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The Do's and Don’ts of Scholarship Essay Writing

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Moving forward in your educational career can be exciting. But with each step comes new challenges and benchmarks. Sometimes the pressure of meeting academic benchmarks, such as applying for scholarship essays, can be intimidating-- especially when your education’s financial opportunities depend upon one scholarship essay (we have a couple of sponsored scholarships you should apply for). The good news is, resources like essay writing services can help. And, there are a few key do’s and don’ts of scholarship essay writing that will make the process much easier and help you feel confident in the essay you submit.

This post covers exactly what you need to know, do and avoid in order to write an outstanding scholarship essay that stands out and wins the approval of your college’s scholarship committee, especially when your education depends on it.

The Purpose of a Scholarship Essay

Many scholarship essays will provide students with a writing prompt or question as a topical guide. But, it is critical to understand what your school’s admissions board and scholarship committee are really asking. In other words, what is the deeper question behind the prompt? What does your ideal school really want to know about you?

Scholarship essay topic prompts serve as a way for admissions boards to get to know you and understand why you are an ideal candidate for financial aid. So, the purpose of a scholarship essay is to show your scholarship committee why they should choose you as a recipient of funds. A scholarship essay does this by:

  • Capturing attention
  • Explaining how you will put your scholarship funds to good use (in other words, explaining your educational and career goals)
  • Showing and telling your scholarship committee what unique qualities and strengths you will contribute to the school you are applying to
  • Communicating your goals in a clear, captivating way that sets you apart

Most scholarship essays are only one to three pages in length. But writing a simple page or two can be time consuming when you want to ensure you write a polished, excellent quality essay. These five steps below offer a great starting point.

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The Do’s of Scholarship Essay Writing

How you approach writing will of course depend somewhat on your topic, the essay’s length and your school. But no matter the essay or the school, there are five key things to be absolutely sure you do. Check out the list below.

1: Do get clear on 3 things

Writing down these three things will guide the writing process that follows. So, try providing yourself with a clean, clear workspace and uninterrupted time. Next, jot down some reflection notes on the following:

  1. What is important to your audience (your scholarship committee or admissions board)?
  2. What do you have to contribute to the school you are applying to, and what are your goals?
  3. How do your goals align with what is important to your school?

For example, imagine you are applying to a nursing school. Most likely, that school’s admissions board will be interested in awarding scholarships to candidates who demonstrate the potential to contribute to healthcare by showing strengths in areas like:

  • Research
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Empathy and caring

These bullets would apply to number 1 of the list above. Next, you might choose to think about what you can contribute and what your goals are. Perhaps you worked as a certified nurse aide, or you have special compassion and concern for individuals battling chronic illness. By jotting down how your goals, strengths and experiences align with what your school is looking for, you can start to unfold your writing ideas.

2: Do write in a captivating way

First, consider revisiting your list from number 1 above. Next, think of a way to write your goals and what you have to contribute in a way that is:

  • Compelling
  • Concrete
  • Concise

In other words, it is critical to write in a way that allows your audience to feel and relate to what you have to say. A great way to do this is by using stories as examples. Stories help readers relate to and imagine what it is like to experience what you are describing. Short stories or anecdotes also provide a great way to start your essay with an engaging introduction.

For instance, if you are applying for a nursing scholarship, rather than beginning by describing your strengths, weaknesses and goals, instead begin by telling a tangible story about a time you helped care for someone in need. Then explain how it inspired you to work towards your goals. This makes your aspirations much more real and believable to readers.

If you are feeling stuck and don’t know where to start, or can’t think of a story, try purchasing an example essay from an essay writing service. Example essays can be great thought-joggers. You can also try freewriting to help get your ideas flowing.

3: Do be original

Applying for scholarships can sometimes feel like diving into a sea of competition. But, we each have unique attributes we can write about that highlight our originality. Don’t be afraid to be original in how you write and what you write about.

In other words, write boldly, while still keeping a humble, grateful tone. This will help you stand out from the crowd and shine!

4: Do Talk About your Achievements

Remember, this is your time to shine! While it is important to keep a humble tone that shows you are grateful for the opportunity to apply for a scholarship, it is equally important to highlight your accomplishments.

As you write about your achievements, check to make sure they relate to your topic. Mentioning achievements that directly relate to your field of study shows your scholarship committee your potential and reveals your interest in the subject.

Making a list of your accomplishments, before writing, can be helpful. That way, you can decide which you want to include, and also make sure no important ones are left out. If your list is long, consider picking your top 2 or 3. Then, mention those in the body of your essay, after an engaging introduction. You may also briefly mention accomplishments in the essay’s conclusion by telling your audience how you plan to use the scholarship to further your accomplishments.

5: Do have a professional edit your essay

Advice from friends and peers is great, but let’s be honest: when a large portion of your college education depends on a two page essay, it is definitely worth investing in a professional editor, such as an essay writing service. Besides, it feels great knowing you are putting your best foot forward without grammatical or sentence structure errors getting in the way.

For some, writing isn’t a strong suit, and that shouldn’t stand in the way of a quality, future education.

If you are looking for that final round of polished editing, essay writing services are a great tool-- but make sure you choose a qualified essay service that can provide personalized feedback and allows you to communicate with your writer or editor.

Teachers can provide great feedback too. But, many teachers have considerable workloads and may be pressed for time. If in doubt, hire a professional essay writing service. If you use our dissertation editing services, you have access to world-class editors ready to help you perfect your essay.

The Don’ts of Scholarship Essay Writing

Once again, how you write your scholarship essay, specifically, will depend on your school and topic. Regardless, there are five essential things to avoid in most all cases.

1: Don’t start every sentence with “I”

This is often an overlooked “don’t,” simply because it is easy to start most sentences with “I” when we are writing an essay about our goals and our accomplishments. But remember-- a great scholarship essay is focused on the audience (the school’s scholarship committee). In other words, top-quality scholarship essays write in a way that demonstrates to the scholarship committee why it benefits the school to select you as a recipient.

Rather than documenting and writing about your experiences in a biographical manner, tell your experiences as interesting stories. This usually results in less sentences that start with “I.” This can be tricky at first. Many essay writing services offer great examples of how this can be seamlessly done.

2: Don’t get too complex

It can be tempting to use overly complex language when you’re trying to appeal to a college admissions board or a scholarship committee.

Great scholarship essays use a professional, polished tone, while still being written in a way that is simple and easy to understand. Avoid using filler words, phrases and long, complex sentences. Remember, even though you are writing to an academic audience, your scholarship committee is likely reading hundreds (if not thousands) of scholarship essays. It is best to keep your tone somewhat conversational and easy to read. Vary your sentence length and use layman's terms. Keep your writing interesting by using concrete, descriptive words and adjectives.

3: Don’t underestimate the power of your life experiences

We talked a little about experiences as stories or anecdotes, and about mentioning academic achievements. But, the experiences you write about don’t necessarily have to be directly related to your academic achievements-- so long as they relate to your topic.

No matter how small an experience may seem, if you learned something impactful and transformative from it, it can be used as a great talking point in your essay. Highlighting your life experiences, such as travels, volunteer experiences or even impactful friendships, can show your scholarship committee how you will apply your topic to real life situations.

In other words, write with confidence, and don’t underestimate the value and power of your own unique life experiences!

4: Don’t be generic or general

Get specific and be unique! Avoid a cookie cutter approach to essay writing. Remember, this is your time to stand out!

Here are two examples:

  1. "I have a lot of experience working as a certified nurse aide."
  2. "Working as a certified nurse aide increased my empathy for older adults struggling with chronic illness and allowed me to learn how to provide quality bedside care."

Which of the above two options is more compelling? Number one is more general, and therefore less engaging. Number two is a great example of how to write specifically. Also, as a bonus, notice how the second example avoids starting the sentence with “I.”

5: Don’t choose a free essay writing service

As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Unfortunately, tempting as free services are, this is often the case when it comes to essay writing services. Here’s why:

Free services often:

  • Provide generic examples and sometimes resell content
  • Miss critical errors due to automated editing
  • Give generic feedback

If you find yourself needing help proofreading your essay, the best writing services will charge according to the service level offered. The good news is that investing in a high-quality essay writing service is usually well worth the investment when you are looking for professional editing and feedback.

How Essay Writing Services Can Help

Even though many scholarship essays are just a page or two, your scholarship essay is often one of the most important documents you will write during your college career-- due to the fact that it can award you a college opportunity.

So, it’s no surprise writing a great scholarship essay can take some time. This is why it can be a big help to receive guidance and feedback from a top-quality essay service.

Top quality essay writing services will be able to help you with things like:

  • Providing feedback on your ideas and outline, especially if you are pressed for time, or juggling family and work obligations
  • Creating an outline that clears writer’s block and guides the process
  • Developing and organizing your essay as you write it
  • Editing and proofreading your final draft
  • Offering top-quality example essays to use as a references and guides if you are feeling stuck

But be sure to look for an essay writing service that:

  • Hires qualified writers
  • Allows you to communicate with your writer and ask questions
  • Provides free revisions
  • Can provide assistance within the time frame you need

Some paper writing services will check a few of these boxes, but the best writing services will usually check them all. Are you concerned about financial aid? Check out these 6 myths about student financial aid.


We’ve covered a lot of ground, so let’s review the most important do’s and don’ts of writing a great scholarship essay:

  • Do get clear on your audience and what you can contribute to your school.
  • Do be original.
  • Do be captivating.
  • Do highlight your achievements.
  • Do get professional help editing (preferably from an essay writing service).
  • Don’t start too many sentences with “I.”
  • Don’t be too generic or general.
  • Don’t underestimate power of your experiences.
  • Don’t get too complex.
  • Don’t ask a free essay writing service to edit your essay.

If you follow these do’s and don’ts, you’ll be on your way to writing an outstanding scholarship essay. And, if you are still finding it difficult to organize your ideas, get started, or even come up with a topic, professional Essay writing services can be a tremendous help. Check out our guide on how to write a scholarship essay for more help with your scholarship essay writing.



Ultius, Inc. "The Do's and Don’ts of Scholarship Essay Writing." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 22 Feb. 2019. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/dos-donts-scholarship-essay-writing.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2019, February 22). The Do's and Don’ts of Scholarship Essay Writing. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/dos-donts-scholarship-essay-writing.html

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Ultius, Inc. "The Do's and Don’ts of Scholarship Essay Writing." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. February 22, 2019 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/dos-donts-scholarship-essay-writing.html.

Copied to clipboard

Ultius, Inc. "The Do's and Don’ts of Scholarship Essay Writing." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. February 22, 2019 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/dos-donts-scholarship-essay-writing.html.

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