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How to Write a Scholarship Essay | Template & Example

Published on October 11, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.

A good scholarship essay demonstrates the scholarship organization’s values while directly addressing the prompt. If you plan ahead , you can save time by writing one essay for multiple prompts with similar questions.

Table of contents

Apply for a wide variety of scholarships, make a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, tailor your essay to the organization and the prompt, write a focused and relevant personal story, scholarship essay example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Scholarships are a type of student financial aid that don’t require repayment. They are awarded based on various factors, including academic merit, financial need, intended major, personal background, or activities and interests.

Like college applications, scholarship applications often require students to submit their grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and an essay.

A scholarship essay shares your values and qualities in the context of a specific question, such as “How does technology affect your daily life?” or “Who has had the greatest impact on your life?”

Be wary of scholarship scams

While some applications may not require an essay, be wary of scholarship scams that do the following:

  • Guarantee you scholarship money for a fee
  • Claim scholarship information is exclusive to their company
  • Ask for your bank or credit card information to hold the scholarship

Some legitimate companies do charge for releasing comprehensive scholarship lists or creating a tailored list of scholarship opportunities based on your profile.

However, you can always discover scholarship opportunities for free through your school counselor, community network, or an online search.

Many students focus on well-known, large scholarship opportunities, which are usually very competitive. To maximize your chance of success, invest time in applying for a wide variety of scholarships: national and local, as well as big and small award amounts. There are also scholarships for international students .

In addition to charitable foundation and corporate scholarships, you should consider applying for institutional scholarships at your prospective universities, which can award money based on your application’s strength, your financial situation, and your demonstrated interest in the school.

Check with your guidance counselor, local organizations, community network, or prospective schools’ financial aid offices for scholarship opportunities. It’s a good idea to start applying as early as your junior year and continue throughout your senior year.

Choose the right scholarships for you

Choose scholarships with missions and essay topics that match your background, experiences, and interests. If the scholarship topic is meaningful to you, it will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay.

Don’t shy away from applying for local scholarships with small dollar amounts. Even a few hundred dollars can help you pay for books.

Local scholarships may be more tailored to your community, background, and activities, so they’re likely more relevant to you. Fewer students apply for these scholarships, so you have less competition and a higher chance of success.

Some places to look for local scholarships include

  • Civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc.
  • Your church, mosque, synagogue, or place of worship
  • Community groups, such as the YMCA
  • Ethnicity-based organizations
  • Your local library or local small businesses
  • Organizations related to your intended major
  • Your city or town
  • Your school district
  • Unions, such as SEIU, the Teamsters, CWA, etc.
  • Your employer or your parents’ employers
  • Banks, credit unions, and local financial institutions

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

While researching scholarship opportunities, create a scholarship tracker spreadsheet to keep track of the following:

  • Scholarship amounts
  • Required application materials

You can use our free Google Sheets template to track your scholarship applications.

Scholarship application tracker template

You can also include scholarship essay prompts in your college essay tracker sheet . By grouping or color-code overlapping essay prompts, you can plan to write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can also reuse or adapt your main college essay .

Even if you’re adapting another essay, it’s important to make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, stays within the word count limit , and demonstrates the organization’s values. The scholarship committee will be able to tell if you reuse an essay that doesn’t quite respond to the prompt, so be sure to tailor it to the questions asked.

Research each organization

Before writing, research the scholarship organization’s mission and reason for awarding the scholarship. Learning more about the organization can help you select an appropriate topic and relevant story.

While you should tailor your essay to the organization’s values, maintain your authentic voice. Never use false or exaggerated stories. If the organization’s values don’t align with yours or you can’t brainstorm a relevant story for the scholarship, continue searching for other scholarship opportunities to find a more appropriate one for you.

After researching the organization, identify a specific personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies why you will be a successful student.

Choose a story with the following criteria:

  • Responds to the prompt
  • Demonstrates the organization’s values
  • Includes an authentic story
  • Focuses on you and your experience, not someone else’s

A good scholarship essay is not

  • A resume of your achievements
  • A lengthy opinion piece about the essay topic
  • An essay featuring a negative tone that puts down others

If appropriate, you can briefly address how the scholarship money will help you achieve your educational goals. You should also end with a brief thank-you.

Take a look at the full essay example below. Hover over the underlined parts to read explanations of why they work.

Prompt: Describe how working for Chelsea’s Chicken restaurant has developed leadership skills that will help you succeed in college. Give specific examples of leadership characteristics that you have exhibited during your employment with us.

As a nervous 16-year-old, I walked into Chelsea’s Chicken for my first day of work determined to make enough money to put gas in my car and buy pizza on the weekends. My only previous job was mowing my neighbors’ lawns when they were on vacation, so I had no idea what to expect. I was a bit intimidated by my new responsibilities, especially handling money and helping disgruntled customers.

However, it didn’t take me long to learn my way around the cash register and successfully address customer complaints. One day, Roger, the store manager, asked me if I wanted to join Chelsea’s Chicken Leadership Training Initiative. He said he saw leadership potential in me because of my attitude with the customers and my enthusiasm for learning new job responsibilities. It surprised me because I had never thought of myself as a leader, but I quickly agreed, and Roger handed me a three-ring binder that was thicker than my math and science textbooks put together! He told me to take it home and read over it during the following week.

In that binder, I discovered that being a leader means taking the initiative, especially when the job is undesirable. One week later, I got to practice that idea when a little kid threw up in the bathroom and missed the toilet. It smelled terrible, but I stepped forward and told Roger that I would clean it up. My coworkers thought I was crazy, but I started to believe in my leadership potential.

That night as we closed the store, Roger pulled me aside in the parking lot and told me that he could tell that I had been studying the manual. He wanted to give me more responsibility, along with a dollar-per-hour pay raise. I was surprised because I had been working there for only a couple of months, but his encouragement helped me make a connection: good leadership helps other people, and it often is rewarded. I was determined to experience more of both.

Within a month, I was ready to take the Team Leader exam, which mattered because I would receive a promotion and a much bigger raise if I passed. But, when I got to work, two of the scheduled team members had called in sick. We were noticeably short-handed, and our customers weren’t happy about it.

I walked back to the lockers, put on my vest and hat, and took my place behind an open register. Customers immediately moved into my line to place their orders. Roger looked at me with surprise and asked, “Did you forget that you’re testing tonight?” I responded, “No, sir—but what’s the use of taking a leadership test if you aren’t going to lead in real life?” Roger smiled at me and nodded.

He stayed late that night after we closed so that I could leave early and still take the test. I noticed that Roger was always staying late, helping employees learn new skills. His example taught me that leaders take the initiative to develop other leaders. He gave me a clear picture of what shared leadership looks like, making room for others to grow and excel. When I asked him where he learned to do that, he said, “From the same leadership manual I gave you!”

Chelsea’s Chicken has offered me so much more than a paycheck. Because of Roger’s example, I have learned to take the initiative to care for my family and friends, such as being the first to do the dishes without my mom asking or volunteering to pick up my friend for our SAT prep course. Now, as I prepare to enter college, I have confidence in my leadership ability. I know I’m signing up for a challenging major—Biology, Pre-Med—yet I also know that Chelsea’s Chicken has helped me to develop the perseverance required to complete my studies successfully.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing


  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

A scholarship essay requires you to demonstrate your values and qualities while answering the prompt’s specific question.

After researching the scholarship organization, identify a personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies how you will be a successful student.

Invest time in applying for various scholarships , especially local ones with small dollar amounts, which are likely easier to win and more reflective of your background and interests. It will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay if the scholarship topic is meaningful to you.

You can find scholarships through your school counselor, community network, or an internet search.

You can start applying for scholarships as early as your junior year. Continue applying throughout your senior year.

Yes, but make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, respects the word count , and demonstrates the organization’s values.

If you plan ahead, you can save time by writing one scholarship essay for multiple prompts with similar questions. In a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, you can group or color-code overlapping essay prompts; then, write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can even reuse or adapt your main college essay .

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How to Start a Scholarship Essay

Last Updated: May 26, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams and by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 88,374 times.

College scholarships can be incredibly competitive and most of them have an essay component. While you may dread writing these essays, they're nothing to fear—the scholarship committee just wants to know a little more about you. With a strong introduction that hooks your reader, you're halfway there! But how do you start a scholarship essay? Here, you'll find some great ideas for how to start, along with some general writing strategies that you can carry through to the rest of your essay.

Sample Introduction and Template

how to start essays for scholarships

Include the 3 key elements of an introduction.

Get your readers' attention, give an overview, and list a thesis statement.

  • A great intro sentence could be something like, "I never thought I'd have to raise my siblings," or, "On April 7, 1997, my life completely changed."
  • Your overview sentences could go on to say, "My parents struggled to look after us, so I become the only constant in my brothers' lives. I had to grow up fast, but I also learned a lot about myself in the process."
  • Your thesis statement might look like this, "I realized that I have a lot to offer and I'm starting a career in social work. This scholarship will give me the financial support that I need to start my educational journey."

Open with an element of surprise.

Use a surprising or shocking fact about yourself to draw in the reader.

  • For example, you might write: "If you looked at my parents' mantle, overflowing with trophies and medals, you'd probably conclude that I was an athlete. But what you wouldn't know is that I was born with only one leg."

Compare yourself to the scholarship's namesake.

Show what you have in common with the person for whom the scholarship is named.

  • For example, you might write: "Mary Lewis dedicated her life to improving her community with public vegetable gardens. Last year, I worked with fellow disabled students to create a sustainable vegetable garden at our school that was accessible to others with disabilities."

Raise a question.

Ask your readers a question to stir their curiosity about the answer.

  • For example, you might write: "For the past 4 years, I've volunteered with my local hospice. Why would a healthy, athletic young woman want to volunteer with people who are dying? Because I, too, have faced death. I know what it's like to be told you only have a few days to live."

Set the scene dramatically.

This option works well if you have a strong, compelling personal experience.

  • For example, suppose you're writing an essay about rescuing an injured dog and how that made you decide to become a veterinarian. You might write: "I could smell him before I saw him. Small and frail, he limped toward me. His fur was matted and he trembled. His large eyes were full of fear. He pleaded with me for help."

Include quotes with caution.

Use famous quotes only if you can quickly tie them to personal experience.

  • For example, you might write: "Nevertheless, she persisted." I never really understood the meaning of that rallying cry until, at 14 years old, I stood in front of the principal of my school to speak on behalf of myself and other disabled students."

Use buzzwords from the essay prompt.

Highlight important nouns and adjectives that apply to you.

Include a roadmap of your essay.

Share tangible, real-world examples that directly address the prompt.

  • For example, you might write: "My compassion for and special connection to animals spurred me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine." Then, in your essay, you would provide an instance that demonstrated your compassion and another that demonstrated that special connection.
  • Your roadmap doesn't necessarily have to be a "spoiler." For example, if the prompt is to "discuss a book or experience that made you want to be a writer," you might write: "While I'd always loved reading, I never considered writing stories myself until my 7th grade English teacher gave me a book for an extra-credit report." In your essay, you would then go on to discuss the report and name the book. [11] X Research source

Close your introduction with your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement tells your reader the purpose of your essay.

  • For example, if the prompt is to describe what sparked your interest in veterinary medicine, your thesis might be: "My experience rehabilitating stray dogs sparked my interest in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine."

Write in your own voice.

Let the reader know who you are from the first line.

  • Focus on standing out, not writing like everyone else. Although you can look at samples of other winning scholarship essays to get ideas, make sure the words in your essay are your own.
  • Your own perspective is key. For example, if you're a person of color, don't try to "whitewash" your essay. Scholarship committees like diversity, so if you try to cover up your identity, you're only hurting yourself.

Make your sentences active and concise.

Use short sentences and action verbs to make your writing pop.

  • For example, you might write: "I strive to demonstrate my passion for the environment every day. In my sophomore year, I started the recycling program at my school. As president of the environmental club, I teach fellow students what they can do to help save the world we live in."

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • Make your introduction short and sweet. The general rule is that the introduction should be about 10% of the total word count of your essay—this usually isn't many words! [16] X Research source Most scholarship essay introductions only have 3-4 sentences. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Have friends or family read your essay—they can give you tips on how to make it stronger. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to start essays for scholarships

  • Typos can ruin an otherwise beautiful essay! Make sure you proofread carefully. [17] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Write a Statement of Purpose

  • ↑ https://scholarshipowl.com/blog/apply-for-scholarships/scholarship-essay-introduction/
  • ↑ https://www.owens.edu/writing/scholarship/
  • ↑ https://www.nitrocollege.com/blog/how-to-start-a-scholarship-essay
  • ↑ https://www.thecollegemonk.com/blog/scholarship-essay-introduction
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/ways-to-make-your-scholarship-essay-stand-out
  • ↑ https://www.internationalstudent.com/essay_writing/scholarship_essaysample/
  • ↑ https://online.maryville.edu/blog/how-to-write-a-scholarship-essay/
  • ↑ https://libanswers.library.cqu.edu.au/faq/169732
  • ↑ https://www.southuniversity.edu/news-and-blogs/2013/05/8trickstowritingstandoutscholarshipessays

About This Article

Jake Adams

To start a scholarship essay, open with an interesting story, experience, or anecdote to draw your reader in. Then, connect your opening to the broader topic or question you'll be addressing throughout your essay. If you need some inspiration for a good introduction, read the essays written by the previous winners of the scholarship you're applying for. Just make sure you use your own voice and experiences to write your essay so it comes across as authentic. To learn how to conduct research for your scholarship essay before you write it, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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5 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out

When writing a scholarship essay, follow these tips to win the most money for college.

Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out

Writing a scholarship essay isn't like writing an essay for a high school class, experts warn.

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Students hoping to earn scholarships, a form of financial aid that does not need to be repaid, often must compete with hundreds of other applicants and sometimes for a very limited number of awards.

Free financial aid plays a significant role in helping students in the U.S. pay for college. According to the 2019 How America Pays for College report from Sallie Mae, 31% of college costs in 2018-2019 were paid for with money that does not need to be repaid; three-fifths of that were scholarships and two-fifths were grants.

To get the most of this highly desirable aid, students can take advantage of a few expert-recommended strategies to make their application stand out. Below are a few tips for writing scholarship essays that pack a punch.

Get Personal and Be Specific

The key to a successful scholarship essay is making it personal, experts say, and including impactful details. An essay that feels genuine and offers insights into who the applicant is on a deeper level will stand out in a crowd of academic essays that may be boring for readers who review hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications.

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Scholarships awarded by the Pride Foundation, for example, require an application that involves multiple essays in which students are asked to describe themselves, what they plan to study and the kinds of work they hope to do. The social justice-focused philanthropic foundation aims to support the LGBTQ community in the Northwest region and awards more than 60 scholarships for any accredited postsecondary school or program, according to its website.

College scholarships had an average award amount of about $5,000 to $8,000 last year, says Katelen Kellogg, the foundation's communications and outreach manager. She says the scholarships are for LGBTQ or strongly LGBTQ-allied students who are residents of the Pacific Northwest.

Kellogg, who helps read essays from applicants each year, says the scholarship essays that stand out to her include "details that paint the picture of their lives." She says the most successful essays are "less about something you do and more about who you are as a person."

Eden Shore, a volunteer manager at the Pride Foundation who also has experience reading hundreds of scholarship essays, says the writing process should be meaningful for students – and that comes across in the essay.

"Your essay can be an opportunity for you to make sense of something yourself," Shore says. "Illustrate you can thoughtfully reflect."

Tell a Story

A standout essay hooks the reader from the first sentence, says Monica Matthews, author of the scholarship guide, "How to Win College Scholarships."

Think about the structure of the essay, and how the reader can be drawn in by it, experts say. The story should feel real and true to the student's life.

"Students need to begin with a hook and share personal and tangible details about their life," Matthews wrote in an email. "Simply stating that they have helped others, for example, does not let the judges see the kind of person that they really are. Writing about specific experiences with real-life situations using interesting details makes compelling and memorable essays."

Tailor the Scholarship Essay to the Prompt

In some cases, it may be acceptable and even smart to repurpose an essay the student has already written and use it for another application. But experts say students should exercise caution.

"Many times, students try to re-purpose essays from the admissions process for scholarship essays, and the result ends up being so-so," Colleen Paparella Ganjian, an independent educational consultant and founder of DC College Counseling in Virginia, wrote in an email.

Instead, essays should be on topic and specific to the unique question being asked and the organization to which students are applying.

A typical scholarship essay topic will likely ask students about their career goals and their plan to achieve those goals, Matthews says. Other essay prompts might ask students what they've done to make their community a better place or to describe a personal achievement and how they overcame challenges to reach it.

Don't Tailor Yourself to the Reader

Students often feel they need to project a certain image or side of themselves in scholarship applications and essays. This isn't always necessary.

"The only person an applicant has to be is themselves," Shore says of applicants to the Pride Foundation Scholarship.

The trap of tailoring themselves can be particularly tempting for students who are nontraditional or have an international background, says Mandee Heller Adler, founder and president of International College Counselors based in Florida.

"Don't shy away from talking about your culture, traditions, and experiences. If you're an international applicant , a minority, or non-traditional student, don't try to 'Americanize' or 'mainstream' your application," Heller Adler wrote in an email. "Scholarship committees like diversity, and the goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants. Don't be afraid to expand on details about your culture that are meaningful to you and essential to understanding who you are."

Follow Directions

The greatest frustration in reading scholarship application essays, Shore says, is when students fail to follow directions. This means taking note of any formatting specifications, length restrictions and answering the question posed.

"Make sure you're answering the question that has been asked and stay within the word limit you're given," Shore says. "Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. If students are bored by the essay they write, the reader will be too."

Trying to fund your education? Get tips and more in the U.S. News Paying for College center.

12 Ways to Win a Scholarship

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How to write a scholarship essay

This is your time to shine!

When you apply for a scholarship, you have to submit an essay for it! Many students face one issue when they come across this step, and that is how to write a scholarship essay! Don't worry; this is an issue we will help you solve by teaching you everything you need to know about how to write a scholarship essay, from how to start a scholarship essay to how to end one! So, let's dive right into it! 

What is a Scholarship Essay?

Before we tell you about how to write a scholarship essay, you need to understand what it is! In a scholarship essay, you explain and persuade the committee members as to why you deserve financial aid. This essay is submitted with the scholarship application, and it is your one opportunity to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the scholarship.

How to write a Scholarship Essay?

Let's discuss how to write a scholarship essay! Here are a few things to keep in mind on how to write a scholarship essay. One simple tip on how to write a scholarship essay is just to make sure that your essay provides insight into your vision and experience, which ultimately defines you and your passion for your study subject. Here are a few points to note when you write an essay on a scholarship.

1. Have an engaging start

Have questions about how to start an essay? Try including a quote or phrase related to your planned course that you may later introduce in the essay. Giving an idea about your interest in the subject will persuade the committee. Showing a broader understanding of your subject can assist in persuading the judges to provide you with the financial aid you need. 

2. Know your target audience.

When you start to write your essay for a scholarship, you need to know your target audience, in this case, the scholarship committee; you need to understand their requirements and expectations. Find out their ideal prospect and make sure you fit into that vision. Make a list of key points you want to include in your essay. You don't have to give up your vision; modify your essay to fit their parameters.

3. Read the scholarship essay prompts thoroughly.

When you think about how to start a scholarship essay, the biggest tip is to read the essay prompts thoroughly. You must comply with the appropriate essay prompt structure and word count. Also, double-check that you are simply replying to all prompt sections.

4. Research about the scholarship provider

Read about the corporation or organisation in charge of the scholarship programme. You will find their mission and requirements on their website; this is one of the best tips on how to write a scholarship essay. This can help you customise your essay according to their needs. Many scholarship sponsors also showcase former scholarship winners on their websites, often with the winning essay. Examine what the scholarship provider says about prior winners to determine which of your qualities to emphasise in your essay.

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5. Authenticity is your power

One of the best tips on how to write a scholarship essay is that your life and experiences are essential and significant! You are not required to fabricate or invent details to appear more deserving of the scholarship money. Your authenticity is your power; use it for your gain. It is recommended to show and not tell, as it is evident for the readers to spot such things. Instead of just explaining everything, try constructing a vivid image for the reader. Don't just claim you're stressed out because you're juggling employment and high school; make a mental image and provide clear, credible instances. 

Gain a competitive edge by delving into the intricacies of scholarship opportunities in sought-after destinations such as Australia, Ireland, and the US. Your journey to academic excellence begins with the wisdom shared in our insightful blogs on student scholarships in Australia , scholarships in Ireland and if you want to apply in US then there is a blog on top scholarships in the USA for international students.

6. Seek out writing advice

To make your essay stand out, it's important to seek out writing advice and guidance from reliable sources when you are lost on how to write a scholarship essay. Your academic advisor can provide valuable insights into the writing process, such as how to write a scholarship essay, how to start a scholarship essay, and how to make your argument compelling. There are plenty of online resources that can help you improve your writing skills, such as grammar and style guides, online writing courses, and writing communities where you can get feedback on your work.

7. Look out for grammatical errors.

Make sure you proofread your essay and look for grammatical errors. You can scan your essay through various grammar-checking websites before submitting your essay.

how to write a scholarship essay

Scholarship Essay Format

One of the key aspects of how to write a scholarship essay is to write a compelling argument to stand out from the competition and convince the selection committee that you are the best candidate for the award. However, it is equally important to pay attention to the essay format. We will discuss the important things to remember and include in a scholarship essay format.

1. Fonts to Use for Scholarship Essay

One tip on how to write a scholarship essay is to stick to a consistent professional style. This includes 1-inch page margins, a 12-point font size double-spaced, and a "standard" script like Times New Roman in classic black. Don't experiment with fonts or colours here. You want the content of your essay to stand out, not your unconventional formatting.

2. Scholarship Essay Title

The essay submission format determines this. You can copy and paste the body of your essay without a title if there is a text box entry. If you attach an essay as a Word or PDF document, you can include a title, although this is usually unnecessary unless there are specific scholarship essay format rules. Also, there is no need to add the essay question or prompt at the top of your essay.

3. Scholarship Essay Structure

The structure of the essay is a very crucial element. The structure of the essay helps you make a blueprint and guides you in deciding which points have to be included under which section. This is a format that is generally used when you think about how to write a scholarship essay. 


When you think about how to start a scholarship essay, it needs to draw the attention of the reader with a catchy beginning line relating to the question. Introduce your significant points, which you will discuss later in your essay. Include a strong point that proves your determination and drive to attend college.

Extend your critical points in the essay for a scholarship here. Support your claims with proof, examples, and facts. This is the section where you can tell the committee how you got to where you are now, what inspired your hobbies, interests, or desire to attend college, and how the essay for a scholarship will help you reach your academic and personal goals. Remember to utilise specifics instead of broad remarks.

Describe how earning this award might help you achieve your goals and have a broader community impact, if any. Explain how critical this scholarship is to you, not only financially but also in terms of helping you reach your goals, and this is how to end a scholarship essay. You can know more through our blog on how to write personal statements . 

We have compiled some of the best scholarship essay examples which you can go through before starting your essay.

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Scholarship Essay Examples

However, many overlook that receiving many minor scholarship applications can be life-changing. The essays below can help you move from planning and living your college and achieving professional goals.

1. This essay example is from the New York University College of Arts and Science essay.

"Although I agree that I will never be able to support myself only via ice skating, the education and talents I have obtained have opened endless avenues. Ice skating has given me the work ethic, resilience and inspiration to grow as a teacher and English speaker. It has helped my academic performance by instilling in me the importance of rhythm, health, and routine. "

2. This essay example is an excerpt from the North Coast Section Foundation Scholarship-winning essay.

"My parents pushed me to respect school when I was five years old because they were born in Vietnam and had limited access to education. Because of this disadvantage, I learnt to take everything seriously and to give everything I had to fulfil projects like founding my school's Badminton Club in my fresher year and the Red Cross Club this year. The more I got involved, the more I grew as a leader and as a person. As a leader, I acted the same way I did with my younger cousins and siblings."

Top 5 Scholarships and Scholarship Essays

The essay for a scholarship is written in order to give a small demonstration to the scholarship committee as to why you deserve the scholarship and what makes you the best among other students. You can highlight some of the challenges and how you coped up and overcame them, which shows your problem-solving ability. Here are the top 5 scholarships:

1. Kang Foundation and Legal Scholarship

2. New York University Scholarship

3. North Coast Section Foundation Scholarship

4. Fund for Education Abroad Scholarship 1

5. Questbridge Scholarship

Scholarship Essay Prompts

Are you struggling to come up with ideas on how to write a scholarship essay? There are plenty of standard essay prompts and topics out there to guide you. These prompts will help you get started on your essay for a scholarship and give it a definite structure. Let's explore some useful prompts that you can use to write an outstanding essay.

1. My family members.

2. My part-time job efforts in high school.

3. The doors I have opened.

4. My dreams and inspiration.

5. Learning for the best - how (person) changed my life.

6. The person who is influenced by views.

7. Goals I will achieve in 10 years.

8. What differentiates you from the hundreds of students who apply for our scholarships?

9. How has the death of a parent or guardian impacted your life financially and emotionally?

Scholarship Essay Tips

It is crucial to make your essay for a scholarship stand out from the hundreds of other applicants while working on it. A well-written and formatted essay can not only grab the attention of the scholarship committee but also make a strong impression, increasing the likelihood of obtaining the scholarship. Here are some tips to follow to make your essay engaging and memorable

  • Choose a topic you are passionate about.
  • Follow a narrative structure.
  • Re-read the essay prompt and identify the key themes. 
  • Outline your essay before writing.
  • Make sure your outline does justice to your essay prompt.
  • Add your real-life experiences and highlight your problem-solving abilities.
  • Talk about your accomplishments without bragging too much.
  • Make sure your essay has a flow.
  • Have someone with strong writing skills proofread your essay.
  • Be concise and specific, and avoid generalising.
  • Empower your sentences with punctuation.
  • Do a little research about the university and the scholarship they are providing before starting your essay. 
  • Be professional, but write the essay in your voice. 
  • Avoid including inspirational quotes in your essay.

Do's and Don'ts of Writing a Scholarship Essay

When you think about how to write a scholarship essay, it may seem like a daunting task, but keeping the necessary guidelines in mind will make the process smoother. Here are some do's and don'ts that you should follow when you write an essay for a scholarship.

the dos and don'ts of writing a scholarship essay

  • Before writing your essay for a scholarship, read and understand the prompt carefully. You need to know the requirements and what the college is looking for, so tailor your essay accordingly.
  • Your essay for a scholarship should showcase your achievements and why you deserve the scholarship out of all the other applicants. Mention your achievements, skills and experiences that prove your suitability for the scholarship.
  • Be authentic and personal in your writing; your essay for a scholarship should be a reflection of who you are as a person. Your goal should be to create a lasting impression on the scholarship committee after reading your essay.
  • Do edit and proofread your essay with care before submitting it. Check for grammar mistakes, coherence and flow of content. Your essay should be polished and professional.


  • Never plagiarise in your essay, as this will definitely get your application rejected. Use your authentic words and ideas, and cite any sources properly if you need to use them in your essay.
  • Avoid drama and emotions in the content of your essay. Even though you wish to add a personal touch to the essay with your qualities and experiences, you don't want to come across as insincere or overly emotional. 
  • Submit your essay before the deadline, as missing it could potentially disqualify you from consideration.
  • Your essay should be relevant to the scholarship you are applying for. Do not write an essay that is unrelated and does not answer the prompt. This may lead to disqualification, too.

We hope this guide helped you find new ways to write your scholarship essay. The amber scholarship is a scholarship provided by amber; we hope you try your luck with it! This is your chance to show the scholarship committee what you have to deserve the scholarship. Also, read about our blog on what should be written in personal statement . You can also check our detailed blog on how to write thesis statement

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Ultimate Guide To Writing a Winning Scholarship Essay

Stand out from the rest.

Students sitting together and helping each other with how to write scholarship essays

With the cost of higher education skyrocketing in the last few decades, it’s no surprise that many students seek out scholarships to help cover tuition. As a result, it’s a very competitive endeavor, which is why students need to find ways to stand out. We’ve put together this resource to help write a scholarship essay that will get the application committee’s attention.

How To Find Scholarships

Many students know that they want to apply for scholarships but don’t know where to find them. Honestly, this can be the most difficult and intimidating part of the process for students! Here are some suggestions for where to start. 

Ask a Guidance Counselor

One of the best resources for high school students is their guidance counselor. They are prepared to help students make academic and career plans and should be aware of scholarship opportunities to align with your needs and goals. 

Talk to the College or University

Already have a college or university picked out? Reach out to the school’s financial aid department. In addition to the many scholarships you can find online, they may offer information about funding offered directly through the school. 

Submit a FAFSA Application

Even if a student isn’t planning to accept student loans, they should definitely consider completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not only will the resulting report inform them of any financial assistance for which they qualify, but many scholarship committees require applicants to submit a FAFSA. 

Search Scholarship Websites

There are many scholarship websites where students can find awards and applications. Sites such as Scholarships.com and Scholarship 360 allow you to use filters to narrow down your search results based on your needs and interests. 

We’ve also put together the following guides:

  • How To Get a Full-Ride Scholarship
  • Best Merit-Based Scholarships  
  • Excellent Scholarships for High School Seniors
  • Great Scholarships for Black Students
  • Scholarships for Women
  • Best Scholarship Opportunities for Future Teachers

Do an Internet Search

Head to a search engine, social media platform, or sites like Reddit to look for scholarships. You can even create posts inviting other users to share suggestions.

Ask an Employer

Some workplaces offer tuition benefits or other financial assistance for higher education. If a student is employed, it’s an option to reach out to someone in the HR department to see if they offer any programs or scholarships. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Scholarship Essay

Do: know the rules.

The most important thing anyone can do before writing a scholarship essay is this: Read all of the rules and guidelines and then reread them! Students can even ask someone else to read them too, to make sure they fully understand what they need to do. Failing to follow the rules is one of the main reasons why students are unsuccessful in getting scholarships. 

Do: Set Aside Plenty of Time

Start working on scholarship essays right away. Do not wait until a week (or day!) before the deadline. This gives students time to write several drafts of the essay if needed. Also, you never know when a technology-related issue might strike, so having a little extra time can save you from disaster. 

Do: Research the Scholarship Provider

Dig deep when applying for a scholarship. Find out who is funding the award and spend some time researching the provider. Do they have a vision or mission statement? Do they support any specific causes or types of students? Is there any way that applicants can make themselves more attractive candidates for the specific audience? Students should use this information to their advantage! 

Do: Brainstorm

Students should take some time to think about what they’ve learned about the scholarship essay guidelines and the provider. Then, brainstorm about what they want to say and share and why. Here are some questions to ask as they pertain to education and career goals:

  • Who are you? Think of yourself but also your background.
  • What makes you who you are?
  • What have you done?
  • What do you want to do?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • Why do you need a scholarship?
  • How will it make a difference?
  • Are you a first-generation college student?
  • Do you have any unique qualities or needs?
  • What makes you proud?
  • What lessons have you learned?

These are heavy questions, but finding the answers to at least some of them will help provide the substance needed to write a truly effective scholarship essay. 

Do: Find Ways To Stand Out

Many, many students are applying for scholarships. They have to find a way to stand out from the rest. Students should think of the things they learned when they researched the scholarship provider. Are there any ways they can appeal to that audience? If so, focus on those areas. 

Do: Be Honest

Do not lie on a scholarship application. Let’s say that again: Do not lie on a scholarship application. Students should remind themselves that they are worthy on their own. If an applicant is discovered to be dishonest, it can really hurt them in the long run. 

Do: Stay on Topic

When reading the guidelines for the scholarship and doing brainstorming, be sure to keep the topic of the essay in mind. Everything students share and communicate should be related to the topic. 

Do: Be Professional

Students should use their very best skills when writing a scholarship essay. They should not use slang, casual language, unconventional fonts, emojis, or texting abbreviations. 

Do: Proofread and Edit Multiple Times

It’s a good idea to prepare to write this essay at least three times. First, there’s a rough draft that should be carefully proofread. Students can ask a teacher or other professional to also look at their paper. Then students should repeat this process once or twice more until they’re happy with the results. They shouldn’t just write it and submit it all at once! 

Don’t: Brag

While students want to highlight their strengths and accomplishments, they should not brag. They also don’t want to put down other candidates or people to make themselves look good. Tell a story without embellishments. 

Don’t: Reuse a Scholarship Essay

Students put a lot of effort into writing scholarship essays, but please don’t reuse them! 

Scholarship Essay Sample Outline

Ready to get started? Having a solid outline provides a road map for the journey. Here are some suggestions for making it easier to write a scholarship essay! 


Students should explain who they are and try to make it engaging. Hook readers by sharing a few details that will be elaborated on in the body of the essay. 

Educational and Career Goals

Students should share what they want to study and hope to gain by getting an education, as well as how it will prepare them for their future career. They should be passionate! 

Who Are You?

Student should briefly explain their background, which can include details about family, personal values, and how they got to where they are today. 

Why Are You a Good Candidate for the Scholarship?

This is where students need to really think about what they learned about the scholarship provider. What are they looking for in a candidate? Students should do their best to not only shine as a good student and leader, but also find solid ways to connect with the scholarship provider’s mission. After including some teasers or breadcrumbs in the introduction to hook the reader, this is a good place to share the rest of the story. 

To wrap up a scholarship essay, students should reiterate their commitment to their education and career. Restate how the story shared demonstrates a readiness for college and how winning the scholarship can help the applicant follow their dreams. Best of luck!

Do you have tips on how to write a scholarship essay? Share them below! Plus, check out  The Ultimate Guide to College Scholarships!

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We've put together these guidelines on how to write a scholarship essay to help your submission stand out from the rest.

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10 Winning Scholarship Essay Examples From Real Students

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., writing a winning college scholarship essay.

If you need more money to pay for college, chances are you will be applying for several college scholarships . A great scholarship essay helps the scholarship provider understand the real person behind the application and can be the key to winning the award (assuming you meet the other scholarship criteria).

Student writing scholarship essay

Scholarship Essays vs. College Essays

Scholarship essays are very similar to your college application essays in terms of strategy. Many scholarship hopefuls will share the same grades, test scores, and ambitions: the essay is your chance to shine (and grow that dream college fund!).

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

When you’re drafting your scholarship essay, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1. Start the essay writing process early.

Leave yourself plenty of time to produce a well thought-out entry. Take the time to brainstorm your ideas, create an outline, and edit your entry as you would for any essay writing assignment for your English class.

Read More: How to Craft an Unforgettable College Essay

2. Understand the scholarship provider’s overall mission and purpose.

Each scholarship provider is looking for students who meet certain criteria. Consider writing about an experience or interest that highlights your strong ties to the organization’s mission. Genuine passion and enthusiasm for your topic will show through in your essay writing.

3. Follow the scholarship essay instructions.

Make sure to follow all of the necessary steps and review them before submitting your scholarship essay. Trust us, some of the brightest students have missed out on the chance to earn scholarships dollars all because they neglected to follow instructions. You don’t want to fall into that category!

4. Steer clear from essay topics that focus on negativity or pessimism.

Scholarship committees would rather see how you overcame hardships and succeeded despite the obstacles in your path (or what you learned from the times you failed).

Read More: 200 Colleges That Pay You Back

5. Don’t be afraid to get personal.

Share something about who you are. This is your chance to elaborate on elsewhere on your application you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so. Telling your story makes an essay genuine and ultimately more memorable to the scholarship committee.

6. Seek out writing advice and feedback.

Asking teachers, counselors, family members, or trustworthy friends for feedback on your essay will result in a better final product.

7. Yes, spelling and grammar matter.

Scholarship committees do notice grammar mistakes . Eveny tiny errors can distract a reader from your overall message. Before you submit your application make sure you take the time to proofread your essay from beginning to end.

8. Don’t give up!

When you’re tired, take a break, but don’t throw in the towel! Our online essay writing tutors are here for you anytime you get discouraged. We can help with everything from brainstorming and outlining to revising the final draft.

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how to start essays for scholarships

How to Write a Scholarship Essay: Crafting a Standout Narrative

how to start essays for scholarships

With scholarship opportunities on the rise, it's surprising to learn that a significant percentage of applicants often overlook a crucial element: the scholarship essay. Many candidates focus solely on grades and achievements, unaware that a well-crafted essay can be the game-changer in securing financial aid.

In this article, our essay writing service experts will explore the often underestimated power of the scholarship essay, offering a comprehensive guide that covers everything from defining the essence of a compelling essay to providing practical tips, tricks, and real-world examples. Join us on this journey as we unlock the secrets to transform your essay into a compelling testimony of your unique journey and aspirations, ensuring it not only stands out but leaves a lasting impression on selection committees.

What Is a Scholarship Essay?

A scholarship essay is more than an academic piece—it serves as your personal gateway to funding opportunities, shaping the trajectory of your educational journey. It's an opportunity to weave your narrative, articulating dreams and aspirations that captivate and convince scholarship committees. Picture it as your own masterpiece, where vibrant strokes illustrate who you are, where you've traversed, and the path you aim to tread.

Instead of merely presenting a laundry list of achievements, infuse vitality into your essay by narrating a pivotal moment that ignited your passion. Lead the reader through your experiences, forging a personal connection with your journey. Keep in mind that a scholarship essay isn't just about highlighting accomplishments; it's about unveiling the person behind those achievements. It's the distinction between perusing a resume and immersing oneself in a compelling story that leaves an indelible mark.

Let's buckle up as our scholarship essay writing service explores the art of crafting essays that go beyond grades and accolades.

Who Said Essays Can't Be an Adventurous Quest for Financial Aid?

Let's craft an essay that doesn't just open doors but kicks them wide open!

Scholarship Essay Format

When it comes to the scholarship essay writing process, paying meticulous attention to specific formatting requirements is crucial. Here's a breakdown of essential elements to consider:

1. Word Count and Page Limit:

Before you start writing, carefully review the scholarship guidelines for page and word limit. Adhering to these limits demonstrates your ability to follow instructions and ensures that your essay is concise and focused.

2. Font and Font Size:

Use a readable font that is commonly accepted, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Ensure that the font size is within the specified range. Typically, a 12-point font is standard, but check the guidelines to confirm.

3. Margins and Spacing:

Maintain consistent margins on all sides of the document, usually one inch. Follow the specified spacing guidelines, whether it's double-spacing or a different requirement. Consistent spacing enhances readability and gives your essay a polished appearance.

4. Title or Heading:

Check if the scholarship application requires a title or heading. If not specified, you can opt for a straightforward title centered at the top of the page, using a larger font size than the body of the essay. Alternatively, you may choose to omit a title and start directly with your essay.

5. File Format and Submission Instructions:

Confirm the preferred file format for submission, whether it's a PDF, Word document, or another format. Adhering to the specified file format ensures that your essay is easily accessible and viewable by the scholarship committee.

6. Headers and Footers:

If required, include a header with your name, page number, and any other specified information. Be consistent in formatting these details throughout the document. Headers and footers add a professional touch to your essay.

7. Citations and References:

If you need to include citations or references, follow a standard citation style (such as APA format example , MLA, or Chicago) as per the scholarship guidelines. Ensure that your citations are accurate and formatted correctly.

8. Language and Tone:

While not directly related to formatting, it's crucial to maintain a professional and respectful tone. Tailor your language to suit the formality expected by the scholarship committee. Avoid slang or overly casual language unless explicitly allowed or encouraged.

9. File Naming Conventions:

If you are submitting your essay electronically, adhere to any specific file naming conventions outlined in the scholarship guidelines. This ensures that your document is easily identifiable and organized within the application system.

10. Proofreading and Formatting Check:

Before submission, thoroughly proofread your scholarship essay format to catch any errors, typos, or inconsistencies. Ensure that your essay looks polished and adheres to all specified formatting requirements.

How to Write a Scholarship Essay Step-By-Step

Here is a detailed and example-rich breakdown of how to approach and execute each section of the scholarship essay from our dissertation service experts. Remember, the key is to weave a narrative that is not only unique to you but also aligns seamlessly with the scholarship's values and expectations.

how to write scholarship

  • Introduction

To better understand how to start a scholarship essay, consider beginning with a vivid scene or a personal anecdote that relates to your journey. For example, if you're applying for a scholarship in environmental science, start with a moment of realization about the impact of climate change during a particular experience. Additionally, refer to our article on strategies for writing an essay hook for valuable tips.

  • Thesis Statement

Craft a powerful thesis that not only outlines your career goals but also hints at the unique perspective you bring. For instance, 'Through my journey in community service, I have discovered a passion for social entrepreneurship, and this scholarship will be the catalyst for implementing sustainable solutions.'

  • Body Paragraphs

Example of Achievements : Provide specific examples of your achievements within the same essay. Instead of stating, 'I was the captain of the debate team,' share a defining moment like, 'Leading the debate team to victory in the regional competition not only honed my public speaking skills but also instilled in me the importance of collaboration and effective communication.'

Experiences and Impact : Elaborate on the impact of your experiences. For instance, 'My volunteer work at the local animal shelter not only taught me compassion but also sparked an interest in animal welfare. This experience, coupled with my academic achievements, drives my pursuit of a degree in veterinary medicine.'

  • Express Your Goals and Aspirations

Specificity in Goals : Instead of a generic statement, be specific. For example, 'I aspire to bridge the gap between technology and healthcare by specializing in medical informatics. This scholarship will enable me to pioneer innovations that enhance patient care and streamline medical processes.'

Link to Scholarship Values : Showcase a connection between your goals and the scholarship values. If the scholarship emphasizes community impact, explain how your ambitions align: 'My goal of establishing sustainable community health programs aligns seamlessly with the scholarship's commitment to fostering positive change.'

  • Address Any Challenges

Share a personal challenge and highlight your resilience. 'Overcoming financial hardships, I learned the value of resourcefulness. This scholarship represents more than financial aid; it symbolizes the triumph of perseverance and the pursuit of academic excellence against all odds.'

Revisit your thesis and express optimism about the future. 'As I embark on this academic journey, fueled by my experiences and aspirations, I am confident that the skills and insights gained will not only contribute to my personal growth but also bring positive change to the communities I aim to serve.'

  • Proofreading and Editing

Seek specific feedback from peers, asking questions like, 'Does the opening anecdote draw you in?' or 'Are my goals and aspirations clear throughout the essay?' Addressing these specifics enhances the quality of your essay. If your scholarship essay ideas revolve around history, consider utilizing the assistance of our history essay writer .

  • Formatting Guidelines

Pay meticulous attention to formatting details. If the scholarship application specifies a font size or page limit, adhere to it. This showcases your ability to follow instructions, an essential skill in academic and professional settings.

  • Personalization

Adjust your essay to align with the values of each scholarship provider. If a scholarship emphasizes leadership, emphasize leadership experiences and their impact on your goals. This customization demonstrates your commitment to the specific scholarship's mission.

Scholarship Essay Examples

Below are scholarship essay examples that follow the outlined format and incorporate elements of a compelling narrative. Meanwhile, if you're feeling stuck with your own narrative, hit that ' write a paper for me ' button. Let's bring your unique story to life.

Using our tips sets you on the right track. Still, having a good sample essay at hand is vital for success. So, to make the writing process for your scholarship essay even more smooth and amazing, enter the dissertation service to look at the following samples:

Scholarship Essay Prompts

Scholarship essay prompts are more than questions; they are gateways to showcasing your unique story and aspirations. Here are some distinctive and thought-provoking prompts to spark your creativity:

  • The Unwritten Chapter : Describe a pivotal moment in your life that feels like the beginning of an unwritten chapter. How has this moment shaped your goals and inspired your pursuit of a scholarship?
  • The Legacy of Words : If you could have a conversation with any historical figure, author, or fictional character, who would it be? How would this conversation influence your academic and career aspirations?
  • The Dream Project : Imagine receiving unlimited funding for a project that addresses a global challenge. What would your project be, and how would it impact the world?
  • The Personal Lexicon : If you had to choose five words that define your journey, what would they be, and why? How do these words encapsulate your aspirations and experiences?
  • The Alternative Universe : Transport yourself to an alternate universe where you pursue a completely different field of study. How has this imaginary journey influenced your perspective on your current academic path?
  • The Cultural Odyssey : Reflect on an aspect of your cultural background that has significantly shaped your identity. How does this influence your academic and career goals, and how will it contribute to a diverse academic community?
  • The Innovation Blueprint : If you were given the chance to revolutionize an industry through innovation, which field would you choose, and what groundbreaking idea would you bring to the table?
  • The Unexpected Mentor : Describe an unexpected mentor or role model in your life. How have their guidance and insights influenced your personal and academic growth?
  • The Traveler's Tale : Imagine embarking on a journey to three different countries. Share how each country's culture, values, or experiences would contribute to your personal and academic development.
  • The Legacy of Service: Discuss a community service project you initiated or participated in. How has this experience shaped your understanding of social responsibility and influenced your educational aspirations?

6 Scholarship Essay Tips

Here are a few more tips from our service to allow you to create a winning scholarship essay:

essay tips

  • Uncover Your Unique Angle : Identify what makes your story distinct while writing scholarship essays. Whether it's an unusual experience, a personal passion, or an innovative approach to problem-solving, emphasize the elements that set you apart from other applicants.
  • Create a Compelling Hook : Engage the reader immediately by starting with a compelling hook. This could be a thought-provoking question, a surprising fact, or a powerful quote that sets the tone for your narrative.
  • Quantify Your Impact : When discussing achievements, quantify your impact whenever possible. Instead of merely stating leadership roles, highlight specific results or improvements achieved under your guidance.
  • Highlight Transformative Moments : Share moments of personal growth or transformation. These could be challenges you've overcome, realizations that shaped your perspective, or experiences that fueled your passion for your chosen field.
  • Demonstrate Proactive Solutions : Showcase instances where you took the initiative or implemented solutions. Whether it's a community project, academic challenge, or personal goal, emphasize your proactive approach and problem-solving skills.
  • Balance Confidence with Humility : Project confidence in your abilities as a college student without overshadowing humility. Acknowledge areas for growth, expressing a willingness to learn and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Creating scholarship essays can be challenging, particularly when time and skills are limited. Yet, a compelling essay plays a crucial role in securing the desired scholarship. If you're short on time or uncertain about your abilities, explore the option of seeking help from professional essay writers. Submit a ' help me with my homework ' request to receive a high-quality scholarship essay or even a Pride and Prejudice short summary , enhancing your chances of success!

Ready to Turn Your Academic Journey into a Blockbuster Story?

Let's script your success with a tailor-made essay that'll have scholarship committees giving you a standing ovation!

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Home / Blog

How To Write a Scholarship Essay

February 15, 2019 

how to start essays for scholarships

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Paying for college is a top concern for many students in America today. Even just a generation ago, a student’s primary concern was more about getting into the college they preferred, instead of about being able to afford college at all. Now, young students are trying their best to budget and save up in order to afford a college education, and are planning ahead for how they will pay off their student loans.

As important as FAFSA is for most students , there are other options available to help students pay for their college education: mainly scholarships and grants. The best thing about these options? They don’t require repayment plans.

Debt.org notes on scholarships for students: “Each year, an estimated $46 billion in grants and scholarship money is awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and the nation’s colleges and universities. In addition, about $3.3 billion in gift aid is awarded by private sources, including individuals, foundations, corporations, churches, nonprofit groups, civic societies, veterans groups, professional groups, service clubs, unions, chambers of commerce, associations and many other organizations.”

But how can you take advantage of this $49.3 billion dollar (and growing) pool of grants and scholarships? Scholarships require either proof of academic excellence or that students meet a financial threshold, as well as completion of an application and, usually, a scholarship essay. Just as some colleges and universities require an entrance essay to apply, many scholarships also require an essay along with the application.

Writing an essay for school is one thing, but writing an essay to help you pay for college is another. Financial stability is on the line when it comes to scholarship applications, so writing a winning essay is key to impressing those granting the scholarships you’re applying for. Here are some tips to help you better prepare for your scholarship application and essay.

What Is a Scholarship Essay?

Scholarships are a form of student financial aid that do not require repayment, as long as you meet the terms of the award and use it as directed. They are often gifted based on merit, either through academic excellence, financial need (also known as “need-based” aid), or by meeting specific requirements set by the organization awarding the scholarship; such as specific scholarships or grants for women .

Aid may come from federal scholarship funds, state or local scholarship funds, or private organizations, such as churches, nonprofit groups, and more. Additionally, almost every scholarship will require an accompanying essay along with the application.

The scholarship essay varies depending on the requests of the organization granting the essay. It may require a specific word count, or be based on a prompt. Whatever the requirements are, it is essential to follow the guidelines presented in order to qualify for the scholarship. Preparing your essay is like writing a resume for financial aid, and depending on which scholarship you’re applying for, the competition may be anywhere from minimal to fierce. It’s important to write an essay that can stand out amongst the crowd of applicants.

Grant vs Scholarship

Although the terms “grant” and “scholarship” often refer to a similar idea — student financial aid that doesn’t require repayment — they are two fundamentally different awards. The key difference lies in how they are awarded, and where the funds are originating from.

Grants , such as Pell Grants, are typically awarded by the federal government and are generally awarded based on need rather than merit. There may be minimum requirements that recipients are required to live up to, such as family financial status limits, but these are often less specific than scholarship requirements are. Additionally, colleges and state agencies may also award grants based on need.

Scholarships on the other hand are often awarded based on merit. They may require that students meet (and sustain) a specific GPA in school, or that students with athletic excellence join the college’s sports team. Most scholarships will have rules that recipients are required to follow in order to continue to qualify for that scholarship. Many scholarships are funded by colleges, private organizations or donors, and some state or local programs.

Both grants and scholarships may require an accompanying essay with the application, although there are some rare cases of scholarships and grants that don’t require essays and are easier to obtain. Be cautious of fraudulent scholarships or online scams associated with “easy to obtain scholarships”, as they are becoming increasingly common online.

Steps for Writing a Scholarship Essay

Just as when applying to colleges, scholarship applications may require that you to send in your grades, academic achievements, test scores, and ambitions for the future. As such,  scholarship essays offer you the chance to speak to these accomplishments and ambitions. Here you can shine and win over the organization granting the scholarship.

Once you’ve found a scholarship that you qualify for or that interests you, it’s important to read over the instructions thoroughly to understand what is expected of you. Then, follow these steps to write the perfect application essay for the scholarship of your choosing:

The prompts can be anywhere from basic — “What was a challenging experience you faced in high school and how did you overcome it?” — to more complex or specific — “How has coffee helped you study for your SAT or ACT test?”

The prompt should help you start to formulate ideas on how you want to construct your essay. Be sure to fully understand what is expected of you by reading the instructions, and do your best to not stray from the topic being covered. Some essays may have a word or page count, while others may only request you answer the prompt.

Brainstorming is an important step to ensure your idea fits with the prompt and properly expresses what you are trying to communicate through your essay. You also want to make sure that you express what is meaningful and relevant about yourself that can help your essay stand out from all the others.

One of the best ways to start constructing and organizing an essay is to create a comprehensive outline. They serve as an essential tool to help you avoid structural mistakes, repetition, and to help you cover all your bases and ideas without rambling.

Your outline should read like a barebones argument for why you deserve this scholarship and how your idea relates to the prompt given. Once you start writing the essay in full, you can fill in more of the details needed to explain your point, or to describe yourself and your situation.

Scholarship Essay Formatting

Additionally, outlines can help you properly format your scholarship essay. Here are some essential tips for your scholarship essay format:

  • Introduction that ends with a thesis or idea
  • Explanation that supports and proves your thesis
  • Conclusion that reiterates your argument and thesis
  • 12 point font
  • Times New Roman, Arial, Courier, Helvetica, or Georgia font (whatever is standard on your preferred writing system, nothing too stylized)
  • Double spaced
  • 1 inch to 1 ½ inch margins
  • If there is no required word or page count, as a general rule, aim for ¾ to 1 full page in length.
  • Be sure to include your name and the name of the scholarship you are applying for near the top of the page (either as a header or simply above the optional title).

Once you’ve brainstormed and outlined your article, you can officially start writing the piece. Be sure to follow your outline and cover all of the key ideas that you came up with while brainstorming. Be concise, avoid rambling, and ensure your point is clearly stated. Also ensure you’ve formatted your essay correctly and stay true to the word or page count, if applicable.

Take a Break

Once you’ve completed your first draft, you should take a break from writing. Go outside and take a walk, or spend some time cleaning — anything to help you get your mind off the essay so that you can return later with fresh eyes. If you find it hard not to think about the essay, wait a day (or even a few days) before coming back to reread it.

In general, spending time away from your work can help you clear your mind. When you do come back, you may be more likely to notice mistakes or see gaps which require elaboration. For any essay you write, this is always a helpful tip.

As you return to your essay, go through and nitpick your work. Use your fresh mind to rewrite sections or include more (or less) context, as needed. Ask yourself if the core idea that you came up with during your brainstorm is still apparent in the article. Are you communicating your ideas clearly?

Additionally, keep an eye out for grammatical mistakes, such as missing or too many commas, misspellings, or other typos. If you notice repetitive words, utilize a thesaurus to find acceptable replacements. Once you’ve gone through your essay, you can submit it as is, or you can follow the optional next step.

Peer Review

For many people, it can be hard for them to revise their own work because they hold biases about their writing or are unaware of personal mistakes. Asking another person to review your work may help you refine your essay even more. Additionally, having another person read over your essay can help you determine the clarity of your point: do they understand the flow of your piece, or are they confused by any information? Does the context you provide make sense to the overall idea, or does the reader still have questions?

If you have a friend, relative, mentor, or peer that has editing experience — or that is simply a voracious reader — ask them if they can take a moment to look over your piece and make comments or suggestions. You may be surprised at what they find that you missed!

Scholarship Essay Tips

Your scholarship essay is going to be your primary (and sometimes sole) form of communication with the organization granting the scholarship. That’s why it’s so important to communicate directly and clearly through your essay in order to attract their attention and garner their support. Here are some additional tips to help you better communicate your intentions through your scholarship essay:

How To Start a Scholarship Essay

First impressions matter, and your introductory paragraph will serve as your first impression to the scholarship organization. Refer back to your brainstorm to help identify your message and consider how to attract the attention of the reader through your introductory paragraph. For some people, it may also help to construct or outline the body of the essay before you construct the introduction, so as to better understand how to concisely get your message across.

Once you’ve properly outlined the entirety of your essay, you can start writing. In your introductory paragraph you’ll want to state in clear and succinct language who you are, why you are interested in college and this scholarship (or your hopeful direction), and what the reader will find in your essay.

Be Personal

Another important point to keep in mind while you’re writing is that this essay isn’t a book report (unless otherwise stated in the prompt); this essay is about you. Don’t write impersonally, but take a personal tone: use “I, me, myself” or other personal pronouns and avoid general statements unless they relate to your situation.

Through your writing you should also be revealing some of your motivations pertaining to why you’re going to school and why you’re seeking out this scholarship. Discuss how you will become an effective student in the coming years, and how you’ll make good use of the money you may be awarded. You may have more freedom to write about yourself in detail for some scholarship prompts, and less of the same freedom for others. Use your discretion.

Stay Focused

When you originally brainstormed your essay topic, you should have been able to narrow down your topic to just a few key points that you could communicate and cover in detail. As you fully flesh out your essay, you should ensure that you stay focused on these core ideas. Try not to ramble or get side tracked. Every sentence in your essay should be related in some way to one of your core ideas. If it’s not, delete it or rewrite the sentence so that it does relate.

Be Succinct

It’s important to keep in mind that your essay most likely won’t be more than a page, double spaced. Since you don’t have a lot of room for fluff or non-essential information, it’s important to stay focused, to the point, and brief.

Additionally, the organization that is awarding the scholarship is most likely going to be reading hundreds (sometimes thousands) of scholarship applications and essays. Everyone will most likely be working off the same prompt, so you’ll want to ensure that your essay stands out, gets straight to the point, and doesn’t waste any of the reader’s time.

Follow Instructions

Finally, the most important tip is to simply read and reread the instructions multiple times to ensure you understand the prompt, what is expected of you, and all of the other essential guidelines pertaining to your essay.

While you should be sure to do this before you start writing, you should also do this after you’ve written the piece. Simply double check your work against the requirements set by the scholarship organization, and make sure you’re following the instructions to the letter. Essays that don’t follow instructions will most likely be thrown out first, and you don’t want your hard work to go to waste simply because you forgot something in the instructions.

Scholarship Essays for Online Students

If you’ve decided to pursue your education through an online bachelor’s degree or master’s degree program , it can be even more important to communicate effectively through your scholarship essay. It is entirely possible that you will never meet your collegiate benefactors or professors in person, and will only communicate with them via your writing online.

Luckily, there are some unique scholarships out there that are aimed just for online or “distance learning” students. Keep in mind, even some of the smaller scholarships (such as those for $50-$500) can still help you pay for books, online texts or subscriptions, or other essential learning materials.

Writing an imaginative and thoughtful scholarship essay can help you pay for online schooling for either a bachelors or masters degree program. It can also get you started on the right foot to have a solid financial aid foundation to pursue your college dreams.

Whether you’re writing one scholarship essay or many, these tips will help you make a solid first impression, and hopefully will win over whichever scholarship organization you’re targeting.

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how to start essays for scholarships

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

What’s covered:, why do scholarships require essays.

  • Types of scholarship essays

How to write a good scholarship essay

What about scholarships that don’t require an essay.

For many, scholarships are a critical part of paying for your college education. That’s why you want to make sure your scholarship applications receive nearly as much of your care and attention as your college applications do. Essays are a huge component of this.

Many scholarships are competitive, drawing highly qualified applicants with excellent grades and test scores. Essays are a way of differentiating students, learning more about their interests, and determining to whom the organization should give the award.

Scholarships are also born out of organizational missions, and the committee wants to see how your values align with theirs. Essays help illuminate these values. 

Types of scholarship essays 

You’ll encounter several different types of scholarship essays during your search. These are some of the most common varieties you will find.

Career and education goals

Some scholarships target people with particular career ambitions and anticipated majors. This essay prompt is common for those types of awards, as well as more general ones. To approach your essay, you should be authentic, describing your true motivations and why this professional path appeals to you. Let your passion for the industry, sector, or discipline shine through.

Life experiences/qualities/group affinity

When a scholarship targets people of particular demographics, make sure you highlight your affinity with this group in your essay. Describe how these characteristics have contributed to and in some cases shaped your journey — and will continue to do so in your future.

Connection with the institution/organization

Your connection with the institution or organization offering the scholarship often plays a large role in determining winners — so much so that they may ask you to describe why that organization is important to you in your essay. It’s important to do your homework, considering why various aspects of the institution appeal to you and why you want a scholarship from them.

Past writing sample

You may not need to write a new essay at all. The organization could ask you to submit a past writing sample instead. If this is the case, choose a piece that shows your real personality and aligns with the message and mission of the organization offering the scholarship.

1. Understand your audience.

Scholarship committees want to see essays from students who share their organization’s values. Before you apply, you need to do some research to understand what those values are. Consider how your interests and experiences align with what the organization is looking for, and make them clear throughout your essay.

2. Show your personality.

You should also use your voice in your essay. Give the scholarship committee insight into who you are as a person — what drives you, what motivates you, and what interests you. This will allow them to understand you on a deeper level and see your words as genuine.

3. Use anecdotes and examples.

As with your college essays, you’ll bring your experiences to life by using plenty of anecdotes and examples. These will help ground your essay and make it more compelling for your audience.

You may encounter scholarships that don’t require essays. While the applications may be less time-consuming, for the most part, you will need to ensure that your GPA, test scores, and extracurriculars are strong because they will usually play a large role in assessing applicants.

While we’re on the subject of no-essay scholarships, we encourage you to enter CollegeVine’s weekly $500+ scholarship drawings . To get started, you just need to create a free account. Increase your chances of winning by referring friends, peer-reviewing essays, and more.

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how to start essays for scholarships

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

how to start essays for scholarships

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how to start essays for scholarships

"Be Bold" No-Essay Scholarship

  • Read the scholarship essay prompt and instructions
  • Outline your scholarship essay
  • Start writing your scholarship essay
  • Open with a hook
  • Use basic writing skills
  • Keep your scholarship essay descriptive but concise
  • Be professional
  • Be creative and different
  • Let your voice shine through
  • Make your scholarship essay stand out
  • Make your conclusion powerful
  • Revise and edit your first draft
  • Read your scholarship essay out aloud
  • Prepare to submit your scholarship essay

Frequently asked questions about writing scholarship essays

Writing a scholarship essay is a required part of many applications as a way for the scholarship committees to learn more about the candidates and their motivations. They have the power to make or break your scholarship application. Because of this, writing a scholarship essay can often seem stressful and daunting.

As a way to ease the essay writing process, we have compiled steps for writing strong scholarship essays, tips to make them stand out to a scholarship committee, and questions students often ask as they begin their scholarship applications. Here are the top scholarship essay tips to earn scholarship money:

  • Thoroughly read the prompt and instructions
  • Create a solid essay outline
  • Start writing early
  • Open with a solid hook
  • Prioritize basic writing skills
  • Keep it descriptive, yet concise
  • Be creative
  • Let your individual voice shine through
  • Stand out from the rest
  • Finish with a powerful conclusion
  • Read your scholarship essay out loud

Read below for more context and frequently asked questions about scholarship essays and create an account with Bold.org to unlock hundreds of exclusive scholarships ! .

1) Read the scholarship essay prompt and instructions

Always read the prompt before writing. It sounds like a simple suggestion, but if you don't understand what the prompt is asking, you won't be able to properly answer the question. Additionally, do research on the donor to understand the purpose of their scholarship . Many organizations have a mission statement and individual donors are often giving the scholarship in memorial of a loved one. Keep in mind the purpose of the scholarship provider's essay topic so you are able to understand and appreciate the scholarship program.

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Understand what the scholarship committees are asking for, and ensure that you know the word limit, page requirements, and/or other scholarship requirements in advance. If the essay question has multiple parts, pay attention to each part to make sure you are fully answering the question. It seems simple, but a scholarship provider looks to make sure you are properly answering the question.

2) Outline your scholarship essay

Don't start writing blindly. Once you have a good understanding of the scholarship essay prompts, make note of what you want to say and in what order . How do you want to open it? What are the key points you want to address? Answering questions like these can help ensure your essay is cohesive and well-written.

Student outlining an essay at a table outside

Browse scholarships with 2022 deadlines and use the drop-down filters to find the perfect scholarship for you!

3) Start writing your scholarship essay

Don't wait until the last minute to start writing your scholarship essay. The earlier you start writing your essay, the more time you have to plan, write, and edit. You have a better chance at success if you start early , rather than waiting until just before the scholarship application deadline to begin.

4) Open with a hook

Now that you have your scholarship essay format, it's time to begin the writing process. When you read strong scholarship essay examples, they almost always lead with something insightful or intriguing. Grab the reader's attention in a way that encourages them to read on. Don't start with a quote, a dictionary definition, or a generic cliché. Make what you have to say original , and show the committee right off the bat that you have something to say.

5) Use basic writing skills

Never underestimate the importance of good writing skills. Whether you're a high school student or a college student, using proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar is extremely important . Scholarship applications will be more credible, and it will show donors you have put thought and care into your essay.

6) Keep your scholarship essay descriptive but concise

As you get into your main paragraphs, remember that you are telling some sort of story. If your writing is bland and provides little detail, you are less likely to illustrate your point. Using the "show, don't tell" method is a helpful way to keep your writing interesting and descriptive. At the same time, don't go overboard with your descriptions. Be detailed, but don't let that cover up the point of your essay.

7) Be honest

Not every essay prompt is easy to answer. However, it is important that you are honest in what you write about in your essay. Don't make up a story that you think sounds impressive. A personal statement is looking to hear about what makes you special, not what stories you can create to make yourself sound more qualified.

Students writing in notebooks outside

8) Be professional

One of the most important scholarship essay tips to remember is to be professional. Put personality in your writing, but remember that you aren't talking to your best friend or sending a text. In other words, steer clear of slang words, excessive punctuation, and text lingo .

9) Be creative and different

The review committee will read many essays when choosing who will receive their scholarship award. When deciding who they give the scholarship money to, the review committee will look for essays that stand out . This means combining all of the scholarship essay tips from above to create a scholarship application that highlights your strengths, uniqueness, and personality. Be personal and follow scholarship essay tips, and you will write a compelling essay.

10) Let your voice shine through

Scholarship essays are brief but give you the time to tell the scholarship committee who you are and why you are the best candidate for the scholarship. Robotic and strictly informative essays may be technically adequate, but if you want your essay to stand out, make your personal statement personal. Showcase your personality in a way that is professional but shows the committee what makes you special.

11) Make your scholarship essay stand out

It's easy to write just anything, but it's harder learning how to write a scholarship essay that stands out from all the other scholarship essays the committees receive. If you want your scholarship to be creative and unique, steer clear of common clichés , song lyrics, and quotes. Scholarship committees want to hear what you have to say, not what somebody else already said.

The best essay examples are those that tell a clear story. While you may be tempted to share your whole life story in a scholarship essay, not every moment from your life is relevant to the essay prompt. Plus, the word count often doesn't allow this anyway. Instead, pick a key moment that highlights your character, your accomplishments, or something that you feel passionate enough about to write about. Stick to a scholarship essay format that allows you to share about yourself while still being concise and answering the essay prompts.

12) Make your conclusion powerful

When thinking about how to write a scholarship essay, remember the importance of a powerful beginning and ending. The end of your essay is the last thing read and therefore is the last thing the reader remembers. Bring the scholarship essay full circle without making general statements, such as "this is why you should pick me as your scholarship winner."

13) Revise and edit your first draft

No matter how good of an essay you've written, there is always room for improvement. Rough drafts are just the start . Take the time to look at your scholarship essay with a critical eye, pinpointing areas you can improve for the finalized draft.

14) Read your scholarship essay out aloud

A helpful part of the reviewing process is reading your essay out loud. This will allow you to catch mistakes you may not have noticed in your first edits. It also helps you get a sense of the essay's flow . When you read your scholarship essay out loud, ask yourself if there are parts that sound unnatural, forced, or out of place.

Students working on essays together at a table

15) Prepare to submit your scholarship essay

Before submitting your scholarship essay, double-check that your spelling and grammar are correct, that you answered the essay prompt, and that you met the word count. If you have given yourself enough time to complete the essay before the deadline, you will have had the chance to review your essay before submitting it. Don't wait until the last minute to submit , so that there is no panic if something goes wrong before the deadline.

Now that you're prepared to write your scholarship essay, click below to start applying to scholarships!

There are so many questions that come with writing essays, but we've chosen to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about how to write essays, ways to win scholarships, etc. You can learn more about how to apply for scholarships in this guide .

How do you write a winning scholarship essay?

Earning financial aid from scholarship programs is heavily reliant on the strength of the essay submission. Just like writing college applications, the scholarship essay process takes thought and is often focused on the applicant's life or experiences. Because the topic often focuses on the student's life, it is helpful for students to think back to important moments in their life, ranging from experiences at a young age to middle school times up through the present.

Take these experiences and be creative , writing about personal lessons and experiences, rather than relying on clichés. Use what you're passionate about, for an essay about your dream school or career goals would be more compelling than one simply listing test scores and academic performance successes.

Follow the essential tips from above, layout a strategic essay structure, and submit the best representation of you. There isn't a guarantee for earning this financial aid through scholarships, but following these suggestions will give you a higher chance for future success on scholarships.

How do you begin a scholarship essay?

Open your first paragraph with something interesting that hooks the reader. At the same time, avoid corny statements and overly dramatic retellings. Don't tell the reader what you're going to do, such as saying "in this essay, I will..." for this is unnecessary. Use your intro to pique the reader's interest , while still giving an idea of what your essay will be about.

Do scholarship essays need a title?

This depends on the scholarship. Some essays may require or request a title, but most scholarships on Bold.org do not have a place to add a title. They are rarely required for Bold.org essays, but there are still exceptions. Additionally, other scholarships sites may prefer essays to be titled .

Student writing in a notebook and reading a laptop in bed

Where do I put my name in a scholarship essay?

This is another circumstance that depends on where you are applying for the scholarship. On Bold.org , you are submitting your application using your profile , so your name has already been shared in the application. Because of this, it is not necessary to include your name in the essay. Preferences may change depending on where you are applying for scholarships.

How do you answer "tell me about yourself" in a scholarship essay?

This question can be answered in so many different ways, but the most effective essays write less about academic credentials and more about interesting lessons and experiences that make them unique. If filled out thoroughly, your profile should already display your credentials, so use this space to share unique information about yourself, such as experience in the performing arts, time spent in a study abroad program, reasoning behind a college double major, work as an international student, and so on. Each person has a story; use this space to share it .

How do you start a scholarship essay about yourself?

One of the hardest parts of writing an essay about yourself is figuring out how to start. You want to sell yourself but still be humble, come across as fun but not stupid, show your strengths without ripping on others, etc. So, how should you start?

Don't start with a basic list of your accomplishments, for that doesn't draw readers into your essay. Begin with a hook that illustrates the point of your essay, without explicitly saying it. There is no right or wrong way to start your essay as long as you promote your strengths without being boastful. This is a difficult line to teeter on, but if you are able to showcase yourself in a genuine way, your chances of receiving scholarship financial aid will be much higher.

What to say when asked why you deserve a scholarship

Scholarships essays are a great place to show off your achievements, experiences, and personality, and this doesn't have to be in an arrogant way! Use a prompt about why you are deserving to share your story. When people know more about you, it becomes more apparent why you are qualified for the scholarship.

Use this section to show how you excel in different areas, giving examples, instead of simply saying that you are adequate in those fields. Share about your community service experiences, talk about your post-secondary education or plans to attend college, and include a note of how many scholarships you are earned in the past and what they were for. Don't be afraid to highlight your credibility, but do it in a way that gives examples . The "show, don't tell" technique is preached throughout schooling, and these essays are a perfect time to put that skill to use.

How do you sell yourself in a scholarship essay?

After you lead into your essay with a strong hook, begin by focusing on your morals and personal strengths. Do this in a way that doesn't just say you are strong in a certain area but shows it. Maybe this is a personal anecdote that shows your helpfulness, or maybe it's an example of your previous awards to demonstrate your academic excellence. Focus less on general academic achievement and more on specific awards, extracurricular activities, community service, and other notable accomplishments.

If your profile already shows your GPA, research experience, awards, and other information in your bio, don't feel that you have to go into depth with a specific list of all of your academic achievements. Stick to the aspects of your resumé that are individual to you , and you'll be more likely to find success in the different scholarship opportunities you apply for.

Student typing on a computer

How to make a good impression in a scholarship essay

Many of the things to put in a scholarship essay have already been mentioned, but it is also important to mention what should not be added to an essay. In making a good impression on the scholarship committee, you must ensure that your message is clear. Avoid getting into controversial topics that detract from the focus of your essay, and stay on track to show your organization and thoughtfulness in approaching the scholarship application.

Additionally, don't flat-out say you need the money, even if you are in desperate need of financial assistance. Begging for money or using lack of financial stability as a way of appealing to the committee does not send a good message and often reflects badly on the rest of your application . If you do mention your economic background, do it in a respectful way that doesn't come across as offensive to the donors.

The committees ask the questions they do to get a good judge of a person's ambitions, interests, and most importantly, character. There are possibly many reasons you deserve this scholarship, but many other students are worthy too. Don't insult other applicants in order to make yourself look better. At the end of the day, you can only control yourself, so keep the focus on the positives about you, instead of the negatives about other people.

How long should a scholarship essay be?

Most, if not all, scholarship essays have a required word count range for your essay to stay between. Look at this when reading the prompt and preparing to write your essay so that you have an idea of how much to write. Keep your essay well inside the range to be safe.

Strong essays are less reliant on the number of words and paragraphs and more reliant on the quality of the writing. A 400-word essay packed with power can be more effective than a 1000-word essay that is poorly written. Because of this, it is less important to worry about what the committee will think of the length of your essay, as long as it's within the limit, and more important to make your scholarship effective.

Can I reuse my scholarship essays?

In some cases, it is okay to use the same essay, but be aware of what the question is asking and the purpose of the scholarship. For example, if you are applying to a computer science scholarship that wants to know about your interests in the subject, don't use an essay that focuses on your relationship with your family members.

If the prompt is the same for several scholarships and you want to reuse an essay, there is no rule against it. However, be aware of the little changes you can make to improve the applications for various scholarships .

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Where can you find scholarships to apply for?

Scholarships are a great way to combat student loans , and Bold.org's mission is to help reduce the cost of student debt, providing a scholarship opportunity for all sorts of people, with different experiences, educations, and interests. In addition to looking for local scholarships in your area, and scholarships offered by your college, use Bold.org as a starting point to find scholarships that are right for you!

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  • Applying For Scholarships

How to Write a Scholarship Essay Introduction (With Example)

David Nov 27, 2018

How to Write a Scholarship Essay Introduction (With Example)

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With the thousands of scholarships out there, you have a chance to win serious money to put towards your college tuition. But, the scholarship application process can be quite stressful, so we are here to help. The most difficult part of the application process for students is usually the essay . How do you write it? What should it include? We are going to focus on how to start a scholarship essay introduction.  

Scholarships are super competitive and the reviewers may not even have time to read the entire essay submitted. So, the first sentence of your scholarship application is your first and best chance to convince the reader to continue reading. For this reason, your essay’s introduction is crucial.

That sounds stressful, but rest assured, your introduction can actually be your best tool for success. Luckily, there is no one right way to write a scholarship introduction, but there are some things you must keep in mind.

You need to catch the judges’ eyes from the very beginning of the essay. Imagine that your readers have to read hundreds of applications. You must make your essay stand out.

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Your introduction should include the following three things:

  • Attention-grabbing first sentence
  • A short explanation for what you will talk about in your essay
  • The thesis statement in which you address the essay prompt

Your introduction should be short, sweet, and to the point. This is the place to establish for the reader what you will be discussing in the rest of the essay.

Do you have a short story you can open your essay with? Jokes, metaphors, and anecdotes are a great way to capture your reader’s attention. Try to develop a personal connection with the reader from the start of your essay- readers are more likely to remember you if you give them something personal.

Take a look at the following two examples:

  • Example #1: It is important to take responsibility for your actions for a few reasons.
  • Example #2: December 2, 2015 was the day my life took a major turning point.

Do you notice the difference? Which example makes you feel like you want to know more about the writer? Of course, example #2. This is the effect that your essay introduction should have on the reader.

Be sure to maintain a unique voice in your introduction and throughout your essay. Remember that there are many other accomplished students like yourself who are fighting for the scholarship. Dive into your passions and share with the reader what makes you special.

Here are things you should avoid doing in the introduction paragraph:

  • Avoid using big words only to sound intelligent. Your introduction should sound natural.
  • Avoid starting your essay with quotes; those are somebody else’s words, not your own. Instead, use your own words and let your personality shine in the essay.
  • Avoid obvious statements such as “I am interested in this scholarship.”
  • Avoid introducing yourself

Also, remember to keep in mind the values of the organization or the school that you are writing the scholarship for. Express yourself in a way that the readers will appreciate. Yes, it’s important to be yourself. But, it’s also important to share the side of yourself that your reader will appreciate. To find this information out, you must research your audience to know what their values are.

Adapt your personal statement for different scholarships. Finally, make sure that you understand the instructions and essay questions before you begin writing.

Scholarship Essay Introduction Example:

Prompt: Please give the committee an idea of who you are and why you are the perfect candidate for the scholarship.

concept for How to start a scholarship essay introduction

  • Scholarship Essay

David Tabachnikov ScholarshipOwl

David Tabachnikov is the CEO of ScholarshipOwl. Formerly at Waze and Google, David is an experienced CTO/R&D manager with over 10 years of experience of leading tech teams. David fervently believes that students should have greater access to education, and is passionate about using technology to help them achieve that goal.

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A Constructive Guide on How to Start a Scholarship Essay

On a serious note, who would miss a chance to get free money for their education? There are plenty of scholarships available and an even higher number of applicants struggling to win those scholarships. The scholarship application process can be a tad nerve-wracking, especially writing a scholarship essay . 

What should I write? How should I start? What should my essay include? These are just a few thoughts students go through as the essay submission time ticks away. Nevertheless, we are here to help! Most scholarship offers have cutthroat competition, and reviewers might not even have enough time to read all the submitted essays.  

This is why you should be more attentive to the introduction of your essay. The first sentence is the first best chance you have to impress the reader and compel them to continue. This constructive guide on  how to start a scholarship essay  takes you through essential writing tips and guidelines on how your essay can be your ultimate tool for acing that scholarship. 

How to Start a Scholarship Essay

There is no one sure-fire way for students to write their scholarship essays. Still, the introduction of an essay can make a significant and lasting impact on the reviewers, enough to change their decision. The first few sentences at the start of your essay must be able to grab the readers’ eyes and attention. 

But amid the thousands of applications, how are you going to make your scholarship essay stand out? Here is a general overview of what your essay’s introduction, body, and conclusion should entail.

writing essay on computer

The Introduction of the Essay

You must keep the introduction of your essay simple, concise, and sweet. If your essay’s topic is based on a question, it is unwise to repeat the question and state how you will answer it. Instead, you should downright get to the point. 

Whether you maintain a casual, professional, or bookish tone in your writing, you must be able to engage your reader. You can either do this by narrating a relevant story or a personal one. With the reference of a story, your reader can better relate with you personally and intellectually; hence, avoid using facts and figures.  

The majority of applicants will also use quotes to make their essay different, but in vain. The reader wishes to know about you, so your essay should inspire your style. Sometimes, metaphors and jokes are excellent ways to grab the reader’s attention. 

As an applicant, you should attempt to establish a personal connection with them from the beginning because readers are far more likely to remember you if your essay contains a personal incident or story. 

The Body of the Essay 

Make sure you use the right selection of words and be precise in your language. Many applicants use the thesaurus freely for an impressive choice of words. They believe that their essay can stand out more if they use flowery language. However, your essay can turn out much better if you use words you are actually familiar with. 

A scholarship essay basically revolves around the concept of who you are, what makes you unique, what encourages you, and what drives you to go to school/college. So be precise and ensure that the reader gets to know more about YOU while reading your essay. 

Try expressing yourself in a manner that will be appreciated by the readers and will enable them to visualize you in a better way. For this, you will have to do some research to understand your audience and their values. 

Most importantly, do not forget to mention the organization or institute that is sponsoring this scholarship program. Let their integral values give you some inspiration and guidance for writing your scholarship essay. Instead of singing words of praises and saying things that they would like to hear, you should keep to your ideas and convey them in a meaningful way. 

The Conclusion of the Essay

In the conclusion, you need to summarize everything you have previously covered and pay special thanks to the scholarship board for their precious time and give you this incredible chance. Use your conclusive statements to clarify why your entire essay was brilliant. Also, your dedication, character, and uprightness should naturally be evident in your writing.

➔ READ MORE: Best Colleges and Universities with Scholarships In US

Essential Things to Know While Writing Your Scholarship Essay

No matter what the topic is, here are some essential things you should keep in mind before you start to write your scholarship essay. 

  • Consider the intro as your only chance to stimulate your reader’s interest and convince them that the remaining essay is worth reading. This way, your chances of getting that scholarship will automatically increase. 
  • After giving a short yet startling introduction, you should proceed with a short and concise description of your essay to grasp their attention. 
  • Make sure your voice and tone resonate throughout the essay by talking about your life’s challenges and experiences and what you are passionate about. 
  • Avoid using clichés and quotations of popular personalities in your essay. No college official would be interested in reading an essay that speaks nothing about you. 
  • Utilize words to reveal more about yourself and use your own examples to enhance your essay from basic to extraordinary.
  • There is no one-essay-fit-all concept here, so your application essays should be as unique as you are. An athletic scholarship essay should be completely different from a faith-based scholarship essay.
  • You need to ensure that your reader effortlessly stays on track with you, so do not divert from one subject to another midway. 

Essential Mistakes to Avoid

Here, we will identify some of the silliest mistakes that often cost students their scholarships. By all means, here are some things that you should avoid in your essay: 

  • Do not use long, extravagant words just to appear cool. Instead, make a very genuine and natural introduction. 
  • Avoid blandly introducing yourself. Think of a unique way to familiarize yourself with examples. 
  • Do not use naïve sentences such as “I am eager to get this scholarship,” no matter how true it may be. This is something understood and can only make your essay appear childish.
  • Do not ever skip the rereading stage. It is essential to proofread your essay to spot the critical grammatical mistakes and sentence formations before submitting it. 
  • Do not restate or rephrase the original content over and over again. 

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How to write a scholarship essay - the complete guide.

Student writing scholarship essay

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 12/8/23

If you’re a student hoping to secure a scholarship, it’s vital to understand how to write a scholarship essay. Keep reading to learn how. 

Scholarship essays provide an opportunity for students to showcase their aspirations to scholarship committees and serve as a platform to demonstrate academic achievements, leadership abilities, community involvement, and future goals. 

They play a crucial role in determining the recipients of financial assistance , as they allow committees to assess candidates' suitability for the scholarship. By carefully crafting a compelling scholarship essay, you can significantly increase your chances of getting funding for your education and opening doors to your future.

There are a ton of diverse scholarships to choose from, including many full-ride scholarships , providing students with ample opportunities to pursue their education without the burden of financial constraints. Some excellent scholarships include the Fulbright Scholarship and the National Merit Scholarship , among many others. 

If you’re seeking guidance on how to write a good scholarship essay, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll go over everything you need to know and show you examples of successful scholarship essays. 

10 Tips to Write a Successful Scholarship Essay

female student writing on paper

Crafting quality scholarship essays requires careful planning, thoughtful execution, and a deep understanding of what scholarship committees are looking for. Here are some key strategies and scholarship essay tips to help you create a standout essay:

Understand the Prompt

Start by thoroughly understanding the essay prompt and any specific guidelines provided. Pay attention to the key themes, requirements, and expectations outlined.

Research and Personalize

Researching the scholarship organization is crucial. Understand their values and goals, and ensure your essay reflects them. Show genuine interest and connection.

Thorough research helps tailor your essay, aligning with the scholarship's objectives. It demonstrates dedication and sets you apart.

Research also provides compelling information, supporting your arguments and boosting credibility. A well-researched essay effectively communicates your qualifications and motivations.

Tell Your Unique Story

Your essay should reflect your authentic voice and experiences. Share personal anecdotes and impactful moments that highlight your character, resilience, and achievements. Make it compelling and memorable.

Be Clear and Concise

Write with clarity and precision. Use simple and concise language to effectively convey your ideas. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complex sentences that may confuse the reader. Taking care of both writing simplicity and conciseness at once may not be easy for some of you. If you are one of them, then get some help from a summarizer . It will quickly make your given essay both simple and short by removing all the unnecessary words and phrases.

Structure and Organization

Develop a well-structured essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Ensure a logical flow of ideas and maintain coherence throughout the essay.

Planner and cup of coffee

Address the Selection Criteria

Explicitly address the selection criteria specified by the scholarship committee. Showcase how you meet and exceed their expectations, emphasizing your academic excellence, leadership skills, community involvement, or any other relevant qualities.

Proofread and Edit

Always proofread your essay for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and clarity of expression. Edit it to improve sentence structure, coherence, and overall effectiveness. Consider seeking feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers.

Stand Out and Be Memorable

Capture the attention of the reader with a strong opening and a compelling conclusion. Be creative, passionate, and genuine. Make your essay memorable by showcasing your unique perspective and contributions.

Follow Instructions and Deadlines

Ensure that your essay adheres to all the guidelines and requirements set by the scholarship program. Submit your essay well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications.

Be sure to look into specific guidelines and instructions to avoid scholarship displacement . Always read the fine print!

Revise and Refine

Continuously revise and refine your essay. Seek feedback, incorporate suggestions, and make necessary improvements. Aim for a polished and refined final draft.

Remember, writing a winning scholarship essay takes time and effort. Stay true to yourself, express your aspirations, and demonstrate your potential. With careful attention to detail, you can write an engaging essay that sets you apart and increases your chances of securing the scholarship you desire.

person writing on paper with pen

Mistakes to Avoid in a Scholarship Essay

It can easily fall into certain common traps when writing your scholarship essays. Here are some errors that you need to stay far, far away from! 

  • Not Answering the Question or Prompt : Don’t let your essay wander off-topic; it makes you look thoughtless and absent-minded. To show that you’ve read the instructions and care about writing a good essay, stay focused on what the prompt asked you to write about. 
  • Using Quotes : Not only are quotes often cliche, but they also take up valuable space in your essay. You only have a certain number of words to play with, and your readers want to know about you , not Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • Repeating Your Application : Your scholarship essay is a place for you to provide new information that can’t be found anywhere else on your application. Use it to talk about your passions, motivations, and future goals - things that the committee couldn’t otherwise know about. 
  • Telling, Not Showing : Use examples and anecdotes to show the committee who you are. Don’t just say, “I’m a very determined person.” Instead, share a story about a time you demonstrated determination to prove it.  
  • Not Proofreading : Avoid grammar and spelling errors at all costs! Almost nothing makes you look less professional than a typo. Proofread your work several times. You can even ask friends or family members to read it over for you, too. 

Male student reading paper

Scholarship Essay Format

The scholarship essay format plays an important role in effectively conveying your story to the scholarship committee. While specific requirements may vary, there are some common elements to include in your essay.


Begin with an opening that grabs the reader's attention and introduces the main theme or topic of your essay. The introduction is an important part of a scholarship essay as it sets the tone and serves as your first opportunity to make a strong impression and engage the scholarship committee. 

A well-crafted introduction should provide a clear overview of your essay's main theme and establish a sense of your unique voice and perspective. Your introduction should compel the reader to keep reading.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a chance to share everything that shapes your academic journey. To write a strong one, it’s always helpful to draw inspiration from personal statement samples . They can help demonstrate how to stand out by highlighting achievements and lessons learned.

Scholarship committees seek academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. Align your values with the scholarship's mission and show how you'll contribute positively to your field or community.

person writing on paper

Goals and Aspirations

Clearly articulate your educational and career goals, explaining how the scholarship will contribute to your future plans and how you intend to make a positive impact in your chosen field.

Clearly expressing your goals in a scholarship essay allows the scholarship committee to understand your commitment and aspirations. It shows you have a clear plan for your future and that the scholarship funds will be used effectively to support your educational and career endeavors. 

Articulating your goals also helps the committee assess how well the scholarship aligns with your ambitions, increasing your chances of being selected as a deserving candidate.

Relevance to Scholarship

A key part of grasping how to write a scholarship essay is understanding how to make it contextually relevant. Connect your experiences, goals, and values to the specific scholarship you’re applying for. Explain why you’re an ideal candidate and how the scholarship aligns with your academic, professional, or personal aspirations.

blank notebook with pen

Let's say you’re applying for a scholarship that supports students pursuing environmental science. In your essay, you would want to demonstrate your passion for environmental conservation and your dedication to making a positive impact in this field. 

You can start by sharing a personal anecdote about a formative experience that sparked your interest in environmental science, such as participating in a community cleanup or witnessing the effects of pollution in your hometown.

Next, you can highlight your academic achievements and extracurricular activities related to the environment, such as taking relevant coursework, conducting research on sustainable practices, or volunteering for environmental organizations. 

You can emphasize specific projects you’ve worked on, such as creating a recycling initiative at your school or organizing a tree-planting campaign.

You should also directly address how the scholarship aligns with your goals and aspirations. For example, you can mention how receiving the scholarship would enable you to pursue advanced studies in environmental science, conduct research on climate change, or develop innovative solutions to environmental challenges. 

It’s helpful to emphasize how the scholarship will not only support your academic journey but also empower you to contribute to the scholarship organization's mission and make a meaningful difference in the field of environmental science.

By weaving together your personal experiences, academic achievements, and future goals in a way that directly relates to the scholarship's focus on environmental science, you can create a scholarship essay that resonates with the scholarship committee.

how to start essays for scholarships

Supporting Evidence

If you're wondering how to write a good scholarship essay that still feels like you, remember to tie in your own experiences. A key part of doing this effectively is providing evidence to support your narrative. 

Provide examples, anecdotes, and specific achievements to support your claims and demonstrate your qualifications. Use vivid language and storytelling techniques to make your essay engaging and memorable. Consider including the following to strengthen your essay.

  • Academic achievements
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer and community service
  • Work experience
  • Personal challenges and growth
  • Research or projects
  • Excerpts from letters of recommendations

Summarize your key points, reiterate your passion for your chosen field, and express gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for the scholarship.

Remember to adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by the scholarship committee, such as word count limits, font styles, or document structure. Proofread your essay carefully for grammar, spelling, and coherence.

It’s also a good idea to consider seeking feedback from teachers, mentors, or writing centers to enhance the overall quality of your essay.

Two men sitting at desk talking

Common Scholarship Essay Prompts

The following scholarship essay prompts are courtesy of the University of Alaska . Use them to brainstorm how you’ll approach your own scholarship essays. If you land a scholarship interview , you’ll likely face similar questions to these as well. 

Looking closely at these prompts will help you understand how to write a scholarship application essay. 

Tell Us About a Mistake You Made or a Time You Failed and What You Learned. 

Mistakes happen to everyone—it's a fact of life. But here's the thing: acknowledging your mistakes shows maturity and readiness for college. It's not just about admitting you messed up; it's about explaining what you learned and how you've grown as an individual. Interviewers value self-awareness and a willingness to learn from slip-ups.

Scholarship providers understand that perfection doesn't exist. They're interested in how you've learned from failures, whether they were academic, professional, or personal. Break down the failure, its reasons, and how it ultimately made you a better person.

Additionally, share a valuable lesson you've gained, like how you would approach similar situations in the future or how that experience transformed your life. This is your chance to showcase your ability to learn and persevere, leaving a lasting impression.

Female student working on computer

Tell Us About a Time When You Had a Belief or Idea Challenged. 

Have you ever been abroad or taken a family trip to a foreign country? You may have had an eye-opening conversation with a teacher, religious leader, or friend. Here's something to think about: recall a moment that pushed your beliefs or ideas to the edge–or maybe even changed them completely.

Start by explaining your initial understanding of the idea, then dive into that moment when it got challenged. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you feeling? Share all the juicy details!

Afterward, talk about how it impacted you. Did it make you question everything? Or did it open your mind to new possibilities? Scholarship providers love to see reflection and growth, so make sure to paint the whole picture in your essay.

What Is Your Greatest Strength? 

If you're a skilled performer, talk about how much you loved your high school drama class or share your approach to tackling a monologue. If math is your thing, share a story about how you helped someone get a handle on the quadratic formula. This is also a good question for an athletic scholarship essay. 

For the writers out there, let them know about your talent and how it has brought positivity to your life or how you use it to assist others. No matter what your strength is, be specific and provide examples to back it up. Show them why you're exceptional in your field, and let your skills shine through.

Man flexing muscles

What Is Your Biggest Weakness? 

When discussing your weaknesses, it's important to present them in a positive light. Let's say you struggle with time management. Instead of simply admitting this, you can explain how you recognized the issue and took proactive steps to improve. 

For example, you could share how you implemented a daily planner or started using time management apps to stay organized and meet deadlines effectively. Be honest about the initial difficulties you faced, but emphasize the strategies you adopted to overcome this weakness.

By demonstrating your proactive approach and growth mindset, you show that you're committed to personal development and constantly striving for improvement.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? 

You don't need to have your entire future figured out, but the scholarship committee wants to know you have some sort of plan. What are your goals in college? And what do you see yourself doing after graduation? 

Show how this scholarship can help you achieve those goals and give you a head start. Maybe you’re hoping to pursue a specific career or make a difference in your community. 

Talk about how this opportunity will give you the resources, support, or experiences you need to succeed. Let them see your vision and how this scholarship fits into your game plan. 

Man writing on paper

Scholarship Essay Examples

You can find real-life samples of successful scholarship essays below, provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Penn State . Use them as a source of inspiration and to guide you in your own writing journey. 

These scholarship letter examples will offer insights into the content and writing style that can help you craft a compelling essay that stands out among the competition.

Scholarship Personal Statement Example A

Feet like lightning. Arms pressed to the sides. Instruments sounding like nothing I had previously heard. The airing of Riverdance on PBS was my first introduction to anything that could be considered “traditional Irish.” At that time, I had been dancing since I was five years old, so this newfound form of dance was naturally intriguing. My interest in dance and the arts continued to grow and at the age of nine, I began to play the flute. Almost immediately, music was my passion, and I knew someday I wanted to perform. For years, I focused solely on concert flute repertoire, assuming I would become a concert performer. During high school, though, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a hammered dulcimer player who gave me notated Irish music to read, and my interest skyrocketed. I began to listen to traditional Irish groups such as the Chieftains and “Celtic rock” groups such as Seven Nations. During my sophomore year as a flute performance major at Mythic University, I realized study in Ireland was the only way for me to properly learn traditional Irish music and culture.

Fall 20xx was my semester in the Junior Year Abroad (JYA) program at University College Dublin (UCD). Because the JYA program required two areas of emphasis, chose Music and Celtic Civilization. Before arriving in Ireland, I knew the music department at UCD did not offer lessons with private instructors, so I contacted Mr. Bill Dowdall, professor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and principal flautist of the National Concert Orchestra. Mr. Dowdall was willing to give me “classical flute” lessons, but he did not play traditional Irish music (often called “trad”). As my main reason for going to Ireland was to learn trad music, I had to find a teacher. With the help of Mr. Adrian Scahill, my “Irish Traditional Music” lecturer at UCD, and Mr. Dowdall, I found an Irish flute teacher, Mr. Seán Ò Broin.

At least once every week during my time in Ireland, I went to McNeill’s Traditional Music Shop on Capel Street in Dublin to take a trad lesson with Mr. Ò Broin. Irish music is an aural tradition—meaning that in order to perform it authentically, one must learn tunes by ear. Being trained classically, I was used to reading notes on a page, but one cannot analyze Irish music from a classical viewpoint. Trad is a separate and unique art form with its own set of special rules. I learned that lesson firsthand and through an ethnomusicology course at UCD.

Since returning to the United States, I have observed that most people who play Irish music read from “fake books,” which tend to approximate and simplify the complicated, time-honored tradition. Irish music must be learned aurally and personalized by each player with her own ornamentation, nuances, and interpretation of her teacher’s style. I realize that when it comes to seriously studying traditional Irish music, I have only scratched the surface with one semester of lessons. I must return to Ireland if I am to continue the pursuit of knowledge that was begun.

During my graduate study in Ireland, I plan to attend the Irish World Music Centre (IWMC) at the University of Limerick to attain the MA in Irish Traditional Music Performance. The Centre is the only one of its kind in the world, and the degree is unique to this university. Although University College Cork offers a one-year MA in Music, and NUI Maynooth offers a one-year MA in Music (Performance and Musicology), the IWMC is the only school to offer Irish Traditional Music Performance. At my target University of Limerick program, advanced instrumental tuition is provided by world-renowned traditional performers and tutors, and the examinations of repertoire sources and styles of performance are supplemented by important modern non-performance skills such as music business and music technology. The IWMC offers other specialized courses besides my proposed MA, and elective modules in the program will allow me to pursue some of my other interests.

I believe other interests are an integral part of my education and plan to continue gaining more knowledge in each area while studying abroad again. Classes offered through the Irish Traditional Dance and Contemporary Dance Performance programs at the IWMC will allow me to further my dance knowledge outside my world of ballet. Mr. Niall Keegan, Course Director of my prospective MA program, tells me there will be

opportunities to continue my concert studies in ensembles. Not only do I plan to continue with concert flute studies, I also intend to teach private classical lessons. My first ethnomusicology experience at UCD whetted my appetite for exposure to diverse musical cultures and inspired me to apply for the newly approved International Arts Minor at Mythic University. Classes through the Ethnomusicology program at the IWMC will teach me more about other cultures and their special musical traditions. Irish language studies will broaden my understanding of Irish music traditions, and I look forward to beginning these classes while in the country.

Eventually, my goal is to perform in ensembles that incorporate varying musical styles, especially Irish traditional music. Since returning from Dublin, I have led workshops, given recitals, performed a jury for the Mythic University woodwind faculty, and spoken with many people about my Irish learning experiences. My joy comes from educating people about trad music through performance and conversation. I am determined to follow my ambition to share this passion. When my JYA semester ended with my first experience studying in Ireland, I realized how much more I needed to learn about traditional Irish music and culture. I do not merely want to study in Ireland; I must study in Ireland if I plan to pursue my passion. Now, with the Mitchell Scholarship and its many benefits, mastery of Ireland’s distinct musical art form and immersion in its culture are within my grasp. It is an honor to be considered for this perfect opportunity.

girl with flute

Why It Works 

This scholarship sample effectively communicates the applicant's passion for traditional Irish music and their dedication to pursuing a career in the field. The essay starts with an engaging opening anecdote that introduces the writer’s interest in Irish culture and the development of their passion for traditional music. 

The essay also highlights their specific goals, such as participating in the unique program at IWMC, and how this experience will contribute to their growth as musicians, artists, and performers. It also demonstrates the writer’s drive and ambition through the story of how they needed to search for a teacher.  

This essay does a good job of emphasizing the applicant's passion, determination, and resilience, as well as their reliance on the Mitchell Scholarship to make their educational goals a reality. Overall, the essay combines personal experiences, career aspirations, and financial need to make a compelling case for the scholarship.

Scholarship Personal Statement Example B

“I have enough faith in human nature to believe that when people are both economically secure and aware of the value of biological wealth they will take the necessary measures to protect their environment. Out of that commitment will grow new knowledge and enrichment of the human spirit beyond our present imagination" - Edward O. Wilson 

The Earth and every tiny microbe that dwells here is my inspiration, and the intricate functions of a single cell are the only proof I need to believe that the spirit lies in life itself. My one goal is to do anything I can to protect the purity of life.

I am astounded by the rate at which we destroy what can never be replaced, but I have not lost hope. Since I have been at Ohio University I have explored many different areas of study, always pursuing a way to defend the defenseless. 

Through our environmental group at school, Campus Greens, I began to realize the Earth needs scientists who are willing to speak for it. Our latest goal has been to stop long-wall coal mining in Dysart Woods, a virgin forest in Ohio. Many people believe the mine will destroy the woods. 

However, there is not enough evidence to back up that claim. I feel the only way to end the destruction of the forests is through evidence of its importance. During my junior year of high school, I studied in Israel for a quarter. This was the single most important experience of my life.

I saw how diverse life is and how beautiful all of those differences are. In three months my world expanded halfway around the globe. I began to realize that there were millions of species I knew nothing about. 

This idea is what draws me to Costa Rica. I would love to study the amazing diversity of life that the rainforests offer and the communities that they support. What intrigued me the most about Israel was the way Zionists had managed to grow food in a desert. They came and transformed a barren land into a garden.

 Digging into deep rocks to find aquifers and developing elaborate drip irrigation systems to conserve water permitted the beginning of a new culture with new crops. The entire society grew from a dream of living in peace with enough food to eat. 

When I learned about this I decided that after graduating I would like to go into the Peace Corps. My goal is to help improve agriculture in third-world countries, without imposing cultural assimilation. I feel this program would give me insight into rural communities that thrive without submitting to Westernization. 

Eventually, I would like to become a professor of Tropical Agriculture. Since I have been at Ohio University, I have realized what an impact one instructor can have on future generations. Last year I took a class entitled, "Plants and People". We learned about various plants, their origin, and how they have affected humans. 

While the subject was interesting, it was the professor that inspired me. Her lectures came to life with slides of trips she had taken and stories of collecting cassava with local shamans. Her passion is what led me to pursue Tropical Agriculture. I feel that the best teachers are those who can share their own experiences.

I also feel that knowledge gained through experience is of greater value than hours of reading. When I am able to meet the people and smell the plants that I am learning about, the lesson becomes my reality. It is hard for me to comprehend the full beauty that lies in Costa Rica. 

Hopefully, this program will give me the opportunity to explore what textbooks have only begun to explain. 

palm trees

This scholarship essay does a good job of emphasizing the applicant's deep commitment to environmental conservation and their determination to create a meaningful impact on the world. 

The essay begins with a powerful quote that sets the tone for the applicant's commitment to protecting the environment. It highlights their involvement in environmental activism, such as their efforts to stop long-wall coal mining and their belief in the importance of scientific evidence in environmental advocacy. 

This essay also demonstrates the applicant's global perspective gained through studying in Israel and their aspiration to join the Peace Corps to improve agriculture in developing countries. Additionally, it emphasizes the applicant's desire to become a professor of Tropical Agriculture and their belief in the value of experiential learning. 

Overall, this scholarship essay combines personal experiences, environmental advocacy, and career aspirations to make a compelling case for the scholarship.

FAQs: Writing a Scholarship Essay

Are you still wondering how to write a scholarship essay? Here are some frequently asked questions and expert guidance on writing good essays that will increase your chances of securing scholarships.

1. How Do You Start a Scholarship Essay?

To start a scholarship essay, begin with a captivating introduction that grabs the reader's attention and clearly states your purpose. Introduce yourself and provide background information relevant to the scholarship. 

Consider using a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a powerful statement to engage the reader from the very beginning.

2. What Is the Format for a Scholarship Essay?

The format for a scholarship essay typically follows a standard structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction should both grab your reader’s attention as well as introduce the topic. 

The body paragraphs should present your main ideas, provide supporting evidence, and showcase your achievements and experiences. The conclusion should then summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression on the reader. It's important to adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by the scholarship organization.

3. What Not to Write in a Scholarship Essay?

When writing a scholarship essay, it's important to avoid certain pitfalls. First, avoid sharing irrelevant or unrelated information that does not contribute to your application. Second, steer clear of excessive self-promotion or bragging.

Instead, focus on highlighting your accomplishments and experiences with humility. Make sure to avoid controversial or sensitive topics that may offend or alienate the reader. Lastly, be cautious about using clichés or generic statements that don’t highlight your unique qualities or perspectives.

Now that you have a solid understanding of how to write your essay, you can get started. If you ever need a refresher, simply refer back to this guide. 

Mastering the art of writing a scholarship essay can open doors to numerous educational opportunities and financial support. By following the complete guide we've provided on how to write a scholarship essay, you now have the tools and knowledge to understand exactly how to ace your essay.

Remember to carefully plan your essay, focus on highlighting your strengths, and demonstrate your passion and commitment. With practice and dedication, you can craft a scholarship essay that sets you apart and increases your chances of getting the scholarship you deserve. Best of luck on your scholarship essay journey!

Final Thoughts

Writing a scholarship essay gives students a chance to potentially secure valuable educational opportunities, like getting into prestigious Ivy League schools . It also helps to reduce the high costs of education and is a great option for students who are on a tight budget or are applying from out of state . 

Be sure to follow our guide on how to write a scholarship essay, and make sure you have a clear understanding of the essay prompt before highlighting your personal experiences and achievements in your responses. 

Remember to proofread your essay and seek feedback for that extra polish. So, start writing, believe in yourself, and you’ll make a lasting impression with your scholarship essay. It's your time to shine and secure that scholarship!

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How to Write a Scholarship Essay?

31 July, 2020

15 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

College years are a beautiful season. That being said, we have to admit that it is also quite pricey. Young people spend long hours working part-time during college and full-time after the graduation just to get out of the student loans. However, there is a bright side to all this...

Scholarship Essay

A high-quality scholarship essay can keep your pockets full. The truth is that you have a chance to qualify for financial aid from your college. And all it takes is an essay for scholarship crafted in accordance with the college’s requirements.

Already wondering how to get an essay that will help you grab a piece of that multi-billion scholarship pie?   Handmade Writing has it all covered!

Game f Loans: The interest is coming

Not only we’ve gathered several scholarship essay examples but also created a list of scholarship essay format styles that will make the writing much easier and way more fun.

So, let’s get this show on the road!

Scholarship Essay Outlines

Like any other piece of academic writing, this paper requires a specific structure and outline. They help you keep your thoughts organized while walking the reader step by step through your paper.

Don’t view outlines as a boring routine part of the job. When done correctly, it can take your writing to a new level!

Related Post: Essay outline guide

Typically, a scholarship essay consists of three main parts: an introduction, main body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each one of these parts has its own purpose and value. Thus, none should be ignored or underrated.

An Introduction.

When working on an introductory paragraph to your scholarship essay, consider three of its main parts: a hook, a thesis statement, and an engaging sentence to grab readers’ attention. The thesis statement for scholarship essay writing is at the core of a successful piece. It helps the audience understand what this text will focus on and how relevant it is to the main idea of your paper. It is in your best interest to make it as exciting as possible. If you want to find out more on how to craft a quality thesis statement, check our  thesis statement guide .

Main Body Paragraphs.

Each main body paragraph should begin with an argument that supports the thesis. Next comes the evidence that backs up the author’s position. And last but not least is a conclusion that briefly summarizes this paragraph’s main idea.

A Conclusion.

Even though it stands at the end of your piece, a conclusion plays a vital role in the overall success of a scholarship essay. It might be the only thing readers remember in the long run. So, you’d better make it memorable. Remind the audience of reasons to choose you a winner of their scholarship essay contests and promise they won’t regret it.

Remember that you don’t have to write too many details in an outline. Your only goal at this stage is to create a certain structure you will stick to while writing. Throw more ideas later on, while brainstorming or developing the first draft.

Vital elements of a scholarship essay outline

Now, let’s look at each part of an outline closer. We’ll show you tips for writing scholarship essays in practice.

By the way, check out our  process essay guide  to learn how to craft the best process papers ever!

How to Start off a Scholarship Essay?

If you don’t know how to start a scholarship essay, here is our first tip: identify the main idea of your essay. Here is what we mean.

Read the scholarship essay prompts carefully, preferably several times. Make sure you understand what exactly the admissions board wants you to focus on.

If there are no prompts, brainstorm answers to the following questions:

  • What makes me a perfect candidate for this scholarship?
  • Why should the college help me financially?
  • What achievements should I talk about when requesting the scholarship from this college?

These answers will help you find the best way to start a scholarship essay. They will guide you. So, open your essay with an answer to these questions. Present it in the thesis statement and move on to the next part.

Main Body Paragraphs

Now comes the time to learn how to write a personal statement essay for scholarships. Once you introduce the audience to the purpose of your essay, start the presentation the main point of which lies in creating a personal statement.

Depending on the size of your essay, you might split this part into several paragraphs . Each of them can have a headline and a short paragraph explaining it.

One of the worthy personal statement for scholarship sample essays we want to introduce you to is by University of Minnesota. It has everything a good scholarship application essay needs: a personal perspective, an engaging introduction, the clear structure, answers to the questions mentioned above , etc. So, give it a read and use the author’s example to apply to your writing.

To put it short, every paragraph should start with an argument that supports the thesis statement you talked about in an introduction. Next comes the evidence for the argument. In the case of this type of writing, it should base on your personal experience, achievements or aspirations. Finally, wrap up with a short conclusion to each individual paragraph.

How to End Your Essay?

All good scholarship essays follow this structure. Now that you are working on a conclusion remember that it might be the only thing the admissions board members will remember after finishing your piece. So, you’d better make it memorable.

Proper college scholarship essay conclusions restate the thesis statement and all the arguments you used to support your position. Don’t make it too long. Just remind the board of what you were talking about above and move on to call them to action . In your case, an action you want to call them too is giving you the scholarship. Don’t sound pushy, yet don’t hesitate to remind about your request in the end.

Here is what the  University of Minnesota presented on their website as a good conclusion to a paper. It’s written by a determined single mother willing to study at their university. And it goes as follows:

“As a single parent with inconsistent child support, the Carol E. Macpherson scholarship would be of great assistance in supporting my goal to finish my degree. I work 25 hours a week and have chosen not to work full‐time to avoid daycare costs and to be there to provide guidance for my children after school. The Carol E. Macpherson Scholarship provides a chance for people who are struggling to return to school, to become the exception and succeed. I hope to become one of those special people.”

It sounds convincing and goes along with the overall message . We definitely recommend reading this scholarship essay and learning from it.

Scholarship Essay Examples

Now, we understand that learning the theory is important. But seeing real-life examples is a better way to learn.

That is why we’ve gathered a list of good scholarship essays  we’re sure you will find useful too.

There might be several ways on how to write a good scholarship essay. It all starts with winning scholarship essay topics.   

“Why I deserve this scholarship” essay mainly focuses on your strengths. Your goal here is to present your strengths so that the admissions board understands how hard-working you are and how valuable your input into college life is. Thus, brainstorm ideas on how you make this college a better place or what you have done or want to do to strengthen the image of a particular educational establishment.

Here is one of amazing  college scholarship essay examples  presented by the San Diego State University.

“As an undergraduate student, I dedicated my best efforts toward my education, and as a result, I graduated with high honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara earning a B.A. in Communications. I soon attained full-time employment with the San Diego Center for Children, a residential treatment program for children with severe emotional disturbances. My main responsibilities are to aid children in learning and carrying out daily living skills, counsel them in their relations with peers and adults, serve as a responsible role model, and to work closely with other members of the treatment team, such as therapists and social workers implementing the Center’s programs.”

Here the author mentions what he is currently doing well and what makes him a #1 candidate for the scholarship. He is currently working hard in this area aiming to make a difference in the lives of people that need it the most. These are our “Why I deserve this scholarship” essay tips. But this is not the only topic you can opt for.

“How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals” essay is completely different at its core. This written piece should focus on how your college can help you achieve your personal or career goals. Even though here you should talk about your strengths and aspirations too, you should mainly focus on ways this particular educational establishment can help you.

The University of Michigan-Flint has offered the following example on their site.

“My life has been a struggle at times, but my hard work, determination, and enthusiasm for my education and my community has brought to UM Flint where I can pursue my dreams. I am the oldest of four children being raised by a single parent. My mother, Charlene Jackson, is a hardworking woman who struggles to keep food on the table; I work two jobs to help support my family, but we barely scrape by. Because my mom is endeavoring through these hard times, I try my best to keep my grades up, knowing that I have opportunities that my mother never had.”

The message is short and to the point. The author is an A-grade student who wants to obtain a degree but doesn’t have enough funds for it. In his case, the university can help him a lot.

You can also craft a study abroad scholarship essay. In it, you must explain why y ou deserve to get a scholarship to study abroad. While most students want to go abroad just to travel, this is not a good enough reason for the admissions board to pick you. Instead, you should do a background check on the educational establishment, curriculum, and extracurricular activities offered by the college and explain why you so desperately want to be a part of them.

“I am an undergraduate student of the ABC University. My major is English Literature with the focus on the Victorian and Post-colonialism authors. With literature being my passion, I am overwhelmed with an opportunity to participate at XYZ program. From the curriculum, I know that a significant part of our time at college will be dedicated to ABC, and I’m sure it’ll be not only a great experience but also a fantastic investment into my future career. I am hoping to write a dissertation after attending this program. That is why I am applying for the scholarship.”

Finally, there is another thing you cannot afford missing your essay to get a scholarship. This thing is a proper scholarship essay format.

Related Post: Argumentative essay topics

How to Format a Scholarship Essay?

If the format style is not specified by the university, opt for these scholarship essay guidelines:

Scholarship essay format guidelines

However, often the choice of the format for your essay depends on the university you apply for. Check out the requirements posted by the admissions board to make sure you are applying proper formatting.

Four most common formats for such an essay are  APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard format styles. To learn more about each of these format styles for a scholarship essay, check out our  essay format guide .

Scholarship Essay Tips

Keep these tips to writing a scholarship essay in mind when working on your piece:

  • Focus on your own experience. This essay should explain what makes you stand out from other applicants and why this particular scholarship should be yours.
  • Keep it short. Eliminate unnecessary details not answering the question of why choose you.
  • Use proper structure. The structure can keep you organized. So, don’t underestimate its importance.
  • Edit and proofread your essay. There is nothing like poor grammar or embarrassing spelling mistakes to kill a winning scholarship essay. So, once you finish working on the piece, consider proofreading it or asking friends or parents to help you out with it.
  • Don’t postpone it till the last minute. Don’t risk the success of your project by writing it the last night. This is an important task, and you should dedicate enough time and effort to working on it.

Education is an expensive pleasure. However, you can always save some money by crafting a winning scholarship essay and getting financial support from the college of your dream. So, use tips by HandMadeWriting essay writer  and write the best paper ever!

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6 Awesome Scholarship Essays That Worked

When it comes to paying for college, scholarships are the best form of financial aid, since they offer students free money that never needs to be repaid. But let’s face it: completing scholarship applications, especially the essays, can feel overwhelming. The scholarship essay is arguably the most important part of the application and should be well-thought-out. In this article, we’ll walk  through five scholarship essay examples and explain why they worked, so that you can write your own winning scholarship essays .

Here are 6 winning scholarship essay examples that worked:

Why this scholarship essay example worked:, how could this essay have been better , want more resources on writing your scholarship essay, get started with your scholarship essay.

The essay is your chance to let your personality and life experiences shine through, giving you the opportunity to stand out from other applicants.

The best way to get an idea of what scholarship committees are looking for is to look over scholarship essay examples from past winners. Take some time to analyze the writing style, think about the strong points, and consider how you can improve. Below, we’ll show you just how you might dissect a scholarship essay.

Searching for scholarship essay examples

1. Going Merry Scholarship Success Story by Gabby DeMott

What’s a winning scholarship essay look like? Check out this Going Merry success story with Gabby DeMott.

ESSAY PROMPT: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

“There were only a few minutes to go and our eyes were glued to the screen. On the edge of our seats, clutching whoever happened to be next to us, we watched as the referee blew his whistle and the German players took their free kick. The ball was hit with precision and skill; it flew up over the Swedish players, past their goalie, and was caught safely in the back of the opposing team’s net. We all jumped up and screamed, a mixture of German and English, of excitement and relief, of pride and anticipation.

We stood, enraptured, for the last several minutes of the game as Germany kept its 2-1 lead over Sweden. The horde of us, Germans and Americans alike, hugged and cheered and made our way out onto the balcony, where we chanted “Deutschland! Deutschland! Deutschland!” for the whole village, the whole country, the whole world to hear. Never have I felt so accepted while being an outsider, so proud of a country that isn’t even mine, so part of something I didn’t really belong to.

My German friends didn’t care that we were from different countries; they didn’t care that we would only be staying for three weeks. They accepted us into their homes and their daily lives, their traditions and their celebrations. In watching that World Cup game, it didn’t matter that we were from different places; we were all cheering for the same team. The acceptance I felt in Germany extended beyond that living room. I came to the country on a three week exchange with ten other students from my school.

We each stayed with host families and attended the Wildermuth Gymnasium, which was surprisingly accommodating to a gaggle of loud American teenagers. The teachers were friendly and welcoming, the students treated us like ordinary peers, and even the people I interacted with in public were understanding.

Before coming to Germany I feared judgment based on my level of the language (which is nowhere near as good as the German students’ English) and American politics. It was intimidating to be in a country with limited knowledge of the language and the customs, even though everyone was welcoming. People did ask myself and the other students about the US’s political climate, but no one blamed us for it. They recognized that we were outsiders, that the place we came from had flaws, and they accepted us anyway.

Since that trip, I’ve found myself trying to provide that acceptance to people in my own country. For example, I work at a canoe livery and we receive a lot of visitors with limited English. Some of my coworkers will avoid such customers because they don’t want to take the time to explain things, to exercise patience with someone who may not understand them. If people had done this to me in Germany, my time there would have been much less enjoyable; in fact, I would have been offended.

So now when someone walks up to me at the livery and asks a question in English that isn’t perfect, I smile and welcome them. I take my time to make sure they understand, that they can have a good time, and that they feel accepted. It’s a small action, but I know firsthand that it can make a big impact, at my place of work and in the world. “

  • It shares a personal story of realization. Gabby’s essay throws us right in the middle of the action in her story, from her perspective. She paints a clear picture of where she is, how she feels, and what her goals were in that moment. She then goes on to explain the unity of the German and American students to introduce other people in the essay. LESSON TO TAKE : When including additional people in an essay, introduce them early on so you can continue telling your story in an organic way.
  • She reflects on her previous fears and explains how she’s moved past those to grow. In the fifth paragraph, Gabby shares how she feared judgment due to her level of the German language and American politics. As Gabby became more familiar with the host families and her German friends, she realizes they accepted her, and she relaxes. LESSON TO TAKE: Sharing a story in sequential order can help illustrate personal growth and how your character changed for the better.
  • She answers the prompt and demonstrates how she’ll put her newfound knowledge in action. Once Gabby realized her German friends and host family accepted her, regardless of her fears, that sparked a realization for her when she returned home to America. Gabby concludes her essay by explaining how she’s providing that same acceptance she received in another country to acquaintances and people in her country, to be patient, help them enjoy themselves, and to welcome them.  LESSON TO TAKE : Consider concluding your essay with a wrap-up of what you learned, and how you plan to apply that lesson in your life.

2. Who is a “Good” Doctor? by Joseph Lee

Below is a winning essay from Joseph Lee, Rush Medical College for the Giva Scholarship.

ESSAY PROMPT: Who is (or what makes) a good doctor?

“Had you asked me the same question one year ago, my answer would have been vastly different to the one I will give today. In the summer of 2012, with my first year of medical school completed, I embarked upon my last official summer vacation with two things in mind: a basketball tournament in Dallas and one in Atlanta. My closest friends and I had been playing in tournaments for the past 10 summers, and it was a sacred bond forged together in the name of competition. However, two weeks before our first tournament, I became instantly and overwhelmingly short of breath. Having been born to Korean immigrant parents, I was raised to utilize the hospital in emergency cases only, and I knew this was such a case. A few scans later, doctors discovered numerous pulmonary emboli (PE), caused by a subclavian deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and just like that, I was lying in a bed of a major hospital for a life threatening condition.

Fast forward a few months, and I am lying in a similar bed to treat the underlying cause of the subclavian DVT: a first rib removal. There is little that can adequately prepare someone physically, emotionally or spiritually to undergo surgery; and my thoughts continued to race in the days following. In addition to the expected physical pain, isolation, fear and frustration were a few of the emotions I experienced in the four day ordeal. The procedure went according to plan thanks to a skilled surgeon and his team, but the attributes that made the doctor “good” went far beyond his ability to operate.

“Wow. I’m glad you are feeling better” and “I can’t believe you went through that” are common reactions people have when they see the scars on my upper chest. Quite frankly, the past nine months have been difficult, literally full of blood, sweat and tears. But through it all, I have been able to maintain my positivity and gratitude knowing that I have gained the invaluable experience of being a patient and discovering the vulnerability and trust that patients give their doctors. Patients indulge information to doctors that they may have never told anyone in their life and in doing so, place a great deal of trust and responsibility in the hands of a doctor. Many patients will not understand the mechanism of disease behind their condition and anticipate that the doctor will explain to them and their family why it is that they are feeling the way they are and ultimately heal them. And that is precisely what my surgeon understood: the privilege of being able to care for patients and the intimacy of the doctor-patient relationship. And as I awoke to the care of my worried parents, the first thing they wanted to discuss was the details of the procedure that was methodically and patiently explained to them by my “good” doctor.

In study after study, patients have reported dissatisfaction with their medical care, not because of lack of knowledge or health outcome, but because their doctors did not show enough warmth in the encounter or listen to the patient’s questions and concerns. There are few times where a patient and their loved ones are more vulnerable and in need of compassion than when dealing with a hospitalization. And for some doctors, a patient may be another item on a checklist, but that patient is someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, sister or brother. My “good” doctor understood this and would often say “If you were my son…” when discussing treatment options, reflecting on the type of care he would want for his family and treating me similarly. Such ideals are rooted in love and compassion for patients, not as clients in the health care system, but as fellow human beings striving to make something of themselves and the world around them (I).

Unfortunately, the ordeal of living with a chronic illness or undergoing a major operation extends beyond the confines of the hospital. Whether it is creditors harassing patients for medical bills, prescriptions that need to be refilled, or lifestyle modifications that need to be made, the health care experience doesn’t end when a patient walks out of the hospital doors. It often takes merely a minute, as in the case of the “good” doctor who told me that as a student I could apply to get the procedure financially covered by the hospital. Such foresight in anticipating financial concerns and directing me on the next steps to be taken provided relief in the surmounting stress.

Lastly, the “good” doctor understands that as our patients are human, so are we. This means we will make mistakes, some of which can result in life-threatening consequences. With that said, the “good” doctor practices humility and honesty, apologizing and sharing as much information with patients as possible. Although no one strives to make mistakes, they will happen, and how one reacts to them is a distinguishing feature of the “good” doctor (II).

Of all the qualities I tried to explain in what makes a “good” doctor, there was no emphasis on skill and knowledge. And while being able to fulfill the duties of making the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans is expected, the intangibles of love, compassion, foresight and honesty is what makes a doctor, “good”. I learned such lessons in the purest manner possible, by being a patient myself, and will use them to guide me in all future patient encounters, as I strive to be a “good” doctor.”

  • It tells a captivating story. This essay immediately pulls the reader in, immersing the audience right in the story. . We want to know how Joseph’s definition of a good doctor changed and why it did so. Hooking your reader from the first sentence of your essay or even the first paragraph is a surefire way to keep your reader engaged in the story you’re telling. The story itself is also told really well, with good pacing and just enough detail to elicit empathy without causing boredom. (He could have easily given too much scientific/medical detail!)  LESSON TO TAKE : When telling an anecdote, consider how much detail is the right amount, to make it engaging.
  • It’s a list, without you realizing it’s a list. After the first 2 paragraphs (which are mostly story-telling), the rest of the essay is effectively a list of ways that doctors are “good”: they recognize the intimacy and trust involved in the doctor-patient relationship (paragraphs 3-4), they anticipate future sources of patient stress (paragraph 5), and they exercise humility (paragraph 6). Joseph could have easily structured the essay simply by saying “There are 3 main things that make a doctor good” and then explaining each idea. However, that would have been much more boring! Instead, he expertly hides the list format, by couching it in an engaging story. LESSON TO TAKE: Not all list-type essays need to feel like lists.
  • It’s personal and believable. Joseph takes a negative personal experience, shows what he learned from it and how it caused him to grow as a person. Sometimes essays about singular, defining moments or experiences can seem blown out of proportion and thus not credible. This one feels right: a big ordeal in his life that has therefore shifted his perspective.  LESSON TO TAKE : Consider which personal stories to tell, and make sure the “size” of the story feels right.

3. Life Happens Scholarship by Emily Trader

Here is an example of a moving scholarship essay on the topic of family loss by Emily Trader for the Life Happens award.

ESSAY PROMPT: How has the death of a parent or guardian impacted your life financially and emotionally? Be sure to describe how the loss of your parent/guardian impacted your college plans, and explain how the lack of adequate (or any) life insurance coverage has impacted your family’s financial situation.

“When I was seventeen years old, my father lost his battle with kidney failure and cardiovascular disease. As long as I shall live, I do not believe that I will ever forget the first moment I saw my father’s once vibrant face in that cold and unforgiving casket. I won’t forget his lifeless and defeated hands, or how his pale lips would never utter another joke or speak to his grandchildren. Even though the day of his funeral was undoubtedly the worst day of my life, I wish I could relive it just to be with him one more time. Since that moment, I have felt as if all of my grief and longing resides underneath my skin with nothing to relieve the pressure. On September 8th, 2016, I lost my voice of reason, my confidant, my cheerleader, and my best friend.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had lost so much more. Upon my father’s passing, he left us with funeral and medical expenses that his insurance would not cover. Because he did not have any form of life insurance, the financial burden of his death was now the responsibility of my mother and me. Even though my mother works night shifts as a neonatal nurse and her commute is nearly two hours, she was forced to pick up extra shifts to support my family. Though I already had a job and I worked about ten hours a week, I now work anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five hours a week, and I am also a full-time high honor student. Even though the death of my father forced me to realize the importance of cherishing time with my family, I do not see them very often because of our busy schedules. I also sacrificed my social life and the joy that every senior in high school should experience. Instead of football games and homecoming, I had to deal with mourning and the possibility that I would not attend college because of my family’s financial troubles.

If my father had a life insurance policy, we would not have to work ourselves to the bone and sacrifice our physical and emotional well-being to keep up with expenses. I would not have to worry so intensely about the future of my education on top of the crippling grief that I have felt over the last five months. If this devastating experience has taught me anything, it is this: financial planning for these situations is absolutely invaluable. I will not soon forget the stress and despair that I have experienced, and I now realize that to have a life insurance policy is to throw your surviving family members a crucial lifeline. Though no one can ever prepare you for the trauma of losing a parent, life insurance allows you to grieve without the constant stress of financial burden, and for that reason, it is an absolutely essential precaution.

I love and miss you so much, Dad. Thank God I will see you again.”

  • She answers the prompt . It would be easy to write an essay that just spoke to her grief, or to what her father was like and how much he meant to her. But the essay prompt asks applicants to reflect on how the loss has affected the student emotionally and financially. Emily does a great job of this, by connecting the financial parts (she and her mother needing to pick up extra hours of work), with the emotional (due to the work schedule, the family not being able to spend as much time together). She also addresses how this might affect her college plans. LESSON TO TAKE : 
  • She provides (beautiful) detail. The first paragraph immediately pulls the reader in because of the detailed description she provides (“ his lifeless and defeated hands”, “pale lips” ). Similarly, the specificity of how her family is shouldering the financial burden (e.g. her working 25-to-35-hour weeks) make it feel more real rather than generic.  LESSON TO TAKE : Use details and descriptions to make something feel more emotional and tangible.
  • She knows her audience . This scholarship is funded by Life Happens, an organization formed by seven leading insurance providers, in order to educate the public about important insurance planning topics. Clearly Emily researched the provider and understood that an essay that spoke to the importance of insurance planning would be well-received by the essay readers. LESSON TO TAKE : Research the scholarship provider and adjust your content to fit the organization’s or company’s mission statement (or business model).

4. Going Merry Scholarship Success Story by Jesus Adrian Arroyo-Ramirez

Jesús Adrian Arroyo-Ramirez wrote a winning scholarship essay (and video!) that he submitted on Going Merry . He earned an outstanding $40,000 through the Golden Door Scholarship.

ESSAY PROMPT: What differentiates you from the hundreds of DACA students who apply to our scholarship? Use one of those opportunities to tell us something else we cannot see just by looking at your grades, test scores, and transcripts.

“I always knew I was different than my friends in some way. Growing up, I struggled to speak English while everyone else had little to no problems. I needed extra help in school while my friends coasted by with ease. My friends would hop on planes and travel all around the world while I had to stay at home. At the age of 13 all of my friends started driving while I still couldn’t.

I built up the courage and asked my mother why I did not have access to the simple liberties everyone else did. My name Is Jesus Adrian Arroyo-Ramirez, and I was illegally brought to this country when I was just six years old. At the time I had no clue that I was breaking any laws, and I did not realize the fact that my life was going to change forever. Growing up with a different citizenship situation than my peers was and still is the biggest challenge I have to face in my life.

Looking back there is not a single thing that I would change. Knowing that I had to work harder than everyone else lead me to be the person that I am today. I took that fire inside of me, pushed myself, graduated first in my class with a cumulative 4.0 GPA, became a Kansas Scholar, and graduated High School with a semester’s worth of college credit. In November of 2016, everything began to look up for me. I received a work permit and a social security card all thanks to the DACA program. I was finally able to get my license, get a job, and most importantly attend college.

I plan to continue my success in the classroom and do everything to the best of my ability as I know that under my current circumstances it can all be ripped away from me at any moment. Growing up with my situation has taught me to not take advantage of a single opportunity. There has been continued support around me past and current and I know there are people out there rooting for my success. I will strive to be the first generation in my family to graduate from an American University and I will set a stepping stone for my future family so they will not have to struggle as I did. My citizenship is not a setback, it is a mere obstacle that I will always learn to work around if it means giving my future children a better life, just like my mother did for me.”

  • He shares how hardships made him who he is today. Right off the bat, Jesus sets the tone for his essay by sharing how he struggled to speak English and that he was not given the same opportunities as his peers. He shares his mother’s explanation on why he lived a different life, along with his honesty in the challenges of growing up with a different citizenship situation than the teens around him. LESSON TO TAKE : Share personal details (as you feel comfortable), and consider including a defining memory or conversation hat contributes to your story. This can help paint a picture of your beginnings or your inspirations.
  • He includes emotional details. Although Jesus grew up with hardships, he persevered and mentions he wouldn’t change anything. It may have taken a little longer than his peers to get his license, but he also excelled in school, pushed himself to graduate first in class, and take college courses on top of all that. LESSON TO TAKE : Tell your story with details, feelings, thoughts and emotions to explain where you came from and where you are now.
  • He plans for the future . Jesus shared his personal story with us, and then explains how he plans to continue his success without letting anything get in the way of his path. He goes on to say his citizenship is not a setback, and that he works to provide a better life for himself and for his future children. LESSON TO TAKE : Include your plan at the end of the essay. Consider how you’ve grown and how you will bring these lessons learned with you to help your future.

5. Why College Is Important to Me by Nicole Kuznetsov

Here’s an example of a simple yet creative and heartfelt essay on the popular prompt, Why is college important to you?

ESSAY PROMPT: Why do you want to go to college? Why is it important to you?

“As a child, my life had structure. Coloring books had lines, letters took on very specific shapes, and a system of rules governed everything from board games to the classroom. I found comfort in the fact that my future had an easy-to-follow template: elementary, middle, and high school, college, job, family retirement, “happily ever after” ending. When I graduated from elementary school I was told I completed 25% of my education. During my middle school graduation, I was told I was halfway there and I know I’ll be told I’m 75% done when I throw my cap in the air this June. College was always factored into the percentage and the overall formula for life. And I never questioned its importance. I always figured it is important because it is necessary.

Going to college makes sense. From helping my parents land stable jobs after coming to America to giving my brother the chance to gain work experience at some of the top financial firms, college educations have shown their worth in my family. Yet I didn’t think about what actually goes on inside the magical universities until I entered high school. Applying to the Academy for Math, Science, and Engineering was the first time I had actively made a decision in my education. With the encouragement of my parents and favorite science teacher who recognized that I would excel in the challenging environment of like-minded students, I applied. Four years later, I can confidently say they were right.

My class of twenty-six has shown me the benefits of a collaborative rather than a competitive environment, especially the impact that camaraderie with my peers has on our collective learning experience. Each student has an inspiring level of passion and motivation that made me excited to learn, work on projects, and participate in discussions both in and out of the classroom. I used my education to gain skills and open doors for myself such as an internship at my local hospital. I gained confidence in my abilities to communicate with individuals from strangers my age to practicing professionals. I was thinking longer and harder than I ever had before to solve individual problems and large-scale challenges. In all honesty, I was having fun.

Looking back on my years at the Academy I realize how big of an impact the school made on how I view education. I wasn’t coming to school to mark another day off my calendar and inch closer to finishing the next 25%. I came to school to learn and question and push myself. Now, as a senior, I’m excited. I’m thankful for the sample that my high school gave me of what learning is supposed to be like and thankful that it left me wanting more. I’m entering college in August with a new understanding of its importance. It is important because it is what I want for my future.”

  • It finds structure through chronology . This essay is basically structured like a chronological timeline: As a child, I believed this. Then I applied to this high school (my first active academic decision). Then the high school changed me. Now I’m a senior and I believe this. Not all stories are best told in time order, but the simplest stories often are. And simple stories provide structure, which scholarship committees love. LESSON TO TAKE: Consider structuring your essay like a timeline, emphasizing the milestones along the way that have led you to where you are today. 
  • It is simply told . While the essay is descriptive, it doesn’t try to get fancy with overly flowery language or unnecessarily long SAT words. And that’s the strength of it. For instance, this passage [“ College was always factored into the percentage and the overall formula for life. And I never questioned its importance. I always figured it is important because it is necessary” ] explains her child’s logic in a really clear and well-written way. 
  • It’s got (mostly) great topic sentences . We here at Going Merry love a good topic sentence– that is, a sentence at the beginning (or end) of a paragraph that summarizes the rest of the paragraph. It helps “signpost” the most important parts of your essay. Here, three of the four paragraphs (1, 2, and 4) have strong and concise topic sentences. “As a child, my life had structure” sets up the rest of the paragraph to explain what these structures and unquestioned rules were. “Going to college makes sense” sets up why college made sense to her parents. 

6. Financial Literacy for Hispanic Women by Rosaisha Ozoria

The inaugural Founder’s Scholarship supported by the New York Women’s Bond Club in honor of Michaela Walsh goes to two New York City public high school students who won an essay competition writing about their hopes for the future of women and girls worldwide . Winners of this scholarship won a trip to accompany Women’s World Banking to Amman, Jordan for their biennial gathering of WWB network members.

PROMPT: Write about your hopes for the future of women and girls worldwide.


“Twice a week I head down to volunteer at the Los Sures Social Services office, situated next to the local senior citizen home, to help at the food pantry. We distribute food to people in my neighborhood. Many are familiar faces. Many are middle-aged Hispanic women with children dangling from their hips like grass skirts. These women are there as a result of their culture and lack of financial knowledge. In our Spanish culture, patriarchy prevents women from preparing for themselves as much as they should. This leads to Hispanic women having little or no money management skills. Financial illiteracy is a major issue in my neighborhood, and that is why I hope to give Hispanic women a chance for a better future through financial education.

While I was volunteering I met a woman who happened to live in the same building as my aunt. Unemployed with two young children, and a husband earning minimum wage at a fast food restaurant, she struggled to get by every day. I thought to myself – many in my community are just like her. Then I realized I could do something to help. How? I can start a financial literacy program, which teaches Hispanic women to earn and manage money. Once a woman becomes financially literate, she is capable of making good personal and professional decisions, empowering her to improve her family’s financial well-being. Moreover, such a program will help Hispanic women become competitive employees, even in a slow recovering economy such as the one we are experiencing now.

Participating in the 2013 Women’s World Banking Global Meeting in Amman, Jordan gives me access to invaluable resources that will help me achieve this goal. I hope to find mentors from a roomful of inspiring, experienced leaders who will offer me their guidance. Also, meeting accomplished women from other countries means access to new ideas and unique perspectives. And if I am lucky, I may even come across individuals who can provide financial support to jumpstart my financial literacy program for Hispanic women. Lastly, I will tell my idea to everyone I meet in Jordan, a baby step to help Hispanic women rise from poverty.

The world continues to change rapidly, especially with globalization. It is about time that Hispanic women strive for gender equality. Thus, it is essential that Hispanic women increase their roles and knowledge in finance. The women in my neighborhood shall no longer be left out. I will task myself to help these women become better, stronger and most importantly, take control of their lives. I want to be involved so that they can save themselves from any unforeseen financial crisis. This is a tremendous goal, but for me, it is an opportunity to make a difference – in my neighborhood and for my Spanish community.”

  • There is clear structure . Right off the bat, the introduction summarizes what the reader can expect to find in the body of the essay. In particular, the closing line of the first paragraph (“ Financial illiteracy is a major issue in my neighborhood, and that is why I hope to give Hispanic women a chance for a better future through financial education”) works as an effective topic sentence, tying together the anecdote and the reason she’s interested in networking with the scholarship provider, Women’s World Banking. The last 2 paragraphs also serve clear, independent purposes: the penultimate one establishes what she would do with the scholarship (the trip to Amman), and the final paragraph explains why her particular interest is important for the larger Hispanic community. LESSON TO TAKE: Clear structure helps the reader follow your point better (especially if they’re skimming, which scholarship essay readers almost definitely are!) So include a summarizing topic sentence at the beginning or end of your first paragraph, and make sure each subsequent paragraph serves a purpose that moves forward your argument or story. 
  • The author’s passion shines. Rosaisha, the scholarship winner, is clearly passionate about serving her Hispanic community of women.  And rather than simply saying that, she shows us how she cares by using personal examples from her volunteer work. LESSON TO TAKE : Show, don’t tell. Use specific personal examples, and don’t be afraid to show your emotions.
  • She stays positive.   Even though Rosaisha discusses what might be considered a  difficult and personal topic, she keeps the tone light and inspirational. She expresses hope and her desire to make a change in the world, answering the essay in a positive tone.  It’s important to make sure your essay is not too depressing to read. (Essays about personal trauma are a bad idea.) This is a scholarship provider, not a therapist! 

While this was a winning essay, we note that it did have two points of weakness: 

  • The second paragraph lacks a bit of structure. Her point ends up feeling a bit generic, and it’s unclear what she is thinking versus planning or actually doing . For instance, she realized she could start a financial literacy program. Did she then do so? It’s unclear. 
  • The last paragraph is again a bit general. Often scholarship committees want to see what concrete steps will be taken, using the scholarship award. Here she speaks in lofty terms about what goals she hopes to accomplish, without explaining ways she might accomplish this goal. 

For more information on writing a killer scholarship essay, check out our list of helpful tips .

Also check out these related blog posts: 

  • 6 tips for writing scholarship essays about academic goals
  • How to write the best personal statement, with examples
  • How to write an awesome essay about your career goals

Scholarship essay examples that worked

You can start writing your winning scholarship essay today and submit it to thousands of scholarship applications, all in one place. Sign up for Going Merry today to put your pro scholarship essay writing skills to practice. Going Merry is your one-stop scholarship shop to search and apply for scholarships to get you on the right foot for funding your future.

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How to Complete the 2024-2025 FAFSA

how to start essays for scholarships

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the single most important part of the financial aid process. This single application is the key for unlocking need-based financial aid at colleges and universities across the United States. Through the FAFSA, students can be eligible for a wide variety of need-based financial aid including:

  • Grants like Pell Grants and Federal SEOG Grants
  • Student Loans including Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans and PLUS Loans

The FAFSA has undergone several changes for the 2024-2025 FAFSA year . Here are some summary points highlighting the major changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA: 

  • The FAFSA was available at the end of December of 2023, which is months later than usual
  • The number of questions was reduced from 108 to 36
  • The questions on the FAFSA now align more with federal income tax returns 
  • An increase in aid eligibility for single parents
  • A decrease in aid eligibility for middle and high-income families
  • Reduce the likelihood of verification 
  • New Federal Pell Grant formula
  • Everyone needs an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA application
  • Student can list up to 20 schools on the online FAFSA application 
@scholarships360 For a more info about what’s new with the FAFSA this year, check out https://scholarships360.org/financial-aid/fafsa-changes/ #greenscreen #scholarships360 #FAFSA #scholarship #scholarshiptok #studenthacks #student #highschool #college ♬ Sia – Xeptemper

This FAFSA 101 Guide will make the process of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid simple and stress-free. Let’s dive in with the help of our financial aid expert Annie Trout !

FAFSA dates to remember

It is important to follow all of the FAFSA deadlines ! Some college money is awarded on a first-come first-serve basis so try to complete the FAFSA as soon as it is opened! We recommend putting the FAFSA deadlines on your calendar as soon as possible:

  • 🗓 FAFSA Opens: December of 2023 (different from the typical October 1 application open date) 
  • ⏱ State Specific Deadlines: Varies by State
  • ⏱Federal Deadline: June 30th, 2025 

Keep in mind that the FAFSA is expected to return to an October 1st start date for the 2025-2026 school year. As a reminder, the FAFSA is open for the full school year, or three semesters (for example, Fall 2024, Spring 2025, Summer 2025). So anyone attending college during those three terms needs to complete this FAFSA.

Why is completing the FAFSA so important? 

The FAFSA is one of the most important steps to complete in the college application process! The schools you get accepted into will look at your FAFSA information to determine what your financial aid package will look like for that academic year. Your award letter may include grants , work-study , federal student loans and state or school financial aid. This award letter can be used to cover costs such as tuition, fees, housing , meals, books, a laptop and much more. 

What to know before filling out the 2024-2025 FAFSA

  • You will need your 2022 income information
  • The FAFSA is split into roles so when you log in as a student you will only see the student questions! If parental information is required, then your parent will only see parent questions. 
  • Every person logging into the FAFSA (student, student’s spouse, parent, parent’s spouse) will need their own unique FSA ID that can be created with or without a Social Security number
  • The schools you list on your FAFSA will receive your FAFSA information electronically and you can list up to 20 schools 
  • You and your contributors may need to answer questions about untaxed income such as child support and interest income
  • Make sure you have records of your savings and checking account balances as well as the value of any investments 

Filling out the FAFSA step-by-step

Ok, once these dates are on your calendar, you can get started on the actual application! We have broken the entire FAFSA application into a step-by-step process:

  • Create your FSA ID 
  • Gather the necessary materials
  • Answer the FAFSA Questions
  • Submit the FAFSA by the necessary deadline

We also have a number of Frequently Asked Questions for you to check out! Keep on reading to complete your FAFSA and ensure that you will qualify for the maximum amount of need-based financial aid that you are eligible for!

Apply to these scholarships due soon

$10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

$10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship

$2,000 Sallie Mae Scholarship

$2,000 Sallie Mae Scholarship

$40,000 BigFuture Scholarship

$40,000 BigFuture Scholarship

Niche $25,000 No Essay Scholarship

Niche $25,000 No Essay Scholarship

$25k “Be Bold” No-Essay Scholarship

$25k “Be Bold” No-Essay Scholarship

$10,000 CollegeXpress Scholarship

$10,000 CollegeXpress Scholarship

$1,000 Appily Easy College Money Scholarship

$1,000 Appily Easy College Money Scholarship

$5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship

$5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship

$2,000 No Essay CollegeVine Scholarship

$2,000 No Essay CollegeVine Scholarship

Step one: create your fsa id.

Your Federal Student Aid ID is a unique username and password that allows you to access the FSA online platform and is your legal signature for filling out forms. Every person who will be filling out the FAFSA including the student, student’s spouse, parent and parent’s spouse must create a FSA ID. In the past, a Social Security number was required to create a FSA ID, however, for the 2024-2205 FAFSA those without a SSN can create an account using a new verification process. Create your FSA ID here.

(Keep in mind that someone may have previously created an FSA ID if they were a student and completed a previous FAFSA or a parent has an older child who has completed a FAFSA)

Step Two: Gather the necessary materials

Once you have created your FSA ID, you will need to gather the necessary materials to actually fill out the actual application. Our list of the necessary materials for both dependent and independent students can help you prepare.

Step Three: Answer the FAFSA questions

The questions online won’t appear in this exact order. The FAFSA also incorporates skip-logic online, so how a student answers a question will affect the questions they must answer. Students should never answer more questions than needed to submit the FAFSA. If asked if they’d like to skip, they should answer “YES.” If the college needs the info, the college will follow up with the student after receiving the FAFSA information and the student can then provide the individual college with the information.

Now you are ready to answer the actual questions. The 2024-2025 FAFSA has been broken down into sections based on who is answering the questions. Therefore, there may be skipped sections if you do not have these relationships such as a spouse or a parent’s spouse. We have broken down the FAFSA questions into these sections to assist you as you work your way through the application:

  • Questions 1-24 (Student) 
  • Questions 25-29 (Student Spouse) 
  • Questions 30-41 (Parent) 
  • Questions 42-46 (Parent Spouse or Partner) 

Here are the definitions of these relationships: 

  • Student : The student who is completing the FAFSA for financial aid for college
  • Student Spouse : If the student is married and did not file a 2022 tax return jointly with their spouse then their spouse should complete the FAFSA
  • Parent : The legal parents of dependent students who are either the biological, adoptive or a person that the state has determined to be a parent
  • Parent Spouse : If the student’s parent is married then the parent’s spouse’s information is required on the FAFSA. If the student’s parent is unmarried and living with a partner, the partner’s information is only required if the partner is also the student’s legal parent. 

Questions 1-24 (Student)

The new 2024-2025 FAFSA has broken down the form into sections based on your relation to the student. The first 24 questions are for the student, or the individual applying for financial aid for college for the 2024-2025 school year. 

There are roughly 5 sub sections or steps for the student to complete in the FAFSA. These can be broken down into: 

  • Personal circumstances


Personal circumstances.

The personal circumstances section of the FAFSA asks the student some basic questions such as first name, last name, date of birth, Social Security number, individual taxpayer identification number, phone number, email address, and permanent mailing address. Additionally, this section asks about the student’s current marital status, their college grade level, the amount of people in the student’s family and any unusual life circumstances.

The demographics section asks about the student’s identity such as gender, race, citizenship status, state of legal residence and high school. 


The financials section asks questions about the student’s financial status during 2022 or 2023. This section asks about any federal benefits the student may have received if the student filed a 2022 IRS Form 1040 or 1040-NR and other specific tax information. There is also a fill in the blank portion of this section where the student will need to list the amount of child support they received, their current total of cash, savings and checking accounts, their current net worth of investments including real estate and their current net worth of business and investment farms.The student will also need to fill out the following 2022 tax return information: 

  • Income earned from work  
  • Tax exempt interest income 
  • Untaxed portions of IRA distributions 
  • IRA rollover into another IRA or qualified plan 
  • Untaxed portions of pensions 
  • Pension rollover into an IRA or other qualified plan 
  • Adjusted gross income 
  • Income tax paid 
  • Did the student receive the earned income credit (EIC)? 
  • IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, and qualified plans 
  • Education credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning credits) 
  • Did the student file a Schedule A, B, D, E, F, or H?
  • Net profit of loss from IRS Form 1040 
  • Amount of college grants, scholarships, or AmeriCorps benefits reported as income to the IRS 
  • Foreign earned income exclusion 

In this section, the student lists any colleges or career schools that you want to receive your FAFSA. You can select up to 20 schools. Additionally, this section will list the guidelines for residents to be eligible for state grant aid in their specific state of residence. 

This is the last step for the student specific section on the FAFSA! All you have to do in this section is sign your name confirming that you understand the terms and conditions of the FAFSA. 

Questions 25-29 (Student Spouse) 

This section of the FAFSA will only need to be completed if the student applying for the FAFSA has a spouse. If this is true then the student’s spouse will need to fill out identity information such as their name, SSN and date of birth as well as answer some yes or no questions regarding their 2022 tax return and filing status. 

The student’s spouse will also need to fill out the following 2022 tax return information: 

  • Income earned from work
  • Untaxed portions of pensions
  • Pension rollover into an IRA or other qualified plan
  • Did the student receive the earned income credit (EIC)?

Lastly, the student’s spouse will need to sign their section to indicate that they agree to the FAFSA’s terms and conditions. 

Questions 30-41 (Parent) 

This section is for the parent of the dependent student to fill out based on their personal and financial information. 

There are roughly 3 sub sections or steps that the parent has to complete in the FAFSA. These can be broken down into: 

In this section, the parent will need to fill out personal information such as their identity information, contact information, current marital status, legal residence, people in the parent’s family and how many people in the parent’s family will be in college between 2024-2025. 

In the financials section, the parent will need to answer questions regarding their financial status and situation such as if they received any benefits from any federal programs, if they filed a 2022 IRS Form 1040 or 1040-NR and their filing status. In addition to these multiple choice questions, the parent will also need to write down the following information regarding their finances: 

  • Did the parent receive the earned income credit (EIC)? 
  • Did the parent file a Schedule A, B, D, E, F, or H? 
  • Amount of child support received 
  • Current total of cash, savings and checking accounts
  • Current net worth of investments including real estate
  • Current net worth of businesses and investment farms

This is the last step for the parent specific section on the FAFSA! All you have to do in this section is sign your name confirming that you understand the terms and conditions of the FAFSA. 

Questions 42-46 (Parent Spouse or Partner) 

This section of the FAFSA is to be filled out by the student’s parent’s spouse or partner. If this relationship is not applicable to you and your situation you do not need to complete this section. However, if this is applicable to you then the parent’s spouse or partner will need to fill out identity information such as their name, SSN and date of birth as well as answer some yes or no questions regarding their 2022 tax return and filing status. 

The parent’s spouse or partner will also need to fill out the following 2022 tax return information: 

  • Did the parent file a Schedule A, B, D, E, F, or H?

Lastly, the parent’s spouse or partner will need to sign their section to indicate that they agree to the FAFSA’s terms and conditions. 

Step Five: Submit the FAFSA by the necessary deadline

While the Federal FAFSA deadline is June 30th, different states have different deadlines . You will want to make sure that you are minding the specific deadlines. This is why we recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. Remember, it is a free application and there is no downside to applying early.

Related: Can I make corrections to my FAFSA after submitting?

After you file the 2024-2025 FAFSA

Once you submit your 2024-2025 FAFSA application you will be sent an email with a link to your FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS). The FSS is a summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA. 

Once you submit the FAFSA, you may be selected for verification . FAFSA verification is the process used by the Department of Education to double check your financial information. Do not be alarmed if you are selected! You will just need to fill out a quick and simple application. Now that you have submitted your 2024-2025 FAFSA, you will need to wait for your selected colleges to send you their financial aid packages . Due to the newness of the 2024-2025 FAFSA, there have been setbacks and minor delays that differ from the original deadlines. Therefore, there is a good chance that you will not be able to receive your financial aid letter from your desired colleges until later than expected. So, make sure you are reaching out to these specific colleges’ financial aid departments to learn more about their expected timeline.

Frequently asked questions about completing the FAFSA

How much money will fafsa give me, do i need to complete the fafsa every year, what does my fafsa sai mean, when should i fill out the fafsa for the fall semester, does the fafsa cost money to complete, do i need to pay back fafsa money, what if i have other questions about the fafsa, what if my financial situation has changed since i filed my taxes, do i need to report my parents’ information if they don’t financially support me, scholarships360 recommended.

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Writing 101: Writing Portrayed in Media and Scholarship

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Welcome to the library guide for Writing 101: Writing Portrayed in Media and Scholarship. This guide is designed to provide resources and tips for conducting library research for your assignments. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your course librarian Heather Martin .

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A Helpful Guide on How to Start an Essay

Smiling guy in headphones sitting at desk in library and writing

Writing essays is a common part of many students’ lives, especially if they pursue higher education. Many college courses place hefty emphasis on essays. Their content, length, research, writing, and revision will often form large portions of many college students’ curricular efforts, one semester at a time. 

Knowing how to properly write an essay is an invaluable skill. Not only does it ensure the papers are properly written, it also helps establish life skills involving research, critical thinking, and time management. As with most projects, the best place to start with an essay is the beginning. 

As obvious as that sounds, a strong start will help ensure a strong finish. Though it will take more than just a good start to complete a strong essay, everyone needs to begin somewhere.  

We reached out to the popular essay writing service Write My Essays for advice. After all, who understands how to write an essay better than a professional essay writer? 

Review the directions  

This may seem obvious, but before starting the essay, it’s important to review the directions provided by the professor. The directions should include all the important points, such as spacing, fonts, and the expected layout of the content. 

The contents will depend on the subject. Different fields use different methods of citation for their sources, as one example, and that needs to be taken into account. Understanding the guidelines will help direct focus and energy in the right direction, ensuring time isn’t wasted on improper settings or sources. 

The amount of detail within the directions can vary greatly, depending on the level of the course, the subject matter, and the inclination of the professor. Do not be afraid to ask for advice from on-campus resources or the professor themselves to ensure the directions are fully and properly understood. 

Make an outline  

Before working on the paper itself, it is a good idea to create an outline. This might be a part of the assignment requirements, even, or possibly an assignment all its own. Regardless, outlining the essay’s contents and key points will make writing the essay easier. 

Outlines aren’t for everyone, but even if they are not required, they are also a useful tool. Having an idea of the direction of the essay before writing it will help with the writing process and makes for a handy way to start the work before the essay is even written. 

Format the document  

Before actually writing the essay, formatting the document to the required guidelines first will save a lot of time and effort on fixing issues during the revision process. Revising is arduous enough without having to take typesetting issues into account, especially with how easy document formatting has become. 

Standard requirements for an essay are an easy-to-read font at a standard size like 12, with one-inch margins, indented paragraphs, and double spacing for ease of reading. Actually, requirements may vary, which is why it’s so important to review them, especially if working on multiple projects in different classes at the same time. 

Set up the first page  

Depending on the requirements, the first page may simply be a title page with the assignment, class number, and student’s name. Some of that information may be on a second page, with just the title on the first page. These pages generally do not count towards page lengths and are meant to help prevent padding. 

Setting up the title page is part of formatting, but at least it’s finally putting words on a page. This is also a good point to save the document, ideally in a folder created for the various coursework of the related class so that it is easy to find, load, and, eventually, submit. 

How to begin the paper  

Finally, with the document formatted and necessary first page organized, the actual writing of the essay can begin. Presumably the required research and other pre-writing prep has been completed. So, it’s time to actually put some words to virtual paper and start writing the essay in earnest. 

The question is how to start the paper, that is, the actual contents and not just the title or document itself. The guidelines from the professor might have some notes on this matter, and those should be adhered to when required. If the requirements lack such guidelines, the students have some freedom on how to open their essay. 

Open with a quote  

Oftentimes, a relevant quote, especially from a source cited throughout the essay, can help set the tone and ground the reader with what to expect. A proper quote will help set expectations and bring an idea of the content ahead in a quick and quirky format. 

The quote also sets the tone, as previously mentioned. Serious issues will merit a more serious quote, while lighter subjects can get away with pithier wording. Depending on the subject, sources, and topic of the paper, the quote need not be from a serious source. As long as it is cited, a relevant book or movie quote could also be used to set the opening. 

Pose a question  

Another option to open the essay is with a question. This is a direct way to bring the main topic of the essay to the forefront, by immediately leading with the thesis question, the answer to which is generally the entire point of the essay. 

This does not work for all essays, but the question need not be that powerful. A simpler question to grab the reader’s attention and draw them into the topic at hand can work just as well. Just like with an opening quote, the question sets the tone and leads into the introductory paragraph, which is generally a basic summary of the essay as a whole. 

Also as with a quote, the question can be as serious or irreverent as possible when writing scholastic works, depending on the subject matter, the class, and, occasionally, the demeanor of the professor. Though it is ill advised to think about it too much, at the end of the day, most essays are read by two people, and only two people: the student who wrote them, and the professor who reads and grades them accordingly. 

Start with the Thesis Statement  

It will need to be stated in the introductory paragraph anyway, and beginning with it can provide a strong hook to the start of an essay. While the first paragraph is an essential foundation for the essay, the thesis statement is the base for the first paragraph and the assignments as a whole. 

The thesis statement states the thesis of the essay, hence the name. The sooner it is mentioned, the better, and, as with many aspects of the paper, it will likely be mentioned in the guidelines for the essay. Either way, starting with the thesis statement sets a strong tone for the rest of the paper. 

Such a strong start can be a little daunting to live up to over the course of finishing the essay, but if that turns out to be the case, it can be moved. If nothing else, though, starting with the thesis statement gets it stated quickly and efficiently. 

The introductory paragraph  

The first paragraph of an essay is usually referred to as the introductory paragraph. This paragraph, as previously noted, is extremely important for the essay. It provides the reader with a basic summary of the essay’s contents. From the original question, hypothesis, thesis statement, antithesis, theory, synthesis, and potentially even cited sources, this paragraph sets the tone for the entire paper. 

That is a lot of pressure to put on the beginning of an essay, but it also helps guide the direction of the essay moving forward. Along with tone, it is a handy reference for the rest of the essay. The reader, i.e., the professor, will expect the paper to follow the outline set forth in the first paragraph. 

Though the introductory paragraph is the first and most important aspect of an essay in several regards, it is also the easiest to revise. If the sources and data take the paper in a direction different from what was originally intended, then the first paragraph is relatively easy to adjust to fit the new information. 

As with other aspects of the essay, the assignment brief may have instructions on how to format the introductory paragraph, as well as potential guidelines regarding its contents. This will help with writing the first paragraph, and thus starting the essay, a little easier. 


Depending on the chosen course load, essays will likely be a large part of a student’s work throughout their academic career. Learning how to properly plan, format, write, and revise essays will help ensure an easier time over the semesters and years. 

Eventually, writing essays will become second nature thanks to the developed skills. Still, with each essay, turning a blank document into a completed and submitted assignment can be a daunting prospect. 

With proper planning, review of the sources and assignment description, and a good handle on the thesis statement, starting an essay can become as second nature as writing the overall essay. With various ways to begin, mixing it up every now and then will also help fight the tedious nature such papers can garner after the tenth time, and beyond. 


Campus Staff

Jul 21, 2023

How to Write a Scholarship Thank You Letter

How to Write a Scholarship Thank You Letter

Recruiting students from across the U.S., Campus is the new alternative to online community college . We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education to set students up for success no matter what their next step is. To us, maximizing access means recognizing the crucial role scholarships play in making education accessible. Read on to learn more about how to write a scholarship thank you letter.

Scholarships are a key part in helping students pursue their higher education dreams. Receiving a scholarship can alleviate so much of the financial burden of paying for tuition, books, room and board, and other college expenses.

Therefore, sending a timely, well-written thank you letter to your scholarship provider is not only polite, but it can also help you stand out and increase your chances of receiving additional scholarships in the future if you aim to pursue more opportunities.

In this Campus guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how to write a thank you letter for a scholarship that will leave a lasting impression.

5 Tips for Writing a Great Scholarship Thank You Letter

Be personal and specific.

Just like a cover letter, a scholarship thank you letter must be personal and specific. Address the letter to the scholarship provider by name, and mention the scholarship name and award year, if applicable.

This shows that you have done your research and you truly value the scholarship provider's support. You don’t want them to feel as though you would send this very letter to any other provider.

Start with Gratitude

Begin your scholarship thank you letter with a genuine expression of gratitude. Explain how the scholarship has helped you financially and how important it is for your academic journey.

If possible, mention how the scholarship has impacted your personal life and future goals. Be sincere and avoid exaggeration or flattery. Share your story.

Highlight Achievements

The scholarship provider wants to know that their investment in you is worth it, so mention some of your academic and extracurricular accomplishments since receiving the scholarship. This could be success in academics, leadership roles, volunteer work, or community service.

Highlighting your achievements shows that you are taking your education seriously and that you are an extraordinary scholarship recipient making the most of the opportunity in front of you.

Keep It Short and Sweet

A scholarship thank you letter should be concise and to the point. Keep your letter within one or two pages and avoid rambling or repeating information. Remember that the scholarship provider is most likely a busy person, so make sure your letter is certainly memorable, but also easy to read and informative.

Proofread and Edit

Before sending your letter, make sure to proofread and edit it thoroughly. Spelling and grammatical errors can ruin a good scholarship thank you letter.

Use spell-check software and read the letter out loud to catch any mistakes or awkward phrasings. Ask someone else to read it and give feedback. This will help ensure that your letter is polished and professional.

And of course, don't forget to end the letter with a closing statement that shows your appreciation and gratitude.

tips for writing a great scholarship thank you letter

Proper Formatting for a Scholarship Thank You Letter

Just as the content of your letter is important, so is its appearance! Proper formatting can make your scholarship thank you letter look professional and easier on the eyes.

Use a Professional Format

Your letter should be written in a standard business letter format. This includes your contact information (name, address, phone number, and email) at the top of the page, followed by the date, and then the contact information of the scholarship provider.

How much contact information you provide may depend on your relationship with the foundation or provider, so be sure to use your discretion.

Content Layout

The letter should start with a formal greeting addressed to the scholarship provider. The body of the letter should include your expression of gratitude, your achievements, and a closing statement.

Each of these should be written as separate, paragraphs that are reasonable in length in order to make the letter easy to read.

Font and Size

Use a simple and professional font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in a size that is easy to read, such as 12 point. Avoid using fancy or decorative fonts which can make your letter look unprofessional or hard to decipher.

Letter Spacing

Single spacing should be used within paragraphs, and a space should be left between paragraphs. This allows the letter to look neat and organized, and it also improves readability.

End your letter with a courteous closing, like "Sincerely" or "Kind regards," followed by your name. If it's a hard copy letter, leave some space for your handwritten signature above your typed name. The signature makes the letter more personal.

Remember, the presentation of your letter is a reflection of you, so ensure it is clean, professional, and error-free!

If you’re looking for scholarship thank you letter examples, Campus has got you covered. Read on to check out a scholarship thank you letter sample below.

Sample Scholarship Thank You Letter

Dear Campus,

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for selecting me as the recipient of the Campus Trailblazer Scholarship for the academic year 2023.

Your generous support has helped me so much with easing the financial burden of my higher education as a first-generation student, allowing me to focus on my academic pursuits and passions as a business administration student.

In addition to financial relief, this scholarship has had a significant personal impact. It has not only affirmed my commitment to my business studies at Campus but also boosted my confidence in my potential to contribute positively to my community here in Chicago.

Since receiving the scholarship, I have maintained a 3.8 GPA and have been actively involved in various extracurricular activities. I have taken on a leadership role in our environmental club and volunteered over 100 hours at my local community center.

Your support has motivated me to strive harder and achieve more. Once again, thank you for your generosity and support. I am committed to making the most of this opportunity you've provided me with.

Happy Writing!

Writing a scholarship thank you letter is a crucial step in your academic journey. It shows that you are grateful for the support, and it helps you stand out as a gracious and deserving scholarship recipient.

Remember to keep your letter personal, express gratitude and mention your achievements, proofread and edit, and keep it short and sweet. Following these tips will help you craft the perfect scholarship thank you letter and leave a lasting impression. Good luck, and congratulations on your scholarship!

Want to learn more about Campus?

Our admissions advisors can answer your questions.


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    How to Start off a Scholarship Essay? If you don't know how to start a scholarship essay, here is our first tip: identify the main idea of your essay. Here is what we mean. Read the scholarship essay prompts carefully, preferably several times. Make sure you understand what exactly the admissions board wants you to focus on.

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    How to start a scholarship essay. The beginning of the scholarship essay is your first opportunity to grab the attention of your reader. With a hefty hook, you can build great momentum for your body paragraphs. You want to hook the reader with the first sentence. Short stories like anecdotes can be used to accomplish just that.

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