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Writing a Scholarship Essay – Everything You Must Know

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Pursuing higher education in a reputed university in a leading study destination remains the lifelong dream of most of you. Although the thought of getting into a premium college sounds unreal, the journey isn’t always smooth. Studying in a premium university, that too in a foreign land, is a costly affair. So, many students ask online experts how to write a scholarship essay properly to get a scholarship.

Securing a fully-paid scholarship is no joke. You must be able to impress the concerned authority from the get-go if you dream of getting one such scholarship. Your scholarship essay is the only thing that stands between you and the funding. The scholarship committee gets a detailed idea about you from your essay and decides whether you will be a perfect fit to get the funding.

So, in this blog, we will delve into the detail of a scholarship essay and will shed light on everything you need to know to get the scholarship in the bag.

Preparation Stage

Before we tell you how to write an essay for a scholarship, let’s clear a misconception first. Many of you get confused between a scholarship essay and a college application essay. After all, college application essays and scholarship essays do have much in common.

For example, in both essays, there can be similar prompts. Through both essays, you want to paint a picture of yourself in front of the readers. However, scholarship essays do differ from college applications on one fundamental ground.

Colleges try to find out whether you will be a perfect fit for their campus. So, the college admission committees check your discipline history, grades, and LOR before making a decision. They want to know you as a person before allowing you on the campus. Whereas in scholarship essays, the committee wants to know who you are. The scholarship committee tries to find out if your goals align with them.

While reading scholarship essays, they look for your ideals more than your grades. They subconsciously expect scholarship essay writers to be compassionate and general. They try to find out if you are willing to walk the extra mile to help your juniors to meet their vocational goals.

You must understand that the benefactors are offering you money you don’t have to repay. So, they expect the beneficiaries to be a better human being than just a good student. If you can understand this small yet significant difference between the reader’s expectations, you should be good to go.

Tips for writing a winning scholarship essay –

Follow the basics of writing a strong essay

Starting a scholarship essay is similar to writing any other essay. So, if you are wondering about “how to start an essay for a scholarship”, let us help you. You should start the scholarship essay with a strong opening sentence like any other essay. “Hook sentences” gives the essay a voice and tone that separates it from other generic essays.

Here is an example of how to start a scholarship essay, “Diving into the unknown waters may not seem like everyone’s cup of tea. But I cannot wait to delve deep and do my bit to protect the marine life for a living.”

You should also stick to the tried and tested format while designing the essay structure. Follow a defined introduction, body and conclusion. Even if the prompt seems a bit loose, you should ensure the essay has a clear beginning, body, and end. At the same time, use new paragraphs smartly. Writing the essay in one long paragraph makes it a boring read.

You may check a few sample scholarship essays to clearly understand about essay structuring. While ending the essay, conclude it nicely and don’t just end it abruptly. The ideal way to end a scholarship essay is to declare why you want to pursue it even after completing your education.

Familiarize yourself with the essay prompt

Read the essay prompt several times to understand what the committee is asking of you. Multiple scholarship programs have similar themes about how you can become a great leader or how financial freedom is important for a college student. But if the prompt doesn’t ask you a specific question, then it is recommended that you should restructure it as a question.

For example, if the prompt says, “Reflect on the present environmental condition and your role in improving it,”. You should restructure it as, “What is the state of the environmental condition across the world, and how can I improve it?”

Restructuring the prompts as questions help you to remain true to the prompt. When you address a specific issue, it becomes easier for the scholarship committee to assess you.

Choose a topic you enjoy writing

Sometimes, you may be given a specific prompt to follow. Other times, you will be given the freedom to choose your topic. In such cases, you should do your best to keep the central focus on something you are passionate about. Writing about something or someone that holds value to you helps in producing better work. The essay will seem more authentic once you start caring about what you are writing.

Here is a scholarship essay sample to explain what we mean. If the prompt asks you to write about a moment you were proud of yourself, you may think about several examples. It can be the time you helped a blind man cross the street or donated a significant amount to a relief fund. The point is to consider writing about an occasion that actually happened instead of making a rosy picture to impress the board. That way, the story will resonate with you beautifully, and it will be an earnest attempt at a stronger essay.

Do enough research on the scholarship provider

Organisations or companies usually run scholarship programs. Before applying for the scholarship, do a little research about them. This will help you get familiar with their mission and goals. When you are well informed about their motivations, you can customize your essay accordingly to align with their ideas.

Sometimes, scholarship providers also publish past winners on their websites along with an excerpt of the winning essay. Study the patterns well enough to understand which guidelines you should follow to ensure your essay matches the parameters.

Know the word limit

Scholarship providers always come with a character/ word limit. If you are unfamiliar with such rules, figuring out what a 500-word essay can look like can be hard. (Pro Tip – Usually, a 500-word essay is equal to 2 typed, double-spaced pages.) To be on the safe side, run your essay through any free online tools to get an exact count of the words. Usually, the updated Microsoft Word docs have inbuilt functions that tell you the word count.

Also, be extremely careful not to exceed the word count, even by a single word. The scholarship committees are super stringent about maintaining word limits, and your essay can get disqualified otherwise.

Brainstorm and plan

We cannot stress this point enough. It is absolutely necessary to create a well-defined scholarship essay format before penning a single word. A well-defined essay format acts as a road map, and you will know exactly where you are going. You can check out these amazing brainstorming techniques before starting your essay.

Depending on the length and depth of the essay, you can design any detail you want to include in the essay. So, even if it seems monotonous and time-consuming, don’t skip the planning stage.

Writing Stage

Appeal to pathos, ethos, and logos

Don’t get confused with these words. If you don’t know about pathos, ethos, and logos, let us give you a quick brief. They are simply various modes of persuading your readers. In other words, following these techniques makes your essay more convincing. Let’s explain what we mean through these examples –

  • Pathos– Using emotional appeals like imagination or creativity while narrating a story. For example, you can paint a vivid picture of a deadly wildfire and narrate how several wild animals lost their lives in it.
  • Ethos– Establishing your authority, credibility, and reliability on a subject manner. You may take references from your own experiences to establish authority. For example, you can discuss how working in the sales vertical has influenced your communication and people skills.
  • Logos– Using logic to convincingly convey your point. For example, you can use statistics to argue how school students are overly reliant on cell phones.

Ensure that no essay for scholarships lacks any of these characteristics. Ideally, you should include all three parameters to make the essay as persuasive as possible.

Be honest

Rely on your experiences while writing the scholarship essays. While writing an essay for a scholarship, many try to make up details to claim the scholarship money. However, understand that the persons assigned to judge you are experienced. They have a fair idea of what’s fact and made up. So, believe in the power of your experiences and give them something authentic to read about.

Here is an example for you to understand. Considering you are a tutor, you may be tempted to say, “In the last five years, I have helped thousands of students shape their lives.” It may seem like nothing significant to a layman, but an experienced eye can easily figure out the mistakes. No teacher can teach “thousands of students” in just five years.

Instead, if you tell the truth that you have taught about 200 students and how your own skills improved in that process, it just feels right. So, steer clear of any exaggerated accomplishments and be honest while writing an essay for scholarship.

Demonstrate, don’t tell

Follow this cardinal rule of creative writing while writing a scholarship essay. Many students don’t follow this tip and keep wondering how to write a scholarship essay. Do not explain every minute detail when you can demonstrate it. Painting an image with words always helps to convey your message faster and stronger.

For example, if you want to tell how busy you are, don’t just say, “I am so stressed out by juggling work and college assignments.” Instead, show how you are stressed. You can paint a picture saying, “I was up all night after returning from my shift. I spent the entire night making coffee and pulling all-lighters to complete the assignment.” Give believable examples with necessary details to make it more convincing.

Be concise and specific

You can unfurl your creative wings while writing scholarship essays. But that doesn’t give you the license to beat around the bush. Be evocative while using your language, but also be concise. Try using the most direct words to have the maximum effectiveness. Avoid jargon, flowery language, and generalization to create succinct sentences.

Here is an example to help you understand –

“I am a lover of nature because it is so beautiful. I cannot think of one thing that I don’t like about nature. Being in the lap of nature has been my favorite thing to do since childhood. Whenever I do any activity by being among nature, I feel good.”

In this sentence, you can understand how we have used redundant words to evoke the same emotion. So, you can correctly write it like, “Whenever I am hiking, planting flowers or surfing in the ocean, I feel rejuvenated just by being close to nature.”

Don’t use excessive exclamation marks

Exclamation points indicate excitement, and showing excitement while applying for a scholarship may seem logical. However, overusing it can do you more harm than good. If you check scholarship essay examples about yourself, you will find that most selected papers follow a specific pattern while using exclamations.

Ideally, you should not use more than two exclamation marks throughout the essay. Even while using them, ensure that they are appropriate to the prompt. Many of you believe that using exclamation points makes the sentences more powerful. In reality, overusing it makes the sentences weak and creates a false sense of excitement.

For example, you can simply write, “I am looking forward to becoming a doctor and contributing to making a safer world”, without adding an exclamation.

Things to Remember While Writing

Emphasis your resilience

Scholarship prompts can ask you about the hardships you faced. These kinds of prompts are excellent opportunities for you to show your resilience and problem-solving skills. Many of you skip the problems you face, thinking it will paint a vulnerable image before the readers. However, bluffing the experienced eyes of the scholarship committee isn’t easy. So, it is better to state the hardships and show how you worked towards solving them.

While writing a scholarship essay, always focus on a central event. This experience makes the read more engaging and powerful, especially when you have a word limit to adhere to. You can create a solid narrative by weaving it around the hardship and conveying the story easily to the readers.

Be professional while being yourself

It is no secret that you need to follow a professional approach while writing scholarship essays. Many of you use extremely colloquial language. Some of you even use controversial statements and swear while writing the paragraph. You do need to maintain a “voice”, but not by being unprofessional. So, if you are still thinking, “How to write a scholarship essay?”, understand the difference between voice and tone to write better essays.

Be humble while selling yourself

The scholarship essay is the ideal place to showcase your accomplishments. But don’t make them sound like bragging. You cannot just list down all the awards you got and expect to get the scholarship. You should sound humble while explaining why you deserve the scholarship grant by stating relevant accolades.

For example, saying, “I always go straight A’s in my assignments is wrong. Moreover, I was the captain of the cricket team and an active volunteer in various social initiatives. This is why I think I should get the scholarship.”

Instead, you can say, “My academic results and volunteering work shows that I follow strict discipline and work hard in every aspect of my life. Hence, I would be grateful if I get considered for the scholarship as a little financial assistance can help me complete my higher education.”

End with a brief “Thank You.”

You should end the essay neatly with a thank you note. However, you don’t need to make this paragraph unnecessarily long. You should be able to show your character, integrity, and dedication naturally through your writing. Here is a scholarship essay example of how you should end the essay. “I want to thank you for this opportunity and for taking time out of your busy schedule to read the essay.” Be polite, and keep it succinct to exert maximum effectiveness.

These are the tips that you should follow to write scholarship essays to bag the grant you are eyeing for. But before the final submission, take out some time to proofread it well. A thorough proofreading and revision ensure that your essay doesn’t have any silly errors that can disrupt your plan of getting the scholarship.

Having said that, here are a few things you should avoid using while writing scholarship essays –

  • Inspirational quotes
  • Generic phrases
  • Cliches
  • Profanity
  • Text speak
  • Controversial topics
  • Emoji
  • Photos
  • Funky Fonts
  • Extreme declarations
  • Put-down of other candidates
  • Autobiography

Here is a scholarship sample essay to get you started.

A scholarship essay on how an event made a big impact on your life

In the summer of my junior year, I faced an unexpected hurdle that changed the trajectory of my life. During a routine check-up, my doctor delivered the news that shattered my world. I came to know that I had been diagnosed with a heart condition called bradycardia. Fear and uncertainty gripped my heart, and my dreams seemed to shatter before my eyes.

This diagnosis forced me to confront my limitations and reevaluate my goals. It would have been easier if I succumbed to fear and despair. I could have abandoned my aspirations that day. However, I decided to rise above my limitations and transform adversity into opportunity. In the pursuit of starting a new life, I sought support from my loved ones. I researched ways to manage my heart condition. Eventually, through perseverance and determination, I understood the power of adaptability.

This experience taught me an invaluable life lesson. I learned to cherish my health and appreciate the little joys of life. My gratitude for my doctors eventually deepened my passion for healthcare and ignited my desire to become a physician.

In retrospect, this event became the catalyst for personal growth. This event increased my resilience, empathy, and determination. It propelled me towards a career where I can make a profound impact on the lives of others. With this scholarship, I wish to continue studying medicine and help those facing similar obstacles in the future. I believe that the true measure of success lies not in the absence of challenges but in our response to them.

We hope this scholarship essay sample will help you understand the nuances of writing an immaculate scholarship essay.

Frequently Asked Questions Searched By Students

What are the 7 ways to write a scholarship essay?

The seven steps to writing a scholarship essay are as follows –

  1. Read the requirements and instructions carefully
  2. Give yourself enough time
  3. Understand your audience
  4. Brainstorm topics
  5. Create an outline
  6. Write the essay
  7. Proofread and submit

What are the three main parts of the scholarship essay?

A scholarship essay is divided into three main parts –

  1. An Introduction
  2. Main body paragraphs
  3. A conclusion

How to write a 250-word scholarship essay?

Follow these tips to write a successful 250-word essay –

  1. Outline the essay in bullet points
  2. Answer only the questions you have been asked
  3. Don’t worry about the word count in the first draft
  4. Refine the paper
  5. Proofread and submit

What makes an essay effective for scholarships?

Following these tips can help you make an effective scholarship essay –

  1. Plan ahead
  2. State your accomplishments clearly while being humble
  3. State your financial needs
  4. Avoid using unnecessary flowery language
  5. Write according to your audience

How are scholarship essays structured?

Follow this structure for scholarship essays –

  1. 1-inch page margins
  2. 12-point font size double-spaced
  3. Use standard fonts like Times New Roman
  4. Use black colour
  5. Always use small paragraphs
  6. Start new paragraphs for each new idea

Sophia Martin

Hi, my name is Sophia Martin, a Broadcast news analyst by profession and a writer by passion. I am an active blogger who loves blogging about the latest fashion and makeup trends. Apart from this, I also work as an English writing expert for I have written several English writing samples for prominent academic websites. I have 6+ years of experience guiding students to tackle their complex English writing tasks. When I am not working, I am probably hopping around, discovering the latest fashion and makeup trends or searching my next read at a book store. Or maybe reading one at some cafe!

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