How to Write a Scholarship Essay
Ten steps to writing a winning essay for a scholarship.
As you know, applying for college is a lot of work. You must complete university applications, financial aid applications, college admissions essays and even an essay for a scholarship.
That’s right! Scholarship applications often require an essay, too.
Don’t worry: Follow these 10 steps on how to write a scholarship essay that could help pay for your college costs.
1. Grab the Reader.
Never underestimate the power of a strong introduction. Look at these two examples of introductory lines. Can you can spot the difference?
- Example #1: Strong leadership skills are important for many reasons.
- Example #2: November 12, 2004, was the day I lost everything.
Example #1 is vague, impersonal and boring. But example #2 is personal, specific and intriguing. It leaves the reader interested and wanting more.
Hit the ground running in your first paragraph. This will help your scholarship essay stand out from the pack.
2. Re-adjust and Re-use Your Scholarship Essays.
Don’t waste hours writing a different essay for all the scholarship competitions you enter. There are many scholarships out there, and essay topics tend to overlap. With a bit of tweaking, one scholarship essay can fit the needs of several different contests. Recycle as much as you can!
3. Always Surprise.
Imagine that the question is “Who in your life has had the biggest influence on you and why?” Don’t automatically write about your mother or father. Chances are everyone else probably will do that too.
Maybe someone like Gloria Steinem or Superman has had the biggest influence in your life. It may not be 100% traditional, but at least it’s more personalized and, therefore, more interesting.
4. Follow the Essay Instructions.
Nothing turns a scholarship essay reader off faster than an essay that almost applies to the contest guidelines. Don’t write under the limit. Don’t write over the limit. Big money is at stake, so make sure you give them what they want!
5. Stay Focused on the Scholarship Essay Topic.
Judges are looking at hundreds, sometimes thousands, of scholarship essays. They don’t have time to read tangents about your pet hamster Phil (unless Phil helps illustrate your main point!). Which leads us to our next topic …
6. Have a Point!
Make sure your essay for the scholarship has one unified statement, or thesis, behind it.
You can look at your thesis as your one-sentence answer to the essay question.
Let’s say the essay question is, “What is a time in your life when you demonstrated courage?” Your thesis could be, “A time in my life when I demonstrated courage was when I helped save my neighbor’s dog from a tornado.” Your essay for the scholarship would support and elaborate upon this statement.
7. Check Your Essay for Spelling Errors.
Bad spelling: nothing “buggs reeders moore.”
But really, scholarship judges have plenty of essays to read. They are looking for any good enough reason to kick one out of a big pile if it makes their job easier. Don’t give them a reason to reject yours.
8. Use Correct Grammar and Punctuation.
This one could have been lumped in with spelling, but it deserves to have its very own spot. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to overlook improper use of homophones like “it’s” and “its” and “their” and “there.”
Have another person — preferably someone who knows the difference — look over your essay once you’ve finished. Check pronoun agreement, commas and anything else that could confuse the reader.
9. Care About What You’re Writing.
Readers can sense when you have a genuine emotional investment in your scholarship essay. When you don’t, your essay is sure to be a one-way ticket to Snooze City.
Remember: Don’t write about what you think you should write about. Write about what interests you.
10. Avoid Redundant Conclusions.
Keep your essay conclusions interesting instead of simply rephrasing—or worse, restating—your original thesis. Your conclusion should explain why the rest of your essay was important — it should answer the question, “So what?”
Now you hopefully know more about how to write a scholarship essay. You can practice by entering the contest for University Language Services’ own scholarship! Good luck!
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Sometimes we need to remind ourselves how lucky and privileged we are. Even reading this right now means that you are better off than most of the world’s population, with access to the Internet and the ability to read. Orphaned children around the globe face an incredible amount of difficulty and inequality, which is what Dreams for Orphans strives to improve. We aim to give orphans in Ghana a brighter future by providing educational opportunities and safe environments in their early years.
Along with donations and fundraising for African orphans to attend school, one of the ways Dreams for Orphans provides schooling opportunities is through educational sponsorships. We facilitate private school sponsorships, vocational school programs, and university-level support. This includes covering tuition, school fees, uniforms, lunches, supplies, monitoring progress and advocating for each student along their educational journey. Our sponsored children range from five to 21 years old at seven different schools.
Why it pays off to sponsor a child to go to school:
• Provides invaluable opportunity . Education is something we can give a child that no one can take away. Going to school gives a child more financial opportunities later in life, along with valuable social skills and important relationships with peers and teachers. The orphans we sponsor would not otherwise have the ability to attend school.
• Receive regular updates . As a Dreams for Orphans sponsor, you will always know how your child is doing in school and the impact you are making in his or her life. You will receive regular report cards and letters from the child, and be able to send letters yourself.
• Know where your money is going . Rather than donating to an organization and never seeing where your money is going, a sponsorship gives you personalized insight about the impact you are making. You will always be involved in the child’s journey to know exactly where your money is being spent and how you are helping.
We are always looking for sponsors for each school year— contact us to get involved!
About the AuthorMy 24 years as a flight attendant have enabled me to travel and see much of the world. When I started going to Africa my passion was born to help the less fortunate and show my own 3 children this imbalance. I wanted them to know they had a responsibility to others as they grow up in a world that most things are readily accessible to them and are not to most the world. It is easy to fall in love with children in Africa. It is more difficult to find appropriate ways to help. Education was by far the first tool we knew could be powerful and effective. Combining this with improved environment, enables them to grow and thrive with food, shelter, medical care and most of all love.I travel to Ghana as a flight attendant monthly and enjoy taking my children on working trips as well as our own vacation time. Being on the ground making sure the DFO funds are carefully dispatched is rewarding and I am compensated by their huge smiles and hugs every time I visit. Seven years have gone by so fast and I cannot imagine my life without DFO and all the children. As Dreams continues to grow I relish the fact that the number of orphans we are helping is increasing. We are able to expand to more orphanages and provide education and safe environments to those orphans who deserve a rich and happy life.