Scholarship Essay Writing: More Than A Dozen Keys to Success

Excellent scholarship essay writing will bring in thousands of dollars for your education, to pay tuition, buy books and pay your bills. But how do you write a winning essay? Let’s look at the basics and a few winning essays to see what wins the cash.

Good Writing

First, you need to pay attention to the basics. You need to check all your spelling, grammar, word choice and use, and punctuation. These days especially, with all of the spell checkers, you have to be careful. If you put in the word their, but meant there, you’ll have an error, but it isn’t spelled wrong…it’s a word use error, which most word processors won’t pick up.

You need to check this carefully, and start with the four most common:

There, their and they’re: there means a place. Their means they own something, while they're means they are.

You’re and your: You're means you are, but your refers to you owning something.

Its and it’s: it's means it is or it has. Use its when and it owns something, like the government overran its budget...

Then and than: okay, I don't understand why people do this. Then refers to a time, as in it happened then. You use than when comparing things, as in more than, less than, closer than.

You need to use all of these correctly, and if you don’t know how, pick up a book like Strunk and White’s, or look at an online writing guide for help. The point: all of the words above get misused, and any one will disqualify your essay in most cases. Take a look at my awful scholarship essay examples to see how these errors affect your writing.

Of course, you still need to watch your spelling. But the ones above you should check for also. The best way to get a first read on all your writing problems: have someone else read it. Proofreaders will save you time and effort, and can provide you with more help as well. Look here for ideas on how to work with a service if you don’t have any proofreaders or need fast help for a looming deadline.

Also, see the Writer's Resource Center writing guide for some good ideas on writing all kinds of essays.

What is Excellent Scholarship Essay Writing?

Now, let’s look at a winning essay. You can find dozens through the links on my scholarship essay sample page. Nearly all winning essays have a few things in common. The author has confidence you can hear. The essay follows a fairly standard format of a thesis sentence and a few supporting sentence – in other words, a standard essay format.

But often, you will find a little something extra, where the student shows some personality or uniqueness. For example, I read a scholarship essay where the author used a trip to his mailbox to illustrate his qualifications. He talked about a letter of thanks he received for being a volunteer, and being accepted at college.

Excellent Flow

He wrote all of this as if he was at the mailbox. It was interesting, I kept reading because of how he tied things together at his mailbox. He kept me reading, involved in his accomplishments. That qualifies as excellent scholarship essay writing.

What can you write about? If you need ideas, take a look at this brainstorming page to get the ball rolling. After you have a few dozen ideas, write a trial essay, just a quick page to see what you can do on the first try. Don’t fall in love with it, since you’ll probably have to cut much of it or start over.

A pointer here: Always stay within the word or page limit given on your application. Readers simply don’t have the time to read a 5 page essay from everyone in most cases. Usually a scholarship will limit you to 2 pages. Use them well.

One other pointer: Check the rest of your application for errors. If you send in great scholarship essay writing, but you leave your name off or misspell the scholarship, you probably won’t get it due to the errors.

Another pointer: Apply for one. Get the stress out of the way, and then apply for more such as the less common ones or those that address a smaller group of students. You’ll get great practice and be warmed up as you finish your applications. Make sure you save a copy of your applications and essays for future reference, by the way. You never know when you’ll need it again, like for more scholarship essay writing on your next application!

And last of all, regardless of how well you write, or of your flow, or if you save your essays:

Keep Applying!



Places to Find Money

For more places to look for grants and some scholarships, download my free grants ebook by filling out the form below.

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