Guidelines for writing academic and merit scholarship essays

A number of scholarship types are available for students of high schools, colleges and universities who wish financial support in paying for education. There are need-based scholarships for the poorer students, scholarships for women and minorities, but among the most desired are academic and merit scholarships, which are awarded to the best students. In order to receive such a scholarship, a student has to prove their skills and knowledge by passing tests or providing proof of high grades, but usually, this is not enough: the student has to write a personal essay, telling about themselves, their outlooks and goals.

Standard format for scholarship essays

No matter what scholarship does the student apply for, there is a standard format for essays. The usual length of a scholarship essay is two or three pages. The font is the same as in all academic essays: double-spaced Times New Roman size 12. The page must also have standard margins: one inch from each side of the page.

Topics for scholarship essays

Scholarship essays are unlike most academic essays in that they are invariably personal. Even if the essay prompt requires the student to answer some standard question or problem, a unique, personal answer is required. Most of the times, however, an open prompt is provided for a scholarship essay. The student is prompted to describe their favourite work of literature and its impact on their life, write about their chosen profession, telling why they chose it and why they desire to study it in a college, write about some other person that influenced their life and choices. Each prompt is an instruction that needs to be comprehended and fulfilled; if the prompt is misunderstood and the student writes an essay on the wrong topic, it’s considered a failure.

There are scholarship essay writing services that offer to write passable essays on a given promptly. If the student wishes so, they could resort to using such a service, but it should be noted that a scholarship essay is supposed to be a personal essay and tell something about the person who applies for the scholarship. Hiring help for writing the essay defeats its purpose and can be considered a form of deceit.

What to write about?

In general, you need to write about yourself. We shall list some aspects and forms in which your self-description could be formulated.

  • Accomplishments. Do you have any accomplishments? Why do you think of them as such? Do not list your grades or any standard milestones or academic credentials; your application for the scholarship already contains this information. Try to formulate an accomplishment that does not sound impressive by common standards but is somehow important for your chosen profession.
  • Why are you special? Perhaps you have some trait that distinguishes you from other students. You may be particularly good at some skill that isn’t normally taught in high school, you may be hard-working, attentive or diligent. Try to remember how you acquire this trait or skill: is it some kind of inborn talent, or did you train yourself hard?
  • Your worldview and outlooks. Prompts on favourite books, etc are an especially good opportunity to describe your worldview and outlooks. Perhaps some book or movie played the crucial role in forming them. Try to describe its impact on your personality.
  • Your goals in life. If you are prompted on why did you choose a specific education and career, this is a good opportunity to write about your goals in life. Do you have a dream or wish that can be fulfilled? Is it something you desire for yourself, or something you want to share with everyone?
  • Your extracurricular activities. Many merit-based scholarships are awarded on the grounds of what the student does besides studying, such as athleticism and sports, artistic pursuits, community service, etc. This is especially important if your chosen profession is related to these extracurricular activities.

Steps in writing a scholarship essay

If you have the essay prompt and an idea of what will you write about, you can begin. First, you formulate a list of keywords related to the prompt and your chosen topic that will answer that prompt. Second, you make a plan of the future essay based on these keywords. Afterwards, you can proceed to write the essay itself.