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.

WINNING ESSAY:

“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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Scholarship Essay Examples

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With college tuition costs rising each year, many students apply for merit scholarships to help make college more affordable. However, merit scholarships can be competitive—and that’s where our scholarship essay examples come in. By reading our scholarship essay examples, you can learn what it takes to write an award-winning essay. 

Scholarships are an excellent opportunity for students to lessen their college tuition costs. Most merit scholarships require a brief application, usually including one or more essays. Below, we’ve rounded up our best scholarship essay examples.

Reading winning scholarship essay examples, especially scholarship essay examples about yourself, can help you begin the scholarship essay process. By reviewing essay examples, you can learn how to craft a strong essay. You’ll also get a better sense of what scholarship committees look for when they review applications.

In this guide to Scholarship Essay Examples, you’ll find tips on how to write the best scholarship essay, as well as:

  • Various scholarship essay examples about yourself
  • A strong scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship
  • Scholarship essay examples about financial need, and more!

We’ve included scholarship essay examples specific to schools, including UC Berkeley, as well as specific programs, like the SHPE scholarship. We’ll also discuss the different types of scholarships you’ll find on your scholarship search. 

Now, before we jump into our essay examples, let’s learn more about getting scholarship money for college.

What is a scholarship essay?

A scholarship essay is an essay you’ll include in your merit scholarship applications. In many ways, your scholarship essays might resemble your college essays. So, the scholarship essay format should seem familiar. 

The best scholarship essays will highlight who you are and why you deserve money for college. Scholarship essay prompts will ask you to include various information, from details about your background to explanations of why you deserve a scholarship.

Crafting a compelling, well-written essay can help you win substantial financial awards to help cover your college tuition costs. However, not all scholarship essays are the same. Later on, we’ll review different winning scholarship essay examples to show you what kind of essays you’ll write in your application process.

Types of Scholarships

There are many different types of scholarships available to students. You can find a variety of scholarship opportunities on scholarships websites. The earlier you start your scholarship search, the more scholarships you’ll find. 

While some scholarship applications accept applicants of all backgrounds and abilities, some have very specific eligibility guidelines. So, you may not be eligible for every scholarship. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re eligible, you can find eligibility information on most scholarships websites. 

Here are a few different scholarship types you may come across in your scholarship search:

  • Academic scholarships
  • Merit scholarships
  • Essay competitions
  • Community service scholarships
  • Military scholarships

Scholarship essay prompts will differ across programs. As you’ll see in our winning scholarship essay examples, the prompts can vary in word count and complexity. We’ll provide you with descriptive essay examples to help you get an idea of what to expect.

Merit-Based Scholarships

the best essay for scholarship

Most scholarships we’ll highlight in this article are merit-based scholarships . A merit-based scholarship is money awarded by a college or community organization based on your academic achievements. 

In contrast, a need-based scholarship is awarded based on a student’s financial need. If you are applying for financial aid, be sure to check out our scholarship essay examples about financial need. You’ll find both merit- and need-based scholarships on your scholarship search.     

To qualify for a merit-based scholarship, you generally must meet specific criteria. Scholarship committees look at your grades, academic achievements, extracurriculars, and even test scores. Need-based scholarships can have similar requirements, but they’re primarily concerned with your family’s financial status.

There are many merit-based scholarships available to help students afford college, including:

  • National merit scholarships
  • Gates Scholarship
  • Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
  • Robertson Scholarship

Check out our guides on these popular merit-based scholarships for more details. There, you’ll find tips on how to write a winning essay. Our descriptive essay examples can also help prepare you to apply to these programs After all, while prompts vary, the scholarship essay format remains fairly standard. 

Finding scholarships

In this guide, we’ll highlight some scholarships you may be eligible for. However, make sure to check out the rest of our resources to help you approach the scholarship search. 

Some scholarships we’ll discuss include:

  • QuestBridge scholarship : helps low-income students attend elite colleges
  • Park scholarships : for students attending NC State University
  • SHPE scholarship : offers financial assistance for Hispanic students interested in STEM degrees. 

Scholarship essay examples about financial need will help you prepare for your scholarship applications. For instance, if you apply for the SHPE scholarship, you’ll include a lot of details about your background. 

You can also use scholarship search portals or scholarships websites to find other scholarships you may be eligible for. 

How do you write a scholarship essay?

Scholarship Essay Examples

While scholarship essay prompts may differ, you’ll usually stick to the same general scholarship essay format. 

One resource that can help you write the best scholarship essays and find money for college is Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae is a private lender offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional student loans. They also grant scholarships and provide aspiring college students with a scholarship search portal on their scholarships websites. Here’s what they have to say about having a winning scholarship essay format.

Organization

When writing a scholarship essay, it’s best to start with a scholarship essay format that organizes your thoughts. This will allow you to follow a plan that clearly and concisely gets your points across. You should begin your essay with a solid introduction. Then, introduce your supporting arguments and add an appropriate conclusion. 

A good scholarship essay clearly states why you deserve to win money for college with evidence to back up your argument. You’ll see how to do this in our scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. The best scholarship essays will be original and honest. It should be written in an inspirational and positive tone, highlighting your strengths and capabilities. 

When you feel like you have put your best foot forward, you should ask others for their feedback. This can be from a teacher, counselor, or one of our advisors here at CollegeAdvisor! Proofread your final essay and make sure you’ve caught any spelling and grammatical errors before submitting your application.

Up next, we’ll get into our descriptive essay examples and the different scholarship essay prompts they responded to. 

By looking at scholarship essay examples, you can learn what exactly makes a good essay. So, let’s look at some descriptive essay examples written by students looking to secure money for college. 

First, we will walk you through scholarship essay examples about yourself. Then, we’ll look at a scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. Lastly, we will provide you with scholarship essay examples about financial need. Remember to keep these scholarship essay examples in mind when writing essays of your own!

Scholarship Essay Examples About Yourself

Scholarship Essay Examples

Let’s take a closer look at some scholarship essay examples about yourself.

Scholarship essay prompts vary quite a bit, so make sure you understand what the prompt really asks of you. That way, you can answer the question or address the prompt in its entirety.

Some scholarship essay prompts may ask how the scholarship will make a difference for you. They may also ask about any contributions you have made to your community. 

Ready to look at some winning scholarship essay examples? Check out these scholarship essay examples below.

The first of our scholarship essays is for Phi Sigma Rho. Here’s the prompt: 

How do you promote Phi Sigma Rho and STEM on your campus or in your community? (300 words Max)

Phi sigma rho scholarship essay.

In my campus and community, I strive to promote Phi Sigma Rho and STEM by promoting Phi Rho’s values and sharing my experiences and passion for Phi Rho.

My involvement in the Women in Engineering Program (WEP) and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has allowed me the opportunity to promote Phi Rho and STEM. These activities have given me insight into how to successfully create a network that will support and encourage women in engineering to continue their careers. 

Within WEP, I served as a sophomore orientation leader (Envoy), mentoring first-year women and assisting with program logistics. As an envoy, I was able to promote Phi Rho ideals of friendship and encouragement. I was also able to informally recruit for Phi Rho by sharing my experiences and passion for the sorority.

Within SWE, I was the Internal Relations Chair my freshmen year and am the Director of Member Engagement this year. Both roles are related to member engagement, allowing me to promote friendship within engineering. Member engagement is important for creating a community among female engineers. Similar to my envoy position, my leadership within SWE has allowed me to share my love for Phi Rho.

Additionally, my volunteer experience with Engineering Ambassadors (EA), a STEM outreach group, has allowed me to promote STEM in the community. In EA, I give presentations on engineering, speak on panels, and lead hands-on activities for K-12 students. EA has taught me strategies to promote STEM to children and teenagers.

Because of Phi Sigma Rho, I have the confidence to inspire and encourage the next generation of female engineers. I hold the values of scholarship, friendship, and encouragement in the highest regard and strive to embody those in every leadership position and volunteer role. Through SWE, WEP, and EA, I have promoted Phi Sigma Rho, its values, and STEM as a whole in both my campus and community.

This is, in many ways, a scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. The writer clearly highlights how they’ve engaged with Phi Sigma Rho and how their values align with those of the organization. The writer also provides specific examples of their leadership positions, skills, and accolades. 

The next two of our scholarship essay examples about yourself are for the SHPE scholarship. Here they are: 

SHPE Scholarship essay example #1

Essay prompt:.

Summarize your life experiences and any challenges that have impacted your path to higher education. (250 Words) 

Essay Example:

I vividly remember the first day of First Grade because I didn’t know the Pledge of Allegiance like the rest of my classmates. Growing up in a Hispanic household, I had never learned what the pledge was. This was the beginning of several years of disconnect. 

From receiving weird looks when I told classmates my family opened Christmas gifts at midnight, to my parents’ confusion when I didn’t want them to speak Spanish in public, both sides of my life never understood the other. As a result, I always felt out of place in school, like I was behind in some way because I didn’t share the same upbringing as my classmates. In contrast, academics felt like a level playing field, something we were all learning together in the same way.

While I couldn’t tell you who won the super bowl, I could do mathematics or read just as well, if not better, than my classmates. Socially, I always felt out of place, but academically I was always comfortable, and as a result, I tried to excel in that area of my life. That desire to succeed created the relentless work ethic I have today and the appreciation I have for education.

Despite the lack of emphasis from my parents on schoolwork, I developed this sense of responsibility and persistence to pursue an education. Although my family’s Hispanic culture made my life difficult when I was younger, it made me a more resilient person.

More scholarship essay examples

Shpe scholarship essay example #2.

Discuss your educational and career aspirations as well as your ability to complete and achieve these goals. (250 words)

Using a degree in engineering, I hope to work on improving sustainability and efficiency in the aerospace industry by creating cheaper, safer, and more environmentally-conscious options.

Recently, Pratt and Whitney designed an engine that is 16% more efficient and will release 3600 less metric tons per airplane per year. Excitingly, it also greatly reduces the noise footprint of an airplane. Innovations like these will allow the aerospace industry to evolve and improve while reducing negative environmental impact. I hope to work at the forefront of this innovation, pushing the boundaries of improved engine performance and efficiency. 

Last semester, I started working in the Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory on campus to learn more about turbines. Some current projects in the lab involve new turbine cooling techniques and additive manufactured heat exchangers. Throughout the course of my undergraduate career, I hope to learn more about the barriers facing improved engine and turbine efficiency. Following undergraduate, I plan to attend graduate school to gain a deeper knowledge of these topics. Following graduate school, I may go into industry working on turbines and jet engines. Due to beginning research early, I believe graduate school is an attainable educational goal.

The potential ability to make a difference in the environmental impact of the aerospace industry is exciting. To accomplish this, I know studying Mechanical Engineering will give me the skills necessary to fulfill my career goals.

Both of these scholarship essay examples use specific details to highlight the writer’s strengths, experiences, and accolades. In reading these winning scholarship essay examples, we get a sense of who the writer is both as a person and as a student. 

Scholarship Essay Sample about “Why I deserve the scholarship”

Scholarship Essay Examples

Another scholarship essay prompt you may come across is “why I deserve this scholarship.” A good scholarship essay clearly highlights why you deserve to win the scholarship and provides evidence to support your argument. 

Below, you’ll find scholarship essay samples about why I deserve the scholarship. You can use these as a guide to help you tackle your own scholarship essays. 

Here’s the first of our scholarship essay examples, which was used for the Park Scholarship: 

The Park Scholarship is an investment in the potential of young people. It prepares scholars to make lifelong contributions to communities, states, nations, and the world. Tell us a story that illustrates your potential to make these lifelong contributions. (What have you done that should compel us to invest in you?) (Max. 3,990 characters including spaces.)

Park scholarship essay example.

Coming from a Venezuelan family, I have always been able to connect with total strangers through Spanish. Whether I’m eating at a restaurant or volunteering, I am constantly stumbling upon other Spanish speakers. The ability to converse in their language allows me to bond with them in a way I couldn’t in English, something I do not take for granted. 

Because of my experience, I believe that learning a foreign language is an incredibly important skill. Being able to speak in a second language allows a person to understand another community and reach out to people within that community. Additionally, speaking a second language assists in appreciating other cultures. This appreciation is important for fostering open-mindedness, something America as a whole struggles with today. 

In my school district, foreign language classes are not offered until late middle school. Once in high school, many students drop the class. In addition, those who stay in the class often find that the classes provide little more than a basic understanding of the language and then become discouraged in their learning. On a larger scale, this issue affects America as a whole. Second language programs often come second in terms of funding and planning and are not encouraged as rigorously as other academic courses. As a result, many Americans are ignorant to the benefits of bilingualism and are unable to understand the viewpoint of those who are multilingual.

After my freshman year of high school, my frustration with my community’s lack of priority for second language learning culminated in my desire to take some sort of action to promote foreign language education. In my sophomore year, a classmate and I created and ran an introductory Spanish program, Spanish in the Spring, at my local library for young children in the district. I spent hours at home creating lesson plans, activities, themes, and advertisements for the program. I placed heavy emphasis on cultural aspects and the importance of the Spanish language in America and the world as a whole.

My purpose for this program was to introduce children at a young age to learning a foreign language, so their desire to learn would continue throughout their life. Through the program, I was also able to share my belief of the importance of learning a second language with the children, as well as their parents. After the final day of the program, I was thrilled when one parent mentioned their desire to learn a foreign language program themself. I felt that if I made an impact on one person or family, the entire program was worthwhile. 

Unfortunately, this past spring I was unable to continue the Spanish in the Spring program due to library scheduling restraints. However, I hopefully plan to offer the program again this spring with some changes that will improve and expand the experience. One of these changes will include the immersion of parents into the experience to encourage foreign language education as a family activity.

While this program was only offered once, the impact was immeasurable, for the children, for the cause of foreign language education, and for me.

This is another scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. In it, the writer clearly and directly answers the prompt—that is, they highlight their potential to make a lifelong impact on members of their community. 

Ready for another scholarship essay example? Here’s the next one: 

How will a ScholarSHPE impact your life and education? (200 Words)

Shpe scholarship essay example.

Receiving a ScholarSHPE will give me the gift of time and opportunities. My parents are unable to support me financially throughout college due to large amounts of accrued debt. A ScholarSHPE will reduce my financial stress and allow me to improve my overall health as a result. It will also prevent the need to work several hours a week at a part-time job to pay for tuition, books, and living expenses, which will limit what I can do academically and outside of class. A ScholarSHPE will allow me to spend more time on research pursuits, engineering extracurriculars, volunteer work, and school work, instead of long hours at a part-time job. 

This essay sample is fairly straightforward. In it, the writer follows a clear scholarship essay format, explicitly answering the prompt. 

UC Berkeley Scholarships essay examples

Scholarship Essay Examples

Let’s look at some school-specific merit scholarship essay examples. 

At the University of California – Berkeley , students can apply for a variety of merit scholarships. These scholarships can help offset the cost of UC Berkeley tuition. 

Below, we’ve included various scholarship essay examples for the UC Berkeley scholarships. These UC Berkeley scholarships can help students cover their college tuition costs. This can make the UC Berkeley tuition less of a barrier for students hoping to attend. 

You’ll find a variety of UC Berkeley scholarships that can help you afford UC Berkeley tuition. Available UC Berkeley scholarships include: 

  • Berkeley Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Fiat Lux Scholarship
  • Middle Class Scholarship
  • Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship

These are just a few ways to cover the cost of UC Berkeley tuition. UC Berkeley students also receive more than $10 million per year in outside scholarships to cover college tuition costs. If you are interested in exploring non-UC Berkeley scholarships, check out this list of outside scholarship resources . 

To help you get started, check out our winning UC Berkeley scholarship essay examples. The authors of these scholarship essay examples about financial need all won money to help cover their UC Berkeley tuition.

UC Berkeley scholarship essay examples

I am grateful to realize how fortunate I am today. All the loved ones around me and their acts of kindness have given me such a great life. I also realize the sacrifices that those around me have had to give up in order for me to succeed. It is because of this that I have realized what “paying it forward” truly means. I have been given the opportunity to make an impact in my community and I have fully taken advantage of this opportunity. I have been a volunteer for the Buddyball Sports Organization, which is a non-profit sports organization dedicated to providing the opportunity for children with developmental disabilities to play sports.

Growing up, watching and playing sports has been one of my greatest pleasures of life, so teaching these less fortunate kids has been something I have enjoyed doing every single weekend. On top of this, I am also both a volunteer at the South Orangetown Ambulance Corps and the Nyack Hospital. With the desire to pursue a career in the medical field, volunteering at these places has given me a great idea of what my career could look like in the near future. While all of these volunteer activities have had a significant impact on me, little did I know that this summer would truly make a lasting difference in my life. 

This past summer, my family decided to go on a vacation to India to visit my relatives. This was the first time in my life that I was going to India and this was only because my grandmother came down with Parkinson’s disease and was extremely sick. Little did I know at that time that my visit to India would be a life-changing experience. Never could have I imagined such a filthy village. Everywhere I looked, there was garbage and to make matters worse, no one seemed to do anything to try to ameliorate the repugnant image of my home country.

While I realized on my flight home that I was not going to be able to make a difference and help my community back in India, there was nothing stopping me from doing so right here in Rockland County, New York. When I was told that I would have the opportunity to help organize and direct “Make a Difference Rockland,” I joyfully accepted! Make a Difference Rockland is a free public meet and greet for all local non-profits and other government agencies in an attempt to promote different community service opportunities within the public. By gathering all the local non-profit organizations and giving them a chance to present themselves, people learn more about all of the local community service opportunities that are available to them. This way, the community will be able to recruit volunteers and will not have to suffer through calamitous conditions.

As one of the people in charge of organizing, it was my responsibility to adequately contact, invite and help prepare for hundreds of people. Once I gathered their contact information, I had to ask each one of these places if they would be interested in joining the fair. If interested, I had to also prepare a table for them to present themselves at the fair. The feeling of bringing all of these community service groups together brought me a feeling of happiness that I will never forget. 

The best scholarship essays will teach the reader about who the writer is, what they care about, and why they deserve a scholarship. The essay above does just that—it highlights the writer’s background and describes how they give back to their community. 

Next, let’s dig into a few more scholarship essay examples. 

If you’re interested in more descriptive essay examples, keep reading. 

Reading a ton of winning scholarship essay examples is a great way to pick up on what makes them winners. Over time, you’ll start to notice how the details, tone, and flow all work together to tell a story.

Below, you’ll find a few more scholarship essay examples. Our first one is from the NC Parks Scholarship. Here’s the prompt:

What do you do to serve your community? Why do you do the service that you do? What impact have you made? What challenges or insights have your service contributions given you? (Max. 3,990 characters including spaces.) 

Community-focused scholarship essay example #1.

“What are the boys like in high school?” “Is it easy to get a boyfriend?” Sighing, the other frustrated leaders and I look at each other as we read the questions posed by the younger girls. Every year at Girls’ Night Out (GNO), a program that introduces and prepares eighth-grade girls for high school, the girls question the leaders about relationships and dating ad nauseum, irritating other leaders to the point of ignoring the questions. 

Giving each question a careful and deliberate answer is often difficult, but instead of disregarding the issue, I try to offer my most sincere and honest advice. Originally, when I began as a group leader in the program I would give the same response, “You shouldn’t worry about boys. Instead, enjoy your friends, and do things you enjoy.” While that advice is true, it is often not the answer that will satisfy the girls. Through many years in the program, I have learned that advice is not “one size fits all”; it must be individualized to the person’s needs. Now, when faced with a question about dating, I respond with more questions before giving “words of wisdom”.

Many times I am able to understand the perspective of the middle school student, allowing me to give advice accordingly. Supplying proper advice about sensitive topics is one of the most impactful parts of GNO. As a role model and positive influence for the girls, I largely impact their ideas and perception of the environment when entering high school. In addition to teaching the students valuable lessons, volunteering at GNO has taught me that various perspectives may present themselves identically. To better understand those around me, it is important that I look beyond the surface for the other person’s viewpoint.

Beyond understanding other viewpoints from GNO, I have learned from other service that understanding a person’s situation is essential for providing exceptional assistance. Through Key Club, I volunteer many times a year at the local food pantry. As a volunteer, I help the recipients “shop” at the small grocery store using a point system. The process takes up a lot of time because shoppers do not always know what they want. Originally I  thought this was a poor design. I believed it would be much more efficient to just hand out the food rather than giving out points and shopping with the food pantry recipients.

Upon expressing my opinion to one of the adult food pantry staff, he explained to me that the grocery store aspect of the store taught the recipients life skills. Additionally, by giving them autonomy over what food they “bought”, they retained a sort of independence, an important skill to have if they find themselves above the income level required to use the food pantry.

The next time I volunteered I took note of the skills presented. Budgeting of points, deciding whether or not they needed something, determining the quality of the fruit, and decision-making of choosing extra food or toiletries, were all skills that those above the poverty line have ingrained. For those who have been using food pantries and other assistance for prolonged periods of time, these skills are not so natural. As a result, teaching the people means after they no longer need the services of the food pantry, they have valuable skills necessary for their independence.

From this experience, I learned an important lesson: helping people is not just giving them what they need at the moment, but understanding what they will need in the future and providing that as well. After realizing this, I emphasize the abilities that the food pantry teaches whenever I dedicate my time. By doing that, I am positively affecting the development of those skills. 

When reflecting on the various ways I have served my community, one thing stands out to me: I always understand another viewpoint or gain a new perspective afterwards. For me, the ability to look at something from different angles is an unparalleled talent, and one of the most important skills a person can have.

Describe your volunteer or community experience with SHPE or other organizations and any internships you have held.  (250 Words)

Community-focused scholarship essay example #2.

In SHPE, I have been involved in planning the Penn State College of Engineering STEP-UP (Student Transition Engineering Program at University Park) Program as a chair. The STEP-UP program helps students from Penn State branch campuses smoothly transition to the University Park campus through a 3-day program in the spring. The program introduces them to engineering resources, other engineering students, and provides professional development. Due to COVID-19, this year it was held virtually. 

Within the Society of Women Engineers and the Women in Engineering Program, I have volunteered at different STEM events in the community for elementary school students. I am also currently serving as an Envoy (a mentorship and logistical position) for the Women in Engineering Program Orientation. Additionally, I participate in many of SWE’s service events, such as donating and collecting donations, cleaning up areas on and around campus, and visiting nursing homes.

On campus, I am also involved with Engineering Ambassadors (EA), a group that does STEM outreach around Pennsylvania from the elementary school to high school level. EA goes virtually or in person to schools, does engineering presentations and activities, and answers questions.

Prior to COVID-19, I had secured an internship with Pratt and Whitney, however, they had to cancel their internship program. As a result, I was fortunate enough to obtain a Process Quality Engineering internship at Brentwood Industries for summer 2020.

Both of these scholarship essay examples highlight how the writers have given back to their communities. These winning scholarship essay examples highlight the writers’ strengths. In doing so, they highlight why these writers deserve help with college tuition costs. 

Reflecting on scholarship essay format

Scholarship Essay Examples

As important as the content of your essay is, your scholarship essay format is equally important. As you write, be sure to adhere to the scholarship essay format guidelines provided to you. 

However, there are some things all of the best scholarship essays have in common. Here are some general tips, tricks, and outlines to help you in your own writing process.

Three scholarship essay writing tips:

  • Word counts are hard to adhere to, but the other applicants must adhere to them, too. Make sure every word counts. 
  • When you write a solid essay, you can repurpose some of your key points, including specific anecdotes and details, in other scholarship applications.
  • Writing a good essay helps you solidify who you are and what you want. This sets you up for success in the scholarship application process and beyond. 

Three essential elements to include in your essay:

  • State your goals. Scholarship committees are investing in your future and your potential. To take a chance on you, they need to know your plan and what you want to do with your award. 
  • Establish an implicit or explicit link between your goals and the scholarship you are applying for. Describe to the committee how the specific scholarship will help you attain your goals. Give them a tangible reason as to why you deserve their investment. 
  • Share your story. Use personal details about your experiences that highlight your identity and objectives. How have you pursued your goals and prepared for your future? How will the scholarship help you going forward? Get personal and be honest.

Storytelling in your essay

the best essay for scholarship

Some of the best scholarship essays utilize good storytelling strategies. You should share the details of your personal story in a narrative, using a logical order. Remember, telling personal details about yourself and your goals does not mean simply restating your resume!

By the end of the essay, the scholarship committee should have an in-depth sense of why you applied. You should reveal:

  • When and how you arrived at your future goals
  • Your motivations to accomplish these objectives
  • What traits or skills you have developed along the way
  • The meaningful experiences that drive you to your goals
  • Any personal challenges you have faced and how you have overcome them
  • What has shaped you and your worldview

These details humanize you and show your complexity as a person and an applicant. It’s helpful to use anecdotes and personal experiences to give life to facts and details about yourself. Sharing real-life experiences will help make your essay more interesting and more fun to read.

Creating your scholarship essay format

Once you have thought about what you want to say, start thinking about your scholarship essay format. You may start by making a list of what your reader may be interested in:

  • How you spend your time
  • Your accomplishments
  • What your passions are, etc.

Start by brainstorming everything you may want to include in your essay. Then, think about whether the stories you include support your arguments. Ask yourself, “What did I learn?” or “How did this get me closer to my goals?”. These reflections help the reader connect to your purpose for writing. 

Make sure to organize your thoughts in a narrative order. However, there isn’t just one way to write an essay. So, don’t limit yourself to one version of your story. You may find yourself writing multiple drafts before you get to your final scholarship essay format.

Editing and proofreading your essay

When you think you have finished, be sure to proofread and edit to ensure it’s ready to be submitted. Check that you’ve adhered to all the scholarship essay format guidelines (like the word count). 

Reviewing also includes getting input from others! An outside reader’s opinion can help you confirm your essay effectively communicates your ideas.

Tips for scholarship essays

Scholarship Essay Examples

You may notice some similarities between the scholarship essay examples about yourself we’ve provided. That’s because the authors of the best scholarship essays all use similar strategies to make their essays great. 

Here are 5 tips from U.S. News to help you make all of your scholarship essays stand out:

Tips for writing stand-out scholarship essays

1. get personal and be specific.

The best scholarship essays will share an authentic story with impactful details. The key is to be yourself and not shy away from personal details. The more the committee gets to know about you, the more likely they are to invest in your future. You want your essay to offer a genuine, in-depth look into who you are as a person.

2. Tell a story

Your essay should be more than a collection of facts—it should tell a story. That means having a solid introduction that grabs the reader’s attention from the very start. Then, you should include a logical flow of experiences or details. By the end of your essay, you want your reader to have learned something valuable about you.  

3. Tailor the scholarship essay to the prompt

Some of your scholarship essay prompts may be similar across different scholarship applications. However, it’s important that your essay is specific to each prompt and answers the question entirely. While you can repurpose an essay you’ve already written as inspiration or a starting point, be extra attentive when doing so.

4. Don’t tailor yourself to the reader

Many students fall into the trap of telling a story they think scholarship foundation committees want to hear. Instead, stay true to yourself as you craft your scholarship application essays. Don’t tell your reader what you think they want to hear—just tell them who you are. 

5. Follow directions

This final tip may arguably be the most important. Above all else, students should follow instructions. This means adhering to the scholarship essay format guidelines and word count. It also means answering the essay prompt in its entirety. Application readers can be easily frustrated by a student’s failure to follow directions. This could reflect poorly on you and your essay in the long run. 

Use these tips to guide you as you approach the scholarship essay format. 

Scholarship Essay Examples – Final Thoughts

We hope our roundup of scholarship essay examples has shown you how to approach your scholarship applications. With rising college costs, scholarships should be a part of your college financial planning process. Take the time to do your own scholarship search based on your specific interests. You can find plenty of scholarships to apply to on scholarships websites and college financial aid pages. There are many different scholarships websites to help you with your search. 

Save this guide

Feel free to save this guide and review our scholarship essay examples about yourself and about financial need. You can always look back on our scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship when writing your own essay. 

Start with an outline that organizes your thoughts. Then, make sure your essay is clear and concise. Be original and honest, and include personal details and anecdotes when appropriate. State why you deserve to win the scholarship. Then, support your claim in a way that makes a scholarship committee invested in your future. 

We’re here to help

Don’t forget to proofread your essay and ask others for their feedback. When in doubt, reach out to our advisors at CollegeAdvisor. Our team is always here to help support you find and apply for scholarships!

Scholarship Essay Examples

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  • Writing Tips

​How to Write a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

​How to Write a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

  • 6-minute read
  • 22nd August 2022

Writing a scholarship essay can seem like a daunting task. For many students , higher education isn’t possible without financial aid, and scholarships are especially valuable because the money awarded doesn’t have to be paid back.

Even though the stakes are high, there are a few manageable steps you can take to ensure you write a great essay to submit with your scholarship applications. We have a few top tips to help you get started, along with writing examples to demonstrate some key points. Check out our guide below to learn more.

A scholarship essay is a great opportunity to present yourself and your accomplishments in an impactful way. It is, therefore, essential to be aware of each scholarship deadline so you can allow sufficient time for the writing process, which typically includes the following:

·   Read the essay prompt and brainstorm ideas.

·   Create an outline covering the key points you want to address.

·   Write a draft and seek feedback from trusted teachers, family, or friends.

·   Make any necessary revisions and proofread before submitting your final draft.

Scholarship review committees will be able to tell if you rushed through your essay, so give yourself the best chance of winning an award by staying organized and on schedule!

Who and What?

Researching the scholarship provider and diligently reviewing the essay prompts can help you write an essay that makes you stand out as a top candidate.

1. Who are you writing to?

Learn more about the organization offering the scholarship and why the scholarship fund was created.

For instance, a scholarship may honor its organization’s founder, and the founder’s qualities (e.g., integrity, good citizenship, and leadership) might be the same values guiding the scholarship program as a way to continue the founder’s legacy.

If you identify with any of the same qualities, you can incorporate those keywords into your essay to demonstrate your shared values. Remember to remain authentic, though!

2. What are you writing about?

You must read the essay prompt carefully to identify precisely what you need to accomplish with your essay.

Some prompts ask about your career goals and how you plan to achieve them or your achievements and the challenges you overcame to reach them.

You’ll write about common topics across multiple scholarship applications – some may even be similar to your college admission essay – so you can repurpose your essays as long as you’re diligent about tailoring each one to its prompt.

Your application will likely require other items such as transcripts and test scores, but the essay is your chance to offer something entirely unique. Write about key experiences that highlight who you are and what you’ve accomplished, or you could mention something you’re passionate about.

Remember to follow any specific instructions regarding length and formatting, and be sure to answer all questions listed in the prompt. It can hurt your chances if you’re unable to show the committee that you’re detail-oriented and can follow directions.

Structuring Your Essay

Your essay should follow a standard format that includes a clear beginning, middle, and end. Typically, you should:

·   Establish your main idea in the introduction.

·   Include a separate body paragraph for each key point that supports your main idea.

·   Draw it all together and revisit your main idea in the conclusion.

Scholarship committees read thousands of essays each year. And often, there are hundreds of applicants for an award that can only go to a select few candidates. Writing a powerful introduction and conclusion gives you a chance to make a lasting impression.

1. Introduction

Write an introduction that hooks the reader and encourages them to stay engaged till the end of your essay. Don’t be afraid to add personal, tangible details and an anecdote .

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For example, if you’re writing about your career goals, demonstrate why you’ve chosen that career:

It was the biggest game of the season, and the stands were packed despite the bitter cold. My heart was beating louder than all of the cheers, and I was filled with the anticipation that one more run into the end zone would give us the championship. Everything went silent during that run when the tackle shattered both my leg and my dreams.

My world has always revolved around being an athlete – until one day it couldn’t. I spent many frustrating months rehabilitating, but I got through it because of my dedicated physical therapist, who helped me recover both physically and mentally after a devastating loss. And it was that profound experience that led me to pursue a career in the exercise sciences.

2. Conclusion

The conclusion is the last thing your reader will see, so it’s another opportunity for you to make your essay memorable.

Rather than summarizing with a general statement such as “this is why you should award me a scholarship,” perhaps explain what the financial assistance will help you achieve:

My parents never had the opportunity to go to college, and neither did their parents. I watched them work hard every day just to make ends meet, and I often questioned whether I could achieve anything more. Nevertheless, I spent four years working as hard as I saw my parents work, and I beat the odds by getting accepted to college. A scholarship could be invaluable for me, as it would allow me to attend and be successful without having to worry about finances.

Persuasive Writing

While you don’t want your scholarship essay to be overly informal, you’re certainly allowed to add some creativity and personal details to help persuade your readers.

One of the best ways to do so is by writing with the modes of persuasion ; that is, ethos, pathos, and logos.

Demonstrate your credibility. Use your real-life experiences and interesting details to establish, for example, how you’ve contributed to your community:

I saw how much bullying was impacting so many students at my school, so I founded my high school’s first anti-bullying club and organized campaigns to bring attention to the harm that people can cause one another.

Evoke an emotional response. The “show, don’t tell ” writing technique, which involves using descriptive words when discussing actions and emotions, can be especially useful here:

During one of our first awareness assemblies, the theater was completely silent as I read aloud anonymous stories from students about the scars bullying had left on their lives. Tears were stinging in my eyes as I described the struggles my classmates were facing, but I persevered to give a voice to those who didn’t have one.

Convey your point with reason and facts. Use statistics to demonstrate what you’ve accomplished:

In the first year alone, our club improved students’ feelings of safety and acceptance at our school by 53%.

Proofreading and Editing

Don’t forget the importance of proofreading your essay, as spelling and grammar mistakes can leave a bad impression on your reader. Our expert editors can help ensure your writing is clear, concise, and error-free. Give yourself a better chance at impressing scholarship committees by submitting a free trial document today!

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How to Write a Scholarship Essay (with Examples)

September 27, 2023

How to write a scholarship essay examples

While applying to college, many students are faced with an additional, daunting task: how to write a scholarship essay. Financial need, already a sensitive subject, can become a stressful factor in the process alongside other existential unknowns. Luckily, scholarship essays will not require you to go tiptoeing around the taboo topic of money. Furthermore, most scholarship essay prompts more or less resemble standard supplemental essay questions. The trick then is to make your scholarship essay stand out. The following article and scholarship essay example will offer up pointers for anyone striving to win a college scholarship.

Organizing Scholarship Essays by Prompt

You may feel like melting into a lump of despair when facing a browser full of tabbed scholarships. The best way to avoid getting overwhelmed is to organize and analyze a list of prompts. Why? Because your first goal is not simply to figure out how to write a scholarship essay. Rather, you’ll want to know how to save time while writing complex and relevant scholarship essays.

As you look over the various prompts, you’ll notice that some sound fairly open-ended, while others ask for something quite specific. In response, you should annotate each prompt with thematic keywords. This will help you figure out when you can use the same essay for several prompts.

Your annotated list may look something like the following…

Sample Scholarship Essay Prompts

1) “Explain something that made a big impact in your life.”

  • Keywords: event , personal development, growth, background

2) “We’re committed to diversifying education abroad by providing funding to students who are typically under-represented in study abroad. Please describe how you and/or your plans for study abroad could be viewed as under-represented.”

  • Keywords: minority, diversity, identity, study abroad

3) “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

  • Keywords: background, identity, interest, talent

Sample Scholarship Essay Prompts, Continued

4) “Please explain a personal hardship or catastrophic life event that you have experienced. How did you manage to overcome this obstacle? What did you learn and how did you grow from it?”

  • Keywords: event, personal development, growth, challenge, background

5) Describe a change you would like to make in the world. Tell us about how you would plan to make that change, and what obstacles you might encounter along the way.

  • Keywords: world development, challenge, future

6) “Tell us three things that are important to you. How did you arrive at this list? Will these things be important to you in ten years? Why?”

  • Keywords: background, values, interest, development, identity, future

Scholarship Essay Prompts ( Continued)

7) “What does it mean to you to be part of a minority community? What challenges has it brought and how have you overcome them? What are the benefits?”

  • Keywords: minority, community, challenge, growth

8) “Please explain how your experience volunteering and participating in community service has shaped your perspective on humanity. Elaborate on how these experiences have influenced your future ambitions and career choice.”

  • Keywords: community service, humanity, community, background, future, values, career

9) “Discuss in your essay any challenges or obstacles you have dealt with and overcome in life and how this will help you succeed in college and beyond. Describe how volunteer, community service or extra-curricular activities have shaped who you are today and what it has taught you. May also include future educational plans and career goals.”

  • Keywords: challenge, future, community service, interests, value, personal growth, career

How to Write a Scholarship Essay through Prompt Analysis

Let’s compare some prompts by keywords. You’ll notice that some prompts have a lot of overlap, such as prompts 1 and 4. Both have event, personal development, growth, and background as keywords . Prompt 4 includes the additional keyword challenge . This prompt explicitly asks you to explain how you have “overcome” a “personal hardship or catastrophic life event.” While prompt 1 is not so specific, it would be easy, even natural, to include this narrative arc in your response. This means depicting how you faced the thing that “made a big impact in your life.” In other words, these two essay prompts, though worded differently, allow you to tell the same story.

Other prompts provide potential overlap. In this case, it’s up to you to find and interpret these moments. You may consider the values, strengths, interests, and experiences you wish to relate. For example, prompts 7, 8, and 9 all mention community through different approaches. While prompt 7 focuses on one’s past involvement in a minority community, prompts 8 and 9 are more future-facing, and don’t mention minorities.

Scholarship Essay Examples (Continued)

Here, your best strategy involves answering prompts 8 and 9 together in a single scholarship essay. To do so, the essay would need to detail “a challenge or obstacle you have dealt with” (9) which has thus “shaped your perspective on humanity” (8). This narrative arc will thus inform your “future” educational and career plans (8 and 9). Note that prompt 9 allows you to mention extra-curriculars. However, I wouldn’t recommend it, since this would make your essay less relevant to prompt 8. After your essay is written, adapt it to align with prompt 7. Consider condensing the part about the future into one final sentence and focusing more on minority aspects of your community.

How to Scholarship Essay Avoid Burnout

The above tactic will allow you to avoid burnout by strategizing your essay approach ahead of time. In turn, you’ll be able to maximize your efforts from the get-go. You’ll also likely find that your essays become more complex and nuanced when you consider several prompts at once.

The next step involves editing. Refer back to the prompt, once you have a draft written. Ask yourself, did I answer the question fully? Do I need to edit this essay further to emphasize a particular point? Do I need to cut the essay down to fit a new word count? Contrarily do I need to bulk it up? If so, are there other essays in my portfolio from which I can borrow material? Strategic editing will allow you to respond to a large number of essays during peak essay-writing season.

Finally, you’ll notice that most essays require a word count between 250 to 600 words. It’s often easier to write a longer essay first. This will allow you to go into greater detail without censoring your ideas. You may find yourself including dialogue, scenery, emotions, and all sorts of other specifics that make an essay personal. As you whittle down this essay to comply with a similar prompt, you’ll want to identify which pieces of the essay do the most work to get your message across. Don’t simply condense everything by eliminating details, for details are often the most memorable aspects of an essay. More on this next.

How to Write a Scholarship Essay Using the Three Fs

The three Fs can be applied to any college essay, though they are particularily useful in scholarship essays. Why? Because the three Fs will enable you to impress readers and beat out other applicants. Ultimately, they’ll help you win financial support. Think of the three Fs as a checklist to go over, once you’ve completed an essay draft. Ask yourself, is my essay fabulous? Flawless? Fearless?

How to Write a Scholarship Essay (Continued)

If your essay is fabulous , it glitters with personality. It is detailed, unique, and does its best to highlight your impressive journey. If your essay lacks a little fab, ask yourself, how can I make this essay more enjoyable and memorable to read? If your essay is flawless , it lacks all spelling, syntactic and grammatical errors. It answers every aspect of the essay prompt, and leaves no room for vagueness or misunderstandings. To avoid flaws, give your essay to several people to proofread. Finally, if your essay is fearless , it is not afraid to get a little vulnerable. This may sound contradictory to the first F. On the contrary, this fearlessness refers to the confidence to tell your own story. A fearless story isn’t afraid to go deep, add complexity, or get emotional. It is unafraid to show why its author deserves a financial boost.

Scholarship Essay Example

Now that we’ve established how to approach the scholarship essay, let’s dive into a scholarship essay example. The scholarship essay below stems from a prompt we saw above: Describe a change you would like to make in the world. Tell us about how you would plan to make that change, and what obstacles you might encounter along the way (500 words).

My generation is growing up in a time of increased global turmoil. We’ve witnessed Brexit, the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, a series of refugee crises, and the invasion of Ukraine. It’s easy to liken this moment to Europe in the 1930s, which saw a spike in fascism and propaganda (their version of fake news). Only now, my generation must also contend with the hottest summers on record, raging forest fires, and the beginning of the 6 th extinction. It’s no wonder we deal with it all through increased skepticism and existential dread.

While I don’t have a simple solution, I believe most problems stem from ignorance. Xenophobia and racism, offshoots of ignorance, can be overcome by exposing isolated groups of people to greater diversity. This begins in the classroom. While dictators are hard to dispose of, education provides critical thinking skills, which allow citizens to make informed decisions when electing officials. Finally, developing a willingness to learn at an early age creates an instinct to continue learning throughout life. We desperately need intellectual flexibility if we are going to adapt to the planet’s needs as a world population and put a stop to industry-led fossil fuel burning.

Scholarship Essay Example (Continued)

The change I’d like to make is free, enhanced education for everyone, at every level, from elementary school to post-doctorate research institutes. To do so, I suggest defunding national militaries and channeling this spending into schools. Imagine if 80% of the 877 billion dollars the U.S. military spends annually went into learning. Combating fascism and climate change would look more feasible. And yet, no leader would agree to making their country more vulnerable by relinquishing arms and armies. Change must come from the people.

As the planet continues to heats up, and conflict over land increases, we must work together. The first step towards increased education is communicating this need for education: through journalism, on social media, in the streets. Next, I suggest lobbying politicians for incremental change. Finally, I believe a global grassroots movement to implement future-focused education, led by activists, educators, and philanthropists, would make this theoretical idea a tangible reality.

Last year, my mother, who never received a college education, decided to offer free gardening courses in our backyard. I quickly joined in. While teaching a handful of neighbors how to provide year-round food for pollinators may seem trivial, I’ve already seen positive repercussions. One conservative neighbor has set up an organization that collects and redistributes leftover produce from the markets to refugees. Another neighbor is now teaching middle schoolers how to cook and compost. These efforts have brought unusual strangers together and given visibility to our movement, #futurefocusededucation. I’ve seen it firsthand. The more we educate, the sooner we can combine our knowledge to create solutions.

Scholarship Essay Example Dissected

This scholarship essay succeeds at answering all parts of the prompt. It includes the change the author wants to make, and inevitable obstacles she’d face at the governmental and international level. These obstacles may sound insurmountable. Yet the essay shows that individuals are not powerless to enact change when they work together towards a common goal. The author provides various thoughtful steps we might take in order to prioritize education and peaceful collaboration.

Finally, the author portrays herself as someone personally invested in the political, humanitarian, and environmental state of the world. She proves that she’s already begun to make the changes she wants to see at the microscopic level. Overall, readers of this scholarship essay can see that this student is invested in bettering the world. This student would make for a proactive participant in her academic environment.

What’s Next?

Now that you have some inkling of how to write a scholarship essay and have reviewed of our scholarship essay examples, you may want to delve into more aid-related articles on the College Transitions Dataverse. You can read up on Need-Based Financial Aid Grants , and learn about Selective Colleges with Generous Scholarships . Furthermore, you may want to create your own Scholarship Timeline , in order to stay on top of the various deadlines. Good luck!

  • Costs & Financial Aid

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Kaylen Baker

With a BA in Literary Studies from Middlebury College, an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Translation from Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Kaylen has been working with students on their writing for over five years. Previously, Kaylen taught a fiction course for high school students as part of Columbia Artists/Teachers, and served as an English Language Assistant for the French National Department of Education. Kaylen is an experienced writer/translator whose work has been featured in Los Angeles Review, Hybrid, San Francisco Bay Guardian, France Today, and Honolulu Weekly, among others.

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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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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! 

Introduction

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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Scholarship Essay Writing

Scholarship Essay Examples

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Winning Scholarship Essay Examples for Students: Tips Included

37 min read

Published on: Mar 14, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

Scholarship Essay Examples

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Scholarship Essay - A Complete Writing Guide

Scholarship Essay Format - A Complete Guide

Most Popular Scholarship Essay Prompts & Questions

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Many students face financial barriers when it comes to pursuing higher education. The rising costs of tuition, books, and other educational expenses can be overwhelming. 

This is why the scholarships offer a lifeline by providing financial aid to students, but the competition is fierce. 

That's where CollegeEssay.org comes in. 

In this blog post, we are providing scholarship essay examples that will inspire and guide you in creating your own exceptional essay. 

These examples serve as beacons of success, offering valuable insights into the art of scholarship essay writing. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started. 

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Scholarship Essay Examples Financial Need

Why this scholarship essay worked.

This scholarship essay example effectively conveys the applicant's financial need and their determination to overcome the challenges associated with it. Here's why this essay worked:

  • Personal Storytelling: The essay begins with a personal anecdote that establishes a connection between the applicant's background and financial constraints. This helps create empathy and demonstrates the genuine impact of financial challenges on their educational journey.
  • Resilience and Resourcefulness: The applicant showcases their resilience and resourcefulness in navigating financial hardships. They highlight their proactive approach to seeking part-time employment and actively pursuing scholarships.
  • Academic Commitment: Despite the financial strain, the applicant emphasizes their commitment to academic excellence by maintaining a high GPA. This showcases their dedication and ability to prioritize their studies amidst challenging circumstances.
  • Community Involvement : The essay also highlights the applicant's involvement in community service. This demonstrates their desire to give back and make a positive impact.
  • Connection to Scholarship: The applicant clearly articulates how receiving the scholarship would benefit them. This demonstrates a strong alignment between their goals and the purpose of the scholarship.

Want more examples, check out these winning scholarship essay examples.

Financial Aid Scholarship Essay

Scholarship Essay for Financial Need

Scholarship Essay Examples About Yourself

Why this essay worked.

This scholarship essay worked for several reasons, such as:

  • It effectively showcases the applicant's passion for mathematics, community engagement, and resilience.
  • It compellingly conveyed the applicant's dedication, ambition, and potential for making a positive impact. This makes them a deserving candidate for the scholarship.
  • Clear connection to the scholarship's goals and how it would further the applicant's educational journey and impact.

Here are some scholarship essay examples about yourself; get an idea from them, and create a successful essay.

Scholarship Essay Example About Yourself

Scholarship Essay About Yourself

Scholarship Essay Examples for Nursing

Why this essay worked.

This essay worked due to its compelling portrayal of the applicant's genuine passion for nursing, coupled with their unwavering dedication to making a positive impact in patient care.

The essay effectively demonstrates the applicant's well-rounded preparation for a nursing career and their clear alignment with the goals and mission of the scholarship, making them a strong candidate for consideration.

Below are some more examples of scholarship essays for nursing.

Nursing Scholarship Essay

Scholarship Essay for Nursing

Scholarship Essay Examples About Career Goals

This essay worked for the following reasons:

  • Clear and Specific Career Goals: The essay effectively outlines the applicant's career goal of becoming a clinical psychologist specializing in mental health support. The clarity and specificity of the goal demonstrate a well-defined path and a strong sense of purpose.
  • Demonstrated Preparation and Commitment: The essay showcases the applicant's comprehensive preparation for their career goals. It also demonstrates their readiness and dedication to excel in the field.
  • Alignment with Scholarship Objectives: The essay effectively highlights how the scholarship will contribute to the applicant's career aspirations. This includes attending conferences, workshops, and advanced training programs.

If you find difficulty writing the scholarship essay about career goals, get help from the below-mentioned examples, and submit a well-written essay.

Scholarship Essay Examples About Leadership

Three reasons why this essay worked are:

  • Demonstrated Leadership Experience : This essay effectively highlights the applicant's practical experience in leadership roles, showcasing their ability to lead teams, organize events, and coordinate volunteers.
  • Commitment to Personal Growth : The essay demonstrates the applicant's proactive approach to leadership development by seeking formal training and participating in workshops focused on honing their skills. 
  • Emphasis on Collaboration and Empowerment: The essay emphasizes the applicant's belief in collaborative leadership. It promotes inclusivity and empowers team members to contribute their unique perspectives. 

Here we gather some good scholarship essay examples about leadership that help in your writing.

Leadership Scholarship Essay Example

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Scholarship Essay Examples About Community Service

Here are the reasons:

  • Genuine Passion and Commitment: The essay effectively conveys the applicant's genuine passion for community service, highlighting their long-standing involvement and the transformative impact it has had on their life. 
  • Integration of Service with Education: The essay demonstrates the applicant's proactive approach to integrating their passion for community service with their educational pursuits.
  • Aspiration for Social Change: The essay goes beyond personal experiences and highlights the applicant's aspirations for broader social change.

Here is an excellent community service scholarship essa y that can help you write for community college.

Scholarship Essay Example about Community Service

High School Scholarship Essay Examples

  • Clear and Convincing Goals: The essay effectively communicates the applicant's strong desire to pursue higher education despite financial constraints.
  • Demonstrated Leadership and Well-Roundedness: The essay showcases the applicant's involvement in extracurricular activities. It highlights their ability to balance academic responsibilities with active participation in clubs, sports teams, and community service initiatives.
  • Emphasis on Giving Back and Community Engagement: The essay not only focuses on the applicant's personal aspirations but also highlights their commitment to giving back to their community.

The following are the best high school scholarship essay examples, use this for your help, and write an attention-grabbing essay.

Scholarship Essay Example for High School

Scholarship Essay for High School

Scholarship Essay Examples for University

Why this essay works.

Three reasons why this essay works are:

  • Strong Personal Motivation: The essay effectively communicates the applicant's unwavering commitment and determination to pursue a university education.
  • Articulation of Long-Term Goals and Social Impact: The essay goes beyond highlighting the applicant's academic achievements and financial needs. It emphasizes the applicant's desire to contribute to their community and make a positive impact on society.
  • The connection between Scholarship and Applicant's Potential: The essay effectively illustrates how receiving the scholarship would directly address the financial burden. Plus, it will enable the applicant to fully embrace the university experience.

Here are some excellent scholarship essay examples for university students that help you in writing the essay.

Scholarship Essay Example for University Students

Scholarship Essay Examples for Engineering

This essay worked because of the following reasons:

  • Passion and Commitment: The essay effectively conveys the applicant's deep passion for engineering. It also shows their genuine commitment to making a positive impact in this field.
  • Alignment with Scholarship Objectives: It clearly establishes the connection between the scholarship and the applicant's goals in engineering.
  • Future Impact and Growth: It also communicates the applicant's aspiration to contribute to the field of engineering and make a positive difference in the world.

The following is another scholarship essay example that can help you in creating the perfect essay on your own.

Scholarship Essay Examples for Masters

This essay worked for several reasons:

  • Clear Purpose and Goal: The essay effectively conveys the applicant's clear purpose and goal of pursuing a master's degree. It highlights the transformative impact that a master's degree can have on personal and professional growth.
  • Financial Need and Scholarship Alignment : The essay addresses the financial challenges associated with pursuing a master's degree. It demonstrates the direct alignment between the scholarship and the applicant's needs.
  • Impact and Giving Back : The essay goes beyond personal aspirations and emphasizes the applicant's intention to make a broader impact on their community and society.

Here is an example that you can use as a guide and write a perfect scholarship essay.

Why Should You Receive this Scholarship Essay Examples

Three brief reasons why this essay worked are:

  • Clear and Convincing Arguments : The essay presents concise and compelling arguments to support the applicant's case for receiving the scholarship.
  • Personal Connection : It demonstrates how receiving the scholarship would directly impact the applicant's academic journey
  • Gratitude and Future Commitment : It expresses sincere gratitude for the opportunity and emphasizes the applicant's commitment to making the most of the scholarship.

Here is an example, take help from them for your scholarship essay.

Why Should You Receive this Scholarship Essay Example

Why I Deserve This Scholarship Essay Examples

  • Compelling Personal Story: The essay effectively presents the applicant's personal story and highlights their dedication and commitment to their education
  • Addressing Academic Excellence and Financial Need : The essay successfully addresses both academic excellence and financial need, which are two crucial aspects considered by scholarship committees.
  • Commitment to Making an Impact: The essay goes beyond the applicant's personal goals and emphasizes their dedication to making a positive impact in their community. 

Here’s another example for this scholarship essay below:

Why I Deserve This Scholarship Essay Example

Tips for Writing the Effective Scholarship Essay

When it comes to writing an effective scholarship essay, there are several key tips to keep in mind. 

By following these guidelines, you can maximize your chances of standing out and impressing scholarship selection committees. 

Here are some essential tips to help you craft a compelling scholarship essay:

  • Understand the Prompt

Take the time to thoroughly understand the essay prompt or topic provided by the scholarship provider. Pay attention to any specific instructions or guidelines given.

  • Research the Scholarship

Familiarize yourself with the organization or institution offering the scholarship. Understand their values, mission, and objectives. This knowledge will help you align your essay with their goals and demonstrate your fit for the scholarship.

  • Tell Your Unique Story

Use the essay as an opportunity to showcase your personal experiences, like obstacles you might encounter, achievements, and aspirations. Highlight what sets you apart from other applicants. Be authentic and genuine in conveying your story, like overcoming personal failures.

  • Start with a Compelling Introduction

Grab the reader's attention from the beginning with a strong and captivating introduction. Consider starting with a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a powerful statement.

  • Structure Your Essay

Organize your essay into a clear and logical structure. Start with an introduction, followed by body paragraphs that support your main points, and end with a concise and impactful conclusion.

  • Be Concise and Specific

Scholarship essays often have a word or character limits, so make every word count. Be concise in your writing and avoid unnecessary fluff. Focus on providing specific examples and details that support your claims.

  • Showcase Your Achievements

Highlight your academic accomplishments, extracurricular involvements, community service, leadership roles, or any other relevant achievements. Link them to the values and goals of the scholarship.

  • Address the Selection Criteria

Ensure that your essay addresses the selection criteria specified by the scholarship provider. If they are looking for specific qualities or skills, tailor your essay to showcase how you possess those attributes.

In conclusion, writing an effective scholarship essay is a crucial step in securing the financial aid you need for your education. 

By following the tips outlined here, you can enhance your essay-writing skills and create a compelling narrative that captivates scholarship selection committees.

Be authentic, concise, and specific in your writing. Tailor your essay to align with the values and objectives of the scholarship provider. And above all, believe in yourself and your potential to make a difference through education.

If you're seeking further guidance and support in your scholarship essay writing journey, consider partnering with our AI essay writing tools !

We also have a team of experienced and professional essay writers who can provide personal essay writing service with valuable insights. 

Hire our college paper writing service  today and take the next step towards securing the financial aid you deserve.

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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the best essay for scholarship

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

  • Post date January 20, 2021

the best essay for scholarship

Set Yourself Up for Success

When you’re competing against thousands of scholarship applicants, your personal statement for a scholarship can make or break your chances of winning. While filling out your application is pretty straightforward, your essay is what will make you stand out.

The problem is, without knowing where to start, most students will head over to Google and search for things like:

  • scholarship essay examples
  • sample scholarship essays
  • personal statement for scholarship examples
  • scholarship essay examples financial need
  • scholarship letter sample
  • scholarship letter examples

With thousands of students using the same examples as references, your essays will start to look and sound alike, making it harder to make an impression. However, with a properly constructed and thoughtful essay, you can separate yourself from the student body of college hopefuls, giving you a great chance at securing the resources necessary for higher education.

That said, you’re probably wondering how to write a scholarship essay that’s capable of winning awards and accolades? We’re here to help you apply by sharing our must-know scholarship essay tips that will ensure you the best shot at winning.

The Question

The key to how to write a scholarship essay that’s going to stand out falls to the questions you address. When going through scholarship essay questions, you might come across a bunch of different questions specific to what the scholarship committee is looking for from their future winner. However, the underlying question for almost every scholarship essay is the same, regardless of how it’s worded. Most essays will ask, “Why do you deserve to win?” or some iteration of that using different wording. They might ask to “describe your extracurricular passions” or “describe a time when you had to take on a leadership role,” but believe it or not, all these seemingly different questions are looking to hear why you deserve the scholarship money.

How you choose to answer is up to you, but you must address this underlying question and tie it back to your answer to the overarching essay question. On another note, if you haven’t already figured this out, the answer should never be “because I need money.”

6 Steps to Writing an Award-Winning Scholarship Essay

First and foremost, before we provide our tips on how to write a scholarship essay, you need to know the purpose of the scholarships you are applying to and use this as your guide when writing a scholarship essay. Keep in mind that when writing about why you deserve to win, the answer you choose, along with examples that you use, should show how you fulfill the scholarship’s mission. Knowing this, here are our six steps to writing an award winning scholarship essay:

Step 1 — The Right Topic & Approach

Generally, you will come across two types of essay questions: the first will ask you to write about a specific topic, and the second will give you a broad topic to write about. With the first type, you need to create your own topic, and in the latter, you don’t need to think about a topic as it is provided for you. However, you will need to develop an appropriate approach to answer both types of questions.

Finding a Topic

When you’re presented with a broad essay question, you can choose your own topic. As such, you’ll need to generate ideas and start brainstorming. Begin by thinking about significant events in your life, people who have influenced you, learning experiences from your time at school, goals, and future ambitions, where you hope you’ll be in the next five or ten years etc. Don’t get too critical while you’re brainstorming; just let your creativity flow. Once you’ve created a list of topics, start to eliminate the ones that don’t help you answer why you deserve to win and narrow down your topics to the one you feel will best suit the question.

Developing a Unique Approach

Whether you had to come up with your own topic or one was provided to you, you will need to figure out how you will approach it. For any given topic, there are probably a hundred ways you could tackle the subject. You’re going to have to narrow down your topic by choosing to share a small part of the larger story that best answers the question.

Once you’ve narrowed down your topic, it’s time to consider what approach will convince the scholarship committee that you deserve to win the money above other applicants. Keep in mind, simply retelling the story won’t tell the reader how this experience reveals the qualities they are looking for. Get creative and dig deeper by asking yourself: How has this experience changed your life? Why did you do what you did? What is the lesson that came out of this experience? What aspect of this topic is most important to making my point? From there, you need to decide on the focus of your essay since you will be speaking to a small sliver of time.

Finding the right approach is just as important as finding the right topic. This is especially true if you answer a question that provides a specific topic. With every scholarship applicant writing about the same topic, you need to be sure that your approach persuasively shows the judges why you deserve to win more than anyone else.

Step 2 — Be Original

Now that you know what you’re going to write about and how you’re going to approach your topic, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to convey your message. Keep in mind that scholarship committees will read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays that will often be on the same or a similar topic. This is why it is essential to make sure your writing is original and engaging.

To do this, you’ll need to share a moment in your life that will help you convey your point. By doing this, you’re reducing your chances of having an essay that sounds like everyone else’s since your experiences are unique to you. Essays that share a unique moment from your life tend to be a lot more interesting and leave a lasting impression while giving the scholarship committee a better picture of who you are.

You don’t have to look far to find originality. Everyone has experiences that are unique to us. Even the most common experiences can be made original, depending on how you illustrate and tell the story, so don’t write off a topic just because it sounds ordinary. Take the time to think about how you can write about it in a way that is different from others, and you may surprise yourself at how original it could be.

Step 3 — Go with Your Flow

We all know the most challenging part of writing is getting started. Don’t overthink it; just start writing what is going through your head. The first few sentences aren’t going to be the best, but get your thoughts onto paper and worry about the rest later. You can always go back and revise it to sound better, but it’s easier to do once you have all your thoughts down.

While everyone has their own writing style, the most important thing to focus on when writing is winning over a scholarship committee. You need to think about who will read your essay, so you might want to do additional research. Your goal is to write an essay that appeals to your audience. This should guide not only your selection of topics but also your word choice, language, and tone.

The key is to be yourself. While you want to present yourself in a way that attracts the attention of the scholarship committee, you don’t want to portray yourself as someone you are not. It’s fine to present selected highlights from your life that fit with the award, but it’s not ethical to exaggerate or even outright lie about an experience to win an award. Don’t go crazy trying to mold yourself into a person you think the scholarship committee wants to read about.

Be true to yourself and write about what has happened to you personally or how you have been affected by something directly in your life. Given that most essays will have a character or word limit, keep your essay tight and focused. Lastly, don’t forget to make your point!

Step 4 — Stand Out From Start to Finish

Everyone knows that the hardest part of an essay is the introduction and conclusion. While this may be true, it’s also the two most important parts of your essay. Your introduction gives the reader their first impression of you, while the conclusion should leave a lasting impact. Spend extra time on your introduction and conclusion to ensure these two parts deliver the message you want.

The goal of your introduction is to captivate the reader’s attention. Considering posing a new question — questions often grab the reader’s attention because it will make them stop to think about how they would answer the question and are curious to see how you will answer or present a solution to the question in your essay.

As you introduce the topic, don’t forget the power of description. If you can create a vivid image for the reader, they’ll be more inclined to continue reading. Paint a picture for the reader with senses and words so they can envision themselves there.

The purpose of your conclusion is to thoughtfully bring your essay to an end. The conclusion is the second most powerful statement in your essay because this is what the scholarship committee will remember. With the hopes that the scholarship committee has thoroughly read your essay, avoid summarizing your essay in the conclusion. While it’s okay to include one sentence rehashing what you’ve already said, you want to do more than just restate your point. You have one final opportunity to make a lasting impression, so add a parting thought. This can be one last observation or idea that ties into the main point you’re trying to make. The worst thing you could do is tack on a meaningless conclusion filled with fluff, so be sure every sentence has a purpose. Lastly, never start your paragraph with “in conclusion,” and never end your essay with the words “The End.”

Step 5 — Get Some Extra Eyes On It

Despite how well you think you write, you’re not infallible, so it’s important to get someone else to proofread and edit your work. Whether it’s friends, roommates, family members, teachers, or advisors, ask someone other than yourself to look over your work. One of the key benefits of having someone else read your work is that they will find errors that eluded you, and they will be able to identify spots in your essay that seem unclear from an outsider’s perspective.

Make sure your reviewers know what to look for. Ask them if your ideas are clear, if you have answered the question appropriately, and if your essay is interesting. While you may disagree with some of their feedback and suggestions, take them seriously, and consider what they are telling you. The more input you get from others, the more times you’ll find yourself revising it to be better.

Your main goal is to produce an essay with clear points and supporting examples that logically flow together to prove your overall point. You also want to make sure that your essay has no spelling and grammar errors. The best way to do this is to have someone else read your work. If you don’t have someone you can ask or are limited due to time, then do it yourself. But, do it ever so carefully.

Step 6 — Repurpose Your Essays!

Keep in mind you’ll be applying to more than one scholarship, and since most scholarship committees usually ask very broad questions, you should repurpose your essays. Doing this could save you a tremendous amount of time. If you choose to reuse your essay, make sure you go through all the steps of figuring out who your audience is and what the topic is. If your existing essay can effectively answer another topic, be sure to tailor it for every scholarship application. However, be mindful of when a repurposed essay doesn’t fit the question. It’s better to take your time to write an appropriate essay than to submit one that doesn’t make sense for a specific scholarship.

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College Success

A Complete Guide on How To Write a Winning Scholarship Essay

03.05.2022 • 10 min read

Bob Patterson

Former Stanford Director of Admissions

Here’s how to write a scholarship essay. Learn what it is and why it is important in this step-by-step guide with tips and examples.

In This Article

Scholarships 101

Writing the best scholarship essays, step-by-step to a great scholarship essay, 15 scholarship essay tips.

Scholarships have come a long way since 1643, when Lady Anne Radcliffe Mowlson established the first scholarship program at Harvard University. Once unknown, they’re now a term used so frequently and so ubiquitously that they’ve almost become a central element to funding a higher education. With college costs having tripled in the last 20 years , scholarships give students like you a way to make college dreams more affordable.

Grants and scholarships appear under the larger term “Gift Aid” which, as its title suggests, is a gift of aid. It’s money awarded to you with the purpose of reducing the cost of your education without ever having to be repaid. The funding for this aid can come from the government, colleges themselves, and private organizations, and can range anywhere from $100 to $100,000 or more. The aid may come with certain requirements, such as ensuring you keep a 3.5 GPA or play on the college football team. All you may need to do is complete a scholarship application, write an essay, and then accept. One example is the Don't Text and Drive Scholarship . You can qualify for $1,000 by simply completing an easy online application and writing a 140-character pledge to not text and drive.

Grants vs Scholarships

How to get a grant differs from getting a scholarship. It’s important to know the difference. The main thing to remember is that grants are often need-based; meaning they are awarded to you based on your family’s finances. Then scholarships are mainly merit-based; meaning they are awarded to you because you have a particular quality, such as academic ability or athletic promise, in which the university is interested.

Competing for Scholarships

When it comes to applying for and receiving scholarships, competition is always fierce—especially so for international students. The odds of receiving a scholarship can range from 1 in 8 to 1 in 500 . But don’t let that discourage you! If you don’t try, you won’t receive anything; but if you do try, there’s a chance.

Last year alone, the students we worked with received:

$120,000 from the University of Southern California

$100,000 from George Washington University

$100,000 from Goucher College

$68,000 from Northeastern University

$60,000 from American University

$48,000 from the New School Parsons School of Design

$40,000 from the University of California San Diego

$13,000 from NYU

Application Requirements

The application process for individual scholarships differs substantially, and often there are countless forms to fill out, essays to write, and preparation to do ahead of time. On the other hand, some simply require you to apply by a certain date. For example, applying by USC’s December 1 deadline automatically ensures that they consider you for all of their merit scholarships. Planning ahead and doing your research are essential if you’re looking for a scholarship; they can appear in the most unlikely of places.

After you’ve done all your research, figured out your deadlines, and read the essay requirements, it’s probably time to think about writing. All scholarships will have different focuses and requirements depending on why the scholarship exists. But each essay is your chance to share your story: why you’re submitting a scholarship application and why you should be the one to benefit from it. These essays are your chance to show a scholarship committee who you are and why you’re here.

Example Essay Prompts

Tell the scholarship committee about yourself. What differentiates you from the hundreds of students who apply to our scholarship? Why are you unique?

Leadership & Initiative

Tell us about a time you positively contributed to group efforts, where you stepped up as leader in your high school, or made a positive contribution to your community.

Overcoming Challenges

Tell us about a time you failed or something didn’t go to plan; what did you learn from the experience? Describe how you were changed by a circumstance, obstacle, or conflict in your life and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Describe an experience where you collaborated/interacted with people whose beliefs differed from yours, perhaps during a volunteering experience or as part of community service; what happened?

Topic-Based

Describe your hopes for the future of women and girls worldwide. Describe a social entrepreneurship endeavor that you hope to make (or have started to make) a reality. What is the one technology resource you hope will shape tomorrow’s world?

What are the circumstances that have impacted your life financially and emotionally to date? What impact would this financial aid/scholarship have on your education? How would you aim to use this scholarship to your benefit or to the benefit of others? Why do you deserve this scholarship?

Future Goals

Why do you want to go to college? Why is your college application important to you? What are your short-term and long-term goals? What is it that you want to achieve and how will a college education help you get there? Describe your high school experience and how you hope your college one will be different.

Focus on Sharing Your Experiences

Whether you write about your personal background, your high school experience, a community service opportunity, or your career goals, your scholarship essay is about you and your experiences. Keep your focus on what the question is asking and how your personal experiences can answer it.

modes of persuasion graphic - ethos, pathos and logos

Many students find “ ethos, pathos, and logos ” useful to consider; you want to create an essay that is believable and has both emotion and reason. You need to be the authority on your own life, creating a world for the reader to imagine themselves in, while also giving them logical, tangible experiences to hold on to. Personally, I like the Mary Poppins jumping into the painting approach: you’re drawing a world on the pavement for admissions to jump into. Your story becomes real because it envelops them—they’re getting an insight into your life, your experiences, and your emotions. By the end of the essay, they understand you.

After reading the question, pick out all the keywords and write down as many relevant personal experiences as you can think of. Make connections, go on tangents, explore in and around the theme, and find your compelling story. Sometimes it’s useful to pick a few ideas and explore them thoroughly before you choose the one that works best–sometimes the best ideas come out of nowhere.

Find Your Structure & Outline

Every good essay—whether the word count is 150 or 1500—needs an introduction, somebody paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction needs to be the thing that “hooks” the reader in. The middle needs to add some detail, and the conclusion wraps everything up. The story doesn’t have to be linear, but the structure does.

If you’ve got the idea, the writing process will come. Just don’t be afraid! You have to start somewhere, so just write and keep writing. Don’t delete anything in that first draft—even if you hate it or it sounds cheesy. Don’t worry about starting at the beginning—sometimes the middle or the end are good places to start. Also, don’t be afraid to go back a step and brainstorm some more. Most importantly, you should trust yourself.

Edit & Rewrite

A key part of the scholarship essay writing process is editing and rewriting. Essays don’t happen overnight. They require hard work to get right. This step is where you develop your ideas, clarify your thoughts, and find the right structure. You want to ensure that your scholarship essay is easy to read, flowing from one sentence to another and from each structural component to the next. Put it down, come back to it later with fresh eyes, and read it as if you were reading it for the first time. Does it work? Keep going over your essay until you can say “yes” to that question.

Typos, grammatical mistakes, and spelling mistakes are your enemy. Even the most beautiful content can be a letdown by using “their” when you meant “there.” Ensure you check and double check your essay for mistakes and don’t be afraid of using spellcheck, something like Grammarly, or asking a family member to help you. Proofreading should be the final step in your scholarship essay. Once you’ve done everything you can think of to make it the best essay for you, consider it done and don’t look back.

1. Be honest.

These are your scholarship applications and your college future; start with the truth.

2. Follow your passion.

Write about something you love! Not only will it land better with a scholarship committee, but it will actually be easier to write.

3. Focus on what you learned.

The story is important, but what you learned and took from the experience is essential. Colleges want to know that you’ll bring everything you’ve learned with you to college.

4. Self-reflection is key.

Without oversharing, preaching or lecturing, really think critically about what makes you, you. Ask your friends and family members for your best qualities. Think about what you love learning or doing, and be specific—focus in on a particular activity, experience, or personality trait that defines you.

5. Edit, edit, edit.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. Again and again. The little mistakes can make a big difference.

6. Keep it personal.

It may be that you’re applying for a specific scholarship that means you need to connect with a particular social issue, high school experience, technological advancement, or subject. Colleges will be interested in your experience and how you relate to that particular topic or issue.

7. Don’t be afraid to re-use something you’ve already written.

It’s likely you’ve already written something about yourself as part of your application process; as long as they address the prompt and are specific to that scholarship program/university, you can re-use all scholarship essays!

8. Show, don’t tell.

Really paint a picture with your words, describe your emotions, and help the reader imagine everything you experienced.

9. Focus on yourself.

There will be many deserving college students, but focus on what you can bring to the program/scholarship and why your experience is something admissions need to hear. It’s not about other students, it’s about you!

10. Negative experiences aren’t off-limits.

As long as you can describe the positive elements in the negative experience and focus on what you’ve learned, this strategy can really work. Sometimes you learn more from the challenges you overcome.

11. Follow instructions & answer the essay prompt.

It’s an easy thing to forget, but don’t get carried away. Return to the prompt and make sure you do as you’re asked. This includes sticking to the word count.

12. Define your goals.

Ask yourself who you want to become and what skills or personality traits you want to develop. Focus on how this particular college education will help you get there.

13. Do your research.

The most successful scholarship essays will mention specific details about that college, program, major, and other opportunities that you can take advantage of. Read it back to yourself and ask: could this have been written about anywhere? (Try to avoid cliches too.)

14. Have fun!

See any application as an opportunity to share something about yourself in your own words with admissions. These essays are something you have control over.

15. Embrace yourself.

Be yourself and use your own voice. It’s the most powerful tool you have.

About the Author

Bob Patterson is a former Director of Admissions at Stanford University, UNC Chapel Hill, and UC Berkeley; Daisy Hill is the co-author of Uni in the USA…and beyond published by the Good Schools Guide 2019. Together, they have established MyGuidED, a new educational tool for students looking to apply to university (launching 2023).

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Business Administration, Associate of Arts

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How to write a scholarship essay

the best essay for scholarship

With the increased cost of college tuition, students often need to apply for grants and scholarships in order to pay their way through school.

There are scholarships and grants for everyone from recent graduates to first-generation college students – even if you’re still a high school student.

Most scholarships require more than just good test scores. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to win one of these awards, read on. The scholarship application process usually includes an essay question that the scholarship provider’s own committee will ask you to answer.

Scholarship applications can be stressful for students – especially international students. The worst part is that applicants don’t always know what they are doing wrong and how to fix it. This takes skill and preparation (and some good luck!).

Read this blog before you start writing – it will give you lots of tips that will help you write a great essay, so that your chances of winning the scholarship to attend college will increase dramatically!

the best essay for scholarship

Writing a Winning College Scholarship Essay

Great scholarship essays show the real person behind the application and this could be what gives you the edge over the competition (as long as you meet the other criteria for the scholarship).

Scholarship Essays

Scholarship essays are like college admission essays. They have a lot in common and they are similar in the way that you write them. Prospective students applying for scholarships are in competition with each other, as many will have good grades and great prospects. Your essay is a great chance to distinguish yourself from other applicants.

When applying for a scholarship, it is important to write an essay that the committee will notice. The committee will receive many, many versions of the same essay. All of these similar essays will blend together – in other words, you need to stand out by writing an attention-grabbing story in a unique voice.

These are some tips to think about when writing your essay:

Scholarships are not always based purely on grades, so it is important to mention what makes you strong outside of academics.

It is best to find a scholarship related to your academic or future career goals.

One way to make sure your essay meets the requirements of each scholarship competition is to do some research on which type of essay it requires.

How to write a winning scholarship essay – scholarship essay tips

It’s not enough just to know what you want to write about. You also need to meet any given requirements and develop a plan for researching the topic before starting on your essay.

Scholarship Essay Instructions

the best essay for scholarship

Before you start working on your essay, make sure to take a moment to read the instructions and fully comprehend what is required of you. If it’s not clear, then look over them one more time until you have all of the information that you need. Do not start writing until everything is clear in your mind. If you have any questions about the scholarship essay prompts, contact the scholarship committee and ask for instructions. This shows that you are serious about the essay prompt and will not make you look worse than if you did nothing at all.

Pay attention to the prompt and be sure you maintain focus on that

When reading the prompt, make sure to read it carefully several times and try to understand what is being asked. Scholarship essay prompts will typically ask a variety of similar themes, such as how receiving the scholarship or gaining your degree will change your life. A good way to start the essay would be figuring out which specific question the prompt is asking you.

You should also avoid adding anything unrelated to the prompt. You should be able to talk about the specific topic in-depth. Stay focused on the prompt when writing your essay.

If you can, choose a topic that you are interested in

You’ll create better work and be more expressive if you care about what you’re writing. You may get to choose the topic of your scholarship essay for some applications.

So if you have a choice, choose a topic that you are passionate about. This should make it easier to write your scholarship essay without having to do more work.

If the prompt is asking for your past, present or future goals and aspirations (or something else), it’s best to tie those into how receiving this scholarship will change what you’re able to do.

If you make your writing from your heart, it will be more meaningful.

Avoid Negative Topics

Don’t do essays that are about negative things. That’s not good to read or write.

Scholarship program administrators are most impressed with essays that inspire and give hope, shed light on overlooked problems, or tell stories of overcoming great obstacles.

Don’t be shy

Who are you? What makes you special? This is your chance to talk about what you want to say that you couldn’t say in other parts of the scholarship application essays. When you tell the story of your own life in a scholarship application or essay, it will seem more real to the people reading it.

Spelling and grammar are important

the best essay for scholarship

People notice mistakes in grammar. Even small mistakes can distract a reader from your message, and nailing the spelling and grammar in your scholarship essay shows your writing ability and attention to detail. This includes good sentence structure and a wide vocabulary throughout your entire essay.

Proofreading your essay is crucial to submitting an application that will be in with a chance of winning.

Stick to the word count

When you write a scholarship essay, the prompts usually tell you how many words (or characters) to use, so follow instructions and stick to the rules. You would be surprised how many applicants go over the word count, and despite submitting a well written scholarship essay, they make a bad first impression by sending something in that doesn’t meet the scholarship requirements.

You may not know what 250 words looks like. It’s hard to tell. As a general guide, you need to write 250 words for one typed page (double spaced). That means you need to write 500 words for two pages and so on. Microsoft Word and Google Docs both have functions to show you your word count.

You can’t go over the word or character limit. If you do, you may be disqualified. You do not need to write an essay that exactly hits the limit, but it is good to come close.

It’s easy to think that when you write more than the word limit, people will think you are working harder, have put in extra effort, and are therefore more deserving of the scholarship money. In truth, the people reading your essay care about how well you follow directions as much as they care about a well written essay.

For a great scholarship essay, do some research

What do you know about the organization awarding this scholarship? Look them up online. Learn about why they are offering the scholarship and their mission statement.

Learn about the award or scholarship provider’s mission and objectives. As you write your scholarship essay, think about the point of the company’s mission and what it is they are looking for in a successful candidate. Then share a story from your life that demonstrates how passionate you are for the organization or cause.

Many scholarship providers also showcase previous winning scholarship essays on their websites. You can see what a winning essay looks like and learn from their experience. Studying other scholarship essay examples will give you many ideas about what to write in your personal statement, how to create your essay’s introduction and a really good understanding of the scholarship essay format you should use.

Start the essay writing process early

Time management is key when applying for scholarships. Plan ahead to ensure you have the proper time available and be sure to check deadlines and requirements.

the best essay for scholarship

Give yourself plenty of time to come up with a thought-provoking essay. Take the time to brainstorm ideas, compile an outline, and edit your entry thoroughly just like you would for any assignment.

It is best to do your work before the deadline. That way you have time to make sure that it is good and you can fix anything if it needs to be fixed. When you finish writing the essay, leave a few days before you edit it. You’ll have a better chance of finding errors and places for improvement if you do not edit it right away.

Here are some scholarship essay tips:

Introduce the essay with a strong introduction or “hook.” Try to make your first sentence engaging enough to grab your reader’s attention.

Introduction, body, conclusion – a classic framework. Start with an introduction. The introduction should tell the readers what you are going to say in your essay. Write a body that tells about the main idea of your essay. The body should have many details, sentences, and paragraphs to support your argument. Finish by writing a conclusion that tells the reader what you talked about in the body of your

New ideas should always start new paragraphs. Paragraphs should be short and concise for easy reading!

Try to tie up any open threads and bring your essay to a conclusion with a personal statement.

Be truthful

The most memorable essays are written with the utmost authenticity and are often built around a series of events that detail how these experiences have impacted your life. Remember, you do not need to embellish or make up details to try to seem more deserving for the scholarship money.

Show, don’t tell

This is the most important tip for writing an essay. Instead of just explaining how you feel, try to paint a vivid picture through your words. For example: instead of saying that I’m really stressed at work and school, illustrate what stress looks like to you – late nights studying and forgetting to shower for days?

Keep it concise

Clear, specific and concise writing is one of the best tips for a solid scholarship essay. 

Providing a compelling and concise essay is challenging, but necessary. Employing simple language with specifics and vivid imagery will help you do just that.

Write about resilience

Scholarship essays are rigorous and require a lot of thought. Often, the essay will ask you to write about an important issue in your life that required you to be very resourceful when solving it, or a specific hardship you have overcome.

Many applicants make the mistake of writing more about their struggles with overcoming obstacles and not giving much insight into how they actually accomplished it.

One of the most important components for crafting a worthy scholarship essay is to focus on one event that has influenced or had an impact on your life. If you have experienced many different adversities throughout your life, it can be hard to narrow down which one to focus on.

However, by choosing a central theme you will be able to provide a more concise, coherent essay and will be able to tell the story of overcoming your obstacles in greater depth.

Use a professional tone, but also show who you really are

Instead of using overly colloquial language, focus on professionalism. But don’t be too formal – this is still your essay! Just keep readers interested by being yourself and sounding like you instead of trying to sound stuffy or formal.

Balance humility and pride

Your scholarship essay is the place to share your accomplishments and backstory, but don’t just list all of your virtues in an effort to prove that you deserve a scholarship. It’s important to strike a balance between being humble and proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Avoid these common errors

Now that you have a general sense of how to approach your essay, let’s review what we should avoid mentioning.

Generic inspirational quotes

By all means put quotes on social media. Or on your desk. But for a scholarship essay, you should not use them.

Instead, include advice or wisdom you’ve been given from the people who are important to you. Doing this will add a personal touch and give readers insight into what motivates you.

Platitudes, cliches and meaningless phrases

Be original. Don’t paint the same picture as everyone else when you’re applying for scholarships.

the best essay for scholarship

Platitudes are common phrases that people use all the time. For example, “Good things come to those who wait.”

Try not to use them in scholarship essays because you will sound like everyone else if you do.

Cliches are overused phrases or stories that no longer have any power or meaning. If you want to write a great scholarship essay, don’t use any clichés.

Swearing 

Sounds obvious, right? You’d never even think of doing this in a scholarship essay, would you? You’d be surprised at how many people actually do – and it can cost them the scholarship! 

Try to avoid any swear or curse words, even if you hear others use them frequently in mainstream media or TV shows. 

It’s unlikely that you will offend anyone, but be safe rather than sorry.

Use a thesaurus to find new exciting words and paint vivid imagery of your experience.

Txt spk and emoji

While you may be accustomed to using abbreviations and acronyms in daily conversations, keep them out of your scholarship essays.

The scholarship essay is one of the best places to showcase your writing skills, so it’s important that you write in a formal style unless otherwise directed.

Avoid using slang and informal language in your essay. Keep it professional and academic but also personal. A scholarship committee is looking for a special person with unique qualities.

The same goes for emoji. Keep them out of your scholarship essay! ;p

Trending topics

Don’t address a currently trend, controversial topic unless the essay prompt asks you to. A winning scholarship essay will be about you and your experience, not the latest trending topics. 

It’s ok if you touch on these ideas as part of your essay, but not as the main theme.

The most compelling essays often deal with personal subject matter rather than popular topics.

DO take a strong stance on causes that you care about and show how winning this scholarship award will help you continue fighting for them if appropriate, though. A critical thinker will stand behind something they can argue for convincingly.

Writing scholarship essays requires following the prompt and avoiding unrelated points. 

Photos, and fonts

Don’t make your scholarship essay a visual project. Keep it professional. You want people to read it without getting lost in all the pictures and fonts.

If you there are no formatting instructions, when uploading your essay to an application, use Times New Roman font and size 12.

If you copy-paste your essay into the text box on an application site, this will format your content for you.

Ensure that your writing follows all formatting requirements for headers and footers, margins, and single- or double-spacing.

Extreme statements

Scholarship essays should not only consist of extreme perspectives. Avoid unnecessary pessimism about the future and strong stances on irrelevant issues. 

If the prompt asks you about a problem facing the world today, you can answer by focusing on the hope for the future and the possibilities to overcome the issue. Many scholarship essays focus too much on the problem and not enough on the solution.

Criticism of other applicants

It is not okay to say that someone else – like another applicant – is less deserving of financial aid than you are. Scholarship committees really frown on this as a practice. You can tell the committee why you are deserving of the scholarship money without putting any other applicant down.

Your life story

Every scholarship essay needs to be focused and concise, so it is important to remember that you only have limited space. It can be tempting to write a lot about your life, but stay focused on the prompt given.

So while the story of your life may well be worth writing about, you probably can’t do it within the word limit set, and it almost certainly won’t meet the brief in full.  

You can choose to focus on one period of time, or one important event in your life that will allow you to write your essay and show a different perspective from all the other applicants. 

Essay Writing Process

Understanding how to write a scholarship essay can be difficult, but we’re here to give you some help.

Idea generation or brainstorming

Many students just dive straight into writing their essay. But if you want yours to really stand out, you should start thinking, planning and generating ideas before you begin writing.

Think about the essay prompt. Start to think of what you want to write about to address it fully.

To ensure that your idea fits with the prompt and communicates what you are trying to say, brainstorming is necessary. As you think of ideas, write them down as bullet points or notes on paper.

An outline is a useful tool to help you avoid structural mistakes, omission, repetition and fluff in your scholarship essay.

Your outline is like a complete answer to the essay prompt but without any of the detail.

As you write the full version of your essay you will have all the space you need to expand on what you’ve decided on in your outline.

The outline can help you structure your scholarship essay properly.

the best essay for scholarship

Your outline should allow you to see that you have answered the prompt, and done so in a logical order such as:

An introduction that sets out your ideas for the essay

Explanations that support the ideas you raised

A conclusion that summarises your points and wraps up the essay

Once you’ve drafted your article and outlined its key points, you can begin writing the piece for real. Be sure to follow your outline and check it for anything you may have missed while drafting.

Try to be succinct, avoid rambling on about unrelated topics and make your point quickly and clearly.

If the scholarship doesn’t mention a maximum essay length, a good rule of thumb is that your essay should be around one full page long.

Take 5 (or longer)

When you’ve completed a first draft of your essay, stop for a little while. Take a break by getting outside for some fresh air or going for a short walk. This will give you time to take in your own work and get some perspective on it.

When you return from your break, the essay will seem clearer in your mind than before. If possible, wait until the next day to come back to your essay. Continuing to edit it fresh in your mind will help you make any final revisions.

With a fresh set of eyes on your scholarship application essay you may notice things that you want to change, add or remove. Is there a better way to say something? Do you need to elaborate more on a certain part? Is there something that doesn’t make sense?

You also need to look out for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and typos.

When revising your essay, you should always ask yourself if there is a better way to express what you want to say. Are any of the sentences not necessary? Could they be shortened or rewritten? Is it clear how this section connects with another?

If you find that you’ve repeated the same words too often, you try to vary your language. It will make reading and understanding your essay easier for a reader who is not familiar with what you’re trying to say.

Tools such as Grammarly can help find errors in writing, so it’s a good idea to check your work there before submitting anything or sending off your application.

Once you’re happy with the content it’s time to format your essay by following the instructions provided in the brief.

If no specific instructions are given, then our advice is to use a standard 12 point font like Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Courier, or Georgia font.

Double spacing is a standard requirement for many scholarships.

It is also important to use a ‘Title Page’ and include the following information: name, address, year of study, current course(s), email address.

Ask someone to read your essay

It can be hard to be objective when reviewing your own work. That’s why you should ask someone else to read through it before you submit.

the best essay for scholarship

Ask them what they think about your writing, and if the essay presents all of the main points that were requested in a clear way.

If there are any gaps then ask them for ideas so that everything is well-balanced.

Ideally someone who has experience with reading essays would be the best person – someone like a teacher or counsellor. But really anyone like a friend or family member will do here because their perspective will be different than yours.

Take their advice and update your essay not submit your essay until you have made the requested changes.

This will give you an edge and help ensure greater success!

Don’t quit!

If you get tired, rest but don’t give up. Writing a scholarship essay is not an easy task, but if you break it down it is manageable. If you need more money to be able to afford to study abroad then winning some extra financial aid in the form of scholarships could make all the difference to your financial stability in college.

We hope that you’ve learned something new about how to write a scholarship essay in our article. Now it’s over to you…

Do you have any other scholarship essay tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Find your scholarship here .

Other useful posts:

How to write a scholarship application
Medicine scholarships: Medical scholarships for medical students

Posted in International Education , International Scholarships

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When I was a kid. A drunk driver hit the bus me with my family and other passenger’s was making journey with, while’ I was in the backseat. I have very few memories of the incident, but I do faintly recall seriously, but calming face as if I was gently lifted out of the vehicle. The paramedic held my hand as I was rushed to the hospital. I was in the hospital for several weeks, and that same paramedic came to visit me almost every day. During my stay, I also got to know the various doctors and nurses in the hospital on a personal level. I remember feeling anxiety about my condition, but not sadness or even fear. It seemed to me that those around me, particularly my family, were more fearful of what might happen to me than I was. I don’t believe it was innocence or ignorance, rather I trust in God and abilities of my doctors. It was as if my doctors and I had a silent bond. Now that I’m older, I fear death and sickness in a more intense way than I remember experiencing it as a child. My experience as a child sparked a keen interest in how we approach pediatric care, especially as it relates to our psychological and emotional support of children facing serious medical conditions. It was here that I experienced first-hand the power and compassion of medicine, not only in healing but also in bringing unlikely individuals together, such as adults and children in uncommon yet profound ways. And it was here that I began to developed interest of becoming a doctor. My interest sparked more even now I was recently admitted into university, I remember days back when I was asked to assist in a study one of my teacher during senior secondary school days, he was conducting on how children experience and process fear and the prospect of death. This teacher was not in the medical field; rather, his background is in cultural anthropology. I was very honored to be part of this project at such an early stage of my life. During the study, I discovered that children face death in extremely different ways than adults do. I found that children facing fatal illnesses are very aware of their condition, even when it hasn’t been fully explained to me, and on the whole I’m willing to fight the illnesses, but also more accepting of their potential fate than many adults facing similar diagnoses. I concluded our study by asking whether and to what extent this discovery should impact the type of care given to children in contrast to adults. I am eager to continue this sort of research as I pursue my medical career. The intersection of medicine, psychology and socialization or culture. (in this case, the social variables differentiating adults from children) is quite fascinating and is a field that is in need of better research. Although much headway has been made in this area in the past many years ago, I feel there is still a tendency in medicine to treat diseases the same way no matter who the patient is. I’m slowly learning that procedures and drugs are not always universally effective. Not only must we alter our care of patients depending upon these cultural and social factors, we may also need to alter our entire emotional and psychological approach to them as well. It is for this reason that I applied to All Saints University College of Medicine, as they has top programs for medicine and surgery in the academic subjects, as well as several renowned researchers delving into the social, generational and cultural questions in which I’m interested. My approach to medicine will be multidisciplinary, which is evidenced by the fact that I’m already prepared and decided from early childhood psychology and pre-med, with a minor in cultural anthropology. This is the type of extraordinary care that I received as a child—care that seemed to approach injuries with a much larger and deeper picture than that which pure medicine cannot offer, and it is this sort of care I want to provide for my future patients. But financial inadequate is becoming an impediment to the desire I have for society, I turned what might have been a debilitating event in my life and devastating motor accident—into the inspiration that has shaped my life since. I am careful and passionate. And while I know that the medical studies at All Saints University will likely be the second biggest challenge I will face in my life, I know that I am up for it. I am ready to be challenged and prove to myself what I’ve been telling myself since my Secondary School Days: I will be a medical doctor.

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Good luck with everything!

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Thanks a lot for helping me. This can prove to be so important for my career. I have been making these mistakes like using extreme statements and all and even used it in my last essay. Now, I got to know that these are wrong. I can’t be more thankful to you for such in-depth information.

Glad you found it useful, Blaze.

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What would be the best study university to study Early Childhood Education Curriculum development?

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That would depend based on various factors. Unfortunately we cannot provide personalized advice.

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the best essay for scholarship

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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What’s the Best Scholarship Essay Format?

the best essay for scholarship

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

the best essay for scholarship

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

What’s the Best Scholarship Essay Format?

Many scholarships require students to write an essay as part of their application. These writing and essay scholarships want to learn about your experiences, interests, or background as a student through your essay. But once you have finished writing, you may wonder: What is the best way to format my scholarship essay?

Should you include a title? What about spacing, page numbers, or citations? These are important questions and should be essential parts of your editing and revising process. Keep on reading to make sure that your essay is formatted properly!

Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

Getting started with essay formatting

The first rule of the scholarship essay format is following all of the rules that the scholarship application states. Whether that is spacing, citations, or font size, you should always follow the directions. There isn’t a faster way to get a scholarship committee member to say “nah” than ignoring the directions.

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Essay titles.

Should you begin your essay with a title? In my experience reading essays of all types, a title is very optional. If it is an especially clever or necessary title, then sure, go for it!

Otherwise, I would recommend saving your valuable word count and put it towards the actual essay. If you write your essay and are feeling stuck on a title, let it go and don’t worry about it. Prepare for your scholarship writing endeavors  by reading our short essay guides for 250 word essays , as well as 500 word essays !

Related: How to write an essay about yourself

Font size & style

The MLA recommends using size 12 font, and that’s what we’d recommend using. As far as the style of the font, you should stick to something that is legible and easy to read. Times New Roman or Arial are both going to be good bets. The scholarship essay is not the best place to get creative with a funky, hard-to-read font.

Should I single or double space the essay?

We know that most of your essays for school are probably double spaced. This is usually a good call for scholarship essays as well, because it makes the essay easier to read. In addition to spacing, you want to make sure that your scholarship essay is broken down into paragraphs and is not one single block of text.

Are page numbers required?

On many school papers, you may have to put a page number on each page. This is not necessary for your scholarship essays unless it is a clearly stated requirement.

Does proper scholarship essay formatting require citations?

If you are citing other sources, it is a good idea to use citations. It does not matter whether you are using MLA, Chicago, or some other type of citation (unless it is specifically required). Instead, it is important to simply be consistent in how you cite your sources. Most essays probably will not require outside sources or research, but if you are applying to certain research-based or STEM scholarships you may want to brush up on your citations.

Do’s and don’ts for scholarship essay formatting 

Final thoughts.

Writing can be a very stressful process for students, both in the scholarship process and the college admissions process. One of the best things that you can do is give yourself plenty of time to write and refine your essays. Ideally, you will also have a trusted outside reader serve as an editor for all of your essays.

The major rules of scholarship essay formatting are to follow the application instructions and make sure that your formatting is not distracting. Ultimately, you will want to ensure that the essay reader can easily and clearly read your essay and not distract them with sloppy or unconventional formatting.

Additional resources for writing essays

Here at Scholarships360, we have nearly every resource to help you write your best scholarship essay and to help you through the college admission process. Learn how to write winning scholarship essays , including how to start a scholarship essay and how to end a scholarship essay as well! Maybe you are writing a “Why this college” essay ? We can help with that too! Also, be sure to check out our individualized supplemental essay guides for schools that require them.

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Key Takeaways

  • First and foremost, always carefully read the instructions of what format is required 
  • Unless otherwise specified, double space your essay and break it down into easily digestible paragraphs
  • If not stated, use easy to read fonts like Times New Roman or Ariel
  • Never use information without citing, and if you do need to cite, be consistent with citation style (such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
  • Always. always double check that your essay is not only formatted correctly, but thoroughly proofread for grammar and spelling

Frequently asked questions about scholarship essay formatting  

Should a scholarship essay be double spaced, what citation style should i use in a scholarship essay, is it better to include a scholarship essay title, what font is good for a scholarship essay, scholarships360 recommended.

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Home / Blog

How To Write a Scholarship Essay

February 15, 2019 

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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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Frequently asked questions

What should i write in a scholarship essay.

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.

Frequently asked questions: College admissions essays

When writing your Common App essay , choose a prompt that sparks your interest and that you can connect to a unique personal story.

No matter which prompt you choose, admissions officers are more interested in your ability to demonstrate personal development , insight, or motivation for a certain area of study.

The Common App essay is your primary writing sample within the Common Application, a college application portal accepted by more than 900 schools. All your prospective schools that accept the Common App will read this essay to understand your character, background, and value as a potential student.

Since this essay is read by many colleges, avoid mentioning any college names or programs; instead, save tailored answers for the supplementary school-specific essays within the Common App.

Most importantly, your essay should be about you , not another person or thing. An insightful college admissions essay requires deep self-reflection, authenticity, and a balance between confidence and vulnerability.

Your essay shouldn’t be a résumé of your experiences but instead should tell a story that demonstrates your most important values and qualities.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding your message and content. Then, check for flow, tone, style , and clarity. Finally, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors .

If your college essay goes over the word count limit , cut any sentences with tangents or irrelevant details. Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

If you’ve got to write your college essay fast , don’t panic. First, set yourself deadlines: you should spend about 10% of your remaining time on brainstorming, 10% on outlining, 40% writing, 30% revising, and 10% taking breaks in between stages.

Second, brainstorm stories and values based on your essay prompt.

Third, outline your essay based on the montage or narrative essay structure .

Fourth, write specific, personal, and unique stories that would be hard for other students to replicate.

Fifth, revise your essay and make sure it’s clearly written.

Last, if possible, get feedback from an essay coach . Scribbr essay editors can help you revise your essay in 12 hours or less.

Avoid swearing in a college essay , since admissions officers’ opinions of profanity will vary. In some cases, it might be okay to use a vulgar word, such as in dialogue or quotes that make an important point in your essay. However, it’s safest to try to make the same point without swearing.

If you have bad grades on your transcript, you may want to use your college admissions essay to explain the challenging circumstances that led to them. Make sure to avoid dwelling on the negative aspects and highlight how you overcame the situation or learned an important lesson.

However, some college applications offer an additional information section where you can explain your bad grades, allowing you to choose another meaningful topic for your college essay.

Here’s a brief list of college essay topics that may be considered cliché:

  • Extracurriculars, especially sports
  • Role models
  • Dealing with a personal tragedy or death in the family
  • Struggling with new life situations (immigrant stories, moving homes, parents’ divorce)
  • Becoming a better person after community service, traveling, or summer camp
  • Overcoming a difficult class
  • Using a common object as an extended metaphor

It’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic. However, it’s possible to make a common topic compelling with interesting story arcs, uncommon connections, and an advanced writing style.

Yes. The college application essay is less formal than other academic writing —though of course it’s not mandatory to use contractions in your essay.

In a college essay , you can be creative with your language . When writing about the past, you can use the present tense to make the reader feel as if they were there in the moment with you. But make sure to maintain consistency and when in doubt, default to the correct verb tense according to the time you’re writing about.

The college admissions essay gives admissions officers a different perspective on you beyond your academic achievements, test scores, and extracurriculars. It’s your chance to stand out from other applicants with similar academic profiles by telling a unique, personal, and specific story.

Use a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial to avoid distracting the reader from your college essay’s content.

A college application essay is less formal than most academic writing . Instead of citing sources formally with in-text citations and a reference list, you can cite them informally in your text.

For example, “In her research paper on genetics, Quinn Roberts explores …”

There is no set number of paragraphs in a college admissions essay . College admissions essays can diverge from the traditional five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in English class. Just make sure to stay under the specified word count .

Most topics are acceptable for college essays if you can use them to demonstrate personal growth or a lesson learned. However, there are a few difficult topics for college essays that should be avoided. Avoid topics that are:

  • Overly personal (e.g. graphic details of illness or injury, romantic or sexual relationships)
  • Not personal enough (e.g. broad solutions to world problems, inspiring people or things)
  • Too negative (e.g. an in-depth look at your flaws, put-downs of others, criticizing the need for a college essay)
  • Too boring (e.g. a resume of your academic achievements and extracurriculars)
  • Inappropriate for a college essay (e.g. illegal activities, offensive humor, false accounts of yourself, bragging about privilege)

To write an effective diversity essay , include vulnerable, authentic stories about your unique identity, background, or perspective. Provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your outlook, activities, and goals. If relevant, you should also mention how your background has led you to apply for this university and why you’re a good fit.

Many universities believe a student body composed of different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community, which is why they assign a diversity essay .

In addition to your main college essay , some schools and scholarships may ask for a supplementary essay focused on an aspect of your identity or background. This is sometimes called a diversity essay .

You can use humor in a college essay , but carefully consider its purpose and use it wisely. An effective use of humor involves unexpected, keen observations of the everyday, or speaks to a deeper theme. Humor shouldn’t be the main focus of the essay, but rather a tool to improve your storytelling.

Get a second opinion from a teacher, counselor, or essay coach on whether your essay’s humor is appropriate.

Though admissions officers are interested in hearing your story, they’re also interested in how you tell it. An exceptionally written essay will differentiate you from other applicants, meaning that admissions officers will spend more time reading it.

You can use literary devices to catch your reader’s attention and enrich your storytelling; however, focus on using just a few devices well, rather than trying to use as many as possible.

To decide on a good college essay topic , spend time thoughtfully answering brainstorming questions. If you still have trouble identifying topics, try the following two strategies:

  • Identify your qualities → Brainstorm stories that demonstrate these qualities
  • Identify memorable stories → Connect your qualities to these stories

You can also ask family, friends, or mentors to help you brainstorm topics, give feedback on your potential essay topics, or recall key stories that showcase your qualities.

Yes—admissions officers don’t expect everyone to have a totally unique college essay topic . But you must differentiate your essay from others by having a surprising story arc, an interesting insight, and/or an advanced writing style .

There are no foolproof college essay topics —whatever your topic, the key is to write about it effectively. However, a good topic

  • Is meaningful, specific, and personal to you
  • Focuses on you and your experiences
  • Reveals something beyond your test scores, grades, and extracurriculars
  • Is creative and original

Unlike a five-paragraph essay, your admissions essay should not end by summarizing the points you’ve already made. It’s better to be creative and aim for a strong final impression.

You should also avoid stating the obvious (for example, saying that you hope to be accepted).

There are a few strategies you can use for a memorable ending to your college essay :

  • Return to the beginning with a “full circle” structure
  • Reveal the main point or insight in your story
  • Look to the future
  • End on an action

The best technique will depend on your topic choice, essay outline, and writing style. You can write several endings using different techniques to see which works best.

College deadlines vary depending on the schools you’re applying to and your application plan:

  • For early action applications and the first round of early decision applications, the deadline is on November 1 or 15. Decisions are released by mid-December.
  • For the second round of early decision applications, the deadline is January 1 or 15. Decisions are released in January or February.
  • Regular decision deadlines usually fall between late November and mid-March, and decisions are released in March or April.
  • Rolling admission deadlines run from July to April, and decisions are released around four to eight weeks after submission.

Depending on your prospective schools’ requirements, you may need to submit scores for the SAT or ACT as part of your college application .

Some schools now no longer require students to submit test scores; however, you should still take the SAT or ACT and aim to get a high score to strengthen your application package.

Aim to take the SAT or ACT in the spring of your junior year to give yourself enough time to retake it in the fall of your senior year if necessary.

Apply early for federal student aid and application fee waivers. You can also look for scholarships from schools, corporations, and charitable foundations.

To maximize your options, you should aim to apply to about eight schools:

  • Two reach schools that might be difficult to get into
  • Four match schools that you have a good chance of getting into
  • Two safety schools that you feel confident you’ll get into

The college admissions essay accounts for roughly 25% of the weight of your application .

At highly selective schools, there are four qualified candidates for every spot. While your academic achievements are important, your college admissions essay can help you stand out from other applicants with similar profiles.

In general, for your college application you will need to submit all of the following:

  • Your personal information
  • List of extracurriculars and awards
  • College application essays
  • Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores
  • Recommendation letters.

Different colleges may have specific requirements, so make sure you check exactly what’s expected in the application guidance.

You should start thinking about your college applications the summer before your junior year to give you sufficient time for college visits, taking standardized tests, applying for financial aid , writing essays, and collecting application material.

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 .

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

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.

A standout college essay has several key ingredients:

  • A unique, personally meaningful topic
  • A memorable introduction with vivid imagery or an intriguing hook
  • Specific stories and language that show instead of telling
  • Vulnerability that’s authentic but not aimed at soliciting sympathy
  • Clear writing in an appropriate style and tone
  • A conclusion that offers deep insight or a creative ending

While timelines will differ depending on the student, plan on spending at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing the first draft of your college admissions essay , and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Don’t forget to save enough time for breaks between each writing and editing stage.

You should already begin thinking about your essay the summer before your senior year so that you have plenty of time to try out different topics and get feedback on what works.

Your college essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s weight. It may be the deciding factor in whether you’re accepted, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurricular track records.

In most cases, quoting other people isn’t a good way to start your college essay . Admissions officers want to hear your thoughts about yourself, and quotes often don’t achieve that. Unless a quote truly adds something important to your essay that it otherwise wouldn’t have, you probably shouldn’t include it.

Cliché openers in a college essay introduction are usually general and applicable to many students and situations. Most successful introductions are specific: they only work for the unique essay that follows.

The key to a strong college essay introduction is not to give too much away. Try to start with a surprising statement or image that raises questions and compels the reader to find out more.

The introduction of your college essay is the first thing admissions officers will read and therefore your most important opportunity to stand out. An excellent introduction will keep admissions officers reading, allowing you to tell them what you want them to know.

You can speed up this process by shortening and smoothing your writing with a paraphrasing tool . After that, you can use the summarizer to shorten it even more.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit to write a developed and thoughtful essay.

You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don’t write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself.

If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

In your application essay , admissions officers are looking for particular features : they want to see context on your background, positive traits that you could bring to campus, and examples of you demonstrating those qualities.

Colleges want to be able to differentiate students who seem similar on paper. In the college application essay , they’re looking for a way to understand each applicant’s unique personality and experiences.

You don’t need a title for your college admissions essay , but you can include one if you think it adds something important.

Your college essay’s format should be as simple as possible:

  • Use a standard, readable font
  • Use 1.5 or double spacing
  • If attaching a file, save it as a PDF
  • Stick to the word count
  • Avoid unusual formatting and unnecessary decorative touches

There are no set rules for how to structure a college application essay , but these are two common structures that work:

  • A montage structure, a series of vignettes with a common theme.
  • A narrative structure, a single story that shows your personal growth or how you overcame a challenge.

Avoid the five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in high school.

Campus visits are always helpful, but if you can’t make it in person, the college website will have plenty of information for you to explore. You should look through the course catalog and even reach out to current faculty with any questions about the school.

Colleges set a “Why this college?” essay because they want to see that you’ve done your research. You must prove that you know what makes the school unique and can connect that to your own personal goals and academic interests.

Depending on your writing, you may go through several rounds of revision . Make sure to put aside your essay for a little while after each editing stage to return with a fresh perspective.

Teachers and guidance counselors can help you check your language, tone, and content . Ask for their help at least one to two months before the submission deadline, as many other students will also want their help.

Friends and family are a good resource to check for authenticity. It’s best to seek help from family members with a strong writing or English educational background, or from older siblings and cousins who have been through the college admissions process.

If possible, get help from an essay coach or editor ; they’ll have specialized knowledge of college admissions essays and be able to give objective expert feedback.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding message, flow, tone, style , and clarity. Then, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors.

Include specific, personal details and use your authentic voice to shed a new perspective on a common human experience.

Through specific stories, you can weave your achievements and qualities into your essay so that it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging from a resume.

When writing about yourself , including difficult experiences or failures can be a great way to show vulnerability and authenticity, but be careful not to overshare, and focus on showing how you matured from the experience.

First, spend time reflecting on your core values and character . You can start with these questions:

  • What are three words your friends or family would use to describe you, and why would they choose them?
  • Whom do you admire most and why?
  • What are you most proud of? Ashamed of?

However, you should do a comprehensive brainstorming session to fully understand your values. Also consider how your values and goals match your prospective university’s program and culture. Then, brainstorm stories that illustrate the fit between the two.

In a college application essay , you can occasionally bend grammatical rules if doing so adds value to the storytelling process and the essay maintains clarity.

However, use standard language rules if your stylistic choices would otherwise distract the reader from your overall narrative or could be easily interpreted as unintentional errors.

Write concisely and use the active voice to maintain a quick pace throughout your essay and make sure it’s the right length . Avoid adding definitions unless they provide necessary explanation.

Use first-person “I” statements to speak from your perspective . Use appropriate word choices that show off your vocabulary but don’t sound like you used a thesaurus. Avoid using idioms or cliché expressions by rewriting them in a creative, original way.

If you’re an international student applying to a US college and you’re comfortable using American idioms or cultural references , you can. But instead of potentially using them incorrectly, don’t be afraid to write in detail about yourself within your own culture.

Provide context for any words, customs, or places that an American admissions officer might be unfamiliar with.

College application essays are less formal than other kinds of academic writing . Use a conversational yet respectful tone , as if speaking with a teacher or mentor. Be vulnerable about your feelings, thoughts, and experiences to connect with the reader.

Aim to write in your authentic voice , with a style that sounds natural and genuine. You can be creative with your word choice, but don’t use elaborate vocabulary to impress admissions officers.

Admissions officers use college admissions essays to evaluate your character, writing skills , and ability to self-reflect . The essay is your chance to show what you will add to the academic community.

The college essay may be the deciding factor in your application , especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurriculars.

Some colleges also require supplemental essays about specific topics, such as why you chose that specific college . Scholarship essays are often required to obtain financial aid .

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All high school and college students, as well as anyone looking to attend college or graduate school in the next year. Please note: Not everyone is eligible for this scholarship. Niche sponsored scholarships and sweepstakes are for people with US citizenship or a valid Visa/US passport only. Read the scholarship rules for full eligibility requirements.

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The $2,000 “No Essay” Scholarship is an easy scholarship with no essay required! Only one entry allowed per person. The winner will be determined by random drawing and then contacted directly and announced in Niche's email newsletter and on the Scholarship Winners page.

About Niche scholarships

We believe cost shouldn’t keep anyone from pursuing a higher education, so we connect students with thousands of scholarships — many of which don’t require an essay — to help them afford college. In 2023 alone, we offered over $285,000 in Niche scholarships. Read more about Niche scholarships here or visit our FAQs .

IMAGES

  1. Learn How to Write a Truly Impressive Scholarship Essay!

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  2. Best Scholarship Essay Examples (Winning Tips)

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  3. FREE 7+ Sample Scholarship Essay Templates in PDF

    the best essay for scholarship

  4. Scholarship Essay

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  5. Scholarship Essay Writing Guide [+Examples]

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  6. Best Scholarship Essay Examples (Winning Tips)

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  1. Chevening essay : How to write the "Studying in the UK" essay

  2. “Preparing the Essay” Workshop #2

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COMMENTS

  1. 14 Scholarship Essay Examples That Won Thousands 2023

    Scholarship Essay Example #5. Questbridge Finalist essay earning $3,000 in application waivers plus $3000 in local scholarships by Jordan Sanchez. Prompt: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.

  2. How to Write a Scholarship Essay

    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.

  3. 6 Awesome Scholarship Essays That Worked

    The best way to write successful scholarship essays is to look at examples from past winners. Here are 6 examples of scholarship essays and why they worked. ... 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 ...

  4. How to Start a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

    Put the reader in your shoes. Alternatively, you can choose to start your essay by placing the reader right in your shoes and show them something from your life. Appeal to the senses and show the reader what you see, hear, smell, or taste. These specific details will help your essay come to life and make it even more memorable.

  5. 9 Scholarship Essay Examples

    The best scholarship essays will highlight who you are and why you deserve money for college. Scholarship essay prompts will ask you to include various information, from details about your background to explanations of why you deserve a scholarship. Crafting a compelling, well-written essay can help you win substantial financial awards to help ...

  6. How To Write A Winning Scholarship Essay (with example)

    Start with a hook. Your writing teachers were not joking about the importance of the introductory hook. There are a number of ways to hook the reader, including: Using startling statistics. Opening with a moving sentence. Making a strong statement. For an example of an engaging hook, say you are writing an essay about social media distraction.

  7. How to Write a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

    Structuring Your Essay. Your essay should follow a standard format that includes a clear beginning, middle, and end. Typically, you should: · Establish your main idea in the introduction. · Include a separate body paragraph for each key point that supports your main idea. · Draw it all together and revisit your main idea in the conclusion.

  8. How to Write a Scholarship Essay (with Examples)

    Here, your best strategy involves answering prompts 8 and 9 together in a single scholarship essay. To do so, the essay would need to detail "a challenge or obstacle you have dealt with" (9) which has thus "shaped your perspective on humanity" (8).

  9. How to Write a Scholarship Essay: Complete Guide + Examples

    Two ways you can go with this: Approach #1: Use the resources above to write a great essay that spells out your big dreams, then end with 1-3 sentences describing specifically how you'll use the scholarship money. (We'll call this the "I have big dreams and you can help" approach.) Approach #2: Explain your financial situation in detail ...

  10. Writing a Winning College 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.

  11. 10 Winning Scholarship Essay Examples From Real Students

    New York University College of Arts and Science Scholarship by Ana. Award amount: $39,500. Essay prompt: Explain something that made a big impact in your life. Why it was successful: Ana discussed how early experiences w ith learning difficult things has contributed to her passion for teaching and supporting students.

  12. How to write a winning scholarship essay

    3. Fill your scholarship essay with keywords/synonyms of keywords used in the scholarship statement. Using the keywords from the scholarship statement throughout your essay will demonstrate your commitment to addressing the question being asked. For instance, I made a special effort to ensure references to 'leadership'; 'innovation' and ...

  13. How To Write A Winning Scholarship Essay

    8 Tips to Write a Scholarship Essay. 1. Start Early. The sooner you start exploring scholarship opportunities, the more time you'll have to get organized. It's a common myth that you have to ...

  14. How To Write a Winning Scholarship Essay: The Ultimate Guide

    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.

  15. 16 Scholarship Essay Examples to Help You Win Scholarship

    This scholarship essay serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the unwavering dedication I bring to achieving my goals. By delving into my personal story, passions, and commitment to making a difference, I aim to showcase why I am a deserving candidate for this scholarship.

  16. Write a Successful Scholarship Essay with these 6 Tips

    Step 1 — The Right Topic & Approach. Generally, you will come across two types of essay questions: the first will ask you to write about a specific topic, and the second will give you a broad topic to write about. With the first type, you need to create your own topic, and in the latter, you don't need to think about a topic as it is ...

  17. A Complete Guide on How To Write a Winning Scholarship Essay

    Writing The Best Scholarship Essays. Step-by-Step to a Great Scholarship Essay. 15 Scholarship Essay Tips. Scholarships have come a long way since 1643, when Lady Anne Radcliffe Mowlson established the first scholarship program at Harvard University. Once unknown, they're now a term used so frequently and so ubiquitously that they've almost ...

  18. How to write a scholarship essay

    The scholarship essay is one of the best places to showcase your writing skills, so it's important that you write in a formal style unless otherwise directed. Avoid using slang and informal language in your essay. Keep it professional and academic but also personal. A scholarship committee is looking for a special person with unique qualities.

  19. How to Write a Scholarship Essay

    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.

  20. What's the Best Scholarship Essay Format?

    The MLA recommends using size 12 font, and that's what we'd recommend using. As far as the style of the font, you should stick to something that is legible and easy to read. Times New Roman or Arial are both going to be good bets. The scholarship essay is not the best place to get creative with a funky, hard-to-read font.

  21. How To Write a Scholarship Essay

    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).

  22. How to Write a Scholarship Essay and Win

    Now that you believe in your ability to win, you have to begin putting in the work. My scholarship required that I 1) Have a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, 2) Be African American, 3) Be a college sophomore or junior, 4) major in business or science, and 5) attend two or more NSLS Speaker Broadcasts. So, when you are applying for a scholarship ...

  23. What should I write in a scholarship essay?

    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.

  24. Tips for Writing Scholarship Essays

    What makes a good essay? A good essay shows your background, experiences, ambitions, and personality. It's your opportunity to make a strong and lasting impression. Scholarship essay tips can help: Make an outline to organize your thoughts. Create an essay with a strong introduction, followed by supporting arguments and an appropriate conclusion.

  25. $2,000 No Essay Scholarship

    About Niche scholarships. We believe cost shouldn't keep anyone from pursuing a higher education, so we connect students with thousands of scholarships — many of which don't require an essay — to help them afford college. In 2023 alone, we offered over $285,000 in Niche scholarships. Read more about Niche scholarships here or visit our ...