Writing your scholarship essay

Essays are a common requirement when applying for scholarships. The scholarship essay is your means of communicating your story to the selection committee and allows the selection committee to get to know you and see your potential. In many cases, the scholarship essay is your best chance to shine.

Essay review services

Through the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE), you can access tutorials, guides, manuals and other information to help you write a great essay. The CWE also offers two essay review services for current University of Phoenix students applying for scholarships.

WritePoint

WritePoint is an automated review service available to current students through their student website. You can upload an essay and submit it for review. Within two hours, you receive computer-generated feedback on basic grammar and usage. This service is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Scholarship essay review

The Scholarship Essay Review service allows current students to have scholarship essays reviewed by a writing specialist. Writing specialists do not edit the essay. Instead, they provide a detailed summary about how you can improve your essay and writing style. Feedback may include comments about grammar, punctuation, usage and general writing suggestions.

To submit your scholarship essay to the Scholarship Essay Review service, contact your advisor for the Scholarship Essay Checklist. Complete the form and follow the submission instructions.

Keep in mind that it takes 48 hours to receive feedback. Essays submitted on Saturday, Sunday or holidays are reviewed the next business day. You should plan ahead to guarantee that you receive feedback in time to make changes and submit before the scholarship’s deadline.

Example essay questions

The essay topic will vary from scholarship to scholarship. Below are examples of frequently asked scholarship essay questions. Use these examples to practice.

  • Why should you be a recipient?
  • What effect on your education would this scholarship have if you’re selected?
  • What are your educational and career goals?
  • What will completing your degree mean to your career and future?
  • What are the most important issues your industry is facing today?
  • How have you demonstrated leadership skills in your life, work or school?
  • Does any attribute, quality or skill distinguish you from everyone else? How did you develop this attribute?
  • Pick an experience from your own life and explain how it has influenced your development.
  • Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Essay tips

Plan ahead
Start your scholarship essay early. Essays take time to write and revise. Give yourself plenty of time and do not wait until the last minute.

Understand the essay topic
Scholarship providers usually give you a topic to write about or questions to answer. Respond to the questions asked and know your audience. Whom are you writing to and what are they asking? If needed, do additional research. Take a closer look at the mission of the scholarship for additional insight.

Define your objectives
What do you want to say about yourself in the essay? After you understand the essay topic, you should be aware of what you want to accomplish. Most scholarship committees prefer to see the standard five-paragraph essay complete with introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Using this format can help you develop a theme and stay on topic.

Use tangible examples
As you write your essay, don’t be general in your response. Use concrete examples to support your ideas and tell a story with your details. When the selection committee has finished reading your essay, you want them to remember you.

Be original
Selection committees often have to read hundreds of scholarship essays. Make sure that your essay stands out. Many applicants think they’ll have a better chance if they share their problems and hardships as a demonstration of how much they need the scholarship. Instead of focusing on your challenges, be different and focus on what you have learned or how you have overcome your trials.

Edit
The essay that you submit should be the polished final version. It should be free of all errors—spelling, grammatical and structural. When you are finished, have a friend or family member read it. Use the WritePoint feature and the Scholarship Essay Review service on your student website.