essay writing examples

Essay Writing Examples for Scholarships

With college tuition costs so high, gaining scholarships or financial aid is a crucial part of many students’ college plans. Often, the amount of aid or scholarships students receive can be the deciding factor in which school they ultimately attend. When you’re going through your scholarship search, you’ll find essay writing to be the main component of many scholarship applications. As such, reading essay writing examples can help you better understand the scholarship essay format. 

In this guide, we’re going to check out plenty of essay writing examples. In addition to discussing why our essay writing sample for scholarships worked, we’ll also:

  • Compare the Common App essay to scholarship essays
  • Look at how to write a scholarship essay
  • Break down essay writing samples and topics
  • Understand the scholarship essay format
  • Give tips on how to write successful scholarship essays

Ready to get into our essay writing samples and learn some tips for writing scholarship essays? First, let’s learn a little bit more about how to actually apply for scholarships and ultimately gain money for college. 

Applying for Scholarships for college

essay writing examples

All essay writing examples can be helpful learning tools when you are applying to different scholarships. However, the type of essay you write will depend on the specific scholarship you’re applying to. As such, the actual scholarship search plays a crucial part in the scholarship essay format you’ll want to follow.

But, how do you actually find scholarships? Luckily, there is no shortage of scholarships websites to search. Some common college scholarships include:

In some cases, you may be automatically submitted for certain scholarships (such as school specific merit scholarships). However, more often than not, you’ll have to complete another application specific to the scholarship.

When you start your scholarship search, you’ll find information about how to apply on the scholarships websites. There you’ll learn if you need to interview, write essays, or complete any other requisites to be eligible. 

Completing scholarship applications

Applying to scholarships is quite similar to applying to college. You’ll want to make your best qualities stand out and cater your candidate profile to the specific scholarship at hand. You’ll see this in our essay writing examples and essay writing samples shortly. For need-based scholarships, you’ll also have to submit your family’s financial information such as your household’s annual income. And, just like when applying to college, you’ll have to do some essay writing. 

Of course, all of these requirements will vary depending on your scholarship search. Use your scholarship search to identify the scholarships that you are eligible for and are of interest to you. You’ll find all of the requirements, information, and often useful resources on the scholarships websites. Often, the separate application (if applicable) will be available on whichever scholarships websites you are applying through.

The scholarship essay format will vary, which is why we’ve included various essay writing samples in this article:

  • Scholarship essay examples about yourself,
  • Scholarship essay examples about financial need,
  • Even a scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship.

Prompts will vary depending on the scholarship. In general, you’ll want to follow the instructions, completely answer the prompt, and show why you’re the best candidate. 

Scholarship Essay vs. Common App Essay

essay writing examples

You’ve probably heard plenty about the Common App essay—or maybe you’ve already written one!

The personal statement, or Common App essay, is an important part of the college application process. In fact, it’s similar to the scholarship essay examples we’re going to see later on. By that, we mean it is meant for applicants to show the reader who they are beyond grades and extracurriculars.

Essentially, your personal statement is the time to get personal and share why you’re a great fit for the school. It’s important to note, the Common App essay won’t focus on your financial needs. However, in your scholarship search, you’ll find plenty of scholarship essay examples about financial need. 

In a scholarship essay, you need to show why you’re the best fit to receive that money for college. Just as with the Common App essay, using anecdotes and finding your own writing style can enhance your essay. Additionally, you’ll want to be sure that you are following the requirements on scholarships websites. And of course, you’ll need to clearly answer the prompt. 

While some of our essay writing examples may even seem similar to the Common App essay, you’ll note some nuances. For example, students often demonstrate financial need and overcoming obstacles in these essays. Additionally, scholarship essays are often shorter than the Common App essay. They’re often under 500 words, as you’ll soon see in our essay writing samples.  

How do you write a scholarship essay?

If you can write a standout college essay, then you can write a scholarship essay too. However, you’ll notice our essay writing examples have certain qualities in common. Here are some things you can keep in mind in order to be among the winning scholarship essay examples: 

Be you and get personal

Self-reflection and personal growth play a huge part in our essay writing examples. You want to be authentic and genuine. Don’t try to write an essay you think the scholarship committee wants to read. Simply show them who you are. 

Answer the prompt and follow instructions

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to note! If you are required to write an essay of 500 words, don’t turn in one of 100. That probably won’t impress. And, be sure that while you’re showing your authentic self, you’re also completely answering the prompt you’ve been given. 

Tell your story

While it may seem open-ended, you’ll want to brainstorm the most meaningful possible topics based on the prompt. From there, you’ll need to hook your reader, then keep them captivated. If you’re still not sure how to do this, don’t worry. You’ll have a better idea of how to write a scholarship essay after we look at the essay writing examples.

As previously stated, there’s not necessarily one scholarship essay format. You can often get creative with your responses, just like the students who wrote our essay writing samples did. Just be sure to research the scholarships websites to see what they look for in candidates. Do they value certain qualities and skills in an applicant? Well, show that you have them! Our essay writing examples leave the reader with no doubts about the potential of the applicant. 

Now, let’s turn our attention to the first step of the writing process: brainstorming essay topics.

Scholarship Essay Writing Sample Topics

essay writing examples

The topic that you choose to write about will depend on the scholarship you’re applying to. Scholarship essay prompts can be specific or open-ended. Consequently, scholarship essay examples about yourself can vary greatly. From scholarship essay examples about financial need to essays on a research topic, there’s a lot to cover. This is the case whether you are applying for a scholarship as a high school junior or as a senior. 

Luckily, we’re going to look at five very different scholarship essay writing samples and topics. The variety in the scholarship essay prompts will help you see how the essay writing examples vary. But, of course, don’t be surprised to find similarities among our essay writing examples. The goal of all of our essay writing samples is the same. Gain money for college and offset high college tuition costs. 

Across the board, students share personal stories that will help them stand out for the scholarship at hand. Often, these stories show accomplishments, growth, or demonstrate more about their backgrounds. Overcoming challenges is also a common theme that you’ll see among the essay writing examples. 

Scholarship Essay Writing Samples

Reading winning scholarship essay examples is an excellent way to kick off your own scholarship writing journey. You’ll notice plenty of variety within our essay writing samples. That’s because they have been written for various scholarships websites all over the country. Each has their own prompt and maximum word count. And, you may notice nuances within the scholarship essay format of each of our essay writing samples. 

In total, we’ll explore five essay writing samples. By the end, you’ll be on your way to cutting college tuition costs by writing your best scholarship essays. 

UCLA Merit Scholarship Essay Example

essay writing examples

The first of our essay writing examples is for a specific school: UCLA. There are various UCLA scholarships available to students. Some UCLA scholarships are both merit and need based. At UCLA, you’ll submit a scholarship essay when you are submitting your regular application. This is often the case for school-specific scholarships. Usually, you’ll get your UCLA scholarships information and acceptance at the same time. 

The following is the first of our essay writing samples: a student response to the UCLA merit scholarship:

Essay Example #1: UCLA Merit Scholarship

As an artist, I’ve experimented with nearly every medium I can get my hands on: watercolor, oil pastel, soft pastel, charcoal, pencil, oil, acrylic, you name it. Through my artistic endeavors, I  discovered I have the hands of a designer.  

When I cook at the community center for our elders, I arrange scoops of mashed potatoes on  the plate like flower petals, placing a spoon between each “petal.” I’d leave leftovers for the community center staff who would comment, “Who did this? We have an artist!” Doing string art in Calculus AB, I stitched the Rolling Stones’ mighty tongue; making a cover page for a Civil  War project, I fused the Confederate and Union flags and struck lightning down the middle to portray the clash between two warring sides. 

During my junior year, I served as Viewpoint editor for the school newspaper. The Viewpoint section is more than writing and dealing with societal issues, such as gluttony and greed. Every issue requires a simple yet elaborate two-page design. Whenever I get to create, the gears  start turning: How do we design a page for gluttony? I know: we’ll use a Pac-man theme. We’ll feed Pac-man slushies, burgers, and fries (who doesn’t love a good slushy?). What about greed? Let’s throw a few dollar bills on a Monopoly board. 

I try to create balance in all of my works. “This is beautiful,” someone once said to me. “There  are a number of things going on through the foreground and background layers, but they’re  subtle enough that it doesn’t look too busy or crowded, and the central image provides a  strong focus.” Art and design teach me to find beauty in everyday life. I will leave my mark by making UCLA a more colorful campus while discovering even more about the world.

Why this essay worked

In the first of our essay writing samples, this student is showing us they are a stand out artist. By noting the ways in which the student intertwines artistic expression into their daily activities, their passion is clear. Like many other scholarships, UCLA scholarships are not easy to get. Students need to hook their readers with memorable details. The first of our essay writing samples also shows how unique and interesting this student is. How many people do you know that are crafting flowers out of mashed potatoes?

The best scholarship essays might touch on various points. This student used the opportunity to mention their relevant extracurricular activities: Viewpoint editor for their school newspaper. The student’s example shows that they not only are involved, but they are truly interested in the activity. They get excited about designing each layout. You can feel it in the brainstorming that the student has laid out on the page. 

This scholarship essay format is interesting in that the student uses quotes to highlight how her art has been received. Since they have been getting raving reviews, it makes sense to add them here. Indeed, you won’t find this tactic in the essay writing examples that follow. While it can be done well, in general, we recommend keeping your essays for UCLA scholarships focused on you.

Overall, the student’s abilities as an art and design major is obvious. Consequently, it’s clear that this student would bring plenty of color, creativity, and passion to the art and design department.

Scholarship Essay Examples about Yourself

essay writing examples

Scholarship essay examples about yourself can encompass many different things. So, we’re going to look at two essay writing examples for this type of prompt. You’ll notice that both essay writing samples follow a similar scholarship essay format with a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

Essay Example #2: Personal Essay for Scholarship

I have always found the serendipity of life intriguing. There is no autonomy in where you are born,  when you are born, or to whom you are born. In my frequent musings, I have realized how unbelievable it is that I stand where I stand today. Yet, I also understand that, in large part, I have been able to achieve what I  have achieved because of the generosity of those who have supported me. Knowing, from my experience, how great initiatives like merit scholarship programs are and how much of a difference they can make in both the individual’s life’s and in society, I would be honored to be considered for this opportunity. 

The civil war in Colombia was my breeding ground. I was born into a low-income family in a volatile country. A family who became a victim of the FARC. Akin to what people glamorize in action films, my mother’s workplace was shot up in her attempted murder, but she managed to flee and lose those who were seeking her. My mother and I were on a flight to Florida that same day. My father, not ready to abandon his other many responsibilities, chose to stay behind at that time. Unfortunately, violence’s whirlwind caught up to him not too long after that.

From then forth, I grew up in a foreign country with my mother who, though working indefatigably, had her work cut out for her since she was undocumented, did not know any English, and had no money to her name. Witnessing my mother’s tenacity and bravery was the winnowing fan to the small spark within me. Knowing what we have been able to overcome, I thank  God for her strength and her words that helmed our collective ship. 

Coming from a low-income, first-generation, single-parent family has been accompanied by obstacles. A major one being a lack of awareness of how to tread the road towards success. This has driven me to work for a variety of community service organizations to help pave the road for people like me and for those that will follow, and I believe that this scholarship is among the most powerful tools to continue to allow me to do so.  

My life experiences have allowed me to have a diverse perspective on why certain populations are more vulnerable and what can be done about it. The responsibility is on our shoulders to, uplift those around us. Especially those who need it most. I would be forever indebted were I to be selected for this scholarship because I believe that it would grant me the tools necessary to dedicate my life to public service and be efficacious in it. To this point, I recognize that without the generous financial support I have received along the way I would not be able to stand where I stand today. It would be my honor and privilege to continue on  this path with the support of this scholarship.

Why this essay worked

This is arguably one of our most powerful essay writing examples. The writer shares so much about their personal life and background. Having lived in Colombia during the civil war shaped this student’s entire life trajectory. Indeed, their path has certainly not been easy nor one without tragedy. However, they have overcome many obstacles and are consciously working towards a path of success—whatever that might be. 

In the second of our essay writing examples, the author reflects on their life and looks towards the future. We know that they are involved in community service organizations. We also see that they are dedicated to a life in public service in order to help others. It’s not only a great essay, but a compelling life story. And, it is more than clear what this money for college will allow them to one day accomplish.

Now let’s take a look at another similar type of personal scholarship essay. The idea of sharing more about yourself is the same, but the scholarship essay format is different. You’ll see that this is the longest of our essay writing examples. Here is the third of our essay writing samples.

Essay Example #3: Kinecta Scholarship essay

It seems to contradict the very nature of the pandemic itself to say that one of the best and richest unexpected upsides has been my ability to form and enrich my connections and relationships with others. Yet, I found myself crying of sheer joy while sitting at my kitchen table in New Haven on one humid night last August because despite being completely alone in my apartment for two weeks, I had finally returned home….virtually. 

I was raised in Los Angeles, which I am proud to call my hometown for many reasons. The weather is unbeatable and the food is amazing, but the most personally meaningful part of growing up in LA has always been my involvement in the Japanese American ethnic enclave community. It’s difficult to concisely explain the enclave, which is an intergenerational hub of identity, culture, and history, but the short version is this: when Japanese laborers first migrated to the West Coast in the late nineteenth century, they were systematically excluded from many different spaces, from hospitals and banks to basketball leagues.

As a result, community members built their own institutions to support each other, many of which continue in the present. I participated in everything from a Japanese American softball league and Girl Scout Troop to pre-school and summer programs. These institutions, and the people who built them, have truly molded me into the person I am today. 

Racial discrimination today isn’t as legally encoded the way it was when my parents and grandparents were growing up (we aren’t, for example, banned from playing sports or buying houses). However, there is an enduring light and strength that comes from connecting with others who share culture and histories. It’s the little things, like people pronouncing my name correctly and sharing my favorite foods. It’s the big things, such as understanding when I say “camp” I’m referring to my family’s unlawful incarceration during World War II and not cabins in the woods. And of course, it’s everything in between: the glowing lanterns at our summer Obon festivals, the friends I made at the age of three who I’m still close with today, and the feeling of being safe and protected. 

I began to understand how much effort and struggle went into preserving our community, from fighting gentrification to ensuring equitable resource allocation, in high school, through my involvement in the Japanese American youth leadership organization Kizuna. Having community support was particularly important as I started to experience more racism as a Japanese and Black queer and non-binary person in academic spaces in particular, which were saturated with toxic competition over the college application process. Seeing the ways in which racism affected both Japanese and Black bodies, including my own, made me determined to pursue public health and race on the biggest stage possible, which led me across the country to Yale’s combined Bachelor’s/Master’s in Public Health program. Now, I’m completing my fifth and final year of studying just these issues next fall. 

I love Yale and I have absolutely no regrets in choosing this school for my undergraduate and graduate education. From conducting unprecedented research on the role of medicine in perpetuating the trans-Atlantic slave trade to engaging in statewide and national HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns, Yale has academically and professionally given me everything I could have hoped for and more.

I’ve also found rich forms of community and deep friendships, particularly in Asian American and Black spaces; the ability to, for example, organize the largest undergraduate-led Black identity conference in North America was actually one of the big reasons I chose Yale in the first place. However, there are very few Japanese Americans in the Northeast, and most of my friends and family were still in Los Angeles. As time went by, it was hard to stay in touch with them, and the community more broadly, especially because almost everyone else was still together while I was not.

As a result, I returned home to California less and less over the three years I was enrolled at Yale pre-pandemic. I would blame it on the time, the inconvenience, and the cost, but in reality it was because coming home was too painful when I was faced with the knowledge that I had to leave again. However, all of that changed with the pandemic. While we are all tired of Zoom, the platform has allowed us to transcend time and space, and this year the distance between Connecticut and Los Angeles was compressed in new and gratifying ways.

This fall, I was able to participate in community meetings, attend Sunday morning temple service, and have fun at mixers and game nights for the first time in years. I even made new friends, one of whom is now the person I text the most everyday. The cherry on top was virtually volunteering as a summer sleepaway camp counselor, which I hadn’t been able to do in three years prior because the camp’s in-person dates normally conflict with Yale’s academic calendar. This was such an unexpected bright spot in a very difficult season that I indeed ended up dissolving in (good) tears at my kitchen table, isolated in my apartment for arrival quarantine, but far, far from alone. 

After finishing my cry, and in the months that followed, I realized the pandemic has more broadly given me a sense of enhanced gratitude for these opportunities, and for everything in my life. When tomorrow seems more fleeting and uncertain than ever before and our movements and actions are painfully restrained, the small joys become all the more wonderful: good food, laughter with friends, and a new favorite song can brighten days that so easily can descend into darkness. I also realized, in large part through getting to spend more time engaged with my community, that life is really too short to spend all of my time trying to be “perfect.” While I’d let go of some of the perfectionistic tendencies I developed in high school over the course of college, I still prioritized academic and professional obligations over friends, family, and sleep pre-pandemic.

However, it became increasingly difficult over the course of 2020 to continue this inherently unsustainable pattern, and I realized that I really needed to change my outlook on life in order to get anything done at all. In part because of increased community support, I slowly became braver and bolder about saying “yes” to the things that I actually wanted to do without feeling guilty. Many of those “yes”-es were to community activities, but some of them were also to enjoying time with my podmates, watching silly TV shows, and just taking time to rest. 

To my wonderful surprise, I’ve actually produced better academic work as a result, including my thesis on Japanese American healthcare providers. This couldn’t have come at a better time, because work at the axis of race and public health seems more relevant than ever. COVID-19 infection and care disparities, Black Lives Matter, and the surge of violent anti-Asian racism have raised important and long overdue conversations surrounding racism in all spaces. As seen in Atlanta this week, our lives and communities are constantly threatened by harmful and reductive constructions of Asians as “diseased,” which has made community spaces of healing more necessary than ever. I’m beyond thankful even though the pandemic has incited much of this violence, it’s also provided broader access to the people who stand with us when this violence does happen. 

When we gather together, even over Zoom, we are reminded that this is not the first time our community has endured such hate. The history of our community’s resilience against incarceration, deportation, and alienation gives us strength to combat these issues today, and shows us we don’t have to endure them alone. We can also organize with each other and make connections across communities to collectively enable a better future for all of us. For me, that future will most certainly involve eating at Little Tokyo restaurants and going back up to sleepaway camp for real. For now though, these pockets of cross-country Zooming give me enough joy and strength to keep imagining, wishing, and working to create that reality.

Why this essay worked

The third of our essay writing examples is for the Kinecta Scholarship. The Kinecta Scholarship is for outstanding students that are active in their communities. This writer does an excellent job of showing how important community has been and will continue to be to them. And how their unique experience has led them to choose to study a combined Bachelor’s/Masters in Public Health at Yale. 

Through this narrative, we see the student’s unwavering dedication to their communities. As a Japanese and Black queer and nonbinary person, they’ve personally experienced the effects of racism in the academic world. During the pandemic, this student also witnessed the obvious racism felt among their communities. However, in their essay, they show how these lived experiences have motivated them to excel in their academic ventures.

It is obvious from this essay that community is at the forefront of this person’s values. The third of our essay writing samples perfectly caters to the scholarship to which they’re applying. And, the writing is as honest and personal as it is thoughtful and well written.

Scholarship Essay Sample about “Why I deserve this scholarship…”

essay writing examples

When applying to scholarships, you might find that they simply want to know, why you? The next of our essay writing samples does just that. Let’s take a look at a scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. 

Essay Example #4: Merit Scholarship Essay

The motivation I have had to create a successful and happy life for myself is something I will always be grateful for. In the face of the adversity that I have had to experience being a child of two immigrants who did not understand English and were unable to help me with my school work when I was younger, as well as a minority in a world full of people that do nothing but doubt those who they consider different from them, I am proud to say that I have never let anything get in the way of me doing everything that I can to continue achieving my goals.

Throughout my life, I have come across individuals who do not share the same drive to succeed that I do and attempt to convince me that what I care about does not matter, but it has never stopped me from being my true self. In fact, these challenges have done nothing but motivate me to work even harder in order to prove to myself and to others that with determination and hard work, anything is possible no matter where you come from. 

My main motivation to continue succeeding in school and in life has always been my family. My family has worked so hard to give me a comfortable and happy life and the only way that I feel that I can properly repay them is to continue making them proud through my achievements. The happiness that I have been able to give them throughout my middle school and high school years by simply handing them my report card every quarter and inviting them to my award ceremonies is something I will eternally be glad that I was able to do. In the future, I hope to give them this same happiness by inviting them to my college graduation and allowing them to see the wonderful job they have done as my family and support system. 

Although I have always been determined to become successful, I was not always sure about the path that I was going to take in order to make this happen. However, this changed the day my mother suffered a severe Transient ischemic attack (aka a mini stroke). My mother was losing feeling on the right side of her body and temporarily lost her ability to speak. When we took her to the hospital, I sat by her side until I was kicked out by a staff member at Good Samaritan Hospital when visiting hours ended.

This day is one I’ll never forget, and this obstacle was able to bring out a side of me I never knew I had. Watching the doctors and nurses do their jobs and apply their knowledge to help my mother and the people around us absolutely amazed me. I thought to myself that if I was one of these people, I can come to work every day to help other human beings and bring relief upon not only my patients, but the loved ones by their side. From this day forward, a career in medicine is one that continues to intrigue me.

Since then, I’ve volunteered in hospitals to get a feel for a hospital’s environment and to learn about healthcare careers and the way patients were treated, and have attended presentations that have been offered at my school of individuals talking about their healthcare careers and experiences. When I think of my future, I cannot think of one that is better than being a PA in pediatrics and waking up every day to interact with and help patients. The idea of being able to apply my knowledge to help others is one that I absolutely love, and one that I greatly desire to bring to life. 

Through doing things such as volunteering in soup kitchens, tutoring, and helping others out with the college application process, I uncovered that one of the things I love doing most is helping others. I get so much happiness from knowing that I was able to make someone feel better and put a smile on their face through my actions, and I cannot wait to continue doing so for the rest of my life. I believe I should receive a scholarship award not only to aid me through this college journey that awaits me after high school, but also because I intend to utilize the knowledge I will acquire throughout my journey to improve the lives of those who I will be fortunate enough to help throughout my life as a PA.

Why this essay worked

This is an excellent scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. Of course, as you might have noticed, the student doesn’t directly address the prompt until the conclusion. Instead, they use various examples and give more about their background in order to show the reader why they deserve the scholarship. The adage, “show, don’t tell” applies to all of your essay writing—even for scholarships! You’ll notice all the writers of our essay writing samples immerse the reader in the narrative.

We learn so much about this applicant through their essay. The best scholarship essays will allow the reader to feel as though they really get to know the applicant. From this scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship, we know the writer has overcome many challenges in their life. Not only are they a minority and child of immigrants, but they also had to face a traumatic event when their mother had a mini stroke. However, the applicant shows that time and time again, when faced with difficulties, they are able to overcome and go on to excel. Overcoming obstacles is often a prevalent theme in scholarship essay examples about yourself, and even scholarship essay examples about financial need. 

After reading the fourth of our essay writing examples, it is clear how motivated, determined, and passionate the applicant is about their success. Reading this scholarship sample about why I deserve the scholarship, we also learn they have a clear career goal: becoming a PA in pediatrics. And this is all demonstrated in the narrative and accompanying details. In the end, there is no doubt in the reader’s mind that this student will succeed in college and beyond. 

More scholarship essay writing examples

essay writing examples

The last of our essay writing samples is for a specific scholarship for students who capture the spirit and vision of Martin Luther King Jr.. This scholarship is for students from an underrepresented ethnic or racial group. Here is the last of our essay writing examples for scholarships: 

Essay Example #5: Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarships 

My school of 120 kids per grade consists of a large disparity between the percentages of races in CP, Honors, or AP classes. In honors and AP classes, students were predominantly asian or white, while a majority CP students were black and came from economically disadvantaged families. CP students pointed out the lack of enthusiasm teachers radiated compared to higher level classes, making it difficult for students to stay engaged.

Additionally, while AP students got one on one feedback on their college essays, honors and CP students’ essays were only reviewed as an assignment grade and given minimal commentary. Many CP students fell into a state of learned helplessness, not understanding how it was possible for them to improve with the lack of resources. These students are less likely to enter a university that is more likely to offer them a higher paying job, and thus the divide of racial disparities continues in an endless cycle: the rich becoming richer and the poor staying where they are. The public then adapts a stereotype threat that puts them to more of a disadvantage.

These issues are rooted from racial injustice, economic wage gaps, and family environments. The MLK program offers learning opportunities that covers all aspects of this issue. Specifically, I’d like to discuss with the faculty, participate in research, and see how we can adapt our system to supply the resources needed. Education should be an even playing field for all. Everyone should have an equal chance to thrive.

Why this essay worked

The last of our winning scholarship essay examples is much shorter than the others. However, the limited word count does nothing to affect the quality of the writing. In under 250 words, we learn a lot about the writer, specifically their passion for equality and justice. 

In the last of our essay writing samples, the writer uses an excellent example. Their essay is about something that they have personally observed and experienced in order to make a larger point. They compare high school classes to the social and economic injustices of the real world. In using this example, the writer explores how deep systemic racism runs within their lived experiences. They are acutely aware of the injustices experienced by their peers and themselves. They describe their observations of the varied quality in education in their own high school.

We can see the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. in this student through their determination to fight for equality, starting with education. This scholarship essay format is different from the scholarship essay examples about yourself or the scholarship essay examples about financial aid. In just a single paragraph, the student shares their experiences, observations, and passion for the topic at hand. While this isn’t specifically a scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship, the student is able to show just that without directly stating it. 

Understanding scholarship essay format

essay writing examples

There are many types of scholarships available to students trying to manage their college tuition costs. As you start your scholarship search, this will be evident. As will the fact that there is no set scholarship essay format, as every prompt will be different. However, the best scholarship essays will highlight applicants’ qualities and accomplishments that coincide with the values of the scholarship they’re applying for. 

Beyond different prompts, the application process itself may look different across scholarships. So, let’s take a look at two popular scholarships with their own unique application processes.

Gates Scholarship

One well-known scholarship from a private foundation is the Gates Scholarship. This is a minority and merit-based scholarship. As one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, receiving this scholarship is difficult—the acceptance rate is less than 1%. However, for 300 selected students, the Gates Scholarship covers the full cost of college. This scholarship doesn’t require an essay, but does have an interview. Even without an essay, you can use our featured essay writing samples as inspiration when creating your resume. You should use every aspect of your application to tell a compelling narrative!

Questbridge Scholarship

Another popular, full-ride scholarship is the QuestBridge Scholarship. This is a scholarship for high-achieving, low-income students. Students apply through QuestBridge to participating institutions. If “matched” with one of them, students must accept the offer. The application is similar to a regular college application. In fact, the QuestBridge essay is extremely similar to the Common App essay. While the QuestBridge prompt can change yearly, it usually asks students to write about how they’ve overcome challenges—similar to many of the essay writing examples we’ve seen in this article. 

Overall, scholarship essay prompts will determine the scholarship essay format. Keep in mind that when applying to scholarships you want to highlight the qualities that the scholarship most values while answering the prompt. Be sure to include personal anecdotes and specific experiences. Remember that this essay should be unique to you! Stray away from clichés and generalities. 

Tips for scholarship essays

essay writing examples

Being prepared is the best way to gain scholarship money for college. Reading winning scholarship essay examples and essay writing samples is an excellent way to start your writing process. Let our essay writing samples inspire you to tell your story in a way that’s authentic to you, answers the prompt, and highlights you as the best possible candidate. 

We looked at various types of essay writing examples in this article: scholarship essay examples about yourself, scholarship essay examples about financial need, and a scholarship essay sample about why I deserve the scholarship. However, CollegeAdvisor has plenty more resources if you want to see more essay writing samples, best scholarship essays, and scholarship essay prompts. 

Looking at other essay writing examples is a great first step towards learning how to write winning scholarship essays. CollegeAdvisor has plenty of guides with essay writing samples of personal essays, short essays, and more! Here are some more scholarship essay writing examples. And, be sure to check out these guides on how to win various merit-based scholarships

Essay Writing Examples for Scholarships – Final Thoughts

In this article, we’ve had the opportunity to see five outstanding essay writing examples for scholarships. Through these essay writing examples, we saw how important it is to be your authentic self. Every one of our essay writing samples allowed us to better understand the writer and why they deserve the scholarship. Hopefully, these essay writing samples have inspired you to start your own!

If you’re looking for support with finding and applying to scholarships, don’t hesitate to reach out. The experts at CollegeAdvisor have helped thousands of students and families navigate the college application process—including helping students applying to scholarships and financial aid.

essay writing examples

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.