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Top 10 Tips for Writing Effective Scholarship Essays

When you start researching scholarship opportunities, you will quickly find out that many of the scholarship programs for which you qualify involve writing a scholarship worthy essay. Very few programs are based strictly on an application form or transcript. Scholarship committees like essays because they are able to get a better sense of who the applicants really are from reading their original writing than from simply looking at a form or seeing a listing of completed classes and grades.

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College scholarship essay contests actually level the playing field so that students from different backgrounds with varying levels of accomplishments have equal chances of winning college scholarships. Essays offer great opportunities for all students who meet the stated requirements for a scholarship program.

When you are faced with the challenge of scholarship essay writing, remind yourself that the effort you put into writing your essay represents the chance to sell yourself to the scholarship committee. A winning scholarship essay is one that truly sets a particular applicant apart from the others. If you tell your story clearly and persuasively, you just might find yourself receiving a congratulatory letter from the scholarship committee!

10 Tips for Writing Effective Scholarship Essays

  1. Read the instructions and make sure you understand them before you start writing. That includes paying attention to the formatting requirements, like font family and size.
  2. Think about what you are going to write and organize your thoughts before you start writing. Brainstorm first, and edit your ideas second.
  3. Begin the writing process by writing a comprehensive outline. Include your thesis statement, supporting statements and carefully-typed out quotes or citations that you plan to use in your essay.
  4. Use clear, concise and simple language throughout the essay. Try varying up your sentence structure to add rhythm to your writing.
  5. Write proudly of your accomplishments, but avoid bragging. Essay judges want to see your self-confidence come through, but it always benefits you to come off as humble.
  6. Make sure your grammar and spelling are impeccable by using the Spelling and Grammar check tool in your word processor of choice. Try printing your essay out to get another perspective on how it reads. Typos that you skim by on the screen might pop out on paper.
  7. Mind your word count. Some scholarship essay contests have a minimum and maximum word requirement. Your word processor should have a word count tool to help you gage your progress. If your essay is too long and you need to remove words to shorten it, try eliminating adverbs first.
  8. Follow a typical essay format. Scholarship essay contests are not the time to experiment with form. Your essay should have an introduction, one to three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  9. Read the essay prompt/question again and then read your essay to be certain that the essay addresses every point. If your essay is missing something critical from the scholarship requirements, you may be immediately disqualified.
  10. Have someone with strong writing and editing skills proofread the essay before you submit it. This could be a parent, teacher, tutor or even a friend.

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Last Reviewed: November 2022