Scholarship Marathon

11 Tips and Tricks for Writing a Scholarship Essay

Comments Off on 11 Tips and Tricks for Writing a Scholarship Essay 25 February 2020

Writing a scholarship essay for college can feel tough. But it’s not impossible. And get this: some scholarships don’t even receive enough applicants so money goes unclaimed. So, in short, it’s worth a shot. 

These tips from The College Essay Guy can help!

BTW, this is the TL;DR version of a much longer post. For more, check out How to Write a Scholarship Essay or these 14 Scholarship Essay Examples That Won Thousands.


1) Use College Greenlight’s search engine to find scholarship prompts.


2) Once you’ve figured out what scholarships you want to apply for, create a scholarship essay tracker.

This is basically a big list of all your scholarship essay prompts organized by prompt, due date, word limit, etc. Why do this? It’ll save you tons of time AND improve your essays.

Click here for a downloadable scholarship tracker you can use.

Once you’ve done this, you might notice: Some of these prompts look alike. That means the essays you write for some can be repurposed and tweaked to answer other prompts.


3) A good hook goes a LONG way.

Your first sentence is your first chance to make an impression on your reader. Invest time into crafting a good hook to draw people in. Try to raise a question in your hook that compels people to keep reading and discover the answer.


4) Aim for uncommon topics and/or connections whenever possible.

If possible, choose a topic others won’t. But, okay, if you must write about football, try connecting your activity to something other than discipline, hard work, or perseverance. Tell us what it’s taught you about beauty or how it’s made you a better reader. Unexpected, right?  That’s the point.


5) To brainstorm scholarship essay topics, use the 21 Details Exercise, the Feelings and Needs Exercise, and the “Everything I Want Colleges to Know About Me” List.

I promise these will help. Each takes about 15 minutes.


6) It’s okay to be undecided.

If you’re choosing “undecided” on your application, that’s okay! Describing 1-3 areas of interest is still a good idea. Think of it as a chance to show your intellectual curiosity and demonstrate your ability to make connections across a range of academic disciplines. 


7) Show impact.

Provide specific evidence that gives us a sense of why what you did or who you are matters.


8) Details!

The more specifics you can provide, the more likely you’ll be to differentiate yourself from other applicants. 


9) Be open to revisions.

After you craft an essay that you like, share it with 1-2 people you trust and revise again, as needed. It’s good to get the input of other people who know you well.


10) It’s okay to leave your reader with a couple questions.

You don’t need to tie things up with a neat little bow. Nuance and complexity can show your ability to wrestle with big ideas.


11) Apply for lots of scholarships!

There’s tons of money out there for you to claim. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for as many opportunities as possible. 


In fact, if you spend two hours on an essay and end up winning $1,000, you might find that answering scholarship prompts is some of the best hourly work you can find. And don’t forget that often you can re-use your personal statement!


Here’s a free guide to get you started.

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