How to Write a Scholarship Essay

If you want to obtain a prestigious education, but are not ready to pay big money, there is another way out – to get a scholarship for your studies.

What is a scholarship?

This is money for your education, also called a grant, which is allocated by a college, university, foundation, or any other company or organization. The amount you are allocated is usually enough to pay for tuition, housing, and meals – the biggest expenses on campus. But the most important thing is that this money does not need to be returned. Naturally, there are quite a lot of people who want to receive a scholarship, and the competition is high.

Scholarship Essay writing

A scholarship essay

You as an applicant need to work hard to get that grant. First, you need to decide on the state, country, university, and major in which you want to study. But the most crucial moment comes when you begin applying for a scholarship and prepare the necessary documentation. After all, admissions committees at colleges in the US and Europe do not personally communicate with applicants, but rather form an initial impression of their future students solely based on the submitted documents.

A scholarship essay is one such document. It is submitted along with other application documents, such as GPA records, personal statements, resumes, achievements records, etc.

This article highlights the main steps in writing a scholarship essay, explains where to find scholarship essay examples, what a scholarship essay format is, and how to start a scholarship essay.

How to start a scholarship essay writing process

To begin with, set aside enough time to write your essay. For each person, this process takes a different amount of time – a rare student may need only a few hours, someone spends a week on it, and someone – a whole month. Even if you feel like you have a strong writing talent, have studied plenty of scholarship essay examples, know everything about a scholarship essay format, and feel like you know exactly how to start a scholarship essay, you should not start writing an essay the day before the deadline. Rush is not good for anyone, especially in such a responsible task as a scholarship application. Such a hectic approach is a failure in advance. Keep in mind that writing this document is a lot of work.

It is a common situation when candidates who are very focused on the preparation process forget about the last date for receiving documents and miss the deadline. After spending quite a lot of time and effort on writing a scholarship essay, do not forget about the deadline for applying for your grant!

Find and study as many great scholarship essay examples as you can. If your timeline allows, go to your local college library or conduct a thorough search online – you should aim for shortlisting and studying scholarship essay examples within your topic/application institution.

A process guide on how to write a scholarship essay

We have prepared a comprehensive process guide for you to write a perfect scholarship essay. Follow it step-by-step, or select particular points to achieve a perfect result.

Step 0. Follow the required scholarship essay format

Don’t worry, this is not a misprint – it is indeed a zero or pre-stage in our guide. This is because a format in an essay is a foundation, a skeleton on which to build everything else. A typical scholarship essay format is not much different from an ordinary essay format. It also contains the following three key parts:

  • Introductory part
  • The main part
  • Conclusion

Besides these obvious structural elements, you may also see additional format requirements in your application guidelines. These may include margins, font type, size, and style, line spacing, referencing style, word count or a number of pages (essay volume), and the like. There is no fixed scholarship essay format, so you should follow whatever guidelines you have in your assignment and be flexible in your writing as much as the requirements allow.

Scholarship Essay

Step 1. Understand the topic

Read carefully and slowly the essay assignment text (prompt or questions) and identify key elements. Only proceed further if you clearly understand what they want from you and that you have no unanswered questions or doubts. It is very important to formulate the kind of statement that your essay will answer.

Break down this information into separate parts, which will later become paragraphs in your scholarship essay. You can also contact a college or organization that provides scholarships directly and ask them what the essay should be about or if they have any scholarship essay examples to follow.

Step 2. Study the scholarship

Study the scholarship: its history, features, and specifics, as well as the organization that provides the funding. Open the corresponding page of their website, or determine their organizational goals and values by yourself. This will contribute to your better and deeper understanding of the topic and the ability to create a perfect scholarship essay.

If you don’t know how to start a scholarship essay, you can begin with a quote or statement regarding your intended goal, which can then be linked to the main text. By showing a broader knowledge and skills in your subject, you will be able to convince the assessment committee that you are a worthy applicant for a scholarship.

Step 3. Show motivation

In your introduction, tell briefly what prompted you to choose to study in that academic institution in the specialty for which you are applying. You need to show that you are a highly motivated candidate. Don’t be afraid to praise yourself. Write that you are hardworking, persistent, purposeful, etc. Though, these characteristics must be supported by good examples (high school achievements, family and social reputation or participation in some kind of project, etc.).

Step 4. Do your research

Having determined your scholarship essay format and studied the respective scholarship essay examples, start collecting data, information, and materials that will serve as the basis for the paper. Formulate for yourself a simple question, the answer to which you need to find in your biography. For example, ‘How will your experience in the social field help this subject in the future? (the scientific knowledge field depends on the specialty you want to obtain, it can be surveyor, marketer, etc.). To answer this question, you need to structure your experience first – in the form of a list, a map, or in any other form, to address the key topic.

Step 5. Brainstorm

To be successful in an application for a scholarship, you cannot afford to be boring and unoriginal. You will need worthy and fresh ideas. To do this, identify unique, yet simple questions that you need to find answers to within your topic. For example, ‘does selecting a major early on in the study life translate into better grades and achievements?’ When brainstorming, be sure to write down all your ideas on paper or a smartphone or laptop, and in no case discard some ideas right away, you may be able to return to them later – they might help you in how to start a scholarship essay.

Step 6. Come up with a worthy idea

As a result of your brainstorming, you need to shortlist worthy ideas, and finally, arrive at the main one. For this, you can again turn to the ‘question and answer’ technique.

Formulate a simple question that captures the essence of the problem. Using the chosen example of social issues, the question might be: ‘How can studying the development of sociology in your country be useful or beneficial?’ The main idea of your essay is now defined.

Step 7. Draft an outline

Trust our word – all the best scholarship essay examples have been written using perfect outlines. The exact outlining technique is not that important: you may wish to write a detailed plan, a rough sketch, or a mental map in your head. The most fundamental part is to plan your writing. A good outline will help you with how to start a scholarship essay and how to get all the key structural elements right. Make sure you outline an introductory part with a clear thesis statement, the main part, and even the conclusion (although, conclusions are improvisations in a sense).   

Step 8. Make a break

Once you’ve finished the outline, put your work aside, take a break for a few hours (if the timing allows), and get on with other things. For a while, don’t think about your essay, scholarship, etc., switch to other topics, and relax. Coming back to writing, you will look at your initial outline with fresh eyes and a clear mind. This will help to pick up inconsistencies and weaknesses.

Step 9. Do the writing part

Start writing your scholarship essay, beginning with an introductory part and following the right scholarship essay format, which was defined in the essay assignment.

Do not use clichés and boring templates. Your essay should stand out with a colorful, active, exciting speech that will attract the evaluation committee.

While writing, separate your thoughts with enough white space and stay away from long and complicated sentences and constructions.

Step 10. Edit and proofread

Think about your scholarship essay. Do you personally like it? Is it better or worse than some of the finest scholarship essay examples you have seen? After completing the first draft, give the raw paper to another person for evaluation and ask for honest and detailed feedback. Don’t be scared of criticism, as at this step it is very useful, provided that it is a constructive one.

Make changes in your essay based on the feedback and your judgment. Edit the text for grammar, formatting, and language errors.

And last but not least. It is perfectly fine to read scholarship essay examples from other candidates to better understand the scholarship essay format or logic of writing such a text. But don’t plagiarize! It won’t do you any good, but it can create a lot of problems. Nowadays, it is very easy to spot even the slightest traces of plagiarized content.