Home > Financial Aid > College Scholarships > Scholarship Application Strategies > Top 10 Tips for Writing Effective Scholarship Essays

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.

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.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

ACT Class Action Lawsuit: $16 Million Settlement for Students with Disabilities

October 23, 2020

by Susan Dutca-Lovell

ACT, Inc., the college admissions testing company, has agreed to pay out $16 million to 65,728 California students with disabilities to settle a class-action lawsuit. The class-action federal lawsuit filed in California in 2018 alleged that ACT, Inc. violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act by disclosing test-takers' disability status to colleges and scholarship organizations on score reports, and denied certain examinees with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in its Educational Opportunity Service. [...]

Test-Optional Colleges Pledge to Judge Applications Holistically

October 22, 2020

by Izzy Hall

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the way it has made it harder than ever to take the SAT and ACT, many colleges and universities, from large state universities to small liberal arts colleges, have announced that their admissions for next year’s Class of 2025 will be test-optional. Test-optional admissions mean that schools won’t require a submission of a standardized test score as part of the admissions process. But how will admissions officials judge applicants without a score? Will a student who doesn’t submit a standardized test score be penalized in any way? And will a student who does submit a score be chosen over one who doesn’t? [...]

Increasing Number of Students from Immigrant Families in Higher Education

October 20, 2020

by Izzy Hall

Getting a college degree is part of the American Dream. College graduates generally earn more money and have a better quality of life. So it’s not surprising that students from immigrant families or who are immigrants themselves are making up an increasingly larger percentage of associate’s, bachelors and masters-seeking students in America. [...]

Last Reviewed: October 2020