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Scholarship Essay Tips

Scholarship Application

Scholarship Essay Tips

An essay or proposal is often a requirement when applying for scholarships and grants so that the selection committee can see which candidates stand out from a large group of very qualified applicants. You could be competing with hundreds of candidates, and a well-written essay could be the factor that encourages the committee to award you thousands of dollars. There are some general rules to follow when writing a scholarship essay.


  • Get as many ideas on paper as possible in no particular order.
  • List your accomplishments (enlist help from parents, friends, or mentors).
  • Write down the three most influential leaders in your life and two characteristics of each that made them positive influences. Do you exhibit any of those characteristics?
  • Think about some of the difficult times or experiences you’ve been through and write down how you overcame those obstacles.
  • Write down your goals, both short-term and long-term.
  • Read other scholarship essays to get a better idea of what makes a good essay.

Decide on a topic

  • While you don’t want to limit yourself, you also don’t want to be so broad with your topic that you can’t meet the maximum word requirements.
  • You want the topic to reflect who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
  • Try to choose a unique topic. For example, although working in a soup kitchen is rewarding and helpful volunteer work, the selection committee has probably already read more than their fair share of soup kitchen stories. You should try and write about something more unique and eye-catching.


  • Once you’re chosen your topic, try not to veer off course. Stick to it and make a point.
  • Be inspirational, but don’t overdo it.
  • Show your unique style, but be careful of trying to be “cute” or “funny” with your style.
  • Tell your story in your own words. Most people love a good story—make them love yours.
  • Don’t oversell yourself so that you come across as haughty or condescending.

Your scholarship essay is your one shot at winning over the selection committee and, in turn, winning some cash for college. Remember that you want to stand out as the unique candidate in a sea of applicants. Here are some tips to make sure that you’ve covered all your bases.

Some Essay Tips:

  • Check your spelling and grammar. There is no room for mistakes here.
  • Use a thesaurus. While you don’t want to get too exotic with your word choices, you should look for different adjectives and verbs to give your essay variety.
  • Be positive. No one likes a wet blanket! Keep the spirit of your essay focused on good.
  • Back up your ideas with examples.
  • Read the essay requirements and make sure you have met all formatting guidelines.
  • Get help from a writing workshop or writing center. Check with your high school or a local university for writing assistance.
  • Type the essay and have an educated, trustworthy person proofread it.
  • Print the essay on a high-quality writing paper and submit in a typed or neatly labeled package—good presentation is important.
  • Refrain from listing all of your awards, accomplishments, and activities. Incorporate these into your stories and concrete examples that will back up your main points.
  • Don’t grow a sense of humor in your writing. While you might be a funny person, trying to be funny in an essay can often miss the mark. Play it safe and stick to what works.
  • Be yourself. Try not to inflate your stories and accomplishments because you think it will impress the committee. If you’ve met the eligibility requirements for the scholarship, your great qualifications should shine through without embellishment.