Essay Guide

  • Essays are not just for scholarships.

    You have most likely been applying to colleges and have gotten to the part of the application where you are required to write an essay.  You can use these tips for writing essays for both your college and scholarship applications.

    Master the Basics

    Pay attention to details for a high quality essay.
    Get organized.  Brainstorm to generate some good ideas and then create an outline to help you get started.
    Demonstrate originality and creativity.  To catch the attention of a panel of scholarship judges, find a hook that will get the reader interested right away.
    Show, don't tell.  For example, if you're describing an activity you participated in, don't describe it in general terms.  Be specific.  What duties did you perform?  What affect did it have on your life or the lives of others?
    Develop a theme that fits the scholarship.  What of student is the sponsor looking for?  Include elements in your essay that complement the sponsor's expectations (without pretending to be someone you aren't).
    Turn in a professional looking essay.  Write a second draft to catch the mistakes and better organize your thoughts.  If possible, type and doublet your essay.  Checking spelling and grammar.  Also, share your essay with friends, family, or teachers for another proofread. 

    I Don't Know What to Write About! 

    Personal Achievements

    • Remember to personalize your experience.  For example, what makes the volunteer and community service you've performed unique?
    • Do you still keep in touch with anyone you've helped?
    • Talk about specific interactions you may have had  with others.  How did you influence their lives?
    • How did your achievements reflect your values?  Why are your achievements important to you?
    • Remember that judges want to hear from you as a person, not your resume. 

    Academic Plans and Possible Major

    • Instead of saying, "Math is my favorite subject," discuss a specific assignment or project that you worked on that sparked your interest and why.
    • Avoid saying that you selected a major or career path to "help people."  What specific actions can you take to improve the lives of others?  Discuss specific values or ideas you want to develop once you get to college.

    Background and Influences

    • Is there a person you wish to emulate with your chosen major or career path?  Someone who encouraged you to succeed?  Focus on specific qualities or actions that the person has inspired in you.
    • Think about your friends and family, community, and the things you've learned outside of the classroom.  Pick specific people, incidents and learning experiences to write about that will let your personality come through.

    Current Events and Social Issues

    • Think about current issues or events in the news that you feel strongly about.
    • Do you know a lot about a controversial topics?
    • Do you know of someone who is directly involved in an issue who might be able to provide insight?

     All information taken from