How to Write College Scholarship Essays

by Fitzalan Gorman
Your essay is your opportunity to showcase your personality during the scholarship process.

A scholarship essay is often a key component of a scholarship application. This is your opportunity to showcase your personality, not just your GPA and test scores. If you start early, answer the questions correctly and find a solid editor, you will submit a standout essay without too much stress.

Start in Advance

Your scholarship essays are not the place to procrastinate. Rarely can you write one essay for all your scholarship applications. Giving yourself enough time to research, plan and write each individual essay helps ensure you produce something that is impressive. As with other writing assignments, begin with an outline that lists two or three main points supporting your response to the assigned topic. Add a few sentences for an introduction and a conclusion and you have the structure for your essay.

Know Your Audience

Each scholarship has unique criteria. Look closely at the organization providing the scholarship and research any past recipients to help uncover what characteristics the group is looking for with this scholarship. These organizations read many essays, so write about something you are passionate about to help you stand out against the competition. The key is to make it intriguing and engaging to the reader. According to FinAid, straying from safe topics is encouraged, but do not exaggerate. Dishonesty can cause you to lose a scholarship.

Make It Passionate

You are asking someone to help finance your college tuition. Depending on the scholarship, you may be up against dozens or even thousands of other applicants. As you write your essay, include specific detail within each sentence. Instead of just telling your reader about yourself, you want to show them. This added detail helps your essay come alive and strengthens your argument. Use your essay to demonstrate your academic motivation and any experience that you have had overcoming obstacles and challenges. If you have volunteered or held a leadership role, this is the time to mention it.

Have It Edited

Even the best writers have a good editor read their writings before they are published. Your scholarship essay is no different. Find a teacher or parent who has strong grammar and writing skills, and ask them them to proofread your essay. Just a few spelling mistakes or punctuation errors can make your well-crafted essay less impressive.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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