How to write a great scholarship essay and win a contest

Education is expensive, so it’s truly amazing that some colleges and universities offer the most talented students a chance to apply for a free scholarship. Of course, the very idea of writing a winning essay is a thrilling one, so our first (and most important) tip would be not to worry. Winning a grant is tough, so no matter how pessimistic it sounds, you should not get your hopes too high. Just think about it: if it were so simple, everyone would do it.

On the other hand, you still have to apply the best effort because a great essay can make an impression on a college admission team. So, should you apply to this school later, your chances of getting accepted will be higher. And that is already a win!

Now, let’s move to the most important tips on nailing a scholarship contest essay.

Make it personal and grab the readers’ attention

Most of the time, a scholarship essay is about a student, even if the prompt does not exactly state so. So, your goal is to write on a given topic, but give your narration a personal touch. Hooking the readers in the very first sentence is a nice trick to achieve this effect. Do not forget that committees go over thousands of papers like these, and make sure they can hear your voice from the very first lines of an essay.

Adjust your scholarship essay to every other college

We don’t suggest writing a brand new essay for every application — especially since admission topics, as well as your areas of interest, usually overlap. However, you cannot just send one and the same paper to every school — instead, use your first version and re-adjust it for other schools.

Besides, even though the topics may often overlap, the details usually differ. Different schools expect different paper length, and often — different academic formats. Applicants will find all of these details in the list of prompts, so make sure to follow task descriptions.

Finally, every school has its own image of a perfect student. Some are interested in leadership skills, and others are looking for empathy, creativity, persistence — among tons of other qualities. This is one more aspect that may have to be readjusted in your first version of the paper. Make sure to shift your paper focus to match school expectations about their students.

Be open and sincere

This is the surest way to make your paper stand out from the rest. From the list of prompts, choose a topic you actually care about, as it will give you a chance to fully express yourself. Besides, when writing about something students feel strongly about, they usually succeed in giving their essay an unbiased, yet personal touch.

Another tip when writing a scholarship essay is not to brag. You will often have to speak about your accomplishments, but you should avoid stating them directly. Instead, try to tell your potential professors a story of how you got there. What made you interested in a particular discipline? What have you already learned and where you apply this knowledge?

Get your point across

Essentially, your main point is to prove that you deserve this scholarship, but since you can’t just say so directly, you will have to get creative. Appeal to emotions is usually a powerful tool, but make sure you don’t overdo it. For instance, if you want to become a vet, you have to tell your story of how you’ve got to help the animals — and while this story should be emotional, it should still convey a clear and objective message. Don’t expect admission officers to shed tears over your dead dog — but tell them why you might become a truly extraordinary, skilled and empathic vet.

Finally, understand that a good scholarship essay cannot be written in just a couple of hours. You will have to pick a good subject, come up with a story, and give supporting evidence that proves you’re a good fit for this school. It all takes time and effort, so don’t postpone writing this paper. The earlier you start, the more time you will have to polish this essay to perfection and win that scholarship you want so much.

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