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Follow Directions

The first step in writing a winning scholarship essay is to follow directions. Many students fail to follow these simple rules and you don’t want to give the scholarship committee a negative impression, telling them that you can't or won't follow instructions.

Brainstorm Ideas

A great way to begin writing a scholarship essay is to brainstorm. The essay should captivate the readers and make them care about you. Remember the purpose of these essays is to see how well you can express yourself in words that will allow the donor or committee to get to know you. They see this as a window into the hearts and minds of the applicants.

Research the Requirements

Read the scholarship requirements before starting your essay. Some may ask for a specific topic, for example, your ethnicity or field of study. Always address any questions asked in the donor’s criteria.

Who are You?

Other types of questions asked on scholarship essays have to do with personality traits or unique circumstances, community and school involvement, and your dreams or goals. For example, if you say that one of your best qualities is leadership, give an example where you demonstrated leadership. Similarly, a question about community service should not be answered with a vague "I like helping others and feel that it is important", but should also include specific examples where you have helped others. Also, be specific about any hardships you have encountered during your life. This makes you unique.

Outline your Ideas

Next, create an outline. An outline is like a roadmap that allows the writer to know where he/she is going. Too many application essays are written without structure, jumping from point to point and rambling on without connecting one thought to another.


After you finish your outline, it is important to draft your essay. The first draft can be rough but it is important to get your ideas on to paper. Be sure to follow the outline you created as you write your draft.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Some simple mistakes made in writing scholarship essays are spelling, punctuation, and grammar. A scholarship essay should never be submitted without proofreading several times. Ask a friend or a tutor to read the essay out loud. Often students write fragments instead of whole sentences. Reading the essay out loud will catch this type of mistake. Go through the essay searching for repetition of words. Use a thesaurus to replace words that are repetitive. Find words that mean the same but are different.

Contact the Writing and Reading Center for help

The Writing and Reading Center (WRC) is open Mondays-Thursdays 8am-7pm, Fridays 8am-2pm, and Saturdays 9am-3pm. Please call us at 559-442-8052 or email us at to make an appointment or you can do a walk in session. It always helps to have someone else go through your paper with you.

Following these steps may take some extra time but remember:
Time spent equals money earned!

Last updated: 2/25/2017 12:50:35 PM