Back to blog

The Secrets to Writing a Great Scholarship Essay Revealed

10th March 2016

The Secrets to Writing a Great Scholarship Essay Revealed

At Campus Oxford it is a part of our vision to help provide the unique experience of studying at Oxbridge to as many, and as diverse, a student population as possible. That is why, to this end, every year we offer a number of part scholarships -or bursaries – to US high school students for our flagship Four Week Summer Program at either Oxford of Cambridge Universities (it’s the winners choice.) That Scholarship Competition has just launched and applications are being accepted for the remainder of the month.

As is the case for many scholarship competitions and opportunities, our winners will be chosen based on a scholarship essay. Scholarship essays are not like any others though. There is rarely any right or wrong information to be included and, as is the case for the essay we are requesting, they are really designed to give the scholarship provider an insight into about the student behind the application, the person as opposed to the grade point average.

This does mean that many students do find these essays harder to write than the ones they write for classes at school every year. Especially if they don’t really consider themselves to be great essayists in the first place. But you don’y have to be a literary genius to write a great scholarship essay. Sit back, take a deep breath, and then keep these tips in mind as you write. They should help you with your Campus Oxford Scholarship Competition essay as well as any other pieces you complete and as you travel the road from high school to college.

Understand your Audience

Any scholarship essay is designed for a unique audience and every organization offering a scholarship is different and are looking for different things in both a scholarship essay and the candidate who wrote it. You will never be told just what that is of course, but you can do a little ‘investigative’ work to try to figure it out.

These days an organization’s website and social media can tell you an awful lot. Do they seem to value character and determination over grades? Do they lean more to the causal than the formal? Whatever conclusions you draw this simple little bit of research will put you a step ahead of other applicants who may simply be copying and pasting “one-size-fits-all” essays for all of the applications they are completing.

Prepare an Outline

Some students always outline their essays before writing them in full and in the case of a scholarship essay doing so can prove invaluable. If you take the time to craft an outline, even a basic one, detailing the three (or maybe four) main points you wish to cover it will help you remain concise and targeted when you do begin to write. It’s very easy, especially when an essay has a more personal bent, to ramble and get off track, which does not make for great reading at all.

Add Personality and Passion

Unlike that essay you wrote for English Lit last week a scholarship essay is, as we mentioned previously, designed to showcase who you are, not to explain some dry concept or flat theory in a purely academic manner. That means that the essay should demonstrate personality and passion, and plenty of it.

How? Say for example you act in school plays. Don’t just mention that and then list your most important roles, explain how acting makes you feel and how it has affected your life. Maybe it’s helped you conquer lifelong shyness, or develop a new ability to focus and retain thanks to the fact that you have to learn so many lines. These are the things that scholarship competition judges are looking for, so make sure you give them what they want.

Enlist an Editor

We are quite sure that you will proofread your essay before you submit it. But you need more than that. Like any writer you need a good editor, whether that editor is a parent, a grandparent, a teacher or a grammar nerd friend. That is because an essay that is essentially very good really can be ruined by the odd very awkward phrase, typo or grammar faux pas. And when you are so close to the piece, and have read through it so many times, it is easy to miss and overlook such things. A second pair of eagle eyes is far more likely to spot them so that they can be corrected while there is still time.

The Campus Oxford Scholarship Competition closed for 2016 on March 31st, so why not start putting these tips into practice by getting started right now?

Our related news

Fasting and Feasting
Fasting and Feasting

28th November 2019

Some Beginnings & Oddities!
Some Beginnings & Oddities!

25th September 2019

Oxbridge or Camford by Ralph Dennison
Oxbridge or Camford by Ralph Dennison

17th July 2019

Oxford & Cambridge Advanced Studies
Oxford & Cambridge Advanced Studies

21st February 2019