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Paying for College

Writing your College Scholarship Essay.

Updated February 2, 2023

Finding the right scholarship and writing a college scholarship essay … probably not top of your list going into senior year of high school.  That said, it is totally worth your while.  If you are going to college, a scholarship can help pay for tuition and other educational expenses. A well-written essay is often a deciding factor in securing scholarship funds.


First, start with identifying which scholarship/s make/s the most sense for you. While this probably seems like finding a needle in a haystack, focus on your background, interests, skills and/or life experience. There are scholarships for great grades, sports, family history and background and even Zombie Apocalypses. (Learn more about the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship here.)


To identify college scholarships that you might be eligible for, consider the following:


Determine your eligibility criteria: Start by considering factors such as your academic background, interests, major, ethnicity, state of residency, and extracurricular activities.


Use online databases: Websites like Scholarships.com and CollegeBoard.org help you find scholarships that match your eligibility criteria.


Check with colleges and universities: Many colleges and universities offer scholarships to incoming and current students. Contact your financial aid office or admissions office for more information.


Look for local and national organizations: Check for organizations that serve your local community or represent your aspiring profession or ethnicity. Many of these organizations offer scholarships to students who meet specific eligibility requirements.


Research on your own: Use search engines to find scholarships that you may not find through other methods. Search for keywords related to your eligibility criteria, such as “state-specific scholarships,” or “scholarships for student athletes” or “Zombie apocalypse scholarships.”


Ask your high school guidance counselor: They can help you identify local scholarships that may not be widely publicized.


While the above takes some effort, making certain you are applying for the right scholarship for you greatly increases your chance of being awarded one. Additionally, identifying the right scholarship for you will make the essay part easier because it will be relevant to you.  Once you have settled on a few, use the guidelines below to have the strongest submission possible for your application.


Read the Prompt Carefully (Then read it again)


Before you start writing, make sure you fully understand the prompt. Read it several times and take note of key words, phrases, and questions that need to be answered. This will help you stay focused and ensure that you cover all the necessary points.


Research the Scholarship


Find out as much as you can about the scholarship. This will give you a better understanding of the organization’s mission and values, which will help you tailor your essay to their specific needs.


Create an Outline


An outline will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay flows logically. Start with an introduction that captures the reader’s attention and provides background information. Next, include a body that addresses the prompt and provides specific examples and details. Finally, close with a conclusion that ties everything together and reiterates your main points.


Write the Essay


With your outline in hand, start writing your essay. Be concise, avoid overly technical language, and use vivid, descriptive words to engage the reader. Use your own voice and avoid copying from other sources. Finally, proofread your essay for spelling and grammar errors.


Seek Feedback


Ask a teacher, counselor, or trusted friend to review your essay. They can offer valuable feedback and suggest areas for improvement.


Writing a winning essay for college scholarships takes time, effort, and your full attention. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of securing scholarship funds and making your educational dreams a reality.




Deadlines for college scholarship essays vary depending on the scholarship provider. Some scholarships may have deadlines in the fall, while others may have deadlines in the spring. It is best to check the specific scholarship website or contact the scholarship provider for the exact deadline. Some scholarship providers also have rolling deadlines, meaning that they accept applications throughout the year.


In all facets of financial aid for college, deadlines are extremely important, and college scholarships are no exception. Typically, an ample amount of time is provided for completion of application requirements. Pleading a case after the deadline has passed, won’t do much good. Scholarship selection judges and/or committees will use missing the deadline as a reason to remove you from consideration, so make certain you get your entire application and essay in on time!


While finding and applying for a scholarship takes time and effort, it’s worth it over the long haul.  It helps reduce the amount of money you will need to borrow to pay for school.  That means you’ll have more money from your job to live your life…..


While we use many sources to assist with writing articles, we found the The College Essay Guy to be a terrific resource.  Learn more here.


P.S. There are also a bunch of “No essay” scholarships out there too.  As you can imagine, they are very popular and competitive, so make sure to apply for those that meet your specific needs too.