Scholarship Essay Writing Tips

Spending an hour to write a good scholarship essay can score you some awesome financial aid. Here are some tips to help you knock your scholarship essays out of the park!

The new year has begun! Students are returning to school after a (hopefully) rejuvenating break. The new year always brings exciting new opportunities. One new opportunity available to UVU students is the opportunity to apply for scholarships! Almost all of UVU’s scholarships for Fall 2019 close on February 1st, so now is the time to get started!


UVU’s general scholarship application and many of UVU’s private scholarships require an essay. Often, students do not complete the application because they are intimidated by the essay portion and don’t know what to write. Spending an hour to write a good scholarship essay can score you some awesome financial aid.


Here are some tips to help you knock your scholarship essays out of the park!


Plan for Success

  1. Know the Requirements: Each scholarship is different. They all have their own set of qualifications and requirements. Some examples could be a required GPA, required FASFA, or applicants may only qualify if they are single parents. Before getting started, read the description of the scholarship. Make sure you are qualified and familiarize yourself with the requirements. When it comes to the essay portion, read over the questions carefully. Also, note the word count limit on the essay so you have an idea of what length they are looking for.

  2. Know Your Audience: After you are familiar with the requirements of the scholarship, it’s time to research the donor. All UVU scholarship donors are listed here. They are also listed when you click to apply for a specific scholarship. Each donor has a short biography. Read through the donor’s bio to get to know your audience. Knowing who the donor is will help you imagine your audience while you write your essay. It is a good idea to tailor your essay for your audience by mimicking language they use and including material that will resonate with them. However, knowing your audience does not mean writing only what you think the donor wants to hear. Always remember to be authentic and tell YOUR story.

  3. Brainstorm and Outline: You are ready for prewriting! Before you sit down and start writing, it can be very helpful to organize your thoughts. There are many ways you can do this. Webbing is an easy way to get organized. Here is an example of webbing for a scholarship essay. When you are creating a quick outline for your essay, be sure to include the questions you are asked to answer in the essay, your answers and support for your answers. Here is an excellent format and example to use to ensure you answer the essay questions fully. You should also make some notes about how you would like to introduce and conclude your essay. Here is another great example of an outline format.  When you use an outline in writing your essay, you will save time and end up with a clearer and more coherent end product. With your outline in hand, it’s time to put your first draft down on paper!

Use the Basic Essay Format

Scholarship essays should be written like any other essay. They should answer the essay questions in complete paragraphs, not just one word or one sentence answers. Scholarship essays should flow easily and include basic essay components such as an introduction, thesis, transitions, body paragraphs, topic sentences, supporting details, and conclusions. Formatting essays can be overwhelming. Luckily, UVU’s Writing Center has developed helpful handouts on a myriad of writing subjects. Their handout on the basic essay format clearly goes through every piece of an essay. This is a fantastic essay-writing resource that should not go unnoticed! Although the handout gives the best information on basic essay writing, here are some quick tips.

  1. Introduction: Use a hook to get the attention of your audience. Include your thesis statement. Your thesis is a sentence that serves as a roadmap for what your essay will discuss.

  2. Body Paragraphs: The body paragraphs are where you will answer the essay questions. Be sure to provide support for your answers. For example, instead of only saying “I am dependable”, explain situations from your life when you have shown dependability.

  3. Conclusion: Explain how your experience relates to audience’s values/beliefs. Emphasize lessons you learned that made you a better person. Lastly, thank the committee for their time.


It will feel good to complete your first draft. However, if you want the best chance of receiving that precious scholarship money, you aren’t finished yet. Carefully proofread your essay. Be sure there are no grammatical errors. Try reading it out loud to make sure it flows well. Give your essay to trusted professors or friends and ask for feedback. At this point, it would be very wise to make an appointment with the Writing Center.


The Writing Center is located on the second floor of the Fulton Library. At any point during the writing process, you can make an appointment with a writing tutor. They will review your essay with you and give you the tools you need to make it your best work.


Last Thoughts

  1. Writing scholarship essays can be tedious, but it is so important to write good quality essays. Many students only offer short, lazy answers to scholarship essays just so they can submit them quickly. Don’t do this! Remember, taking the time to write a few excellent scholarship essays will be more effective than writing a whole bunch of poorly written ones.

  2. If you have any questions about a specific UVU scholarship, talk to Financial Aid. On their website, they have a live chat feature where you can chat with a financial aid advisor from your computer. The live chat is available Monday-Friday from 7 am - 10 pm, and Saturdays from 8 am - 5 pm.

  3. Be yourself! You are awesome! Write in a professional way, but be sure to let your personality shine through. More than anything, donors want to give scholarships to those who are authentic and really care about the essay.

  4. Don’t forget! Nearly all UVU scholarship applications are due February 1st! You can do it!

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