Many scholarship applications include an essay component. As with other types of written work, you should "hook" readers from the start with a forceful introduction to your essay. To achieve this, be creative and, at the same time, focus on the subject at hand. From there, use the scholarship essay to demonstrate how your background and experience connect to the organization's values and mission. When including personal experiences and accomplishments, be sure to answer the question posed in the application guidelines.
Method 1 of 3: Grab Readers' Attention Immediately
Step 1. Decompose the essay question for the scholarship
Read the question twice. Then break it down into key topics and subtopics. Circle the topics, and then brainstorm your contacts and personal experiences with this topic.
- To make your work stand out from the crowd, be sure to give a personal and unique perspective to the topic rather than providing an explanation or distant discussion.
- If the topic is “social justice,” think about how you have experienced or dealt with social justice or injustice in your own life.
- Start by thinking about how you want to open the essay with a strong connection between yourself and the main topic of the essay.
Step 2. Use a graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas for the essay
Write down the key themes that you have identified in the essay question. Then use a graphic organizer (such as a mind map, flowchart, timeline, idea web, or Venn diagram) to help you organize your ideas. Write down any ideas that come to mind regarding the key topics using the organizer.
To learn more about the different types of graphic organizers and find the one that works best for you, go to
Step 3. Start the essay in your own words
From the first line, you should let your readers know that this is your essay. In other words, you need to make it clear up front that the essay relates your experiences, your perspectives, and your unique ambitions to the core values of the scholarship.
- Don't include the obvious. For example, don't start the job by saying “My name is Julio Roedel. I am applying for the scholarship in honor of Labelle”.
- You can start with a quote if it also describes your connection and makes it personal.
Step 4. Tell your story to attract readers
Consider dedicating the first sentence (or the first two sentences) of your introduction to a story, experience, or anecdote that will keep committee members reading the essay.
- For example, “When I was 4 years old, I asked my father 'How does the universe work?' After that, many times, I have been suggested (or directly told) that Astrophysics is not for girls, especially girls who come from where I come from. Nevertheless…".
- Note that you can also use anecdotes or personal experiences in other parts of the essay.
Step 5. Make the rest of the introduction just as interesting
Even if you start off with a good "hook," you will have to work very hard to make the rest of the introduction punchy. You want to tell the reader what you will be teaching in the body of the essay while capturing their interest.
For example, “However, I have persevered in my desire not only to look at the stars, but to understand them. I have had a lot of encouragement and support over the years to continue to develop my understanding of the cosmos. "
Step 6. Don't forget to answer the actual essay question
The essay for the scholarship should be aimed at the objective. Focuses writing on personal experiences and examples that relate directly to the key issues addressed in the essay question.
- As you develop the introduction in interesting ways and the ensuing essay, it can be easy to lose sight of the real question in the essay. Check back often to stay on topic.
- Pick a key focal point and analyze it from start to finish.
Method 2 of 3: Know Your Audience
Step 1. Read the instructions on the scholarship application
The scholarship essay must include format, topic, and other specific instructions for submitting the essay. Read the instructions on the scholarship application so that you have a good idea of what the organization is looking for.
Then print out the instructions and highlight the most important sections, such as the formatting guidelines, the essay question, and the assessment criteria
Step 2. Find out the evaluation criteria
Essay instructions for the scholarship may include specific evaluation criteria, such as writing style, personal connection to the cause, or leadership potential.
If the evaluation criteria are not explicitly included, try contacting the organization or visiting their website to find out more about the evaluation criteria
Step 3. Check the “About Us” page of the sponsoring organization
Because you need to know the core values and mission statement of the company or charity offering the scholarship, visit the “About” page of their website. Read the page and identify the key issues or themes that the organization values.
For example, if you are dealing with a wildlife conservation organization, one of the issues is probably environmental sustainability
Step 4. Learn more about the organization's core values and mission
You can learn more about the organization by examining its website, as well as making a direct phone call. Make a phone call to the organization and say that you are interested in applying for the scholarship. Tell them that you are interested in learning more about the organization.
Although not all organizations will respond to this type of request, they may put you in touch with a member of the scholarship committee. If so, try to build a relationship with that person and learn all you can about the organization and the award
Step 5. Read the profiles of past beneficiaries
Many scholarships will include the profiles of past recipients on their websites. Read the profiles to get an idea of who the organization has supported in the past.
Remember, though, that you shouldn't try to be like one of the past beneficiaries. Stay true to yourself and use the essay to convey your personal and unique experiences
Method 3 of 3: Write and Present a Strong Essay
Step 1. Schedule the writing to meet the deadline
Write your scholarship essay due date on the calendar. Try to think about whether your best jobs require a lot of preparation or whether you perform better under pressure. Create a schedule that is customized to suit your needs and try to give yourself at least 1 week for submitting the essay in order to meet the deadline.
For example, you can give yourself 3 weeks to write the essay. The first week can be focused on researching and brainstorming ideas for the essay. In the second week, you can structure and write the essay. The final week can be devoted to editing and proofreading the essay
Step 2. Structure the essay for the scholarship
Structure your essay so it's easy to read. It should include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Make only one observation per paragraph.
- In the introduction, you should include a thesis statement and tell the reader what you will show in the body of the essay.
- The body should include vivid examples and stories that highlight why you think you are the right candidate for the scholarship.
- The conclusion should emphasize all the connections between your experience and the vision of the organization.
Step 3. Use personal examples to illustrate your main points
In the body of the essay, use personal experiences and examples to illustrate your main points. Show the committee that you have experiences that are appropriate for the award.
- In each paragraph, include only one example or illustration.
- If the award is for a student from a rural background who demonstrates aptitude as a community leader, show the committee that your profile matches this description. Describe the aspects of your rural upbringing and leadership work that reinforce your argument.
- Focus on your strengths.
Step 4. Follow the formatting guidelines
Remember to follow the formatting guidelines included in the scholarship application guide. If no formatting guideline is included, use the following rules:
- Times New Roman font, 12 point
- double space
- 2.5 centimeter (1 inch) margins at the top, bottom, and sides of the page
Step 5. Avoid common phrases and cliches
Because the committee will potentially receive hundreds of essays, it is best to avoid hackneyed quotes and phrases. Instead, stand out from the crowd by using your own words to express yourself and your aptitude for the award.
Step 6. Edit your scholarship essay for clarity and conciseness
Read the essay out loud. As you read, make a mental note of any passages that sound confusing or overly complex. Then rewrite those passages and read the essay again. See if any part can be more concise by removing unnecessary words or phrases.
Take your time between drafts. For example, try to give yourself at least an hour or even a day between deletions from the essay
Step 7. Ask someone to read your scholarship essay
Regardless of how confident you are in the quality of the essay, ask a friend or mentor to review it. You will most likely come across some typos, some unclear sections, and other issues that you have overlooked.
For example, perhaps a former teacher can give you a helpful opinion
Step 8. Edit your essay for the scholarship
Print the essay for the scholarship. With a pen or colored pencil, read each sentence and look for any typographical or grammatical errors.
Use your word processor's spell checker. However, don't just rely on the spell checker, as it can avoid some mistakes
Step 9. Present the essay to the committee
Mail or email it to the address included in the scholarship application guidelines. Cross your fingers and wait for the answer.
- Submitting it earlier will give you more time to answer any possible questions or concerns before the deadline.
- Avoid submitting your essay a little before the deadline, as you may end up losing it.