6 Tips for Writing an Awesome Scholarship Essay

By Lorena Roberts on June 16, 2018

Don’t you wish applying to a scholarship was as easy as the click of a button? Simply submit your name, university, major, and GPA, and then be chosen by one of the thousands of organizations who spend this time of year awarding scholarships to college students. Trust me, we all wish it could be that easy. But unfortunately, it’s not. In fact, it’s usually much more difficult.

In my experience, there were a few different kinds of scholarship applications. The ones that seem like a scam – where you submit your address, name and phone number. Then there were the ones that required a ton of effort — like making a video or starting your own non-profit organization and finding the cure for cancer. I was on the hunt for scholarships that would be awarded based on writing because I thought I had a pretty good shot. I would research scholarships available, narrow it down to major restrictions and GPA requirements, and then I would get to writing. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I could re-use an essay I wrote for one scholarship to meet the requirements of another.

If you’re planning to write essays to earn money, here are some tips that will help you build an awesome scholarship essay.

via Pexels.com

1. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

If you don’t proofread through your work – the scholarship committee is going to think you rushed through the application. We all know time is money, so if you did indeed rush through the scholarship essay writing process, at least make it look like you didn’t. The last thing these people want to read is misspelled words, incorrect usage of commas, and subject-verb disagreement.

2. Set yourself completely apart.

You’ve probably read this tip if you’ve done any kind of research on writing a killer scholarship essay. But this is truly the best advice I can give you. Everyone has a story to tell. And the people with the money want to hear that story. They want to know what it took to get through high school (walking uphill both ways kind of stuff). They want to know how sick your mom got, and how you became her primary caregiver while you were a sophomore, and that’s why your grades in math are a little below average.

Tell your story in a way that sets you apart from all the other applicants. It’s your opportunity to show how much you deserve this scholarship money.

3. Portray your message in a unique way.

Everyone begins their essay as to why they want to become a teacher with, “I’ve known ever since I started Kindergarten that I wanted to become a teacher.” And then they go on to talk about how much they like being around children, specifically whichever age group they’re hoping to work with in their career.

After a scholarship committee reads about 15 of those same essays, they’re tired of them! They’re looking to award money to creative individuals, with passionate voices in their writing. They’re looking for a student who can portray a message like no other.

Maybe you’re better at writing poetry, rather than prose. Maybe your mind is better with music. Whatever it is — show it off. Tell your story, speak your mind, in a way that’s different from the rest of the crowd.

4. Give yourself time for multiple drafts.

Aside from creating a rough draft and going through the editing process multiple times, you’re going to need some “breather” days. My teacher used to call these days the days that you wouldn’t touch a draft of a paper. You’d sleep on it for two nights without doing anything to it. Coming back to your work with fresh eyes will always give you room to improve your work.

5. Get multiple opinions on the final copy.

When your best friend is the only person who reads your scholarship essay, the feedback you receive is going to be a little bit biased. You should make sure you get multiple opinions on your final copy. Give it to both of your parents, your teachers, your friends, etc. Anyone you trust to give you good feedback is a good source!

6. Choose a catchy title.

Reel your reader in from the first line of your essay by creating a title that will really speak to them. You want them to read your title and say “WOW. I can’t wait to read this.”

The tone of your essay will be set with your title. So choose carefully.

“Why I Want to Be a Teacher”

“The Best Day of My Life”

“My Dog, Sam”

All of these examples above are titles of papers you wrote when you were in middle school – not when you were trying to win money from a group of people. Put more than five minutes of thought into your title and choose something that will really connect with your audience.

As you begin writing (or editing) your scholarship essay, remember to keep in mind who your audience is. Remember that you’re writing to a group of people who have no idea who you are. You need to grab their attention from the title and take them on the literary journey of a lifetime. Intrigue them. Persuade them. Show them why you’re worthy of this scholarship.

Good luck!

Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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