How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay




With the start of the new academic year, this is the perfect moment to get serious about securing scholarships to finance your college education. Scholarship applications often require an essay, and crafting a convincing essay that impresses the selection committee is crucial.


When written properly, your essay gives the scholarship a glimpse into your world. Just like your personal statement in college applications, these essays should reveal your multifaceted personality, going beyond just high school grades and test scores.



We have collective experience in writing and reviewing numerous scholarship essays. In this article, we’ll share our best tips and strategies to help you craft winning scholarship essays, significantly increasing your chances of graduating debt-free.



Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll cover:

1. Follow the principles of writing any strong essay: Your scholarship essay should be well-organized with a compelling opening sentence, often called “the hook.” This hook should reflect your unique voice and style.


2. Familiarize yourself with the essay topic: Read the topic carefully and stick to it. Address the specific question or theme without deviation.


3. Choose a topic you genuinely enjoy: While sticking to the essay topic, select a subject or focus that truly interests you. Writing passionately about a topic you care about leads to stronger essays.


4. Research the scholarship provider: Get to know the organization offering the scholarship. Understand their mission and goals, allowing you to tailor your essay to their values.


5. Know the word/character limit: Adhere to the specified word or character limit. Exceeding the limit can lead to disqualification.


6. Start with thinking and planning: Plan your essay by brainstorming ideas and creating an outline. The planning process helps you maintain focus and clarity.


7. Use ethical persuasion, emotion, and logic: Utilize ethical persuasion (establishing credibility), emotion (appealing to emotions), and logic (logical reasoning) to make your essay more persuasive.

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8. Be truthful: Honesty is powerful. Avoid exaggeration or embellishment of your accomplishments.


9. Show, don’t tell: Paint vivid pictures for your readers and provide insights into your experiences rather than just describing them.


10. Be specific and concise: Use specific examples and straightforward language. Avoid generalizations and verbose language.


11. Use exclamation marks sparingly: Minimize the use of exclamation marks. Powerful phrases can be impactful without excessive use of exclamation marks.


12. Highlight your resilience: When discussing challenges, focus on how you overcame them rather than dwelling on the difficulties.


13. Be professional but be yourself: Maintain professionalism while allowing your unique voice to shine.


14. Sell yourself but stay humble: Clearly present your achievements but maintain balance by remaining humble and grateful.


15. Be concise in your “thank you”: Keep any expressions of gratitude brief and objective. Avoid long paragraphs of thanks.


16. Take breaks, revise, and proofread: Rewriting is essential for great writing. Take breaks, gather feedback, and make necessary revisions.


17. Give yourself enough time: Start early and give yourself ample time for thinking, crafting, and revising your essay.


18. Reuse your scholarship essays: When necessary, reuse essays for similar scholarships, but ensure to update any specific references to the scholarship provider.


10 Things to Avoid in Your Scholarship Essay:


– Inspirational quotes: Avoid using repetitive inspirational quotes in your essay. Share meaningful advice or wisdom from your own life instead.

– Overly generic phrases and clichés: Avoid vague phrases and clichés. Be specific and explain how winning the scholarship will impact you.

– Familiar stories or topics: Avoid falling into clichéd narratives. Focus on realistic and specific aspects of your life and aspirations.

– Profanity: Maintain a professional and clean language in your essay. Avoid using profanity or vulgar words.

– Use of “texting language”: Use correct language and avoid text message abbreviations or slang in your essay.

– Controversial topics: Unless explicitly asked for your opinion on a controversial topic, avoid discussing contentious issues. Focus on your own story and aspirations.

– Emoticons, images, and fancy fonts: Keep your essay professional. Avoid using emoticons, images, or fancy fonts that may distract from your essay’s content.

– Extreme statements: Avoid extreme or one-sided statements. Reflect an optimistic and proactive attitude instead.

– Criticizing other applicants: Avoid criticizing other applicants or implying that you deserve the scholarship more. Focus on your qualifications and personal aspirations.

– Comprehensive resume: Don’t provide a comprehensive resume due to word limits. Focus on a specific event or aspect of your life.