How To Write A Scholarship Essay

Scholarships are free money for college, but most aren’t given out easily. In many cases, applicants are required to write an essay, usually surrounded a specific topic. If you have the best essay, you get the award, so it pays to learn how to write the best piece possible. Here are some tips to use when writing a scholarship essay:

Read the directions carefully to understand the writing prompt. Many scholarships ask the basic question, “why should we give you this scholarship,” but some will give you other directions and writing prompts. Depending on the scholarship, you might have a number of writing prompt options. You could also be asked to write an essay about something academic, like a book, rather than something personal, like what you plan to do with the money. Also note other important directions you’re given, such as the deadline, the minimum and maximum word count, and the preferred format.

Treat the essay like a college paper. As a high school student, you probably don’t have experience writing college-level papers, unless you took an AP course while in high school. The key to a paper at this level is organization around a thesis statement. Even if you’re asked to write a personal essay, rather than on an academic topic, your essay should have a thesis statement, organized body, and clear closing paragraph that restates your thesis.

Be heartfelt. You want to connect with the person reading the essay. Many scholarships ask you to relate a time in your life that was trying, which can open a lot of wounds. If you can tug their heartstrings, do so, but avoid whining or embellishing your situation. It’s a fine line, but you want to reach the reader without overplaying things that have happened in your life.

Write more than one draft. Although it is tempting to put off scholarship applications to the last minute, if you do so, you won’t have time for more than one draft of your essay. Instead, start early. Write a first draft and have your English teacher or guidance counselor read it. You may also want to have friends or family members read it. Criticism can be a hard pill to shallow, but in the end, their suggestions will only make your essay stronger. Before printing your final draft, make sure that you proofread so that your final essay is clean, with no typos or other errors.

Every scholarship for which you apply will likely ask for an essay or at least a paragraph about yourself. Luckily, in many cases, you can reuse at least some of your work, rather than starting completely from scratch. Apply to as many scholarships as possible, so that you have all the money you need for college. Need a place to start? Students.gov is a great resource for scholarships of all kinds. You can also see examples of scholarship essays at this website.


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