How To Write A Winning Scholarship Essay: Advice From A Donor

Earlier this month, the application deadline for my first scholarship, the Nikhil Desai Perspective Scholarship, passed and since then, I started to review the scholarship essays!

I created the scholarship with the intent of providing students an outlet to share an experience that shifted their perspective on the purpose of life. I intentionally made this topic open-ended to give applicants creative freedom!

The scholarship required applicants to write a 500-1000 word essay, and as I read through applications, I found some common themes in quality essays:

1) Proper grammar and revision

Writing an essay that is void of grammatical and spelling errors is necessary to be a competitive scholarship applicant. Most scholarships receive many applications, so submitting a revised essay is a prerequisite for success.

2) Intriguing Introductory Paragraph

As a donor, I would highly recommend making the first paragraph of your essay as captivating as possible. When donors are reading through essays, they are looking for that "it" factor that separates a winning application from the rest. An interesting first paragraph draws the reader into your experience, and can make the essay much more powerful!

3) Tell A Story

Personally, I feel that essays rooted in a specific story or experience are much more impactful than descriptions or third-person narratives. As a donor, I want to select a winner that I relate to and resonate with. Storytelling is a great way of providing donors with this insight!

Many students are apprehensive about applying to scholarships because they feel it is impossible to win. Even though the process is quite competitive, following the tips I articulated above will definitely improve your chances of winning!

Here are two other scholarships that I have personally funded and are still open for applications!

Reflect and Learn COVID-19 Scholarship