Feb 13, 2024 Melanie Trindade

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Scholarship Essay


Scholarships can feel like a lottery: thousands of people apply just for one person or small group to come out victorious. But your chances of winning can be higher than you think, especially if you branch out. Once you have applied for just about every “no essay” scholarship (we see you!), it is time to jump into writing and get a step closer to earning money for college!

Let your writing shine.

Your cluttered Google Drive of endless academic papers shows you are nothing short of used to writing them. However, a good scholarship essay differs from an academic essay because the focus is now on you. No matter what, you will want to stick to those essay-writing skills that you have honed over time. A good essay will always maintain these three principles:

  • A strong hook
    • You will want to grab the attention of your reader right away. For example, you could use imagery to depict a particular time in your life or situation.
  • A clear and concise structure
    • You will likely have a 300-word limit, so outline your major points ahead of time and avoid run-on sentences. Keep it simple by making sure your writing is uncomplicated and understandable.
  • A powerful conclusion
    • Give your reader a thought-provoking ending. You will want your essay to be the one they remember from the pile.

Stick to the script.

Oftentimes, we can overthink the prompt and get lost in our writing. You will want to be well acquainted with the essay topic. Make sure you are sticking to the task at hand by tying in your story with what the scholarship organization is expecting. We wouldn’t want the audience to be led astray and confused.

“Show, don’t tell.”

A scholarship essay is the ideal time for a humble brag. All your work towards academics, sports, jobs, clubs, and more can be highlighted here. One thing you will want to avoid, though, is telling the audience and not showing. You can say, “I am passionate about cooking,” or “I am awesome at lacrosse,” but that’s not saying much for your audience. Paint them a picture about how you have come to love that hobby or a specific event that was pivotal to you. Emphasize certain details so that you can evoke emotion from your reader.

Know your audience.

One big issue that people may have is losing sight of their audience. In preparation for your scholarship essay, research the scholarship organization. Take note of its morals, ethics, beliefs, goals, mission, and more. This can be a goldmine of information that ensures your scholarship essay aligns with the organization’s overall message.

Reuse and recycle.

The only way to win is to apply! National and local scholarships can have much competition so increase your chances of winning by applying to as many scholarships as possible. You most likely have a lot on your plate, so writing 20 scholarship essays can be daunting. Try reusing and recycling the ones you have already written if they are applicable. Sometimes, one good paper (with some minor tweaking) can take you a long way with tons of different scholarship opportunities!


With all those tips in mind, don’t forget never to give up! Scholarships can be time-consuming, but you get nowhere if you don’t try. Make a day out of it with a friend where you write together and help edit each other’s essays! Push forward, and good luck!

Published by Melanie Trindade February 13, 2024