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Scholarships By Essays

No long essays. No recommendation letters. Just lots of scholarships that are easy to apply to. And practically anyone can win. Oh, and this list is up to date too. 😉

These are the easiest-to-win college scholarships out there right now. Most take only a couple minutes to enter, with super simple applications and minimal writing. Awards that require 500+ word essays, letters of recommendation, intense projects, etc. were not included. We’re talking easy scholarships, people! Many of the scholarships are open to anyone, and most winners are chosen totally at random too.

Now, before you dive into this list, remember: your scholarship search shouldn’t end here! There are so many scholarships out there. Also, just because a scholarship isn’t advertised as “easy” doesn’t mean applying for it is hard. It can take a lot of time to find all the awards that fit you, fill out applications, and more. But it’s so worth it in the end. Think about it: you might spend five hours working on a scholarship essay that’s worth “only” $500—but if you win, that’s like getting paid $100 an hour! (You’re not gonna earn that at the Gap. Just saying.)

Related: Scholarship Search Best Practices

So enjoy this ultimate (and up-to-date!) list of easy college scholarships—and apply to as many as you can. Yes, they get a lot of entries because they’re so easy to apply to, but you have nothing to lose by trying. After all, somebody has to win these awards. Why not you?

$10,000 CollegeXpress Scholarship Contest

Amount: $10,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
May 1
How to win: 
Of course we need to include our scholarship. All you have to do is register with CollegeXpress to be entered—and the prize is $10,000. Ten. Thousand. Dollars. For filling out a form. We know we’re biased, but it doesn’t get much better than that! The scholarship is open to incoming college freshmen, grad students, and transfer students at participating institutions. If you’re already registered for CollegeXpress, you’re already entered! (And if you’re not, what are you waiting for?!) Learn more here.

10 Words or Less Scholarship

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
December 1   
How to win: 
Basically, you just need to explain—in 10 words or less—why you should get this scholarship. They even let you post it as a comment on their Facebook page, for cryin’ out loud. You’re also required to “like” their Facebook page. In addition, you need to be between the ages of 14–25 and attending college in the fall. Learn more here.

AFSA (American Fire Sprinkler Association) Scholarship

Amount: $2,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
April 7, 2017
How to win: 
To win this scholarship, you need to read about automatic fire sprinkler systems and take a 10-question quiz about the material. Pretty easy, right? This award is only open to high school seniors on their way to an accredited two- or four-year school in the fall. Ten scholarships are available each year—which means you have 10 chances to win! Learn more here.

Americanism Essay Contest

Amount: Up to $5,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
December 1
How to win: Every year the Fleet Reserve Association awards a scholarship based on a single patriotic theme. They do require an essay, but it’s only 350 words. This year’s theme is “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” In addition to the $5,000 grand prize, there are awards for first, second, and third place ($2,500, $1,500, and $1,000, respectively). This scholarship is also open to students in grades 7–12. Learn more here.

Beliz Law Firm Video Essay Scholarship Contest

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
December 31
How to win: Everyone knows creating a video “essay” is more fun (and easier) than a written one. And if you can create a thoughtful video, no longer than three minutes, about the impact of texting and driving, you could win this scholarship. You also need to be a current college student or a high school senior already accepted to a college or trade school. Learn more here.

C.I.P. (College is Power) Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
May 31, 2017
How to win: 
Whether you’re a full- or part-time student, whether you’re going to school online or in person, you could snag this scholarship. You need to be at least 17 years old and a US citizen, and you need to be attending school within the next 12 months. The only application requirements include a short form and a 150-word mini essay. Learn more here.

Cappex Easy College Money Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
Register with Cappex to win. You just need to be “currently enrolled in high school or college or plan to enroll in the next 12 months.” Boom. Done. Learn more here. 

CaptainU Student-Athlete Scholarship

Amount: $2,000
Awarded:
Quarterly
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: 
All high school student-athletes (freshmen to seniors) and junior college students can enter. Winners must attend a four-year college and complete a short, free CaptainU profile. You can also boost your chances by doing stuff like saving colleges. One winner is chosen each quarter. Learn more here.

Chegg $1,000 Monthly Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: Every month Chegg posts their scholarship question. One recent example: “What would you say is the most important thing to consider when choosing a college, and why?” Then students can respond in 600 characters or less—not words, characters—for a chance to win. They say it takes two minutes to apply. One thousand dollars. For two minutes. Now that’s math we like to do. Learn more here.

Christian College EDGE Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
May 31
How to win: 
Just create an account with this Christian college search site. You’ll then have a chance to get information from Christian colleges and universities. It’ll enter you in their scholarship drawing and help you get recruited by those schools! This is different from their $2,500 Christian College Scholarship drawing; see below. Learn more here.

Christian College Scholarship Drawing

Amount: $2,500
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
May 31
How to win: 
You need to complete the registration form for The Christian College Connector. Then winners are chosen at random, but they must be planning to enroll as a full-time freshman at a “Christ-centered Christian college or Bible college” within 16 months of winning. Learn more here.

CollegeWeekLive.com Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
VR college fair site CollegeWeekLive gives away $1,000 each month to one lucky user chosen at random. You need to be registered with the site and visit five college pages (whichever schools you like) over the course of the month to be entered. Learn more here.

CollegeXpress $500 Refer-A-Friend Contest

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
For every person who creates a CollegeXpress account using your unique referral link, you get one entry in this monthly scholarship drawing. Winners are then chosen at random. There’s no limit to how many entries you can get—or how many times you can enter. (We’ve had people win more than once!) Learn more here.

Common Knowledge Scholarships

Amount: Up to $2,500
Awarded:
Varies
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: Take a quiz. Get a scholarship. Umm, nerdy trivia and money for college? Where do we sign up?!?! The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation offers a lot of quizzes on topics from academic subjects to movies. They’re open to any student in high school or college (even parents!) and can be applied to any postsecondary institution. Learn more here.

Countdown to College Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
May 1, 2017
How to win: When you sign up to get Potential Magazine’s free weekly “Countdown to College" newsletter e-mail, you’ll not only get helpful college admission tips and a free e-book—you’ll also get an entry in their annual $1,000 scholarship drawing! It’s open to all high school students, and the winner is chosen at random. Learn more here.

Courage to Grow Scholarship

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
This monthly award goes out to high school juniors, seniors, and college students with a minimum 2.5 GPA. And the only thing you need to do to win is submit a short 250-word essay about why you deserve the money. (Unfortunately, “Help me, I’m poor” doesn’t meet the word count.) Learn more here.

Course Hero Monthly Scholarship

Amount: $5,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: Every month Course Hero gives away some serious scholarship dollars. To become eligible you need to be registered on their site and submit a short “creative” answer (150 words or less) to that month’s question. You can also win $$$ for doing other easy things on their site, like giving course advice or sharing on social media. Learn more here.

Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest

Amount: $10,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
March 2
How to win: You’re already snapping and Instagramming beautiful shots. Put your skills to work by creating a winning greeting card image! It could snag you $10,000, which is almost as good as getting a bajillion likes. To apply to this scholarship, you also need to be a US citizen and at least 14 years old. Learn more here.

Discover Scholarship Award

Amount: $2,500
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
June 8, 2017
How to win: Sign up to receive handy college money tips from Discover (you know, the credit card people) and you’re entered! Plus, you can earn bonus entries by sharing the giveaway on social media. Ten winners will be chosen at random on select dates. You also need to be a high school or college student at least 16 years old, and you have to go to an eligible college or university (although parents of eligible students can also enter on their behalf). Learn more here.

DoSomething.org Easy Scholarships

Amount: Up to $22,000
Awarded:
Varies
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: Okay, this isn’t a particular scholarship. That’s because DoSomething.org offers a lot of easy scholarships. And they move pretty quickly, with many lasting only a month. But, man, they are fun, creative, and fast. You typically sign up, complete a simple task, and upload a picture proving you did it. Then the winners are chosen at random. No essay, GPA, etc. The best part? These scholarships help you do some good in the world! (At the moment of this writing, it’s for flagging Craigslist posts for ivory, which helps elephants.) So check in on the easy scholarships page at DoSomething.org to see what’s new. Learn more here.  

Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway

Amount: Up to $100,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
Typically in October
How to win: To enter Dr. Pepper’s easy and generous scholarship contest, you need to do a few things. First, describe how you’ll change the world in 350 characters or less. Next, get your friends to vote for your entry. If you get 50 or more votes, you’ll need to create an inspiring video. Then comes the crazy part: if you’re a finalist, you’ll compete during a Big Ten, SEC, PAC-12, or ACC football championship game. Yup, it doesn’t get much bigger than that—but neither does the prize: up to $100,000 in tuition money. Talk about the big show. Learn more here. 

Go Ennounce Yourself Scholarship

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
This monthly award has no GPA or essay requirements. It’s open to all high school and college students, with the exception of college seniors (womp womp). To enter you just need to join Ennounce and share your academic and extracurricular accomplishments (that’s what the site is all about!). And even though you register just once, you can become eligible each month by posting an update to your account. Not too shabby. Learn more here.

HeadSetPlus.com College Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
December 31
How to win: 
You know you want to be a YouTube star; get your start by recording a short video talking about who you are, what you’ve achieved, why college is important, and what motivates you. Yeah, that seems like a lot, but since you need to fit it into a video that’s no longer than five minutes, you’ll fly through “applying” for this scholarship! You need to be at least 16 years old and a high school senior or current college or grad student with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Learn more here.

New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship

Amount: Varies
Awarded:
Varies
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: If you graduated from a New Mexico high school, you’re continuing your education in New Mexico, and you earned at least a 2.5 GPA your first semester in college, you’ve basically got this scholarship in the bag. There isn’t even an application! You just need to contact your college or university and ask them about it. It’s that easy. Really. Learn more here.

NextStepU Win Free College Tuition Giveaway

Amount: $2,500
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
December 31
How to win: No essay required! Just register with NextStepU.com—during the eligibility period. It typically runs from July 1 to December 31. You also need to opt in to the “Win Free Tuition” sweepstakes. Learn more here.

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition

Amount: $50
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
Typically in March
How to win: 
Fifty dollars may not seem like much against your college tuition payments, but every little bit helps, and this is a pretty fun and fast scholarship. High school students in any grade can submit up to three haikus. A panel of judges then picks several winners each year. Learn more here.

No Essay College Scholarship™

Amount: $2,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
Just create a free profile with Niche. And if you already have one, all you need to do is log in each month for a chance to win! One winner is chosen at random every month. The contest is open to all high school and college students (though there are other eligibility requirements). The money can be applied toward any education-related expenses. Learn more here.

Odenza Marketing Group Scholarship

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Twice a year
Deadline:
Typically in September and March
How to win: Okay, this might not seem like the simplest scholarship in the world, because you technically have to write two essays. But they both call for a maximum of 500 words. So you could write 250 for each prompt—of course, you’d need to really knock them out of the park. The first essay is about where you would go to further your career, and the second is about why you deserve to win the scholarship. You also need to be between the ages of 16–25 and have at least a 2.5 GPA. Oh, and you need to like their Facebook page too, but that’s easy enough. Learn more here.

Sallie Mae® $5,000 Plan for CollegeSM Sweepstakes

Amount: $5,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: When you register to use Sallie Mae’s scholarship search tool during the month of November, aka National Scholarship Month, you’ll be entered to win their scholarship sweepstakes. And since you should be searching for scholarships anyway, might as well get a shot at $5,000 while you’re at it, amirite? Learn more here.

ScholarshipPoints Scholarship Giveaways

Amount: $10,000 and $1,000
Awarded:
Quarterly and monthly
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: The “points” in ScholarshipPoints come from completing activities like taking surveys, reading e-mails, and playing games. Then you can use those points to enter scholarship drawings and improve your chances of winning. Pretty sweet deal, right? Well, in addition to all that pointy goodness, they randomly choose a registered user for a $1,000 scholarship each month and a $10,000 each quarter. Yes, please! Learn more here.

ScholarshipPoints Seasonal Scholarships

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Varies
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: Again, you can cash in your ScholarshipPoints, er, points to win these themed awards; Turkey Dinero Scholarship, Frosty the Doughman Scholarship, and Gingerbread Housing Scholarship are some of their festive fall and winter awards! Every point is a chance to win; winners are chosen at random. Learn more here.

Scholarships 4 Moms

Amount: $10,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
 June 15, 2017 
How to win: 
Are you or are you about to become a mother? You could win $10,000 for “educational purposes,” and all you need to do is register with this site. It’s quick, easy, and free, which is good, because goodness knows you have your hands full—you’re a mom! You also need to be 18 years or older and a US citizen. Learn more here.

Scholarships.com “Tell A Friend” Scholarship Sweepstakes

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: So, you join Scholarships.com. Easy enough, right? Then you can get your personalized referral link (we do something similar here on CollegeXpress too!). When your friends use your link to create a profile, you get an entry in their monthly $1,000 scholarship sweepstakes drawing—and one of your friends could win $500 too! If you weren’t BFFs before, you definitely are now. Learn more here.

School Survey Sweepstakes

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: Niche gathers reviews for all kinds of schools, from K-12 institutions to colleges and universities. They reward students, parents, and recent alumni for leaving those reviews by offering a $1,000 scholarship sweepstakes. All you have to do is leave a (legit!) review to be entered. And you know you have lots of feelings about your school anyway, so… Learn more here.

School Band and Orchestra Magazine Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
Typically in December
How to win: Do you play in your high school band or orchestra? Can you write 250 words about a music-related essay prompt? (You totally can.) Then you should apply for this scholarship from School Band and Orchestra Magazine. Sure, learning how to play the clarinet wasn’t easy—but applying for this scholarship is. Learn more here.

Student-View Scholarship

Amount: Up to $4,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
Typically in April
How to win: No essay. No GPA or test scores. No application, even. All you need to do is complete a 15–25 minute online survey about colleges in your area. Then winners are chosen at random. Yes, that’s winners, plural. In addition to the $4,000 top prize, two $1,000 and 10 $500 scholarships are handed out. In terms of scholarships awarded at random, those are pretty good odds! Learn more here.

SunTrust Scholarship Sweepstakes

Amount: $500
Awarded:
Biweekly
Deadline:
May 12, 2017
How to win: SunTrust Bank is giving away $500 for college to two lucky winners every two weeks! (That’s so often!) Thirty winners will be chosen in all—at random. There is no GPA, essay, or financial need requirement. However! You need to be a resident of one of these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, or the District of Columbia (DC). You also need to be a high school senior or college undergrad. Learn more here.

Tall Clubs International Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
March 1, 2018 
How to win: If you’re exceptionally tall—at least 5'10" for women and 6'2" for men—you could win this scholarship. It’s open to high school seniors planning to attend college in the fall. Get in touch with the nearest chapter of Tall Clubs International for an application. Learn more here.

The $1,000 SuperCollege Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: Okay, here’s how to enter this scholarship: Fill out their online application. (Should take two minutes tops.) Hit “Submit.” End of instructions. Yup, it’s that easy. Winners are chosen at random. It’s open to high school seniors, college students, grad students, and adult learners. Learn more here.

UNIGO $10K Scholarship

Amount: $10,000
Awarded:
Annually
Deadline:
December 31
How to win: 
Students need to submit an online written response to this prompt: "Surprise! You just got elected president. What’s your first tweet?" (140 characters or less, including spaces). You also need to be a legal resident of the US, at least 13 years old when you apply, and enrolled (no later than the fall of 2023) in an accredited post-secondary institution. Learn more here.

VIP Voice $5,000 Scholarship

Amount: $5,000
Awarded:
Quarterly
Deadline:
Varies
How to win: VIP Voice is another survey-taking website. To be eligible for their scholarship sweepstakes, you need to register with the site and take at least two surveys. The more surveys you take, the better your chances of winning. Learn more here.

You Deserve It! Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Monthly
Deadline:
Last day of the month
How to win: 
This is yet another scholarship where you only have to register on a website to enter. Plus, it’s kind of a meta award. It’s from Scholarship Owl, and creating an account with them also helps you apply to lots of other scholarships with a single form. So you don’t need to complete a bunch of separate scholarship applications! Learn more here.

Zumper Apartments Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Awarded:
Twice a year
Deadline:
 Fall deadline typically in November; spring deadline is typically in April
How to win: 
Are you doing good in your school and/or community—volunteering, sticking up for important causes, making a difference? If you are and you also happen to know the best places for students to live in your area, you should apply to this scholarship. You will need to submit a “short piece of writing” talking about your impact on your community, as well as an “intro to housing near your school.” This award is open to high school and college students. Learn more here.

Heads up! These easy scholarships are closed or no longer offered

  • AnyCollege.com Scholarship
  • Collect Sports Gear for Kids in Underserved Communities
  • College Prowler Essay Competition 
  • CollegeMapper’s $1,000 No Essay Scholarships
  • Conestoga Bank “Future of Banking” Scholarship
  • Datatech Labs Data Recovery Scholarship YouTube Challenge
  • Design-A-Sign Scholarship Contest
  • Dry Defender Protect Your Bed Scholarship
  • Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship for Parapsychology
  • Everything Is Awesome Scholarship Slam
  • Fantasy Sports Daily Scholarships 
  • Fastweb Invite a Friend Sweepstakes
  • Girls Going Places Scholarship
  • Niche $1,000 Summer Scholarship
  • Niche Summer Scholarship
  • OP Loftbed Scholarship
  • PicMonkey College Scholarship
  • School Grants Blog No Essay Scholarship
  • Stay Safe on the Internet Scholarship
  • Study.com Tuition Won't Stop Me Scholarship
  • Sussle Fun, No Essay Scholarship
  • Teens for Jeans No Essay Scholarship
  • The Haiku Ninja Facebook Scholarship
  • The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship
  • TV Providers.com Scholarship

And that’s it for now! We’ll keep adding to this list as we discover more easy scholarships. (If you have any that we missed, let us know in the comments so we can make this the best and most up-to-date list of easy scholarships anywhere!) Reminder: always double-check the scholarship rules and regulations before starting an application. Some of these awards move pretty fast, particularly the monthly scholarships. And things like eligibility requirements might change!

Note: Did you know you could win a $10,000 scholarship for college or grad school just by registering on CollegeXpress? This is one of the quickest, easiest scholarships you’ll ever apply for. Register Now »

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More on CollegeXpress

Sample Scholarship Essays


If you’re applying for a scholarship, chances are you are going to need to write an essay. Very few scholarship programs are based solely on an application form or transcript. The essay is often the most important part of your application; it gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and your dedication to your goals. You’ll want to make sure that your scholarship essay is the best it can possibly be.

Unless specified otherwise, scholarship essays should always use the following formatting:

  • Double spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 point font
  • One-inch top, bottom, and side margins

Other useful tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you completely understand them before you start writing.
  2. Think about what you are going to write and organize your thoughts into an outline.
  3. Write your essay by elaborating on each point you included in your outline.
  4. Use clear, concise, and simple language throughout your essay.
  5. When you are finished, read the question again and then read your essay to make sure that the essay addresses every point.

For more tips on writing a scholarship essay, check out our Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay .


The Book that Made Me a Journalist

Prompt: Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why.

It is 6 am on a hot day in July and I’ve already showered and eaten breakfast. I know that my classmates are all sleeping in and enjoying their summer break, but I don’t envy them; I’m excited to start my day interning with a local newspaper doing investigative journalism. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and despite the early mornings, nothing has made me happier. Although it wasn't clear to me then, looking back on my high school experiences and everything that led to me to this internship, I believe this path began with a particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class.

I was taking a composition class, and we were learning how to write persuasive essays. Up until that point, I had had average grades, but I was always a good writer and my teacher immediately recognized this. The first paper I wrote for the class was about my experience going to an Indian reservation located near my uncle's ranch in southwest Colorado. I wrote of the severe poverty experienced by the people on the reservation, and the lack of access to voting booths during the most recent election. After reading this short story, my teacher approached me and asked about my future plans. No one had ever asked me this, and I wasn't sure how to answer. I said I liked writing and I liked thinking about people who are different from myself. She gave me a book and told me that if I had time to read it, she thought it would be something I would enjoy. I was actually quite surprised that a high school teacher was giving me a book titled Lies My Teacher Told Me. It had never occurred to me that teachers would lie to students. The title intrigued me so much that on Friday night I found myself staying up almost all night reading, instead of going out with friends.

In short, the book discusses several instances in which typical American history classes do not tell the whole story. For example, the author addresses the way that American history classes do not usually address about the Vietnam War, even though it happened only a short time ago. This made me realize that we hadn't discussed the Vietnam War in my own history class! The book taught me that, like my story of the Indian reservation, there are always more stories beyond what we see on the surface and what we’re taught in school. I was inspired to continue to tell these stories and to make that my career.

For my next article for the class, I wrote about the practice of my own high school suspending students, sometimes indefinitely, for seemingly minor offenses such as tardiness and smoking. I found that the number of suspensions had increased by 200% at my school in just three years, and also discovered that students who are suspended after only one offense often drop out and some later end up in prison. The article caused quite a stir. The administration of my school dismissed it, but it caught the attention of my local newspaper. A local journalist worked with me to publish an updated and more thoroughly researched version of my article in the local newspaper. The article forced the school board to revisit their “zero tolerance” policy as well as reinstate some indefinitely suspended students.I won no favors with the administration and it was a difficult time for me, but it was also thrilling to see how one article can have such a direct effect on people’s lives. It reaffirmed my commitment to a career in journalism.

This is why I’m applying for this scholarship. Your organization has been providing young aspiring journalists with funds to further their skills and work to uncover the untold stories in our communities that need to be reported. I share your organization’s vision of working towards a more just and equitable world by uncovering stories of abuse of power. I have already demonstrated this commitment through my writing in high school and I look forward to pursuing a BA in this field at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. With your help, I will hone my natural instincts and inherent writing skills. I will become a better and more persuasive writer and I will learn the ethics of professional journalism.

I sincerely appreciate the committee’s time in evaluating my application and giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

Do:Follow the prompt and other instructions exactly. You might write a great essay but it may get your application rejected if you don’t follow the word count guidelines or other formatting requirements.
DON'T:Open your essay with a quote. This is a well-worn strategy that is mostly used ineffectively. Instead of using someone else’s words, use your own.
DON'T:Use perfunctory sentences such as, “In this essay, I will…”
DO:Be clear and concise. Make sure each paragraph discusses only one central thought or argument.
DON'T:Use words from a thesaurus that are new to you. You may end up using the word incorrectly and that will make your writing awkward. Keep it simple and straightforward. The point of the essay is to tell your story, not to demonstrate how many words you know.

Try Our Free Scholarship Search

Planners and Searchers

Prompt: In 600 words or less, please tell us about yourself and why you are applying for this scholarship. Please be clear about how this scholarship will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Being African, I recognize Africa’s need for home- grown talent in the form of “planners” (assistants with possible solutions) and “searchers” (those with desperate need) working towards international development. I represent both. Coming from Zimbabwe my greatest challenge is in helping to improve the livelihoods of developing nations through sustainable development and good governance principles. The need for policy-makers capable of employing cross-jurisdictional, and cross- disciplinary strategies to solve complex challenges cannot be under-emphasized; hence my application to this scholarship program.

After graduating from Africa University with an Honors degree in Sociology and Psychology, I am now seeking scholarship support to study in the United States at the Master’s level. My interest in democracy, elections, constitutionalism and development stems from my lasting interest in public policy issues. Accordingly, my current research interests in democracy and ethnic diversity require a deeper understanding of legal processes of constitutionalism and governance. As a Master’s student in the US, I intend to write articles on these subjects from the perspective of someone born, raised, and educated in Africa. I will bring a unique and much-needed perspective to my graduate program in the United States, and I will take the technical and theoretical knowledge from my graduate program back with me to Africa to further my career goals as a practitioner of good governance and community development.

To augment my theoretical understanding of governance and democratic practices, I worked with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) as a Programs Assistant in the Monitoring and Observation department. This not only enhanced my project management skills, but also developed my skills in research and producing communication materials. ZESN is Zimbabwe’s biggest election observation organization, and I had the responsibility of monitoring the political environment and producing monthly publications on human rights issues and electoral processes. These publications were disseminated to various civil society organizations, donors and other stakeholders. Now I intend to develop my career in order to enhance Africa’s capacity to advocate, write and vote for representative constitutions.

I also participated in a fellowship program at Africa University, where I gained greater insight into social development by teaching courses on entrepreneurship, free market economics, and development in needy communities. I worked with women in rural areas of Zimbabwe to setup income-generating projects such as the jatropha soap-making project. Managing such a project gave me great insight into how many simple initiatives can transform lives.

Your organization has a history of awarding scholarships to promising young students from the developing world in order to bring knowledge, skills and leadership abilities to their home communities. I have already done some of this work but I want to continue, and with your assistance, I can. The multidisciplinary focus of the development programs I am applying to in the US will provide me with the necessary skills to creatively address the economic and social development challenges and develop sound public policies for Third World countries. I thank you for your time and consideration for this prestigious award.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

DO:Research the organization and make sure you understand their mission and values and incorporate them into your essay.
DO:Focus on your strengths and turn in any problems or weaknesses into a success story.
DO:Use actual, detailed examples from your own life to backup your claims and arguments as to why you should receive the scholarship.
DO:Proofread several times before finally submitting your essay.
DON'T:Rehash what is already stated on your resume. Choose additional, unique stories to tell sell yourself to the scholarship committee.
DON'T:Simply state that you need the money. Even if you have severe financial need, it won’t help to simply ask for the money and it may come off as tacky.

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Saving the Manatees

Prompt: Please give the committee an idea of who you are and why you are the perfect candidate for the scholarship.

It is a cliché to say that I’ve always known what I want to do with my life, but in my case it happens to be true. When I first visited Sea World as a young child, I fell in love with marine animals in general. Specifically, I felt drawn to manatees. I was compelled by their placid and friendly nature. I knew then and there that I wanted to dedicate my life to protecting these beautiful creatures.

Since that day in Orlando, I have spent much of my spare time learning everything there is to know about manatees. As a junior high and high school student, I attempted to read scholarly articles on manatees from scientific journals. I annoyed my friends and family with scientific facts about manatees-- such as that they are close relatives of elephants--at the dinner table. I watched documentaries, and even mapped their migration pattern on a wall map my sister gave me for my birthday.

When I was chosen from hundreds of applicants to take part in a summer internship with Sea World, I fell even more in love with these gentle giants. I also learned a very important and valuable lesson: prior to this internship, I had imagined becoming a marine biologist, working directly with the animals in their care both in captivity and in the wild. However, during the internship, I discovered that this is not where my strengths lie. Unfortunately, I am not a strong student in science or math, which are required skills to become a marine biologist. Although this was a disheartening realization, I found that I possess other strengths can still be of great value to manatees and other endangered marine mammals: my skills as a public relations manager and communicator. During the internship, I helped write new lessons and presentations for elementary school groups visiting the park and developed a series of fun activities for children to help them learn more about manatees as well as conservation of endangered species in general. I also worked directly with the park’s conservation and communication director, and helped develop a new local outreach program designed to educate Floridians on how to avoid hitting a manatee when boating. My supervisor recommended me to the Save the Manatee Foundation so in addition to my full-time internship at Sea World, I interned with the Save the Manatee Foundation part-time. It was there that I witnessed the manatee rescue and conservation effort first hand, and worked directly with the marine biologists in developing fund-raising and awareness-raising campaigns. I found that the foundation’s social media presence was lacking, and, using skills I learned from Sea World, I helped them raise over $5,000 through a Twitter challenge, which we linked to the various social media outlets of the World Wildlife Federation.

While I know that your organization typically awards scholarships to students planning to major in disciplines directly related to conservation such as environmental studies or zoology, I feel that the public relations side of conservation is just as important as the actual work done on the ground. Whether it is reducing one’s carbon footprint, or saving the manatees, these are efforts that, in order to be successful, must involve the larger public. In fact, the relative success of the environmental movement today is largely due to a massive global public relations campaign that turned environmentalism from something scientific and obscure into something that is both fashionable and accessible to just about anyone. However, that success is being challenged more than ever before--especially here in the US, where an equally strong anti-environmental public relations campaign has taken hold. Therefore, conservationists need to start getting more creative.

I want to be a part of this renewed effort and use my natural abilities as a communicator to push back against the rather formidable forces behind the anti-environmentalist movement. I sincerely hope you will consider supporting this non-traditional avenue towards global sustainability and conservation. I have already been accepted to one of the most prestigious communications undergraduate programs in the country and I plan to minor in environmental studies. In addition, I maintain a relationship with my former supervisors at Save the Manatee and Sea World, who will be invaluable resources for finding employment upon graduation. I thank the committee for thinking outside the box in considering my application.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

DO:Tell a story. Discuss your personal history and why those experiences have led you to apply for these scholarships.
DO:Write an outline. If you’ve already started writing or have a first draft, make an outline based on what you’ve written so far. This will help you see whether your paragraphs flow and connect with one another.
DON'T:Write a generic essay for every application. Adapt your personal statement for each individual scholarship application.
DO:Run spellcheck and grammar check on your computer but also do your own personal check. Spellcheck isn’t perfect and you shouldn't rely on technology to make your essay perfect.

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Sample Essays

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