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How to write a good scholarship essay: Format and Free Samples

How to write a good scholarship essay: Format and Free Samples

When it comes to writing a college scholarship essay, many students feel overwhelmed. After all, this is your opportunity to stand out from the competition and convince the scholarship committee that you are worth investing in. But don’t worry – with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can write a scholarship essay that will make you shine.

Applicants should consider the following things before starting their work:

Time allowance

How much time do they have for writing a good scholarship essay? This will be related to your selection of a topic and how much it can be researched upon. It also depends on your own capability as well as how soon you have to submit the research paper.

Research ability

Can you search information from various sources that are available or not? If yes, then it will be easier for you because there are many online resources that provide free information alongside paid ones. In addition, students should be careful of the information they use because not all sources are reliable.

Topic selection

What is the topic you want to write about? If it is given, then you should try to select a topic that is interesting and manageable at the same time. Remember that the financial need to be stated on the scholarship essay also matters a lot. On the other hand, if you are allowed to select your own topic, make sure that it is not too broad or too specific.

Writing style

The writing style for a scholarship essay can be formal or informal, but make sure to stay away from slang words and incorrect grammar. The tone of your essay should be polite and respectful; after all, you are representing yourself in front of the admission board.


Scholarship essays are usually required in a certain format such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. Make sure to adhere to the required format to avoid losing points.

Editing and Proofreading

Once you have finished writing your essay, it is advisable to have someone else read it over for mistakes. This will help in catching errors that you may have missed earlier.

Seven (7) Steps of writing a college scholarship application essay

Now that you know what scholarship essays are and why they are important, it’s time to learn how to write a good one. Scholarship committees receive hundreds of essays, so make sure your essay stands out from the rest. Follow these tips to write a scholarship essay that will impress the committee:

How to start the scholarship essay

  1. Make a general statement about yourself. They want to hear what drives you and why you deserve the scholarship. For example, “I have lived in Colorado since I was four years old.” or “With my determination to succeed, I know that if given the chance, I can excel at this college.” Think positive!

Alternatively, you can to start planning your scholarship essay by coming up with a thesis statement. This is a sentence or two that sums up what you want to say in your essay. For example, if you are applying for a scholarship that rewards students who have overcome challenges, you could write: “I am proud of how I have overcome my struggles, and I am determined to use my experience to help others.”

Once you have your thesis statement, you can start planning the body of your essay. Each paragraph should support your thesis statement. You can do this by talking about specific experiences or examples that illustrate how you have overcome adversity. Make sure to explain why these experiences are important to you and how they have shaped who you are today.

The Body of Your scholarship Essay

  1. Focus on past experiences where your actions made a difference. Remember to highlight academic skills as well as leadership abilities and strong character traits such as persistence and resilience. Example: “In high school, I was captain of the swim team for two years and during one of those years we came in first place at the state championships because every single member of the team worked hard from start to finish. Also, I was recently accepted to Yale University after being waitlisted the year before, so I know that I have what it takes to be successful in any academic setting.”
  2. Discuss your future goals and how this scholarship will help you achieve them. Explain what you will study and how it will benefit society. Example: “I am looking forward to studying business administration at your esteemed school because I want to become a CEO of a major company. With this degree, I will be able to learn the ins and outs of business, which is essential for making smart decisions and expanding my company. Additionally, I believe that as an educated person it is my responsibility to give back to my community. Therefore, I on volunteering for local charities once I am able to do so.”
  3. Use a personal story to illustrate who you are as a person. This can be something that happened to you, or an experience that has shaped the way you think or act. Example: “I come from a low-income family and I have worked since I was thirteen years old in order to help my parents pay the bills. Even though it has been hard at times, I have learned so much about responsibility and perseverance. Because of this, I know that I can handle any challenge that comes my way and I will not give up easily. This scholarship will help me continue my education without having to take out any loans, which will allow me to focus on my studies and eventually get a good job that will allow me to support my family.”
  4. Quote someone who has inspired you. It can be a famous person or someone you know personally. This is a great way to show the scholarship committee that you are well-rounded and have different interests. Example: “John F. Kennedy once said, ‘the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.’ And I believe that this quote is so important because it encourages people to take care of their responsibilities even when things are tough. I have always tried to live by this motto, and it has helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life.”

How to end a scholarship essay

  1. End your essay with a strong statement about who you are as a person. Example: “In conclusion, I hope that this scholarship will give me the opportunity to have a prosperous future and fulfill my dream of attending your prestigious institution.”
  2. Proofread! Make sure there are no grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in your essay.Keep the reader interested throughout the essay. Don’t just give a list of accomplishments – instead, connect them to your personality by talking about your achievements with impact and enthusiasm. Remember: committees want to know if you would be a good fit for their school as well as successful in college.

Scholarship Essay Format

A good five-paragraph college student scholarship essay will have the following format:

  • An introduction that states your name, what you are applying for, and why you deserve the award.
  • One paragraph that is a general overview of your academic career, including any honors or awards you have received.
  • One paragraph discussing your personal achievements or experiences, such as volunteering work or overcoming adversity.
  • One paragraph describing your future goals and how the scholarship will help you achieve them.
  • A conclusion reiterating your main points and thanking the reader for their time.

Tips to Consider when Writing a College Scholarship Essay

Some other things to keep in mind when writing a scholarship essay include:

  • Be concise – do not ramble on about irrelevant topics. Stick to the point and make sure each paragraph adds value.
  • Do not plagiarize or copy another person’s work, no matter how good the material is. Scholarship committees are very thorough with their research and can easily detect duplicate material. Furthermore, doing so is considered unethical by most standards.
  • Instead of using an existing scholarship essay as your template, consider writing one from scratch based on what you have learned from browsing samples online or in class. This will ensure that it meets all guidelines and is tailored to fit your individual background and goals.

College scholarship essay examples

Samples of scholarship essays are many opportunities that scholarship applicants may consider in order to stand out from other candidates. Scholarship essay samples can be very helpful in developing an award winning application, but it is important to remember that not all examples are the same and some may not always fit your specific needs.

Sample 1

I am applying for the Miller/Smith Scholarship because I believe that my leadership ability, dedication to learning, professionalism, integrity, energy level, motivation to succeed, dependability and maturity make me a great candidate for the scholarship.

I began high school in Houston, where I lived with my grandmother and three siblings after the death of my mom and dad. When we moved to New York City for a better life, we relied on public assistance and Section 8 housing. My sister and two brothers were also involved in school activities like track and soccer, but grades were not necessarily a priority for any of us; it was more important that we earned our keep by working after class instead of studying or attending extracurricular activities.

Our lives drastically changed when my youngest brother, Terrance (Terry), was diagnosed with leukemia during his freshman year at Dewitt Clinton High School. Terry’s diagnosis meant that he would have to attend chemotherapy treatments every day right up until his graduation. The doctors said that he had a 50/50 chance of making it, but Terry was determined to beat cancer and he did.

I am the first person in my family to attend college and I want to make my brother proud. I have been a part of the National Honor Society for two years, been captain of the varsity soccer team for three years, and have maintained a GPA above 3.5. I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college and I would like to pursue a career in law enforcement or criminal justice so that I can give back to my community and help others who are going through difficult times.

The Miller/Smith Scholarship will help me reach my goals by providing financial assistance for my education. I am grateful for the opportunity to be considered for this scholarship and I thank the committee for their time and consideration.”

Sample 2

I know that I would love nothing more than attending my dream school like any other student in America, but not everyone will be able attend their top choice even with good grades and hard work because they cannot afford it. That is why I am thankful that there are scholarships available so students like me can afford the education they desire.

One scholarship in particular that I would love to win is the Coca-Cola Scholarship. I am passionate about making a difference, and I believe that Coca-Cola embodies this value more than any other company. I want to be part of a team that can continue making a positive impact on the world, and I know that Coca-Cola is the perfect place for me to start.

If chosen as the recipient of the scholarship, I will use the funds to attend Emory University where I will major in business administration with a concentration in marketing. After graduation, I hope to work for Coca-Cola and help contribute to their mission of being a force for good.

I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to apply for the Coca-Cola Scholarship, and I hope that my essay will show you how passionate I am about making a difference. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


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