7 Tips to Crafting a Stellar Scholarship Essay

By: Georgia Schumacher

January 14, 2015

paper hand writing

Scholarships and grants—including our own Art Grant—can play an important role in decreasing the cost of a college degree. For this very reason, many of these opportunities are competitive, and, if you’re applying for a scholarship (typically merit-based) or a grant (more often based on your financial need), you'll need to stand out among a crowd of applicants! To bring attention to your application, a well-written, persuasive scholarship essay can be key.

Here are a few tips and tricks for perfecting the craft of writing scholarship essays:

1. Consider your audience

Before you put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard), think about the organization sponsoring the scholarship. What purpose does the organization serve? What characteristics do most members share? The group you're writing for should determine your word choice, tone, and theme. If you select a tone inappropriate for your audience, you might be unfairly disqualified—even if you're a great candidate for the scholarship itself.

2. Create an outline

Before you start your essay, create an outline that includes all of the points you want to make and that takes the word limit into account. Listing your main points will help you to stay organized and ensure that you don't accidentally omit any of your central arguments.

3. Craft a compelling introduction

The people reviewing scholarship applications will read dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of essays; after a while, those essays can blend together. How can you ensure that your piece is memorable? By writing a compelling introduction. Start with something interesting and intriguing, and then introduce the main topic of your essay by the end of the first paragraph. Give your readers a reason to keep reading: Hook them with your introduction.

4. Be concise

Concise writing is often the best writing. Many students believe that longer sentences are better, but this isn't the case. Communicate your point using only as many words as you need.

5. Avoid the thesaurus

This is a good rule for now and the future: If you don't already know the definition of that word, don't use it. Your readers will sense your discomfort, and you'll seem less trustworthy as an author.

6. Edit, edit, edit

Before you submit your essays, edit them thoroughly. Don't run spellcheck and think you're finished. Re-read your essay (possibly even aloud) to identify awkward sentences, subject/verb disagreements, sections that require clarification, and other trouble spots. Don't let a misspelling or a grammar error prevent you from getting funding.

7. Enlist help

If you're unsure of your editorial skills, ask a friend, parent, or teacher to help you look over your essays. When others review your work, they can point out passages that may have seemed logical to you but might need additional clarification.

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By: Georgia Schumacher

January 14, 2015

affordability financial aid lists scholarship tips