
  • Best Merit-Based Scholarships  
  • Excellent Scholarships for High School Seniors
  • Great Scholarships for Black Students
  • Scholarships for Women
  • Best Scholarship Opportunities for Future Teachers

Do an Internet Search

Head to a search engine, social media platform, or sites like Reddit to look for scholarships. You can even create posts inviting other users to share suggestions.

Ask an Employer

Some workplaces offer tuition benefits or other financial assistance for higher education. If a student is employed, it’s an option to reach out to someone in the HR department to see if they offer any programs or scholarships. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Scholarship Essay

Do: know the rules.

The most important thing anyone can do before writing a scholarship essay is this: Read all of the rules and guidelines and then reread them! Students can even ask someone else to read them too, to make sure they fully understand what they need to do. Failing to follow the rules is one of the main reasons why students are unsuccessful in getting scholarships. 

Do: Set Aside Plenty of Time

Start working on scholarship essays right away. Do not wait until a week (or day!) before the deadline. This gives students time to write several drafts of the essay if needed. Also, you never know when a technology-related issue might strike, so having a little extra time can save you from disaster. 

Do: Research the Scholarship Provider

Dig deep when applying for a scholarship. Find out who is funding the award and spend some time researching the provider. Do they have a vision or mission statement? Do they support any specific causes or types of students? Is there any way that applicants can make themselves more attractive candidates for the specific audience? Students should use this information to their advantage! 

Do: Brainstorm

Students should take some time to think about what they’ve learned about the scholarship essay guidelines and the provider. Then, brainstorm about what they want to say and share and why. Here are some questions to ask as they pertain to education and career goals:

  • Who are you? Think of yourself but also your background.
  • What makes you who you are?
  • What have you done?
  • What do you want to do?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • Why do you need a scholarship?
  • How will it make a difference?
  • Are you a first-generation college student?
  • Do you have any unique qualities or needs?
  • What makes you proud?
  • What lessons have you learned?

These are heavy questions, but finding the answers to at least some of them will help provide the substance needed to write a truly effective scholarship essay. 

Do: Find Ways To Stand Out

Many, many students are applying for scholarships. They have to find a way to stand out from the rest. Students should think of the things they learned when they researched the scholarship provider. Are there any ways they can appeal to that audience? If so, focus on those areas. 

Do: Be Honest

Do not lie on a scholarship application. Let’s say that again: Do not lie on a scholarship application. Students should remind themselves that they are worthy on their own. If an applicant is discovered to be dishonest, it can really hurt them in the long run. 

Do: Stay on Topic

When reading the guidelines for the scholarship and doing brainstorming, be sure to keep the topic of the essay in mind. Everything students share and communicate should be related to the topic. 

Do: Be Professional

Students should use their very best skills when writing a scholarship essay. They should not use slang, casual language, unconventional fonts, emojis, or texting abbreviations. 

Do: Proofread and Edit Multiple Times

It’s a good idea to prepare to write this essay at least three times. First, there’s a rough draft that should be carefully proofread. Students can ask a teacher or other professional to also look at their paper. Then students should repeat this process once or twice more until they’re happy with the results. They shouldn’t just write it and submit it all at once! 

Don’t: Brag

While students want to highlight their strengths and accomplishments, they should not brag. They also don’t want to put down other candidates or people to make themselves look good. Tell a story without embellishments. 

Don’t: Reuse a Scholarship Essay

Students put a lot of effort into writing scholarship essays, but please don’t reuse them! 

Scholarship Essay Sample Outline

Ready to get started? Having a solid outline provides a road map for the journey. Here are some suggestions for making it easier to write a scholarship essay! 


Students should explain who they are and try to make it engaging. Hook readers by sharing a few details that will be elaborated on in the body of the essay. 

Educational and Career Goals

Students should share what they want to study and hope to gain by getting an education, as well as how it will prepare them for their future career. They should be passionate! 

Who Are You?

Student should briefly explain their background, which can include details about family, personal values, and how they got to where they are today. 

Why Are You a Good Candidate for the Scholarship?

This is where students need to really think about what they learned about the scholarship provider. What are they looking for in a candidate? Students should do their best to not only shine as a good student and leader, but also find solid ways to connect with the scholarship provider’s mission. After including some teasers or breadcrumbs in the introduction to hook the reader, this is a good place to share the rest of the story. 

To wrap up a scholarship essay, students should reiterate their commitment to their education and career. Restate how the story shared demonstrates a readiness for college and how winning the scholarship can help the applicant follow their dreams. Best of luck!

Do you have tips on how to write a scholarship essay? Share them below! Plus, check out  The Ultimate Guide to College Scholarships!

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We've put together these guidelines on how to write a scholarship essay to help your submission stand out from the rest.

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Scholarship Essay Writing

Barbara P

Scholarship Essay - A Complete Writing Guide

19 min read

Published on: Mar 8, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

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Winning Scholarship Essay Examples for Students: Tips Included

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Are you a student who is struggling to write a scholarship essay that stands out? 

Are you worried that your application won't get noticed among the hundreds of others that the scholarship committee receives? 

Many students face this challenge every year. But the good news is that there are ways to improve your essay and increase your chances of success.

In this blog, we will explore how to write a scholarship essay that captures the attention of the scholarship committee.

By the end of this blog, you'll have everything you need to write an essay that showcases your qualities and potential. 

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What is a Scholarship Essay?

A scholarship essay is a writing type that a student drafts to impressive the committee to receive financial aid.

This essay is the most crucial part of your college application. It allows the committee to decide why you deserve the scholarship among all the applicants.

Scholarship Essay Format

Every institute requires a specific format in which the applicants are instructed to write their scholarship essays.

However, if there are no requirements for the formatting, work with the basic style. The general formatting of the scholarship essay can be done in the following way:

  • Use Times New Roman font in size 12pt for the entire content.
  • Use double spacing between the lines.
  • Align your content leaving a one-inch margin on all four sides
  • If your essay’s length is more than a page. Then, present your last name and the page number in the top left corner.

A scholarship essay is not lengthy and is usually within a word limit of 500 words. Keep the introduction short, interesting, and clear. 

In order to leave a good impression on the scholarship committee, make sure that you have formatted your essay as per the right and proper scholarship essay format. It will provide an image of your better understanding of the requirements and instructions.

Want to create an impressive scholarship essay? Read our scholarship essay format guide !

How to Start a Scholarship Essay?

If you want your essay content to be effective and focused, carefully take all pre-writing steps. The planning or the pre-writing steps makes it easier for you to present information in a systemized manner.

Start your scholarship essay by taking the following steps:

The first and foremost step to take is to read and understand all the instructions provided. Every college/university provides a set of instructions to let the students know the basic requirements of the document.

All the basic requirements, including the formatting style, are usually given in the guidelines, so read them attentively.

Understanding the prompt is equally important as writing strong content. If you fail to understand the prompt, you will never produce a document that will fulfill the committee’s requirements. This will end up affecting the opportunity to avail of financial assistance.

Understand what objectives and purposes your scholarship essay should be serving and draft your content accordingly. Avoid adding irrelevant information and stick to the actual requirements.

Unlike other essay types, the audience of your scholarship essay is the committee that needs to be impressed. When you know what your audience is looking for in your essay, it will be easier to write according to them.

Your scholarship essay should reflect the best of your personality and the reason for the committee to grant you the scholarship.

The first attempt to grab the reader’s attention is through an interesting essay topic. Select a good topic that you think will make the audience want to read your essay. Pick a topic or theme that you are passionate about and is important to you.

Moreover, make sure that a topic perfectly reflects your content, and best describes your personality.

Once you have a topic in hand, start gathering information. Brainstorm ideas that perfectly complement the prompt and topic of the essay. Conduct research by going through some winning scholarship essay examples.

Carefully observe how they are drafted and what you should include in your assignment. During the planning phase, make bullets about the information you think is relevant enough to help you get the scholarship.

All the gathered information needs to be organized in order to make it understandable for the readers. Arrange the collected data according to the essay outline to ensure logical harmony in the document.

Take steps to prepare a plan for your scholarship applications, and make the writing procedure simpler.

How to Write a Scholarship Essay?

According to the plan developed, start writing your scholarship essay. The planning will keep you focused throughout and will not let you wander or add irrelevant information.

Draft your scholarship essay by writing the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs

Let’s discuss the writing process for each section.

1. Introduction

An introduction of an essay is the first section that either encourages or discourages the audience from reading the entire text. It introduces the applicant and his personality which is discussed in the body section of the essay.

In other words, the introductory paragraph gives a quick review of what your essay will be talking about.

The introduction should be very exciting for the committee. Make your introduction creative and exciting to make the judges read the whole document.

  • A good introduction will include the following elements:
  • The name of the writer and the place where they are applying for the scholarship
  • A catchy hook statement
  • An interesting piece of information to motivate the readers to read the document
  • An unanswered question that will make the audience curious

2. Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay is the second and longest section. It includes all the details about the statements and questions made in the introduction section. If you want your essay to be strong, draft this section according to the committee’s requirements.

Also, add the following information:

  • Interesting Real-Life Experiences - Share interesting events and experiences of your life that inspired you in any way. Show how those courses of events changed your perspectives and behavior.
  • Educational and Career Goals - Precisely present your educational and career goals, the field of study, and college. State the need for financial assistance and why you best deserve it.
  • Achievements and Strengths - Discuss your greatest achievements and strengths that helped you overcome difficult situations.
  • Obstacles -  State obstacles and issues that you faced. Share how you dealt with them and what you learned from them. Discussing the obstacles attempts to connect the writer with the readers emotionally. So creatively mention the challenges and excite the audience.

Your body of the essay should be properly written with connections and transitions between all the paragraphs. Make sure that each paragraph is gradually taking the audience toward the conclusion .

3. Conclusion

Do not worry about thinking about how to end a scholarship essay. Just keep in mind to write this section perfectly as the audience will remember this part of your essay vividly.

The concluding paragraph should contain the following information:

  • Emphasis on the need for financial aid and how you can best make use of it
  • Present the lessons learned from the challenges
  • How tough situations resulted in self-growth
  • A final statement that connects the introduction and the concluding paragraph.

4. Proofreading and Editing

Your work does not finish here.

Once you have written your essay, spend some time revising and proofreading the document. Go through the text a couple of times to make sure there are no punctuation, spelling, or grammar mistakes.

Recheck the formatting done and analyze whether it is understandable by the audience or not. Cross-check your content with the guidelines provided to make sure everything is according to the requirements.

Readout loud or let someone read your essay for you to see how your writing is sounding to the audience. 

Make all edits before submitting the final draft and impress the committee with a well-written and structured piece.

You can also check out this video guide on how to write a scholarship essay!

Scholarship Essay Outline

Developing an outline for your scholarship essay plays a vital role in the overall structuring of the document. An outline is a plan through which you prepare your scholarship essay and make sure no important information is missing in the content.

A scholarship essay can be written using the  basic essay outline .

According to this outline, your scholarship essay will be divided into the following sections:

7 Winning Scholarship Essay Examples 

In order to help you understand the writing process and the format better, some examples of scholarship essays are provided.

Go through these examples carefully and observe how students wrote winning essays.

Why this essay works:

This essay is effective because it tells a compelling story. It showcases the applicant's passion for engineering and their dedication to their education despite financial obstacles. 

Additionally, the essay ties the applicant's career goals to a broader vision of making a positive impact in the world. This shows a sense of purpose and motivation. 

Overall, this essay is well-written, clear, and concise, making a strong case for why the applicant deserves the scholarship.

This essay is effective because it tells a personal story. It highlights the applicant's financial need and how it has impacted their educational journey. 

Additionally, the essay shows the applicant's determination and hard work in overcoming obstacles. 

Overall, this essay is well-written, genuine, and compelling, making a strong case for the scholarship.

This essay tells a personal story that highlights the applicant's determination and perseverance in the face of challenges.

The essay also clearly explains the applicant's career goals and how the scholarship would help them achieve these goals. 

Overall, this essay is well-written, authentic, and compelling.

This essay is effective because it demonstrates the applicant's passion and enthusiasm for the CFA program and investment management in general. 

The essay clearly explains why the applicant is interested in the program, including the emphasis on ethics and professionalism. 

The essay also shows the applicant's understanding of the program's benefits and how it would help them achieve their career goals. 

Overall, this essay effectively conveys the applicant's dedication and potential in the field of investment management.

Here are some more scholarship essay examples for you:

300 Word Scholarship Essay (PDF)

Scholarship Essay Sample About Why I Deserve The Scholarship (PDF)

Scholarship Essay Example About Yourself (PDF)

Scholarship Essay Example Financial Need (PDF)

If you need a whole blog just for examples, you can explore our scholarship essay examples blog!

Scholarship Essay Prompts

Writing a scholarship essay is all about answering the essay prompt correctly. No matter which institution you are drafting your essay for, it should be specifically designed to provide answers for the prompt.

Following are some of the prompts that are commonly required to answer for your scholarship application essays:

  • Who or what influenced you to become a dedicated student? What experiences persuaded your decision?
  • How did you face the most challenging situations in your life? How have those challenges influenced your perspectives about life and people in general?
  • Discuss your achievements and the challenges you faced between the journey.
  • What are some of the amazing skills you have that differentiate you from other people? How did they develop?
  • What is one trait that makes your personality strong?
  • Were you passionate about getting something in life and you succeeded? What were the factors that contributed in your success?
  • What made you identify your weaknesses? And how did you manage to get rid of them?

Select a prompt if you haven’t assigned one. Start drafting a strong essay to avail yourself of the scholarship opportunities. 

Need more prompts? You can always explore our scholarship essay prompts and questions blog !

Scholarship Essay Writing Tips

Looking for professional tips to make your scholarship essay out of this world? Expert essay writers of CollegeEssay.org have gathered some easy tips for you to help you write a winning essay.

Follow the easy tricks provided below:

  • Follow a narrative structure for your information
  • Stick to the prompt provided the whole time while writing your scholarship essay.
  • Choose a topic that you enjoy talking about
  • Conduct research and read the already existing scholarship applications that worked for the committee.
  • Do not exceed the word limit provided
  • Use appeals such as ethos, pathos, and logos to connect to the audience
  • Be honest and share only true stories and events
  • Avoid repeating and exaggerating things
  • Be specific and concise
  • Be professional but be yourself at the same time
  • Avoid using cliches
  • Start writing the essay way before the deadline to have enough time to proofread

Only a strong scholarship essay will let you avail of the financial assistance offered. With the right approach and mindset, it can also be an opportunity to showcase your strengths and achievements. 

If you are confused about writing this document, we suggest not risking the opportunity and getting professional assistance. 

CollegeEssay.org is a professional writing company that provides custom services for all academic types of assignments. Whether you need help with your college essay, scholarship essay, or any form of academic paper, our expert scholarship essay writing service will help you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a personal scholarship essay.

The following are some tips that help you to start a personal scholarship essay. 

  • Introduce yourself 
  • Highlight your accomplishments 
  • Give a brief background about your academics 

Is it necessary to include a title for my scholarship essay?

While a title is not always required for a scholarship essay, it can provide a concise preview of your essay's content. A well-chosen and creative title can catch the reader's attention and create a positive first impression.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in a scholarship essay?

Common mistakes to avoid in a scholarship essay include:

  • Submitting an essay with spelling and grammar errors
  • Failing to follow the specified guidelines or word limits
  • Including irrelevant information
  • Being overly generic or impersonal in your writing. 

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Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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How to Start a Scholarship Essay

Last Updated: May 26, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams and by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 90,706 times.

College scholarships can be incredibly competitive and most of them have an essay component. While you may dread writing these essays, they're nothing to fear—the scholarship committee just wants to know a little more about you. With a strong introduction that hooks your reader, you're halfway there! But how do you start a scholarship essay? Here, you'll find some great ideas for how to start, along with some general writing strategies that you can carry through to the rest of your essay.

Sample Introduction and Template

scholarship essay writing tips

Include the 3 key elements of an introduction.

Get your readers' attention, give an overview, and list a thesis statement.

  • A great intro sentence could be something like, "I never thought I'd have to raise my siblings," or, "On April 7, 1997, my life completely changed."
  • Your overview sentences could go on to say, "My parents struggled to look after us, so I become the only constant in my brothers' lives. I had to grow up fast, but I also learned a lot about myself in the process."
  • Your thesis statement might look like this, "I realized that I have a lot to offer and I'm starting a career in social work. This scholarship will give me the financial support that I need to start my educational journey."

Open with an element of surprise.

Use a surprising or shocking fact about yourself to draw in the reader.

  • For example, you might write: "If you looked at my parents' mantle, overflowing with trophies and medals, you'd probably conclude that I was an athlete. But what you wouldn't know is that I was born with only one leg."

Compare yourself to the scholarship's namesake.

Show what you have in common with the person for whom the scholarship is named.

  • For example, you might write: "Mary Lewis dedicated her life to improving her community with public vegetable gardens. Last year, I worked with fellow disabled students to create a sustainable vegetable garden at our school that was accessible to others with disabilities."

Raise a question.

Ask your readers a question to stir their curiosity about the answer.

  • For example, you might write: "For the past 4 years, I've volunteered with my local hospice. Why would a healthy, athletic young woman want to volunteer with people who are dying? Because I, too, have faced death. I know what it's like to be told you only have a few days to live."

Set the scene dramatically.

This option works well if you have a strong, compelling personal experience.

  • For example, suppose you're writing an essay about rescuing an injured dog and how that made you decide to become a veterinarian. You might write: "I could smell him before I saw him. Small and frail, he limped toward me. His fur was matted and he trembled. His large eyes were full of fear. He pleaded with me for help."

Include quotes with caution.

Use famous quotes only if you can quickly tie them to personal experience.

  • For example, you might write: "Nevertheless, she persisted." I never really understood the meaning of that rallying cry until, at 14 years old, I stood in front of the principal of my school to speak on behalf of myself and other disabled students."

Use buzzwords from the essay prompt.

Highlight important nouns and adjectives that apply to you.

Include a roadmap of your essay.

Share tangible, real-world examples that directly address the prompt.

  • For example, you might write: "My compassion for and special connection to animals spurred me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine." Then, in your essay, you would provide an instance that demonstrated your compassion and another that demonstrated that special connection.
  • Your roadmap doesn't necessarily have to be a "spoiler." For example, if the prompt is to "discuss a book or experience that made you want to be a writer," you might write: "While I'd always loved reading, I never considered writing stories myself until my 7th grade English teacher gave me a book for an extra-credit report." In your essay, you would then go on to discuss the report and name the book. [11] X Research source

Close your introduction with your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement tells your reader the purpose of your essay.

  • For example, if the prompt is to describe what sparked your interest in veterinary medicine, your thesis might be: "My experience rehabilitating stray dogs sparked my interest in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine."

Write in your own voice.

Let the reader know who you are from the first line.

  • Focus on standing out, not writing like everyone else. Although you can look at samples of other winning scholarship essays to get ideas, make sure the words in your essay are your own.
  • Your own perspective is key. For example, if you're a person of color, don't try to "whitewash" your essay. Scholarship committees like diversity, so if you try to cover up your identity, you're only hurting yourself.

Make your sentences active and concise.

Use short sentences and action verbs to make your writing pop.

  • For example, you might write: "I strive to demonstrate my passion for the environment every day. In my sophomore year, I started the recycling program at my school. As president of the environmental club, I teach fellow students what they can do to help save the world we live in."

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • Make your introduction short and sweet. The general rule is that the introduction should be about 10% of the total word count of your essay—this usually isn't many words! [16] X Research source Most scholarship essay introductions only have 3-4 sentences. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Have friends or family read your essay—they can give you tips on how to make it stronger. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

scholarship essay writing tips

  • Typos can ruin an otherwise beautiful essay! Make sure you proofread carefully. [17] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Write a Statement of Purpose

  • ↑ https://scholarshipowl.com/blog/apply-for-scholarships/scholarship-essay-introduction/
  • ↑ https://www.owens.edu/writing/scholarship/
  • ↑ https://www.nitrocollege.com/blog/how-to-start-a-scholarship-essay
  • ↑ https://www.thecollegemonk.com/blog/scholarship-essay-introduction
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/ways-to-make-your-scholarship-essay-stand-out
  • ↑ https://www.internationalstudent.com/essay_writing/scholarship_essaysample/
  • ↑ https://online.maryville.edu/blog/how-to-write-a-scholarship-essay/
  • ↑ https://libanswers.library.cqu.edu.au/faq/169732
  • ↑ https://www.southuniversity.edu/news-and-blogs/2013/05/8trickstowritingstandoutscholarshipessays

About This Article

Jake Adams

To start a scholarship essay, open with an interesting story, experience, or anecdote to draw your reader in. Then, connect your opening to the broader topic or question you'll be addressing throughout your essay. If you need some inspiration for a good introduction, read the essays written by the previous winners of the scholarship you're applying for. Just make sure you use your own voice and experiences to write your essay so it comes across as authentic. To learn how to conduct research for your scholarship essay before you write it, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Home / Blog

How To Write a Scholarship Essay

February 15, 2019 

scholarship essay writing tips

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Paying for college is a top concern for many students in America today. Even just a generation ago, a student’s primary concern was more about getting into the college they preferred, instead of about being able to afford college at all. Now, young students are trying their best to budget and save up in order to afford a college education, and are planning ahead for how they will pay off their student loans.

As important as FAFSA is for most students , there are other options available to help students pay for their college education: mainly scholarships and grants. The best thing about these options? They don’t require repayment plans.

Debt.org notes on scholarships for students: “Each year, an estimated $46 billion in grants and scholarship money is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and the nation’s colleges and universities. In addition, about $3.3 billion in gift aid is awarded by private sources, including individuals, foundations, corporations, churches, nonprofit groups, civic societies, veterans groups, professional groups, service clubs, unions, chambers of commerce, associations and many other organizations.”

But how can you take advantage of this $49.3 billion dollar (and growing) pool of grants and scholarships? Scholarships require either proof of academic excellence or that students meet a financial threshold, as well as completion of an application and, usually, a scholarship essay. Just as some colleges and universities require an entrance essay to apply, many scholarships also require an essay along with the application.

Writing an essay for school is one thing, but writing an essay to help you pay for college is another. Financial stability is on the line when it comes to scholarship applications, so writing a winning essay is key to impressing those granting the scholarships you’re applying for. Here are some tips to help you better prepare for your scholarship application and essay.

What Is a Scholarship Essay?

Scholarships are a form of student financial aid that do not require repayment, as long as you meet the terms of the award and use it as directed. They are often gifted based on merit, either through academic excellence, financial need (also known as “need-based” aid), or by meeting specific requirements set by the organization awarding the scholarship; such as specific scholarships or grants for women .

Aid may come from federal scholarship funds, state or local scholarship funds, or private organizations, such as churches, nonprofit groups, and more. Additionally, almost every scholarship will require an accompanying essay along with the application.

The scholarship essay varies depending on the requests of the organization granting the essay. It may require a specific word count, or be based on a prompt. Whatever the requirements are, it is essential to follow the guidelines presented in order to qualify for the scholarship. Preparing your essay is like writing a resume for financial aid, and depending on which scholarship you’re applying for, the competition may be anywhere from minimal to fierce. It’s important to write an essay that can stand out amongst the crowd of applicants.

Grant vs Scholarship

Although the terms “grant” and “scholarship” often refer to a similar idea — student financial aid that doesn’t require repayment — they are two fundamentally different awards. The key difference lies in how they are awarded, and where the funds are originating from.

Grants , such as Pell Grants, are typically awarded by the federal government and are generally awarded based on need rather than merit. There may be minimum requirements that recipients are required to live up to, such as family financial status limits, but these are often less specific than scholarship requirements are. Additionally, colleges and state agencies may also award grants based on need.

Scholarships on the other hand are often awarded based on merit. They may require that students meet (and sustain) a specific GPA in school, or that students with athletic excellence join the college’s sports team. Most scholarships will have rules that recipients are required to follow in order to continue to qualify for that scholarship. Many scholarships are funded by colleges, private organizations or donors, and some state or local programs.

Both grants and scholarships may require an accompanying essay with the application, although there are some rare cases of scholarships and grants that don’t require essays and are easier to obtain. Be cautious of fraudulent scholarships or online scams associated with “easy to obtain scholarships”, as they are becoming increasingly common online.

Steps for Writing a Scholarship Essay

Just as when applying to colleges, scholarship applications may require that you to send in your grades, academic achievements, test scores, and ambitions for the future. As such,  scholarship essays offer you the chance to speak to these accomplishments and ambitions. Here you can shine and win over the organization granting the scholarship.

Once you’ve found a scholarship that you qualify for or that interests you, it’s important to read over the instructions thoroughly to understand what is expected of you. Then, follow these steps to write the perfect application essay for the scholarship of your choosing:

The prompts can be anywhere from basic — “What was a challenging experience you faced in high school and how did you overcome it?” — to more complex or specific — “How has coffee helped you study for your SAT or ACT test?”

The prompt should help you start to formulate ideas on how you want to construct your essay. Be sure to fully understand what is expected of you by reading the instructions, and do your best to not stray from the topic being covered. Some essays may have a word or page count, while others may only request you answer the prompt.

Brainstorming is an important step to ensure your idea fits with the prompt and properly expresses what you are trying to communicate through your essay. You also want to make sure that you express what is meaningful and relevant about yourself that can help your essay stand out from all the others.

One of the best ways to start constructing and organizing an essay is to create a comprehensive outline. They serve as an essential tool to help you avoid structural mistakes, repetition, and to help you cover all your bases and ideas without rambling.

Your outline should read like a barebones argument for why you deserve this scholarship and how your idea relates to the prompt given. Once you start writing the essay in full, you can fill in more of the details needed to explain your point, or to describe yourself and your situation.

Scholarship Essay Formatting

Additionally, outlines can help you properly format your scholarship essay. Here are some essential tips for your scholarship essay format:

  • Introduction that ends with a thesis or idea
  • Explanation that supports and proves your thesis
  • Conclusion that reiterates your argument and thesis
  • 12 point font
  • Times New Roman, Arial, Courier, Helvetica, or Georgia font (whatever is standard on your preferred writing system, nothing too stylized)
  • Double spaced
  • 1 inch to 1 ½ inch margins
  • If there is no required word or page count, as a general rule, aim for ¾ to 1 full page in length.
  • Be sure to include your name and the name of the scholarship you are applying for near the top of the page (either as a header or simply above the optional title).

Once you’ve brainstormed and outlined your article, you can officially start writing the piece. Be sure to follow your outline and cover all of the key ideas that you came up with while brainstorming. Be concise, avoid rambling, and ensure your point is clearly stated. Also ensure you’ve formatted your essay correctly and stay true to the word or page count, if applicable.

Take a Break

Once you’ve completed your first draft, you should take a break from writing. Go outside and take a walk, or spend some time cleaning — anything to help you get your mind off the essay so that you can return later with fresh eyes. If you find it hard not to think about the essay, wait a day (or even a few days) before coming back to reread it.

In general, spending time away from your work can help you clear your mind. When you do come back, you may be more likely to notice mistakes or see gaps which require elaboration. For any essay you write, this is always a helpful tip.

As you return to your essay, go through and nitpick your work. Use your fresh mind to rewrite sections or include more (or less) context, as needed. Ask yourself if the core idea that you came up with during your brainstorm is still apparent in the article. Are you communicating your ideas clearly?

Additionally, keep an eye out for grammatical mistakes, such as missing or too many commas, misspellings, or other typos. If you notice repetitive words, utilize a thesaurus to find acceptable replacements. Once you’ve gone through your essay, you can submit it as is, or you can follow the optional next step.

Peer Review

For many people, it can be hard for them to revise their own work because they hold biases about their writing or are unaware of personal mistakes. Asking another person to review your work may help you refine your essay even more. Additionally, having another person read over your essay can help you determine the clarity of your point: do they understand the flow of your piece, or are they confused by any information? Does the context you provide make sense to the overall idea, or does the reader still have questions?

If you have a friend, relative, mentor, or peer that has editing experience — or that is simply a voracious reader — ask them if they can take a moment to look over your piece and make comments or suggestions. You may be surprised at what they find that you missed!

Scholarship Essay Tips

Your scholarship essay is going to be your primary (and sometimes sole) form of communication with the organization granting the scholarship. That’s why it’s so important to communicate directly and clearly through your essay in order to attract their attention and garner their support. Here are some additional tips to help you better communicate your intentions through your scholarship essay:

How To Start a Scholarship Essay

First impressions matter, and your introductory paragraph will serve as your first impression to the scholarship organization. Refer back to your brainstorm to help identify your message and consider how to attract the attention of the reader through your introductory paragraph. For some people, it may also help to construct or outline the body of the essay before you construct the introduction, so as to better understand how to concisely get your message across.

Once you’ve properly outlined the entirety of your essay, you can start writing. In your introductory paragraph you’ll want to state in clear and succinct language who you are, why you are interested in college and this scholarship (or your hopeful direction), and what the reader will find in your essay.

Be Personal

Another important point to keep in mind while you’re writing is that this essay isn’t a book report (unless otherwise stated in the prompt); this essay is about you. Don’t write impersonally, but take a personal tone: use “I, me, myself” or other personal pronouns and avoid general statements unless they relate to your situation.

Through your writing you should also be revealing some of your motivations pertaining to why you’re going to school and why you’re seeking out this scholarship. Discuss how you will become an effective student in the coming years, and how you’ll make good use of the money you may be awarded. You may have more freedom to write about yourself in detail for some scholarship prompts, and less of the same freedom for others. Use your discretion.

Stay Focused

When you originally brainstormed your essay topic, you should have been able to narrow down your topic to just a few key points that you could communicate and cover in detail. As you fully flesh out your essay, you should ensure that you stay focused on these core ideas. Try not to ramble or get side tracked. Every sentence in your essay should be related in some way to one of your core ideas. If it’s not, delete it or rewrite the sentence so that it does relate.

Be Succinct

It’s important to keep in mind that your essay most likely won’t be more than a page, double spaced. Since you don’t have a lot of room for fluff or non-essential information, it’s important to stay focused, to the point, and brief.

Additionally, the organization that is awarding the scholarship is most likely going to be reading hundreds (sometimes thousands) of scholarship applications and essays. Everyone will most likely be working off the same prompt, so you’ll want to ensure that your essay stands out, gets straight to the point, and doesn’t waste any of the reader’s time.

Follow Instructions

Finally, the most important tip is to simply read and reread the instructions multiple times to ensure you understand the prompt, what is expected of you, and all of the other essential guidelines pertaining to your essay.

While you should be sure to do this before you start writing, you should also do this after you’ve written the piece. Simply double check your work against the requirements set by the scholarship organization, and make sure you’re following the instructions to the letter. Essays that don’t follow instructions will most likely be thrown out first, and you don’t want your hard work to go to waste simply because you forgot something in the instructions.

Scholarship Essays for Online Students

If you’ve decided to pursue your education through an online bachelor’s degree or master’s degree program , it can be even more important to communicate effectively through your scholarship essay. It is entirely possible that you will never meet your collegiate benefactors or professors in person, and will only communicate with them via your writing online.

Luckily, there are some unique scholarships out there that are aimed just for online or “distance learning” students. Keep in mind, even some of the smaller scholarships (such as those for $50-$500) can still help you pay for books, online texts or subscriptions, or other essential learning materials.

Writing an imaginative and thoughtful scholarship essay can help you pay for online schooling for either a bachelors or masters degree program. It can also get you started on the right foot to have a solid financial aid foundation to pursue your college dreams.

Whether you’re writing one scholarship essay or many, these tips will help you make a solid first impression, and hopefully will win over whichever scholarship organization you’re targeting.

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Tips for Writing a Standout Scholarship Essay

Tips for Writing a Standout Scholarship Essay

Are you a student looking to secure funding for your education through scholarships? One crucial component of the scholarship application process is the essay. Writing a standout scholarship essay can make a significant difference in your chances of being awarded the financial support you need. To help you craft an impressive and compelling essay, here are some valuable tips to guide you through the process.

When it comes to writing a scholarship essay, it’s essential to remember that you are not just recounting facts or listing achievements. Your goal is to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations in a way that resonates with the scholarship committee. The essay is your opportunity to stand out from other applicants and demonstrate why you deserve to be awarded the scholarship. By following these tips, you can create a winning essay that captures the attention of the selection committee.

**Understand the Prompt**

One of the most critical steps in writing a standout scholarship essay is understanding the prompt. Take the time to carefully read and analyze the essay prompt provided by the scholarship organization. Make sure you understand what they are looking for and what specific qualities or experiences they want you to address in your essay. Pay attention to keywords or phrases that indicate what the committee is seeking in applicants. Tailoring your essay to address these specific points will show that you have taken the time to understand and engage with the prompt.

**Tell Your Story**

Your scholarship essay should tell a compelling story about who you are, where you come from, and where you hope to go in the future. Use this opportunity to share personal anecdotes, experiences, and insights that highlight your unique qualities and accomplishments. Avoid generic statements or clichés and instead focus on providing concrete examples that illustrate your character, values, and goals.

**Showcase Your Achievements**

While it’s essential to tell a personal story in your scholarship essay, don’t forget to highlight your achievements as well. Whether it’s academic accomplishments, leadership roles, community service activities, or work experience, be sure to include specific examples of how you have excelled in various areas of your life. Quantify your achievements whenever possible by providing numbers or statistics that demonstrate your impact and success.

**Be Authentic**

Authenticity is key when writing a standout scholarship essay. Avoid trying to impress the committee with exaggerated claims or false narratives about yourself. Instead, be genuine and honest about who you are and what motivates you. Share your true passions, interests, and aspirations so that the committee can get a sense of your personality and values.

**Focus on Impact**

In addition to highlighting your achievements and personal qualities, make sure to discuss how receiving this scholarship will impact your life and future goals. Explain how financial support will help you pursue your education or career aspirations and how it aligns with your long-term plans. Demonstrating a clear vision for how this scholarship will make a difference in your life shows dedication and commitment to achieving success.

**Edit Carefully**

Once you have written your scholarship essay, it’s crucial to edit and revise it carefully before submitting it. Check for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, typos, or any other issues that could detract from the quality of your writing. Consider asking a teacher, mentor, or friend to review your essay for feedback and suggestions for improvement.

1) How long should my scholarship essay be? Aim for around 500-800 words unless otherwise specified by the scholarship organization.

2) Should I include my GPA or test scores in my essay? Only include academic performance data if specifically asked for by the prompt; otherwise focus on telling a compelling story about yourself.

3) Can I reuse one scholarship essay for multiple applications? It’s best practice to tailor each essay specifically for each application based on their individual prompts and requirements.

4) What should I do if I’m struggling with writer’s block? Take breaks when needed; start by brainstorming ideas before diving into writing; don’t force creativity too much – let ideas come naturally.

5) Is it okay to use humor or informal language in my scholarship essay? While some light humor may be acceptable depending on context/theme of scholarships involved avoid using slang language; maintain professional tone throughout.

We also recommend reading the following:

  • With this scholarship, Can I study within Zambia at any university?

$18,000 Undergraduate Scholarship at Brock University, Canada 2023

  • Why study Business Administration at ASA College?

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></center></p><h2>Top 10 Writing Tips for Memorable Scholarship Essays</h2><ul><li>October 23, 2023</li></ul><p><center><img style=

Scholarship essays are a crucial part of securing financial aid for college. They are not only an opportunity to demonstrate your academic achievements but also a chance to tell your unique story. 

To craft a compelling scholarship essay, consider these tips:

  1 . Know Your Audience

Before you start writing, research the scholarship provider’s values, mission, and goals. Understand what they are looking for in a candidate. Are they focused on community service, academic excellence, leadership, or something else? Tailor your essay to align with their values, showing that you are a perfect fit for their scholarship.

2. Use an Attention-Grabbing First Sentence/Strong Introduction

Your essay’s opening sentence or introduction is your chance to make a powerful first impression. Instead of a generic start, grab the reader’s attention with a captivating story, intriguing fact, or a thought-provoking question. 

3. Emphasize What Makes You Unique

Your essay should highlight your individuality. Discuss your unique experiences, perspectives, and skills that set you apart from other applicants. What makes you special? What can you bring to the table that no one else can? What impact will receiving this scholarship have on you and on the scholarship’s provider? 

4. Share a Story, Not Just Facts

Avoid a dry listing of achievements and experiences. Craft a narrative that engages the reader emotionally. For instance, instead of saying, “My first time on a mission trip was when my church went to Haiti in 2022,” say, “It was 2022; I had just stepped into a Haitian village, and my life was about to change.” The latter version invites the reader into a story, making it more compelling.

5. Be Positive and Inspirational

Scholarship committees want to invest in students who have a positive outlook and inspire others. Highlight your resilience in the face of challenges and how you plan to make a positive impact at SEU, in your community, or even in the world.

6. Reflect on the Past and How You’ve Grown

Personal growth is an essential part of your journey. Reflect on your past experiences (such as how you overcame your own challenges or setbacks, or helped others through theirs), and discuss how these have shaped you into a better, more resilient person. Scholarship committees often appreciate candidates who can turn adversity into strength. 

7. Answer the Prompt

Ensure that your essay directly addresses the essay prompt or question. Stay on topic and provide specific, relevant examples to support your points.

8. Have Someone Review Your Essay Before Submitting It

Ask for feedback from teachers, friends, or family members. A fresh perspective can help you identify areas for improvement and ensure your essay makes strong points, flows well, and is clear in its message.

9. Read Your Essay Out Loud to Yourself

Reading your essay out loud can help you catch awkward phrasing, grammatical errors, and issues with your writing. It allows you to hear how the essay sounds to others and make necessary revisions. While you should aim for professionalism, using unnecessarily wordy language that doesn’t sound like you could have the opposite effect and make your essay sound stiff or not relatable.

10. Follow Format/Submission Rules

Don’t get disqualified before you’re even in the running! Carefully review the scholarship provider’s guidelines regarding file type, word count, spacing, and any other specific requirements and be sure to stick to those parameters. 

Writing a memorable scholarship essay is a blend of art and strategy. Take this opportunity to showcase your academic achievements but don’t forget to let your personality and your own unique story shine through!

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Tips for Writing and Formatting Effective Scholarship Essays

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Most scholarships require applicants to submit a personal essay describing their qualifications and educational goals. Scholarship committees rely heavily on personal essays in their determination of scholarship awards, even when many applicants demonstrate exceptional grades, test scores and achievement.

For some scholarship contests, a well written personal essay may level the playing field for students with diverse experience and vary levels of accomplishment. For students who meet the minimum state scholarship requirements, a personal essay offers the opportunity to stand out from other applicants.

Your personal essay provides you the chance to show scholarship committees what makes you unique and why you deserve a scholarship award. It provides the opportunity to sell yourself.

A well written essay will distinguish you from the competition. Write an essay that is clear, original, and persuasive. If the committee likes it, you will more than likely receive a scholarship award.

Want to learn how to write an effective scholarship essay? Review and apply the steps below.

Steps to Writing an Effective Scholarship Essay

Step 1 – read essay instructions carefully.

Before you begin writing your essay, read the essay instructions carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what is being asked of you.

Step 2 – Brainstorm ideas

Once you understand what your essay needs to address, spend a little time brainstorming ideas. Write your ideas down in an organized fashion in preparation to begin your essay.

Step 3 – Prepare an outline

Before you begin writing your essay, prepare an outline. Your outline should address each element identified in the essay instructions.

Step 4 – Develop outline points

Now begin your essay by expounding on each point identified in your outline.

Step 5 – Write clearly

Keep your writing clear, concise, yet descriptive throughout your entire essay.

Step 6 – State your accomplishments

State your accomplishments and qualifications with confidence, but dont’ brag. Arrogance or bragging will put a sour taste in the reader’s mouth and may jeopardize your chance of receiving the scholarship award.

Step 7 – Proofread your essay

There is no room for grammatical or spelling errors in a winning essay. Check and double check your essay to make sure it’s impeccable.

Step 8 – Read the essay question again

Once you’ve completed your essay, read the essay question and instructions again. Make certain your essay fully answers the essay question and addresses every point.

Step 9 – Have someone review your essay

After you’re done, you’re still not done. The last step is to have someone other than yourself, someone with strong writing and editing skills, review your essay. Once you’ve considered their suggestions, and made any necessary revisions, you’re ready to submit your essay.

Tips for Formatting Scholarship Application Essays

When writing a personal essay, ensure it is properly formatted. Scholarship committees critique essay content, format, and style. Many committee members will review the format before reading the essay. Since poorly formatted essays can raise red flags, format your essay professionally.

Scholarship Essay Formatting Tips:

  • It’s essential to format the essay as outlined in the scholarship application instructions.
  • Once you have finished and edited the essay, print it on quality paper. Many students submit essays printed on standard paper, so submitted essays on quality paper stand out.
  • Write your essay utilizing a professional and legible font. Never use script a font. The following fonts are recommended: Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Verdana, Times New Roman.
  • Use proper font size. When not listed in scholarship instructions, utilize 10-12 points for the body and 14 points for headings.
  • Before printing your final copy to be submitted, make sure your printer has an adequate amount of ink.
  • Do not crease paper when unnecessary, and ensure it’s not smudged.
  • Avoid placing your essay in an envelope requiring folding. Instead, use a large envelope containing all relevant documents. However, many scholarship application forms request small envelopes.
  • Thoroughly review the essay for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Have a parent, teacher, or friend with good writing skills review your essay.

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Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

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Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

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