Samples of Scholarship Essay and Follow-up Letter

A scholarship essay is an excellent opportunity to prove to a College or University that you have what is takes to make it in their academic environment. Some Colleges will specify formatting requirements; follow their instructions to the letter. If they don’t provide style criteria then APA standard formatting will look professional and like you are ready for College. APA formatting criteria is simple to follow and the rules are available on numerous websites or at the library.

Create a generic essay on an interesting topic. Many colleges will allow flexibility on subject matter. This will give you a basis for each essay which can be tailored to the criteria of each college. A personal essay is an excellent choice as it is usually accepted as a subject topic and very often it is the subject required.

The other big advantage of writing a personal essay is that it is adaptable to accommodate a variety of possible award sponsors, take for example the hypothetical opening sentence of an essay awarded by Microsoft, the essay opens like this, Like Mr. Gates, I have worked hard for my achievements… This opening line is adaptable to any company or individual. It is a great generic opening.

A personal essay tells of a story or experience in first person. It also provides the writer with another opportunity to show off, not just their writing skills but also their maturity, insights and depth. For many awards the essay doesn’t have to be really complicated or exhibit an extraordinary vocabulary. Have a look at this sample of the 2010 Tennessee Court Reporters Association, winning essay.

Sample 1

Given Subjects

Often the sponsor of a scholarship award will require the subject matter to be relevant to the company or individual sponsoring. For example, the privately sponsored organization Celebration of Liberty, who sponsor an annual scholarship based on an essay on the subject of, you guessed it, liberty.

The realm of sponsors and potential topics is endless, realtors, bankers, politicians, businesses and so on. For these scholarships it is very likely that you will not be able to use a generic essay and will have to tailor the essay for the sponsor. Rather than apply for a large number of scholarships of this type, it might pay to apply to only one or two of them that offer large monetary rewards. Here is the scholarship essay from the 2009 winning entry of the Celebration of Liberty Scholarship awarded to Ty Madsen of Rigby, Ohio.

Sample 2

A more formal essay than the first for sure, but both of these sample essays were winners!

Letters to Include with your Application

In addition to referral letters as listed above, applicants will want to create a compelling cover letter. Also, if the process involves personal contact, perhaps a personal or telephone interview, a follow up thank you letter is another opportunity to remind the scholarship administrators that you are out there and keen!