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How to Write Scholarship Essays

Writing an essay for a scholarship contest can be a daunting task — to brainstorm, write, review, refine and finally submit one high-quality, winning essay takes some time and consideration. But, you most likely have dozens of scholarship essays to write with varying topics, and each of these essays has their own deadline and specifications. This may have you wondering: "How do I write all of these scholarship essays!?"

Depending where you are in the college admissions process, you may have already written an essay for your college applications — a scholarship essay isn't much different. In a scholarship essay, you will want to tell a story that best portrays your strengths, and in a tone that appeals to the organization that will judge the essay. Here are some more tips on how to write scholarship essays, so that you can get the money you need to pay for college.

Guidelines to Follow When Writing a Scholarship Essay

  • When it comes to developing a topic, think "outside of the box." (That's right, get out from under that box and look around!) Unique, quality essays will shine in a large pool of applicants. Don't write about Anime thinking that, because few will also write on this topic that this makes your essay "unique." If somehow your passion for Anime helped you through a relevant struggle, like choosing to join Theater instead of the Lacrosse team — then you've got a story! Stories of triumph and growth show a lot about how a person thinks and can reflect what they value — this can help you connect with the reader. Use the limited space and words you have in this essay to connect to the essay topic, or to tell a thoughtful story, and do not flood the paper with unnecessary details — make sure you only include relevant information that relates to the essay prompt.

  • Use all of the writing skills you have learned in high school. It is important to treat every essay like a piece of writing you would turn in for English class. Use every writing tip you have learned from having a strong theme to proper sentence construction. Remember, that it is okay in a college admissions and a scholarship essay to write in first person.

  • Give a scholarship essay the same attention you would give a college admission essay. This essay will not determine whether or not you get into college, but it could certainly help you pay for your education! Each short or long essay you write is a chance to tell your story... To who? To the person reading your scholarship essay. Why? To convince them that you are their ideal candidate. Remember who your audience will be, and let this information guide your essay. Incorporate supporting qualities, and information into your essay that match up with the organization's mission.

  • Proofread and spell-check your work! Spelling and grammar mistakes can lead a scholarship committee to immediately dismiss your essay. Don't make it easy for them to count you out, ask a peer, a parent or a sibling - anyone - to read it first. It never hurts to have another person take a look at something you have written, because it is easy to miss something small that another person could have picked up on. While it can be tough to get criticism, it can only help to hear how other people react to your writing before submitting it to the scholarship essay judges, a committee of complete strangers!