10 Ways to Write a Compelling Scholarship Essay

Sitting down to write a scholarship essay feels like climbing Mount Everest on an empty stomach with a backpack full of boulders. Hard and exhausting. Not to mention the pressure you feel knowing the prize that awaits you at the top of the mountain. Here are some things you must remember in order to reach that prize – with breath to spare!

1. Find out exactly what your scholarship essay is asking you to write. General or specific, every sentence and every paragraph should support the essay topic or question.

2. Brainstorm. Brainstorm a lot. Brainstorm events, role models, accomplishments, and then brainstorm some more.  Rule nothing out. You never know what event or idea will resonate with the essay topic.

3. Make it important to you. If you’re writing about something for which you have no passion, the reader won’t be interested at all.

4. Be you. Do not write what you think the reader wants to read – you cannot possibly know that. Write in your voice, about your experiences and feelings. You have a different story to tell than the other applicants; tell that story in great detail and honesty.

5. A lot of essays may ask what makes you diverse. Diversity is tricky because it can be contextual. Focus on what diversity you add to the world or to your campus. You bring something unique everywhere you go – tell them about it!

6. Let a friend, family member, or advisor read your essay. An outside perspective is key to writing quality material. They’ll be honest as to whether it holds their attention or feels stale. Plus, they may find some grammatical errors that could make you look unprofessional.

7. Read sample essays online or peer edit a friend’s. From a reader’s perspective, you’ll see commonalities between them you’ll want to avoid in yours. Remember, sometimes thousands of applicants send in essays answering the same question.

8. Make sure your introduction is very strong and emphasizes your confidence in yourself. This is the first impression the reader has of you – make it count!

9. Discuss your goals. Scholarships are awarded to students who not only have shown excellence in their past, but who show promise of excellence in the future. Use your personal experiences to expound on what you hope to accomplish.

10. Most importantly, start early and leave plenty of revision time before your deadline. The perfect, most original and compelling essays do not happen in one sitting. Let your ideas marinate over time – you may surprise yourself with new developments and better means of expressing your personality in one essay.

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