How to Write the Perfect College Scholarship Essay

College Finance
July 28, 2020
Students Can Spend Months Learning How To Write College Essays...

But, even after they’ve been accepted into their dream school, their work isn’t over yet. Solid college scholarship essays are one of the best tools students can use to obtain financial aid support for college.

When a student applies for any kind of scholarship or grant, they’re usually asked to submit an essay along with their application. These essays have a different purpose than standard college essays, so students should approach them differently too. Keep reading to find out why your student should adjust their writing voice for their scholarship essays and how it can earn them the college financial aid they need.

The Difference Between College Essays And Scholarship Essays

When it comes to learning how to write scholarship essays, it’s vital that students understand the difference between these various types of essays.

The purpose of a college essay is to supplement an application, provide admission officers with a personal look into the student’s life, and hopefully, grant a student admission into college. The purpose of a scholarship essay is to grant a student financial assistance for college tuition through the means of a scholarship.

The two essays function differently because one is aiming to show admission officers why the student belongs at that college and the other aims to obtain a scholarship that will help the student pay for school. When admission officers read a college essay, they’re looking for the connection between the student’s goals, hopes, and dreams and the college’s mission, vision, and values. The two need to be a good match, and a great way to take a look into a student’s personal goals is to read a personal statement, or essay. The college application is the place for students to show off their smarts, and the essay tackles the deeper meaning behind why they want to go to that particular college.

College scholarship essays, on the other hand, have a subtle difference. Scholarships usually come from organizations that support an important cause or social issue. When a scholarship committee reads an essay from a prospective recipient, they’re looking for similarities between what their organization fights for and what the student stands for.

Further than that, scholarship committees are looking for hints of the student essentially supporting their cause, and recognizing their stature in the scholarship community. In other words, they’re looking for compliments. But, it’s not empty praise; they need to know that the student applying for the scholarship understands their work well, supports it, and admires their purpose. They’re not going to give a scholarship to a student who isn’t truly appreciative, so students need to show their support.

What Makes For A Good Scholarship Essay

Crafting the perfect scholarship essay works the same way as building a great college essay. Students should start with a strong foundation of explaining why they think they deserve the scholarship and how they plan on using it in the future. These are the two main points that scholarship committees are really looking for in each essay.

Of course, they care about who the student is and what they’re passionate about, but overall, they need to make sure that this free money they’re giving away will give back to the cause they’re fighting for.

The best way that students can begin writing with this strong foundation is to start early and know the organization’s mission and purpose well. Students should do plenty of research on the organization as well as the specific work they do, the events they plan, the people that work there, and their main audience.

Being clear, specific, and straightforward about why they’re applying for the scholarship makes for a fantastic scholarship essay. Many students are hesitant to be direct and they end up beating around the bush, but scholarship committees know that students are basically applying for free money! It’s no secret, so students shouldn’t feel awkward or afraid about stating why they need a particular scholarship. Being direct will be refreshing for scholarship committees to read, so students should jump right in, get to the point, and remember to highlight why they deserve the award and what they plan on doing with it.

5 Tips For Writing The Perfect Scholarship Essay

After building a strong foundation and having plenty of time to work on their essay, students can spend the final parts of their essay-writing process making small, but powerful, adjustments to their writing.


While a casual, personal tone may be different, students may end up standing out in a way that they don’t want to stand out. Too many times, students confuse being “open and honest” with using colloquial language and treating the essay almost like a text message.

Students should spend an adequate amount of time finding the balance between opening up and being honest about their beliefs without abandoning a more professional writing quality.


Scholarship committees see this happen way too often. A student wants to share why they’re passionate about a certain cause, but unfortunately, it comes across as negative and pessimistic because all the student seemed to do on paper was get angry.

When students are writing their college scholarship essays, they should try to find the positives behind why they support the organization’s cause and how that certain topic brings them joy and hope. When students change the narrative like this, they will be sending in an essay that’s actually pleasant to read. No one wants to read a rant, so students should try to make their essay as positive as they can.


You’d be surprised how many eligible students don’t receive a scholarship simply because they didn’t read the instructions. Not all scholarship essays will function the same way because they come from different companies and organizations; each committee will want to see something a little bit different, so students should make an effort to read the instructions carefully and follow them down to the last detail.


Students should proofread their essay themselves, but also have a few extra pairs of eyes take a look too. Sometimes, when a student has read and re-read an essay multiple times, it can be hard for them to see any room for improvement. A fresh, unbiased review from another person can give students a different perspective and help them see new places that can be tweaked.

Proofreading is probably the most important step of the essay-writing process. Grammatical errors, misplaced punctuation, and misspelled words will tell the scholarship committee that the essay was rushed and that little thought was put into it. Students certainly don’t want that to happen to their essays!


Lastly, students should avoid cheesy cliches that are found in the most generic, unoriginal essays. A very common cliche is beginning an essay with an inspirational quote. It's cliche because it's an easy way out for the student to have to craft a strong and interesting introduction. Since the beginning of an essay sets the tone for the whole piece, students should avoid starting off with a cheesy quote; it will be hard for the scholarship committee to look past it as they continue reading.

The Power Of The Scholarship Essay

Nailing the scholarship essay is a sure way for students to make a great first impression with a scholarship committee, and their chances of receiving the award will be much higher than if they winged it.

Writing a scholarship essay is a unique opportunity for students to challenge themselves in finding a balance between being open and honest and creating a professional piece of writing.

Securing financial help for college tuition can be difficult, but when a student applies themselves to crafting a stellar scholarship essay, they have a great chance at obtaining financial aid from an organization that fights for a good cause.

Don’t forget that WeAdmit’s professional counselors are available to help students find great scholarships and proofread their essays until they reach a finished product. Whether you need help creating a financial plan for college or developing better essay writing skills, we’re here to help you reach your college goals!



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