How to Write an Awesome Essay for College and Scholarship Applications

How to Write an Awesome Essay for College and Scholarship Applications

  • by
  • Aug 07, 2020
Black male teen with baseball cap writing in a notebook

A lot of students are nervous about writing essays for college and scholarship applications. Use these tips for successful essay writing, then practice with sample prompts or one from your applications.

Follow directions.

This simple tip is the most important one – pay attention to what is being asked of you. Answer the question asked of you, keep within page or word limits, and pay attention to any special formatting requests.

Write your best.

For most applications, you will only be submitting one or two written pieces. The people who read your applications assume that what they see is the best you can do. It’s your job to make sure you prove them right! Your essays should be examples of your best writing.


This is good practice no matter what you’re writing, but you’ll want to make sure you proofread these essays extra carefully. Better yet, have a friend or trusted adult proofread for you, too. You’d be surprised at the number of applicants who write that they really want to go to Oregon State University on their application to Linfield University! Thorough proofreading can prevent these simple mistakes.

Be yourself.

Essays are an opportunity for the admissions and scholarship committees to learn about the parts of you and your experiences that aren’t captured by the “numbers” (i.e. GPA and test scores). Use your essay to show them what’s important to you and to let your personality shine through. For example, some students wonder if it’s okay to write a humorous essay. The best advice we’ve heard about this is “Funny essays can be great to read, but if no one’s ever told you you’re funny, this isn’t the time to try.”

Remember you have an audience.

Most of the time you won’t meet the person who is reading your application, so it can feel like you don’t have an audience. It’s important to remember that you do. While it’s okay to write about the things that matter to you, it’s always wise to consider that you don’t know the politics, religion, or personal beliefs of the person who is reading your application. Choose a topic that interests you, but be careful not to offend.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

There’s no question that writing essays can be time consuming. Reduce the amount of time you spend by reusing your work when possible. Many prompts are just slightly different from one another, and with some careful editing (and proofreading!), you should be able to recycle an essay for one application into a usable essay for another.