6 Tips for Making Scholarship Essays Stand Out


One of the many perks to joining NSCS is access to scholarships that are only offered to members. Each year, NSCS offers 26 different national scholarships totaling more than $500,000 to students. NSCS also helps students find other outside scholarships to apply for. Each of these scholarships has its own, unique application process, but that application process almost always includes writing an essay. If you can make your essay stand out, you have a greater chance of winning.

So, this begs the question: how do you make your scholarship essays stand out? Here are a few key tips to get you started.

1. Get Personal

Sometimes students are hesitant to talk about themselves in a way that feels like bragging. However, talking about yourself is the goal when writing a scholarship essay. It’s okay to feel like you’re bragging a bit — you’re just presenting your best accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to get personal, share your feelings, and keep the focus on yourself.

2. Consider Your Audience

Consider the person who is reading your scholarship essay. What do you know about them, and what do you think they may be most interested in? For example, if you are applying for a scholarship through an athletic organization, including some reference to sports or fitness in your essays would be helpful. Or, if you know the person issuing the scholarship works in international affairs, writing about your interest in international politics may be a wise choice.

3. Be Concise

Longer is not better. If you can make your point in 200 words, don’t use 300. You don’t want the person reading your essay thinking “get to the point, already.” Not only will being concise make your essay easier to read, but it will also show the application team that you’re capable of writing concisely, which is a valuable skill.

4. Draw the Reader in With Your Introduction

A powerful introduction hooks the reader and makes them want to continue on. Don’t share your entire message in your introduction, but do make sure your intro gives the reader a good idea of what to expect. Keep it short and to the point. Your introduction should make it very clear what your essay will be about; it should present your main thesis.

5. Set it Down, and Come Back to It

Don’t leave writing your scholarship essays until the last minute. You need time in order to properly edit and revise your essay. Write your first draft, then let it sit for a few days before reviewing it. When you come back to it, you will catch shortcomings you overlooked at first, and you’ll have new ideas for improvements you can make.

6. Use an Editor

You don’t need to hire an editor, but you should ask someone you know and trust to look over your scholarship essays. This could be a mentor, a student leader, one of your professors, or even your resident advisor. If possible, ask two or three people for feedback. If multiple people make similar comments or suggestions, you know to take those suggestions seriously. You don’t have to make every change that your editor requests, but do take their criticism and comments seriously.

Whether you’re applying to a scholarship through NSCS or another organization, we hope these tips come in handy. If you are not yet an NSCS member, we recommend joining. Even our newest members are eligible for a number of scholarships, which are awarded based on merit. We love to see our students apply and excel.

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