How to Write a Better Scholarship Essay For College

Writing a better scholarship essay than your peers is critical to establish why you, the college applicant, deserve the money and not somebody else. Listing other valuable scholarship credentials, such as a high SAT score and a solid GPA, do not always personalize the scholarship application as the essay does. When written correctly, the scholarship essay appeals to the emotional psyche of the reader. To achieve this result, you need to write your scholarship essay clearly, concisely and correctly, and with subtle hints of your personality.


First, abolish the notion that only people with talent can write well. If a person can talk, he/she can write well. Because writing involves more thinking than regular talking, it is important to follow these guidelines during the writing process:

1) Read other scholarship essays.

Reading other winning scholarship essays is the best way to get a feel for what scholarship judges look for. It may also provide ideas during times of writer’s block or mental stress. Be careful not to copy other people’s words unless you properly quote them in your scholarship essay. This applies to direct quotes, indirect quotes, and paraphrased statements.

2) Use outlines, and brainstorm.

Outlines are a wonderful tool for a writer to gather his thoughts. A traditional outline consists of a Roman numeral identifying the main heading; a capital letter identifying a subheading; and numbers indicating topics under the subheading. You can denote further points related to these topics by using small letters. An informal outline works best for the scholarship essay… what matters is the writer knows what he wants to say before he actually starts saying it.

3) Research rules.

Some scholarship essays seem so easy… so why does a writer still encounter mental roadblocks when writing an essay? This is perfectly natural, even on topics that a writer feels he knows first-hand. To get the brain cells fired up and functioning, sometimes it’s helpful to research topics directly and indirectly related to the main topic.

4) Write from the heart for emotional impact.

Don’t try to sound like the latest best-selling author in your scholarship essay. This includes trying to sound “deep,” (unless of course “deep” is your natural writing style), and littering the essay with big words. Scholarship judges can see through this, and you will turn them off if you try to sound like someone else.

5) Be creative and unique.

Don’t be afraid to deviate from the “academic style” of the scholarship essay — as long as creativity doesn’t distract from the main theme, and you are using proper grammar. Remember, scholarship judges are human and they tend to notice essays that tug on their emotional strings in some way. The best scholarship essays usually contain anecdotes, emotional personal accounts and even dialogue. If the scholarship essay instructions allow for creative expression, go wild with it.

6) Use proper grammar, punctuation and style.

Scholarship judges will immediately disqualify scholarship essays with too many grammatical errors, even if the content is compelling. You must know the rules of English grammar, and you should know how to write formally. This means you know how to write a sentence with a traditional structure versus a “contemporary” one (the writer should opt for the former). For example, today’s sentence structure makes it somewhat acceptable to use “And” or “But” at the beginning of a sentence, but you should avoid it when writing the scholarship essay. Many editors (especially editors in academia) still feel uncomfortable using a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence, so why even take the chance? A writer can play it safe when choosing to write traditionally.

7) Don’t reinvent the wheel – use a standard essay format.

A basic essay format consists of: 1) a thesis statement; 2) three or four paragraphs expanding on points detailed in the thesis statement; and 3) a concluding paragraph. This traditional structure, although seen as generic by some college writers, works very well. Why? Because it allows you to clearly lay out your thoughts during the writing process and for the judges who are reading the essay.

8) Follow the scholarship essay’s instructions.

It is important that your scholarship essay address the points asked for in the instructions. No matter how brilliant a particular piece is, if it goes off on a tangent discussing irrelevant topics, then you have not achieved the desired objective.

9) Get someone else to proofread your work.

It is very easy for writers to miss many mistakes, whether they are grammatical errors, typos or inconsistencies in the flow of their piece. It is important to have other sources proofread your material, such as friends, family, and other professors who have reviewed winning scholarship essays. Otherwise, use a popular grammar software, such as

10) Don’t discourage yourself if your scholarship essay is rejected.

Just because your scholarship essay didn’t win doesn’t mean it was bad. Scholarship judges are responsible for reading hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of scholarship essays. Deciding who will win from a pile of many good essays, can be very difficult. Sometimes judges base their final choice purely on emotion… the judges may see factors in an essay that remind them of their personal life. Either way, it is impossible to please everyone. You should apply to as many scholarships as possible.

As long as you follow these guidelines and produce a well-written scholarship essay, the power of numbers is on your side. Your excellent scholarship essay is bound to be noticed eventually.

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About Author

Brian Scott is a contributing writer for, a free website on how to write better. He recommends college students visit for english grammar software to help with writing college essays.

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18 Responses to “How to Write a Better Scholarship Essay For College”

  1. XBOX3MAN says:

    the graphics suck on wii

  2. Okay, Sherrah, I can tell you that it sounds like your big problem might be succinctness. It's not how much you say but what you have to say and how you say it. If you can replace five words with one – do it!

    Other than that, make sure that your grammar and spelling are perfect and that you stay on topic. Tangents are bad.

    That is my best advice. I also found a couple of websites that give you some great step-by-step advice.

    Good luck to you!

  3. Taja B says:

    The last sentence is bad in two ways. First, the phrase "European inspired" is pretentious. Just say "European." Second, let go of the "only." While it is true that most Americans have a bias (or preference) for blue-eyed blondes, welcome to the twenty-first century. Our tastes are changing, and they've changed a great deal in my lifetime. I think that almost all the American public would include Halle Berry, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Iman and a few other models of African ancestry, among the top 100 most beautiful people list. To equate "mostly" with "only" is a mistake, and it weakens your argument. In the second sentence, there should not be a semi-colon (or any other punctuation mark after "spirits." There should be a comma after "distinct. Next, erase the "as" after "hair." Do the same to the "my" before "childhood. The use of "cease" in the next sentence is incorrect, try "change." It should be "fairy-tale princess." The addition of the hyphen makes that a compound adjective, modifying the noun. It should be "diversity in."
    And remember this, even though I've never seen you, I have read your poetry. And I KNOW that you are BEE-YOOO-TEE- FUUULL! It hurts me to know that you, and a million other sweet souls have been hurt by this crap. But I know you have spirit, girl, and you shall overcome.

  4. LauraMelisa says:

    I love to write essays. Here is a guideline to make it easy:
    1) Find your topic sentence ie: you are trying to persuade them into why you deserve the scholarship. (paragraph 1)
    2) List 3 reasons why you feel this way (paragraph 2)
    3) You explain the idea of each of the 3 reasons. (paragraph 3)
    4) In this paragraph (4) you state the main idea, and the 3 supporting ideas and sum up the essay. (rephrase the first sentence)
    So it may start like: It is my sincere desire to present my request for a scholarship for…(whatever it is). Then list 3 reasons convincing them why you deserve it. (your GPA, achievements, academics, whatever)
    In your second paragraph, you explain your first reason. Third paragraph you explain your second reason. The fourth paragraph explain your third reason.
    Your last paragraph you will rephrase your first sentence so it sounds like: It is my hope you will consider my request for …..
    I hope this helps, let me know if I can be of further help. Good luck to you.

  5. johncenafreak09 says:

    duh this game rocks but it is u peoples choice

  6. ROC-D says:

    First gather some information that you will need like:

    list of courses and grades
    your hopes and dreams
    community service activities
    leadership activities
    names of people who can talk about your character and motivation

    Start out with why you want to attend their school
    how that fits into your hopes and dreams
    what will you do with your life
    what have you done to prepare for your vision (community service and leadership)
    Course work to move you to your goal

    make sure that you keep it within the space criteria – this is one time when more is NOT better.

  7. is this guy trying to show off by losing two chances right off the back?

  8. lordcrull says:

    The dean is a total idiot.

  9. teaforone says:

    Id play this over gta anyday.

  10. iver b says:

    When you talk about your achievements, emphasize your ability to collaborate with others, think outside the box. Discuss how your experiences have given you a unique point of view, and insights you've gained from them, no matter how mundane. Stay away from politics & religion–you don't know who will be reading this, and they might not share your point of view.

  11. Kiara G says:

    To Do:
    1) Pick something that showcases how unique you are. Talk about what makes you special and different.

    2) Find your own voice. Talk about yourself in a way that makes the reader really connect with you. This is a very tricky thing to do, but if you can sound genuine and make people feel like they're having a conversation with you (while staying formal since it is a scholarship essay), they will connect with you and WANT to give you the scholarship.

    3) Be honest. Don't make things up, don't embellish, don't pretend to be something or someone you're not. The people reading these sorts of essays read thousands of essays each year. If you aren't honest and genuine, they'll be able to spot it immediately.

    4) Write early and edit often. Your essay will become a lot better each time you edit it, so give yourself ample time to write and revise. You may even end up scrapping your first or second draft entirely and starting over, so make sure you start early.

    1) Don't introduce politics or controversial topics into the mix. You just run the risk of alienating the person reading your essay.

    2) Don't get someone else to write it for you. This is just morally wrong but if anyone found out you could be in serious trouble.

    3) Don't re-use an essay you used for something else. It's ok to reuse the topic or talk about the same series of events, but you should make sure to write the essay from scratch. You want to make sure to customize the essay for the audience and starting with a fresh sheet of paper is the best way to do this.

    When you're ready to start writing, you may want to check out this page where a student talks about how to go about writing the actual essay once you're ready to write:

  12. Kyle T says:

    I would choose Jesus Christ. There is no bigger historical figure than him.

  13. yeahitzme09 says:

    i hve scholar ship edtion on wii 2 and its more than fun,itz AMAZING AND AWESOME

  14. No it’s all just for show but once you do the side mission with water balloons you’ll get to make water balloons at the fountains and sinks. Also you can drag a person over to the toilet and give them a swirlie ( I did it ince to a prefect ).

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