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Scholarship Writing Tips


Make the most of your scholarship application by following these helpful tips:

  • Tell your story- be true to who you are and don’t be afraid to share your challenges and accomplishments
  • Focus on the question asked
  • Keep the purpose of the scholarship in mind (academic/need-based/talent)
  • The details matter- provide numbers and supporting evidence when possible
  • Start work early- it takes a lot of time to refine your application, so don’t wait until the last minute
  • Do not submit an incomplete application- that’s like going to class half-dressed
  • Make sure your application is neat and easy to read
  • Don’t forget to proofread
  • Use multiple editors
  • Save a copy of your application
  • Practice makes perfect


Many scholarships require you to submit a resume (sometimes called a vita or list of student activities). Consider these tips when compiling your document:

  • Know what is needed (academic vs. business resume)
  • Know the purpose (what specifically do you need to highlight)


While there is no one correct format, here are some best practices to help you stand apart from the rest:

  • Create a personal brand
  • Add some color, appropriately
  • Follow industry trends
    • Columns
    • Sidebars
    • Infographics
  • Avoid basic fonts like Times New Roman or Arial (but don’t go crazy)
  • Include a cover letter that highlights your strengths for the specific scholarship


Content is more important the design, so here are some suggestions:

  • Omit the objective- it’s antiquated and unnecessary
  • Be specific- give examples that support your work
  • Don’t overly share personal information
  • Be well-rounded
  • Keep it updated
  • Carefully edit the document
  • Keep a master document
    • Adjust your resume to the scholarship/position
    • Use a word cloud to determine the most used words in the scholarship announcement and make sure your resume includes those important words
  • Use a professional email address
  • Be honest

Digital vs. Printed

  • If you’re submitting your application packet digitally, you can use more color-rich graphics and designs. Be sure you save your work as a PDF to maintain formatting.
  • When submitting a printed version, go for a quality paper, so the quality of the printed document reflects your work

Letters of Recommendation

If your scholarship asks for a recommendation letter, consider this:

  • Start building relationships now- you need people in your corner who can speak to your strengths and accomplishments
  • Be strategic about who you ask- the title is not the most important thing; find someone who really knows you
  • Ask in person (and follow up with an email)
  • Give plenty of time- typically 4-6 weeks is appropriate. There may always be exceptions.
  • Check-in with them, kindly- follow up to see if the person writing your recommendation needs additional information
  • Send a thank you note- hand-written thank you notes are such a nice gesture