By the time you apply for a scholarship, your GPA and test scores are what they are, and you can’t suddenly get a teacher to write a perfect recommendation letter if your academics and participation up until the present moment haven’t earned you one. One of the things you can control is the essay you submit with your scholarship application.
The essay portion is your chance to demonstrate what kind of student you are and to highlight your passions and interests. Fortunately, there are countless essay scholarships you can apply for. Read below to learn how essay scholarships work, where to find them and how to write a winning essay.
What is an essay scholarship?
An essay scholarship is exactly what it sounds like; it is a scholarship that includes an essay component. A lot of scholarships will require at least one essay, but some may ask for two or possibly three.
Topics for essay scholarships can be serious, like describing the most difficult experience you’ve ever had, or light-hearted, like detailing how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Essay scholarships can give students a chance to sway the scholarship committee, even if they don't have the most impressive GPA or standardized test scores.
Even students who don’t like writing should consider applying for scholarships that require an essay because they represent such a large percentage of the scholarships for which they are going to be eligile. If you don’t enjoy writing, you may be tempted to use AI tools to write your essay. You should be aware that the scholarship judges may run your essay through an AI detection tool, which could cause you to be disqualified.
How to apply for an essay scholarship
You can find dozens or even hundreds of essay scholarships through our Scholarship Directory. There are dozens of different kinds of essay scholarships with various requirements. To apply for an essay scholarship, make sure you understand all of the components, not just the essay part. Start working on the application several weeks before it’s due, which should give you enough time to write a thoughtful and convincing essay.
To write a winning essay, read through the prompt and brainstorm all the points you want to make in your piece. Then, outline the essay in a clear format. After the outline is done, you can start writing the essay. Once you have a rough draft, share it with one or two adults you trust. Even if you're a stellar writer, you should still have someone else look at your essay before submitting it. Another person can point out ways to strengthen each draft.
Ideally, you should ask an English teacher, but a high school college counselor, another teacher or perhaps a coach can provide useful guidance. Make sure to give them enough time to read through the piece and provide feedback, preferably a couple of weeks or more. Implement their advice in your next essay. Then, have another person read it to make sure it’s better. If you make any more revisions, ask someone else to read the essay to check for typos and mistakes.
Types of Essay Scholarships
Academic Achievement Scholarships
High school students can apply for Academic Achievement Scholarships to get financial support in recognition of their remarkable academic achievements. These scholarships are intended especially for students who have excelled academically throughout their high school careers. As they set out on their journey towards higher education, school students might investigate a number of scholarships that are available.
The National Merit Scholarship is one such grant given to pupils who perform exceptionally well on the PSAT. Based on their academic performance, students who place in the top percentile are eligible to receive this distinguished grant.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Program, which honors students for their leadership abilities, academic distinction, and community service, is another noteworthy scholarship. Students pursuing higher education at recognized institutions or universities are eligible to apply for scholarships under this program.
Furthermore, the Gates Scholarship is a highly competitive award that offers low-income minority school students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement complete financial support. The recipients of this scholarship have proven to be dedicated to community service, have great leadership abilities, and achieve well academically.
Students must complete certain requirements and meet particular criteria in order to be eligible for these scholarships. This could entail submitting recommendation letters, writing an essay, taking part in extracurricular activities, and maintaining a minimal grade point average.
Organizations hope to encourage academic achievement and assist school students in their pursuit of higher education by offering these scholarships. These programs provide high-achieving high school students recognition for their hard work and effort in addition to cash help.
Creative Writing Scholarships
Students who want to work in fiction, poetry, or screenwriting can apply for a number of creative writing scholarships. The Helen McCloy Scholarship from Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is one such award. The purpose of this fellowship is to assist prospective mystery fiction writers who show promise in the field.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and enrolled in an authorized 4-year college or university in the country in order to be eligible for the MWA Helen McCloy Scholarship. They must also be majoring in creative writing, English, or a related subject, be in their junior year or higher, and be really interested in creating mysteries or thrillers. In addition, candidates must submit a statement of intent outlining their writing objectives and why they ought to be given consideration for the scholarship, as well as a sample of their mystery fiction writing.
Additional grants for creative writing are offered by the Janelle Gray Preyer Scholarship, which helps deserving students majoring in creative writing or English, and the Academy of American Poets Prize, which recognizes exceptional undergraduate poets. These scholarships offer young authors who are following their passion for fiction, poetry, and screenplay both cash support and recognition. To improve their chances of getting financing for their artistic endeavors, students who are interested in these scholarships should thoroughly understand the qualifying conditions and scholarship application procedures.
Several career-specific scholarships are available for Indigenous students, single moms, persons of color, undocumented students, and LGBTQ+ students, according to the background information that was provided. The purpose of these scholarships is to assist members of underrepresented groups who want to work in particular industries.
The Indigenous Education Scholarship is a well-liked choice for Indigenous students. Indigenous students pursuing jobs in a range of disciplines, such as healthcare, teaching, engineering, and more, can apply for this award to receive financial support. For Indigenous students interested in STEM fields, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society also provides a number of scholarships.
Scholarships such as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarship are beneficial for single mothers who wish to work in particular industries. This fellowship is intended to assist low-income women who want to pursue vocational training or higher education, particularly single mothers.
For persons of color, there are other scholarships tailored to specific careers, including the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. Undergraduate students from minority backgrounds who intend to work in science, mathematics, teaching, engineering, or healthcare are eligible to apply for this prize and move forward with their career goals.
Scholarships like TheDream.US, which give undocumented high school graduates the chance to continue postsecondary education in a variety of subjects, can help undocumented students.
LGBTQ+ students with a focus on particular professions can look into scholarships such as the Point Foundation Scholarship. LGBTQ+ students interested in careers in the arts, business, healthcare, STEM, and other fields are supported by this scholarship.
In conclusion, students who identify as LGBTQ+, Indigenous, single mothers, persons of color, or lack legal status can apply for a range of career-specific awards. The goals of these scholarships are to help underrepresented people succeed financially and to open doors for them to do so.
Field-of-Study Specific Scholarships
Area of study Grants given to both high school and undergraduate students studying a particular field of study are known as specialized scholarships. These scholarships, which offer financial support to people who aspire to succeed in a particular field of interest, are quite pertinent to the subject.
Field-of-study scholarships, in contrast to general scholarships, are designed to meet the particular requirements of students pursuing undergraduate degrees in specific fields including engineering, medicine, the arts, and sciences. These scholarships are intended to foster and develop the abilities of students who are enthusiastic about a particular subject, acknowledging the value of doing so.
It is crucial to remember that field-of-study scholarships could have further requirements in addition to the GPA and essay, including extracurricular activities or certain courses pertaining to the chosen field of study. Scholarships for the arts may require the submission of a portfolio of the applicant's creative work, whereas scholarships for engineering students may require applicants to show competency in math and science.
Students who apply for field-of-study scholarships stand to win recognition for their commitment to and enthusiasm for their chosen field in addition to receiving financial aid for their education. These scholarships help students realize their goals and make a positive impact on their particular sectors by providing a method of advancing their academic and professional aspirations.
Frequently asked questions about essay scholarships
What are the best essay scholarships?
There are many essay scholarships that provide generous rewards with simple-to-understand requirements. The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest awards $10,000 to students who describe political courage using several primary and secondary sources. The essay should be between 700 and 1,000 words, not including citations.
The Umps Care All-Star College Scholarship gives out $5,000 per semester to students attending a four-year institution. To qualify, you must have been adopted at age 13 or later, or have been in foster care since the age of 13. Scholarship winners will also receive support from a Major League Baseball umpire and their family.
How long are essay scholarships?
Word requirements vary wildly depending on the scholarship provider, but are often between 500 and 1,000 words. However, some popular essays may have longer requirements. For example, the Elie Wiesel Prize In Ethics Essay Contest asks for an essay between 3,000 and 4,000 words.
Some scholarships will ask for a certain page length instead of a specific word count. Make sure to read through the word count or page requirements before starting. If an essay has a broad range, try to write closer to the max. Be sure never to exceed the maximum number of pages or words. Some scholarship providers may disqualify you altogether for going over the word count, even if it is only by 5 or 10 words. Follow the instructions to the letter to be on the safe side.
Can I use the same essay for multiple scholarships?
While it’s unlikely that a scholarship provider will find out if you’re reusing an essay, you should not just copy and paste one essay to another scholarship form. Make sure that the old essay fits the current prompt; you may have to make adjustments before submitting. If you’re using a recycled essay, have someone else look at the prompt to see if it still works. You may be able to keep some of the same parts and only have to write a small portion from scratch.