How to Write a Great Scholarship Essay

by Simon Ashley on July 10, 2012

Submit Exactly What They Require

Graduation CapOne of the most important steps to writing a successful scholarship essay is to make sure you have read and understood exactly what is required. Some scholarship programs may request an essay several pages long while others may only request a few paragraphs or a personal statement. Others may ask for an essay on a specific subject while others may leave the contents of the essay up to you.

You may also be required to supply supplementary material such as creative writing samples, academic papers or samples of other work. It’s important that you follow the directions and provide exactly what is required or your application may be rejected before it even reaches the judges.

What the Judges Look For

It is always a good idea to do some research into the organization sponsoring the scholarship – their values and reasons for awarding scholarships. This will make it easier to select a topic and be mindful of how your interests relate to the interests of the scholarship sponsor and judges. For example if you were trying to win a scholarship in nursing or medicine you could write about a personal experience caring for seniors in a nursing home. If your scholarship is sponsored by a minority advocacy group, the judges will be interested in hearing about the contributions you have made to that community and how you can promote issues that are important to that minority.

The following list is likely to be important when writing an essay:

  • Good spelling and grammar
  • Correct supplementary materials
  • Who are you and what are your goals, values, interests and personality
  • Your personal experiences (consider how this relates to the purpose of the scholarship)
  • How you will use the scholarship to further your educational and/or career goals
  • How your Interests coincide with the interests of the scholarship sponsors

Brainstorming for Ideas

Brainstorming can help you make a list of the possible topics and subject areas to write about. Consider the following questions and how they relate to the goals and interests of the scholarship sponsors.

  • How will the scholarship help you achieve your goals and ambitions?
  • What distinguishes you from others who may be enrolling for this scholarship?
  • What do you hope to contribute to this field?
  • Why did you choose this scholarship and what do you hope to achieve?
  • What problems have you overcome in your life and how did you learn from them?
  • What goals have you achieved in your life?
  • What are your hobbies and interests outside of school?
  • How have you contributed to your community/country/church/profession/school/ethnic group and what did you learn?
  • What work experience have you had and what have you gained from that experience?
  • What are your career goals and where do you plan to be in the next 10 years?
  • What are you passionate about and how does this relate to the scholarship

Stand Out From the Crowd

So how do you write a scholarship essay that will make you stand out? The scholarship committee will read hundreds of essays; many of these essays will sound similar to one another and contain rather bland and general statements about how the scholarship will benefit them. It’s important to stand out from the crowd and not write an essay that is too general or similar to everyone else’s. Your personality and individuality should stand out. Providing personal experiences unique to you is one way of doing this. These should be specific experiences that are vivid and illustrate the achievements or qualities you want the judges to know about; particularly experiences relating to the type of scholarship you are applying for. Think from the perspective of the judge and what they are likely to remember about you.

Try not to be repetitive and repeat information on the application form but use the essay to tell the judges something they would not otherwise know about you. If they ask for a personal statement about yourself choose qualities and interests that you think the judges and sponsors are looking for. You could talk about what interests you and what affect it has had on your life and where it may lead you in the future.

Things to Consider

Before you send the scholarship essay it’s always a good idea to get someone else’s perspective by having it read by one or two other people you trust – this could be an English teacher, counselor or parent. Have them provide suggestions and advice on how it could be improved and ask them to look out for mistakes in spelling and grammar. Lastly have it typed out so it is easy to read and take advantage of any help from your school. Get suggestions from other students applying for the same scholarship.

Keep revising your essay looking for mistakes or things you could improve. It helps to come back and read your essay at a different time. Try and conclude the essay so that it briefly summarizes the essay stating the main point of writing it.

Scholarship Essay Examples

We would love to post examples of scholarship essays sent to judges. Please provide a scholarship essay you wrote to a scholarship committee stating what the scholarship was for and whether you were successful or not. Please use the form below.

Your Name:

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