How to Write a Scholarship Essay
Applying for college takes a lot of effort. All applicants must pass exams, collect any and all applicable documents, complete a variety of forms, etc. However, what is often even more complex is to apply for a scholarship and win it!
Due to growing tuition fees, most students decide to apply for scholarships to cover part of their expenses. If you are opting to apply for a scholarship as well, chances are that you will have to write an essay.
What Is a Scholarship Essay?
A scholarship essay is an essay students submit along with their scholarship’s application. It is the most essential part of your application. This essay can either help you win or lose the opportunity to get a scholarship. A good scholarship essay should make your application stand out and give the committee a sense of who you are, what goals you pursue, and what makes you deserve to receive a scholarship.
Scholarships are often offered by individual organizations that strive to support education. Therefore, scholarship essays should often demonstrate author’s passions and beliefs that align with the organization’s interests. Frequently, scholarship essays are referred to as scholarship application letters.
How are scholarship essays different from college essays? These two types of work have one main thing in common – both should represent you and your opinion or beliefs. But, there are several distinctive features that differentiate the two:
- Purpose – a college essay should reflect your personality, while a scholarship essay often has to show that you share the beliefs and interests of the organization that offers the scholarship.
- Length – scholarship essays are usually under 500 words. College essays can be longer (up to 650 words).
- Prompt – often, prompts for college essays are much more broad compared to the ones given for scholarship essays. Also, many colleges will let you choose the topic, while a scholarship organization may ask you to answer specific questions in your text (for example, “why do you deserve this scholarship?” is a very common topic).
A general outline for a scholarship essay should look like this:
- A hook that grabs the reader’s attention
- Thesis statement (why do you deserve a scholarship?)
- What has been a significant challenge in your life?
- How did you overcome this?
- What is/are your educational and career goal(s)?
- What is/are your current educational goal(s)?
- Why did you choose this particular college or university?
- Why did you choose this field of study?
- How will a scholarship help you achieve your educational goal(s)?
- What is/are your long-term career goal(s)?
- What will you do with your degree?
- How will the scholarship help you in achieving your long-term career goal(s)?
- Real-life examples that support main arguments
- Brief summary of your key points
- Restate the thesis (how the scholarship will help you reach your goals)
How to Start
The first section of your essay is the introduction. However, your work toward receiving a scholarship essay should start long before you begin to write your intro.
To get ready for the writing process, you should first allocate enough time to it. Don’t think that you can simply create a flawless essay overnight, so, prior to getting started, make sure that you are aware of all of the deadlines, and that you have enough time to work on your paper.
Get Familiar With the Prompt
Scholarship essay prompts can be quite tricky, which is why you should carefully read it multiple times to get a clear understanding of what is expected from you.
To be considered for a scholarship, you must submit an essay of about 400-500 words. Your submission should illustrate your perspective on why do you deserve this scholarship, while considering the following questions:
- Why are you applying for this particular scholarship?
- What makes you unique?
- How do your beliefs align with the organization’s interests?
- What are your career aspirations?
- What goals are you pursuing?
- What unique contribution can you make in this chosen field of science?
Choose a Topic
At this stage, keep in mind that the main goal of your essay is, in essence, to persuade the organization to sponsor your education. You have to show them what makes you worthy of their money. Your topic should reflect this purpose.
To choose a good topic, ask yourself a few questions:
- What have you accomplished so far?
- What distinguishes you from everyone else?
- What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in your life? How did you overcome them, and what lessons have you learned?
- What are your strongest traits?
- Have you ever struggled for something? Did you succeed or fail?
- What are your dreams and goals for the future?
Answering these, and similar questions, should help you generate some ideas. Also, here are a few examples of common scholarship essay topics:
- Why Do I Deserve This Scholarship?
- My Dreams
- The Goals I Will Achieve in 10 Years
- The Doors I Have Opened
- What I Do Best – My Biggest Success
- My Inspiration
- The Person Who Has Influenced My Views The Most
- Destiny In My Hands
Write a Hook
What is a hook in writing? It is an opening statement that has two goals – to grab the readers’ attention, and make them want to continue reading. The hook plays an important role in a scholarship essay. The committee is going to review dozens of essays, which is why it is important to make your paper memorable, and that’s when a powerful hook will come in handy.
Here are three effective ways to make your first sentence thrilling:
- Question: What helped me realize that I want to help people?
- Quote: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill.
- Statistic: ADHD (9.4%), behavior problems (7.4%), anxiety (7.1%), and depression (3.2%) are the most common mental disorders diagnosed in children aged 2-17 years old.
Now, when you have a hook, you can write your intro. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep it short and clear.
- Don’t forget to follow your hook with a thesis statement.
- Provide relevant background for the chosen topic, but don’t begin your argument.
- Provide only helpful, relevant information.
- Try to avoid clichés.
- Convince the reader that your essay is worth reading.
These tips will help you to make an engaging introduction that will drive attention and make your essay stand out.
What Should the Body Contain?
The body of your essay should be its longest part, and it should provide the scholarship committee with the answers they are looking for. Since we are discussing the scholarship essay sample about “why I deserve the scholarship”, here are some relevant ideas to include in the body of your paper:
- Talk about some obstacles you have overcome in your life;
- Highlight your achievements and positive traits;
- Speak about your goals;
- Mention how the scholarship can help toward those goals;
- Talk about your motivation;
- Share real-life examples that support your statements.
The two main tips for writing the body of your essay are to avoid generalization, and to make sure that your statements resonate with the interests of the organization that provides the scholarship.
How to Conclude the Essay
The conclusion of your essay is the most important part of it, as it defines whether the committee will remember it, or if it will just land in a pile of dozens of other indistinguishable papers. To stand out from the crowd, you need a powerful conclusion.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Reflection – this type of conclusion is perfect for demonstrating personal growth and presenting your weaknesses as stepping stones.
Example: “I decided to study medicine to help people. It took me a lot of hard work and time to get where I am now, and I don’t want to stop there. I’ve been through numerous ups and downs on my path to this moment. And while I never define my obstacles as ‘failures,’ I mark my success by my repeated perseverance through adversity. If I get this scholarship, I will use it to further my education and serve people, and that is why I deserve it.”
- The Future Tense – if your essay is about your past or present experiences, then this type of conclusion is the way to go. Tell the committee how your experiences have influenced you and what you’ll do with the lessons you have learned in the future.
Example: “Having experienced the problems that exist in my community first-hand has taught me a lot. In the future, I see that my mission is to increase the efficiency of low-income housing development. This scholarship will help me complete my education in construction management and start solving problems that my, and similar communities, are facing.”
- The Cycle – to empower your introductory statement, you can restate it in your conclusion. Such an approach is very effective and can make the reader more connected to it. For example, if you started off by giving statistics of the number of children who need psychological treatment, bring up the same issue in your conclusion for a more powerful effect.
Example: “So, why do I deserve this scholarship? I have the passion and determination to help children receive high-quality psychological treatment at an early age—to give them the best chance of finding their own success. By awarding me with this scholarship, you won’t just help me complete my education, you will give me a chance to improve the quality of life for countless families in the future.”
Scholarship Essay Formatting
Formatting plays a vital role in writing any kind of paper. No matter how great the content of your scholarship essay, it won’t do much unless you format it properly. After all, formatting your paper nicely shows the committee that you can understand and follow given instructions, which is important in college.
A standard scholarship essay format has the following characteristics:
- Times New Roman font
- 12-point font size
- Double spaced
- 1” margins (top, bottom, and side)
- An indent before each paragraph
- Your last name and page numbers (only for long essays), inserted on the top left side of the page
Follow the prompts above to ensure the appropriate format for your text.
Scholarship Essay Examples
Using our tips can set you on the right track. Still, having a good sample essay at hand is vital for success. To make the writing process for your scholarship essay even more smooth and amazing, look at the following examples:
I am a Business Data Analytics major in my 3rd year from Arizona. The
undergraduate business data analytic degree is a combination of skills, such as applications, technologies, and processes that organizations use to understand their businesses, based on any available information and statistics. Business analytics explore the science of big data. Big data entails the transformation of data into predictive and powerful information. This information is then used to help businesses during their decision-making processes, thus, deriving optimal results and performances. This course enables students, like me, to investigate the principles of data management, representation, analysis, and statistical modelling. The program
provides courses in machine learning, data management, visualization, statistics, business and optimization in addition to training on various tools and systems. After completing my degree, I can apply the concepts to discover trends, relationships, and patterns.
As an international student in the USA, coming from a humble background in
Haiti, furthering my education proves to be a challenge. According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere — with about 80% of residents living in abject poverty (CNN, 1). Additionally, Haiti, as a third world nation, suffers from social vices, such as corruption and high levels of political instability. Moreover, natural disasters, such as the 2010 earthquake, further weakened the nation’s economy, setting us back in numerous ways.
Scholarship Essay Tips
Here are a few more tips that will help you create a top-notch scholarship essay:
- Follow a narrative structure.
- Add as much personalization to your essay as you can.
- Have a detailed outline before you start writing.
- Make sure you are eligible for each scholarship you apply for.
- Avoid clichés.
- Don’t be afraid to promote yourself.
- Make sure you follow all the given instructions and prompts.
- Provide real-life examples in your essay to back up your arguments.
- Keep it clear and concise.
- Include transitions between paragraphs to keep the writing eloquent.
- Tell a unique story.
- Carefully proofread and edit your essay before sub