Tips for Writing

Writing scholarship essays don't have to be intimidating!

Most scholarship applications include at least one essay. You might be tempted to skip it - but then you'll likely be disqualified from earning the scholarship.

Follow these 10 tips to write that essay. Who knows, you might win hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for college!

10 Steps to Scholarship Success

  1. Make sure it fits the donor's theme
  2. Answer the underlying question
  3. Tell your story – share a slice of life
  4. Show some passion in your writing
  5. Be specific
  6. Have a thesis statement – a clear point
  7. Avoid the sob story
  8. Show positive energy
  9. Find someone to read your essay(s)
  10. An hour or two can win you $100's or $1,000's!

#1 - Fit the Donor's Theme

  • What is the theme?
  • Usually determined by the purpose of the award
  • Why the organization is giving away $
  • If you write a conflicting message (and/or don't list your service projects), you may be eliminated.
  • Example: The donor awards $ based on community service, but you write only about the work you have done at your retail job.

#2 - Answer Underlying Question

  • It's a springboard to answer the real question
  • You are competing! Set yourself apart!
  • Example:
    • Q: Why do you want to study business?
    • REAL Q: Why do you want to study business, and why are you the BEST future business person we should help with our hard-earned money?

#3 - Share a Slice of Life

  • If you are explaining why you deserve to win....
  • It's also important to reveal something about yourself
  • Just one aspect of your life
  • Example: If writing about your community service involvement, write succinctly about one related experience
  • Can refer to an attached list, or insert a list at the bottom of paragraph

#4 - Show Your Passion

  • Choose a topic for which you are genuinely enthusiastic
  • Don't pick a subject you'd have to fake interest in
  • Start with “one true sentence” (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The rest of the sentences will flow
  • Convey your excitement or passion!

#5 - Be Specific

  • Don't use general statements
  • Example:
    • Don't write “Education is the key to success.”
    • Write: Some slice of your life that shows how education has impacted your life. If you want to study to be an astronaut, talk about how your father bought you a model rocket for a gift when you were five years old.

#6 - Provide a Thesis Statement

  • That must means to make sure you have a clear point
  • Can you write it in a single sentence?
  • Examples:
    • Essay on Independence = “Growing up in the country taught me to be independent.”
    • Essay on health care for the elderly = “Training family caregivers is essential to improving the lives of the elderly and avoiding burnout for the caregiver.”

#7 - Build on Your Accomplishments

  • Impress the “judges” – you're the best!
  • The essay supplements the list
  • Don't just “parrot” back the application
  • Focus on a specific accomplishment
  • Example: List shows that you were a stage manager for a play; your essay explains that you also had to build and design the sets in just one week. Shows the significance of your achievement.

#8 - Avoid a Sob Story

  • Rarely win scholarships – want solutions
  • Example - Don't write: “I deserve $ because of the suffering I've been through. Here's the list....” Join the crowd.
  • Write: What have you accomplished despite these hardships? Have you overcome challenges? That makes you stand out!

#9 - Be Positive

  • “If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.”
  • Everyone likes an uplifting story
  • With your entire future ahead of you, describe your enthusiasm and zest for life!
  • If you ACT enthusiastic, you will BE enthusiastic!
  • Makes donor excited about giving money to help you pursue your passion for changing the world.

#10 - Proofread, Then Proofread Again!

  • “Behind every good writer is an even better editor.”
  • Don't need a professional, just someone who can read your work and provide useful and constructive (how to fix it) feedback
  • But, don't lose your “voice” in the editing

Reference: How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay by Jen & Kelly Tenabe