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When applying for colleges and universities, you will probably need to write, at the least, one essay. Some locations will have you write several essays on varying topics. You will need to do the same with applying for a scholarship. These essays are not the only deciding factor of granting you entrance into the college or for handing out the scholarship, but it is still very important to know how to write a scholarship essay. The essays see how you think independently from other students. It’s about seeing you as an individual. A thinker willing to put in the work.

It is important to spend time and to focus on these essays, because if you cannot write a single college entrance essay, which at most might be a few pages in length, how are you going to survive college where research papers are dozens of pages in size and with stricter formatting requirements. While not as strict and formatted, it’s easy to put pressure on yourself when it comes to how to write a scholarship essay.

The institutions, companies, and individuals handing out the scholarship wants to know you will put the money to good use you are receiving. These locations don’t just give out money to anyone.

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They want to know you’ll take the money and use it for the betterment of your personal education and your future. By taking advantage of these tips on how to write a scholarship essay, you’ll increase your chance of receiving the award and the money.

Scholarship Essay Format

As you learn how to write a scholarship essay, you’ll discover no two essays are the same. Even if the topic is the same, the formatting will probably change. Some colleges and scholarship providers may also toss in the random curve ball to keep you thinking on your toes. After all, these locations do not want you to crank out a single essay and then just send it out to several locations. They want something unique, just for the institution or business.

The Basic Essay Format

When it comes to the format, you need to make sure and read the instructions. Most essays are not research intensive. You may need to do basic research to educate yourself on the business offering the scholarship you’re applying for, or brush up on a specific topic the essay is about. However, you will not be writing a 10 pages research paper with a dozen different references, so you need not worry about that.

Generally, it is a simple, paragraph form an essay. In high school, you probably wrote dozens of five-paragraph essays. It will be the same basic format as this. You write an introductory paragraph at the beginning, then you write a concluding paragraph at the end. In the middle is the meat of your essay. Each paragraph needs to be one specific topic.

The exact number of paragraphs will depend on the essay. Some scholarship essays may require several. Others might want you to skip right to the meat of the information and write a single paragraph. Whatever you do, it’s always important to follow the scholarship.

Following the Instructions

More scholarships are lost than won just because of the instructions. Generally, scholarships will automatically disqualify you from the running if you don’t follow the instructions. If the scholarship essay wants two paragraphs, you need to write two paragraphs. If the essay wants you to have your name on the left side of a typed paper or if they want no name included in the text, you need to follow these instructions. By far the most important step in how to write a scholarship essay is following the instructions because if you don’t, it doesn’t matter how great your material is. It will just end up in the trash.

How to Write a Scholarship Essay Tips

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As you learn how to write a scholarship essay, you will find it becomes easier and easier with each essay you write. Some will be more difficult than others based on the topics and interest level. However, whatever the topic is, you need to put in your best effort. After all, it’s for money for college and represents not only less money you’ll potentially need to take out in the form of a loan, but you’ll save on the interest that’s tacked on to loan payments. Beyond learning from every essay you write, here are several tips to help you with how to write a scholarship essay.

Write What’s Important to You, Not What You Think They Want to Hear

There is something to say about writing to your audience. You wouldn’t play trance techno music for individuals waiting for a symphony orchestra. So understanding your target audience is important. However, with that said, you need to write what is important to you and not what you think the scholarship provider wants to here.

The main reason behind this is most others applying for the same scholarship will try to write what they think will win them the essay scholarship, which means they will write what they think the reader will want. This results in near identical essays. You want your essay to stand out. By following the requirements of the essay yet focusing on something that’s important to you, you’ll elevate your chances of receiving the scholarship.

Check and Double-Check the Instructions

Read the instructions several times before you write the essay. You want to avoid writing on an incorrect topic or formatting it in the wrong way. Then, after you write the essay, you want to read the instructions again, just to make sure you check off all the requirements.

Create an Outline

When you sit down and just write your essay, it is difficult to center your thoughts. It may end up as a jumble of information all over the place. Some information may not fit where you put it while other parts of the essay shouldn’t be included at all.

With an outline, you can let your ideas flow. Add to it as more ideas pop up. You don’t need to force it either. It’s sometimes a good idea to keep a journal with you, and then, when you’re at school, out for lunch or maybe shopping at the mall and you come up with an idea, you’ll be able to add it to your outline. Eventually, the pieces will come together, and you’ll plan how you want to write the essay.

Don’t Just Apply For Summer Scholarships

Scholarships are available at different times of the year. Most scholarships are applied during the summer months before the fall semester. This is when most students enroll in their classes and need the money. However, it also means more students are applying for these scholarships. While you need to apply for as many scholarships as you qualify for, don’t skip out on the winter scholarships. With a winter scholarship, you’ll receive the same amount of money and, best of all, fewer applicants. With fewer applicants, you have a better shot of winning the scholarship.

Keep Applying Even in College

You don’t need to stop applying for scholarships once you’re in college. After all, you’ll still need money after your freshman year. However, many students stop applying for the scholarships. This again cuts down your competition and increases your chance of winning.

Grammar Check and Proof Read

You don’t want to lose the scholarship because you failed to proofread. First, proofread it yourself. Go through the essay and make sure you catch everything possible. You can use several services to help you with this. Your word processor will have a spell check system, and you can take advantage of Grammarly (there is a free version) that helps with your grammar. From there, ask your parents or your English teachers (or both) to check for punctuation.

The Benefits of a Successful Scholarship Essay

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The major benefit of a successful scholarship essay is you receive the scholarship. That is the goal of applying for the scholarship and writing the essay. It is important to understand you will probably not win every scholarship you apply for. Many are limited and are awarded to only a few every single year. You need to look at writing each essay as a learning experience.

Take what you learn about writing the first essay and take it to the next essay you write. If there are similar essays for different scholarships, you can try different subjects and different points of view for writing the content. Whatever you do, the major benefit, outside of the opportunity to practice your writing for college, is being awarded the scholarship.


College is expensive. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in state or attending school on the other side of the country, a college will set you back tens of thousands of dollars (if not more). This is why every single scholarship you apply for is critical. You may end up being awarded hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for a single essay, so you need to take it seriously.

By following these tips and suggestions, you’ll put your best foot forward when applying for the scholarships. Learning how to write a scholarship essay improves your chances of receiving money from different providers. Now, you likely will not win all of them. After all, there are plenty of others out there applying for the same scholarships. However, as long as you stick with it, put in the time and do everything you can, you may end up winning your share of money for college.

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