How to Write a Scholarship Essay

Finding one or more suitable scholarships for you is not always an easy task. The hard work begins after you have decided to whom you want to send your application. In the great majority of cases, you will also be asked to write a scholarship essay. This is the tricky part of the application process, but if you manage to come up with something extraordinary, it can bring you the desired funds.

The awarding committee is asking for scholarship essays in order to be able to make a general impression about the personality of the person asking for money. A genuine piece of writing is going to tell them more than a standard application forms or resume. It is obvious that all candidates try to make the best impression and prove that they are really worth the scholarship. But what does it take to stand out from the crowd and to actually make the committee say "that's the one"? How can you make sure that your scholarship essay will be better than any other? Invest some time and effort into conceiving it, taking into consideration the following aspects and them, most importantly, be honest and be original.

Tips for Writing Scholarship Essay

  1. Follow the instructions. In most cases, you will be asked to write on a specific theme or to answer specific questions. Keep those in mind because you won't impress the committee by writing about something else - something they are probably not interested in. Try to identify the underlying questions and answer them. For instance, if you are asked "Why do you want to become an engineer?", the committee actually wants to know what will differentiate you from other engineers, and whether your contribution is going to make a difference in that particular field. More specifically, they want to know why they should give you the money for becoming an engineer. Don't neglect the word-count either. If you are asked to write a 500-word essay, don't send a 2000-word one, because the committee will conclude that you simply cannot follow directions.
  2. Relate to the goals and beliefs of the awarding organization. No matter the topic that you are writing on, do not forget who you are writing for. If the awarding organization is supporting, say, the role of women in politics, write relative to this goal and avoid expressing a differing opinion.
  3. Come up with a good thesis. All scholarship essays need to have a thesis. This fact may sound as though it should be naturally understood, but there are students who ignore this important aspect. Don't expect to be able to come up with your thesis overnight. Dedicate some time to the brainstorming process. Think about anything that might help you: great achievements, people who have influenced you, once-in-a-lifetime happenings, moments of an epiphany, failures that have taught you valuable lessons, extracurricular activities or hobbies that show your passion in one field or another, etc. Once you have a thesis, try to synopsize it in one sentence (ex: Women Can Contribute Significantly to Politics). If you can't summarize it as such, then you need to reconsider the thesis and make it clearer.
  4. Personalize your scholarship essay. The committee does not want to read general ideas and universal truths. They want to know you better, to find out how you think and how you feel about a certain topic. Don't just say Engineering Can Change the World. They already know this and they know that you know it. Instead, explain how you reached this conclusion (ex: you received a model rocket when you were a child and you developed a passion for engineering) and how you believe you can contribute to the engineering field. The committee will appreciate you more if you share a relevant personal experience. They will relate to your story and will understand what makes you different from the other candidates.
  5. Be passionate and honest. The committee has probably read lots of impersonal and boring scholarship essays. Coming across a passionate and enthusiastic one will definitely impress them in a positive manner. It's not difficult to show passion if you are really interested in the field which you want to win the scholarship. Don't be afraid to let your enthusiasm show. Honesty is another key point in writing a successful essay. Bragging a little is not bad because, after all, you want to prove yourself worthy. However, don't exaggerate and don't repeat the achievements and accomplishments that you've mentioned on your resume or application form. Only write about that which helps to support your thesis. Focus primarily on these and don't neglect to provide relevant details.
  6. Keep an optimistic and positive tone. Most candidates who need money in order to continue their education are tempted to come up with impressive stories about their hard life. Numerous scholarship essays focus on describing pitiful situations. There is nothing wrong with facing financial difficulties, but try to come up with an optimistic essay. After all, you want to be awarded a scholarship because of your merits and not out of pity. Try to emphasize the lessons you learned from every negative experience and transmit positive energy.
  7. Pay attention to the language, the spelling and the grammar. Every single sentence in your essay should be read several times, analyzed and then re-analyzed. This is not the place for "fluffy" words, and everything you say should support the main thesis of your essay. It goes without saying that spelling and grammar error can disqualify you from the scholarship race in no time.
  8. Don't neglect the scholarship essay format. If you have formatting instructions, follow them. If you don't, make sure your sexy party dresses essay has an adequate format (ex: a readable font like Arial or Times New Roman, double-spacing, a font size of 10 or 12, one-inch borders, etc.). Generally speaking, a good essay has about three paragraphs, including an introductive one and a conclusive one.
  9. Proofread, proofread and then ask someone else to proofread for you. Once the scholarship essay is done, you tend to relax. There is one more important step: proofreading. Do this several times. Proofread it once, and then take a break to clear your mind before proofreading it again. Also, ask as many people as you can to read your essay. They might notice things that you have skipped and they might come up with useful suggestions.
  10. Be original. Don't plagiarize any other scholarship essay. While it is acceptable to read some samples in order to make a good impression, it is completely forbidden to copy someone else's essay.

Scholarship Essay Sample

My passion for international affairs and foreign policy dates back to my high school years, but I was not aware of it at the time. I was made aware on one hot summer afternoon when my parents came home and offered me the Diplomacy game. At first I thought I would never agree to spend such beautiful summer days over a game board, but I decided to give it a try just to please my parents. I loved the game so much that I have spent my entire holiday playing it with friends, relatives or whomever was available. When I wasn't playing the game, I was spending my time developing strategies and game plans. It turned out that my parents knew better; they noticed my passion for politics and international affairs even before I was aware of it. I was reading history books all the time, watching historical and war movies, and dreaming about going to Greece and France. It was pretty obvious.

When I was admitted to Harvard it became clear that it wouldn't have been possible for me to study something other than foreign policy and international affairs. Fortunately, I was able to focus on this field both at an academic level and at an extracurricular one. Some classes in Harvard have had a great impact on my personality and my ideas concerning foreign policy. I have always been interested in those classes that were helping me figure out the insights of the decision-making process in various countries. What is going on in the world and how certain decisions are having an international impact is fascinating for me. It's like a giant puzzle that I want to put together. Human Rights classes and Prevention of Wars classes have had a huge impact on me. I dream about the day when I will be able to come up with ideas that might change the world, or at least the perspective on wars. A world ruled by diplomacy would definitely be a better world from my point of view.

My extracurricular activities have taught me invaluable lessons on international affairs and foreign policies. I even dare to say that they were just as important as the classes I took. I have been involved in several Model United Nation Conferences at Harvard. It was a rewarding and meaningful experience for me because it made me research various topics of international interest, such as violence, poverty, global warming, etc. I also looked for information regarding the positions of some countries in sensitive matters like worldwide security. It was just like getting involved in real diplomacy and I truly learned some valuable lessons.

Dedicating my entire time to foreign policy and international affairs is indeed tempting. However, I realize that creating a better world starts right here in my community. Trying to give something back to my community is the starting point to a peaceful world. I have thus volunteered to teach international affairs to high school students. I also got involved with charity actions for children who are battling cancer. Meanwhile I have developed an interest in business. I am fascinated with how the local business environment can be influenced by foreign policy and I do my best to learn the insights of running a successful business.

I really believe that studying in Europe for one year can help me gain a better understanding of foreign policy and international affairs. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it will allow me to get a glimpse of a different culture. I am confident that one day I will be a real player in the world of diplomacy and I believe my skills can be improved by studying abroad. This can offer me a comprehensive perspective on international affairs and foreign policy.

More scholarships essay samples