The Write Stuff: How to Craft a Scholarship Essay

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As a student, writing a scholarship essay can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. The opportunity to showcase your skills, achievements, and aspirations is a great opportunity, but it also comes with the pressure of impressing the scholarship committee. To help you increase your chances of being selected for a scholarship, here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind when writing your essay.

Read the essay question carefully and understand the theme.

It is crucial to start by reading the essay question and researching the organization offering the scholarship. Familiarize yourself with the organization’s mission statement and the specific requirements for the scholarship. For example, if you’re applying for a scholarship at UAF, it’s important to understand that our institution values community involvement, dedication to sustainability, and academic excellence. Incorporating these values into your essay increases your chances of being selected.

Start with a strong thesis statement.

A well-crafted thesis statement can make all the difference in a scholarship essay. It serves as the foundation of your piece, encapsulating the main idea and establishing the direction for the rest of your writing. By starting your essay with a strong thesis, you provide the reader with a roadmap and set the tone for a compelling, focused piece that showcases your skills and achievements. Your thesis should be clear, concise, and focused on the theme of the essay question. A strong thesis statement can also make a lasting impression on the scholarship committee and help your essay stand out from the pile.

Make a plan and stick to it.

Set a schedule for yourself to ensure a smooth and effective writing process. Make a plan for tackling each section of your essay response. Before beginning the writing process, outline the key points you want to include in your essay. Your outline will help you stay focused and organized and give you a clear understanding of the structure and flow of your response. When considering the tone and style of your writing, remember that scholarship essay questions usually call for a formal or serious tone, but crafting your response in a unique and attention-grabbing way can help you stand out from other applicants.

Show, don’t tell.

When writing about your achievements in a scholarship essay, it’s essential to use descriptive and specific examples from your experiences to paint a vivid picture for the scholarship committee. Writing in this way demonstrates your abilities and accomplishments and helps the committee better understand who you are as a person and why you are a strong candidate for the scholarship. By using concrete examples, you are “showing” your achievements and their impact on your life and others.

Edit and proofread thoroughly.

After writing your essay, take a break and revisit it later with fresh eyes. Check for spelling and grammar errors, and revise any unclear phrases. Reading it out loud can also help identify areas for improvement. Consider having someone else review it, such as a friend, family member, or a writing center, for a different perspective. Check out the Troth Yeddha Writing Center or the Debbie Moses Learning Center downtown, where you can receive individualized assistance from experienced writers.

So, there you have it, a brief yet practical guide to crafting a winning scholarship essay. But remember, while these tips may increase your chances of being selected, the most important factor is your authentic voice and unique story. So, let your personality shine through and leave the scholarship committee with no doubt that you’re the right candidate for the award.


  • Casie Cameron

    Instructional Designer
    Casie Cameron is a designer, teacher, and writer with more than 15 years of experience working in education at the K-12 and post secondary levels. As an Instructional Designer with eCampus, Cameron gravitates towards creating courses influenced by pedagogies of equity and inclusion. She is interested in using digital spaces to build learning-communities in innovative, technologically responsive ways, and feels recharged by designing graphics, 3D animations, and by tinkering with and thinking about website user experience.

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