Think you can get into a top-10 school? Take our chance-me calculator... if you dare. 🔥


Last updated February 21, 2024

Every piece we write is researched and vetted by a former admissions officer. Read about our mission to pull back the admissions curtain.

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

Key Takeaway

Writing a successful scholarship essay involves understanding and responding to the prompt, researching the scholarship provider, showcasing your best writing skills, and highlighting your core strengths. It's an opportunity to convey your commitment to the scholarship's values to enhance your chances of success.

Was the financial aid you were offered not enough? Scholarships can be a great way to supplement your financial aid without taking out more loans.

The thing is, there are a lot of scholarships that require you to write an essay. After a long application process, you’re probably rolling your eyes at having to write yet another essay.

But scholarship essays can be pretty quick and painless to write with a few key steps.

Why are Scholarship Essays Tough?

You’ve already written a lot for your college application, but taking the time to write a few more essays has the potential for a big payoff. And the essays themselves don’t have to be that hard—you’ve already written a personal statement and supplemental essays, so you can take advantage of the reflection you’ve already done.

Scholarship essays are all about capturing who you are, what your values are, and where you hope your goals will lead you, all in response to an essay prompt. If you think of it this way, the task becomes less about creating a generic essay and more about defining and expressing your goals and beliefs.

Just like your college essays are an opportunity for reflection, your scholarship essays can be too.

What do Scholarship Committees Look For?

So we already know what admissions officers look for in college essays, but what about scholarship essays?

Scholarship committees look for a couple of things. Of course, they’ll want to see that your academic credentials meet the requirements of the scholarship (so if the scholarship recipient must have a 3.0 GPA or above, then you should have a 3.0 GPA or above when you apply).

But scholarship committees also look for certain values in their applicants. Since most scholarships are awarded by organizations or people who stand for a particular group or cause, then you should tailor your scholarship application to match.

Consider an environmental science scholarship as an example.

The most appealing candidate isn't just good at environmental sciences in school. They can also show their commitment to putting this knowledge into action—they can highlight environmental activities they’ve done or draw on values about protecting the climate.

As with college essays, you need to find the right narrative to convey to the selection committee.

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

Now that you know what scholarship committees look for, let's dive into how you can create an essay that they’ll love reading.

Stick to the prompt. It seems simple, but it's actually really important. Scholarship essays usually ask you to respond to specific prompts. Make sure you read and fully understand the prompt, then respond to it directly. If the prompt asks about your career goals, for example, you need to talk about your career goals. Even if you’re not 100% sure, give it your best guess and lay out exactly what the prompt asks of you.

Understand the scholarship provider. Do some homework. Research the organization or individual awarding the scholarship. Demonstrate how your values match theirs. You’ll show them that helping you fund your education will advance their mission.

Use your best writing skills. A clear and well-structured essay shows that you care about the scholarship and have taken the time to craft a thoughtful essay. Make sure your essay is well organized, carefully proofread, and displays strong word choice and sentence structure.

Highlight your core strengths. Like any personal narrative, your essay should highlight your strengths. Show qualities like creativity, humor, intelligence, or innovation—whatever characteristic you feel makes you who you are. Let your personality come out through your words, and give the committee a look at the person behind the page.


Writing a successful scholarship essay involves more than just answering a prompt. It's about showing your commitment to the scholarship's values, showing off your strengths and goals, and investing in learning more about yourself. To create an effective scholarship essay, make sure you understand and respond to the prompt, research the scholarship provider, show off your best writing skills, and build your essay around your core strengths. It's a great chance to write a compelling narrative that can enhance your chances of success.

Liked that? Try this next.