Your College Scholarship Essay: 6 Simple Steps to a Great Essay

Writing your college scholarship essay can be easy. Look at this simple 6 step system for turning your experiences into a great essay, and then into several essays. Follow the steps, and you’ll see how you can write better and win more scholarship awards.

Getting Started - Find More Scholarships

First, a couple of general pointers to keep you going in the right direction. Find all the scholarships you can and get ready to apply. See this page on how to get scholarships that has a list of places to look, with emphasis on your local area. You should work with high school counselors, community colleges, and large universities.

These locations have an office and even a small library devoted to financial aid. And guess what? It’s free. Free scholarship advice, access to free scholarship searches in some cases, and use of books that would set you back a few Jacksons at least.

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Before The Scholarship Essay - A Few Places To Look

Home town companies, charities, churches and other organizations put together scholarship programs as well. And they usually prefer or even require that the applicants come from their area - and sometimes that your scholarship essay also reflect the local area.

You might have heard of scholarships from Home Depot, Ford, Burger King or similar national companies. You can also apply to your state and federal government scholarship programs, and you'll find a bunch of scholarship and grant programs in my grants ebook you can have for free. Many have deep pockets and together they put thousands through college every year.

Look a little deeper to find less obvious places to apply. You can use online scholarship search engines, but don’t spend money for scholarships. Other than getting a scholarship listing book, you don’t need to pay to find scholarships.

6 Steps to a Great College Scholarship Essay

Once you have a list of places to apply to, use the steps below to improve your scholarship application essay:

1. Read the applications to see what the essay should include. Look for length, topic, or format. And understand, some may not have many guidelines, but may just leave it to you with a simple idea. Maybe the topic will be “tell us shy you should receive this scholarship,” for example.

By the way, this question will appear more often than you might guess.

Also, my scholarship essay format page has ideas on how to organize your essay.

2. Read sample college scholarship essays to get a feel for what a good essay looks like. You can find several samples on my scholarship essay samples page.

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3. Write a trial essay, just to practice. Don’t fret over it, don’t worry, just write one to see what it feels like. Compare it to the samples you have, make a few revisions if necessary. Use good grammar, and see this scholarship essay example or another terrible essay for what common mistakes to avoid.

Go to my page on scholarship essay writing to learn a bunch of common writing mistakes and how to avoid them, plus a resource for more help.

Be sure to write it yourself. Don’t use some college scholarship essay book except for ideas in general; original is better and uniquely yours. Remember, you aren't the only one who owns that book, and other students may also have the same terrible idea.

4. Show it to other people to get their opinions. If you have teachers, counselors, even college professors who can proof read it, you should get some great pointers on how to improve it. 

5. Rewrite your essay making the changes that work best. You want an essay that represents you and reads well. Your essay presents your best characteristics and qualifications to the people giving out the scholarship.

You may decide to rewrite several times. That's fine - lots of people rewrite several times. Just be sure you save your rewrites and that you meet the submission deadline. There's no point in a rewrite if you don't apply on time.

6. Have your proofreaders look at it again. Make any minor changes necessary, and send in your application. I know this sounds self explanatory, but some errors slip by, so another review is a good practice.

Look over your application, your essay, and any other paperwork you need. Then, if it is all in order, send it in, or click submit.

One more thing: before you move on to apply for another scholarship, jot down when this one will announce a winner. It's good to have this for later.

Save All Your Essays!

Save copies of all your essays, whether you use them or not. I should make this step 7, since it can save you tons of time when you have to write a new essay.

You can use pieces of them for future applications. The more you have, the easier essays become. You’ll get to the point that you can produce a college scholarship essay in no time, with good grammar, great experiences to talk about, and the right length for the application.

If you need ideas for your essay, try my page about brainstorming ideas where you'll find more than 20 prompts to get your brain going to come up with idea after idea for more details and more experiences you can use in your essay to improve your writing.

Scholarship Awards come from Scholarship Applications

One more idea about your college scholarship essay you’ll want to hear. Great essays can only help you if you apply to get scholarships. Large amounts of scholarship money never get awarded. How come? It happens when not enough students apply.

Thousands of little clubs and organizations have a scholarship program. Thousands of students apply to big business foundations, but those little clubs and memorial funds don’t often see as many students coming to them. Send an application to all the ones you qualify for, and present yourself as well as possible.

Look at Ella Avery-Smothers' example for inspiration.

Tell a Friend

Help a friend out, tell them about this site so they can find financial aid faster. Click on one of the buttons below to share the page with your friends.

Send them a link to this page or to the home page, or send them a note to download my free grants ebook and they can get started finding money for college, and write better college scholarship essays as well.

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