8 Tips on Writing an Effective Scholarship or College Essay

Tips on Writing an Effective Scholarship or College Essay

When it’s the time to apply for scholarships, students have a ton of questions running through their minds such as:

  • How do you write a good scholarship essay?
  • How do I make my scholarship essay stand out?
  • How do you start a scholarship essay?

Are you asking yourself the questions above? Or are you looking for practical tips for writing a college admission essay?

If so then pay attention to the tips you’re going to learn here.

Nothing puts a lot of pressure on students than writing a scholarship essay,” says Johansen Anderson, a renowned lecturer who also offers custom essay service to students online.

Writing an effective scholarship essay can be overwhelming, especially to students who don’t have a lot of experience.

Remember that you’re not writing to receive a better grade in the class. You’re writing to convince the selection board that you’re the right candidate to receive the money for your college education.

Unfortunately, writing a college essay is a must when applying for scholarship opportunities. So, you need to learn how to write an excellent college essay that stands out from the other essays. In this guide, we’ll share eight practical tips to help you understand how to write an outstanding scholarship essay.

So without further ado, let’s dive in.

What’s the importance of a college essay?

When it comes to writing college essays, many students wonder why it’s important and how it can help them.

Generally, the scholarship essay offers you the opportunity to demonstrate your best qualities and to show the scholarship committee what makes you stand out from the crowd.

In a nutshell, your college essay demonstrates something unique about you that you cannot reveal with your grades or test scores- that is your personality.

Challenges of Writing a Scholarship Essay

When it comes to writing college essays, students face a myriad of challenges.

According to college essay papers, the first challenge of writing a college essay is procrastination. Many students put off their essay writing until they are left with no time which could add more pressure and make them get things wrong. There is also the challenge of explaining yourself in just 500 words. How is it even possible given the information running down in your mind?

Students also focus on pleasing the committee to the extent of failing to demonstrate their real experiences.

How Long Should Your College Essay Be?

When it comes to writing an outstanding scholarship essay, the length matters. No matter the tons of sources you’re required to scour for topics, you’re required to stick to the supplied word count limit. Make your college essay too short or too long and you miss the point.

As a rule, keep your college essay length close to the maximum limit possible. Usually, college essays fall within 500 and 600 words long. Does this sound good?

Let’s get rolling.

How to Write an Outstanding Scholarship Application Essay

Follow these eight tips to write a winning college application essay.

  1. Plan Your Writing In Advance

Part of the reason why many students fail to write outstanding college application essays is that they put off things until the last minute. If you fall for this trap, you’re going to rush the writing process and the quality of your scholarship essay will suffer. When the time to write your college essay comes, remember that you need enough to plan, write, proofread and edit, then polish your essay before submitting it.

As a rule, you need to plan your writing project to give yourself enough time for the entire project. You also need to know your audience. You see, your college application essay needs to be addressed to the scholarship committee of the college you want to join and not everyone.

It’s only when you understand who they are and what they are looking for that when you can know how to tailor your application essay appropriately.

So before you start writing your essay, find out what they are looking for in a potential candidate; and how you can demonstrate yourself as the deserving person for the money.  Avoid over exceeding their expectations though. Focus on demonstrating your strengths and how you can convince them you’re the right candidate.

  1. Understand the Essay Prompt 

This sounds like a no-brainer but many students have had their scholarship essays rejected for not addressing the prompt as required. When writing your college application essay, you don’t want to leave any loophole they can use to deny you the opportunity.

Not understanding the essay prompt could give the scholarship committee a reason not to accept your essay no matter how outstanding it is.

So, read over the essay prompt several times and be clear about what you’re required to do. Some institutions will require candidates to choose from several prompts. Understanding the essay prompt clearly enables you to let the scholarship committee know more about yourself while complying with the writing standards required.

Being clear on the prompt also enables you to stay on track. Here is some common application essay prompts examples.

Example 1: The lessons we obtain from difficulties we experience can be fundamental to future career success.  Describe a time when you encountered a challenge, difficulty, failure, or setback. How did it affect you and what lessons did you learn from the experience.

Example 2: Think about a time when you challenge an idea. What prompted you to challenge it? Recount the outcome.

Example 3: Describe a problem you’ve solved or you’d like to solve. Explain its importance to you, and what steps you took or you’d take to identify a solution.

  1. Know the Word Count Required

Often, the word or character limit for your essay is indicated in the prompt or question. That means that if you don’t pay attention to the essay prompt then you’re going to get the word count wrong- perhaps you’ll write too much or too little. Normally, if you’re asked to keep your essay 250-words long then know that you’re required to write a one-page double-spaced essay.

Microsoft Word and Google have features that let you get a feel of the length of your essay but you can also use free online letter count/character count tools.

  1. Choose An Interesting Topic

Sometimes you’ll have some freedom to choose a topic for your college essay by yourself. In that case, choose a topic that interests you.

Remember that the freedom to choose a topic for your essay can make things difficult for you. You might be tempted to choose a topic only to find that you cannot get enough information about it on the internet.Ensure you choose a subject you can confidently research and write without scratching your head too much. The idea is to let the scholarship committee know your personality as a candidate.

  1. Conduct Some Research 

Up to this far, you’re almost nearing the interesting part of your project- the writing process. But before that, you’d want to know more about the company or organization offering the scholarship opportunity. Browse through their website’s home page, go to their About page to understand their mission and motivation for offering the scholarship.

This will help you know how to write the exact essay they are looking to read.

  1. Create an Outline

To have an interesting writing process, you need to create an outline that shows all of the key points you’re going to talk about in your essay without going over or below the word limit. Write down all the main ideas either in bullet points or a list so you can be guided accordingly.

Creating an outline of your essay will help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t wander during the writing process.

  1. Start Strong 

You’re now into the actual process of writing your scholarship essay. Remember that the scholarship committee will be reviewing dozens of application essays so your first impression matters.

As a rule, you need to capture the reviewers’ attention immediately they place their eyes on your essay. That’s why you’re required to craft a compelling introduction. The first sentence of your scholarship application can make the reviewers develop a desire to continue reading or stop and toss your essay into the dustbin.

To make your essay stand out, you need to know how to open strong. Hook the readers and drag them by their collars. Make your opening sentence as interesting and intriguing as possible, and then introduce your topic at the end of the first paragraph. Use the tips below to write an eye-catching introduction for your essay.

Write it in your own words

Often, it’s advised to start with a quote, a startling stat, or a question.When it comes to writing a scholarship essay, you need to write the introduction in your own words. Remember that the introduction should tell the reviewer about you or your ideas.

Avoid overused phrases

As stated earlier, your essay needs to reveal your unique qualities. It needs to demonstrate why you should be given the money for college. Repeating phrases that have been used for a long time shows that you cannot come up with your own ideas.

  1. Demonstrate Your Character

Your scholarship essay is about you. Even though adding stories about people makes your essay more interesting, the reviewers are interested in knowing more about you. And even though your credentials can demonstrate your abilities, they cannot show your personality or character. Your essay needs to demonstrate your motivations, interests, and character.

You shouldn’t talk about your achievements too much though. Your academic information has already shown them how smart you are. In this case, you need to talk about your inspirations, goals, and interests. This will help them know your personality.

Additional tips on how to nail a scholarship or college essay…

Be Proud, But Don’t Brag

When it comes to making yourself stand out from the competition, it’s easy to fall for the temptation to brag about yourself. The goal of the essay is to demonstrate why you deserve the opportunity anyway. But hold your horses.

You don’t want to overdo it- but you shouldn’t shy away from bragging a little bit while showing the committee you’re human. Don’t be afraid to mention instances when you failed. After all, failing is normal but what you do after failing is what differentiates you from the other failures.

Show Emotions 

When writing your scholarship essay, you want to make sure the reader can connect with you. You want the reader to see you as a person, not a faceless writer.

Showing emotions can help you achieve that.To show emotions, don’t be afraid to demonstrate your vulnerabilities- after all, everyone is vulnerable. Showing times when you felt nervous, afraid, or defeated demonstrates self-awareness.

Show, Don’t Tell

Someone reading your scholarship essay wants to know your experiences.Use real-life examples. Ideally, you want to show the reader how you’ve been able to achieve your career success so far but not just telling them.

If you’ve achieved something worth mentioning in your application, show how you did it.

Proofread and Edit

Perhaps this is not the first, second, or third time you’re reading about it but you’ll be shocked by the number of times admission officers have encountered application essays with a ton of grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, sentence structure problems, and many other errors. Sometimes this happens when students rush their essay writing process up- partly due to procrastination or other reasons. As a rule, you should give your essay writing process ample time so that after writing, you’re left with more time to proofread it thoroughly.

You can use a spell checker tool or ask a friend to read over your essay for you.

How to Write an Outstanding Scholarship or College Essay

To wrap up, here are the practical tips to write a winning scholarship essay.

  • Plan your writing in advance
  • Understand the essay prompt 
  • Know the word count required
  • Choose an interesting topic
  • Conduct some research 
  • Create an outline
  • Start strong 
  • Demonstrate your character
  • Be proud, but don’t brag
  • Show emotions 
  • Proofread and edit
  • Show, don’t tell

That’s how to write an excellent college application essay!

Good luck!

Author Bio:

This article is a guest post by the talented writer Jennifer Holland. Jennifer is a professional writer with 3 years of experience who has been writing about education and student life for several years. She helps students get their dream job by offering them her excellent writing skills and knowledge.



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