Essay writing is often an important part of applying for scholarships. No matter what subject you study, writing well is an essential skill, and colleges want to test your capabilities before they let you in the door. Having your scholarship and admissions prospects depend so heavily on a single piece of your writing can be intimidating, but with the right preparation, any prospective student can put together a well crafted essay. The tools and articles on this list are great sources of inspiration, instruction, and motivation for students writing essays that may heavily influence their educational and financial futures.
You can scroll through this list, or use the links below to jump to a specific section.
Update: In an effort to make this list even more comprehensive, we’ve gathered 10 additional tools in an Honorable Mention section!
Though every college and scholarship offers different prompts and content guidelines, most essays follow a few basic rules regarding paragraph structure, composition, and style. Once you’ve mastered the basic form of an essay, no creative or bizarre topic will prevent you from producing a beautiful piece of writing.
The New York Times piece on “How to Write a College Application Essay” is is concise and informative, and is a great read for someone just getting started writing their college essays, or someone who has written plenty but wants a reminder of the important basics.
US News 10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay breaks down the best ways for students to excel at the, arguably, most unpredictable part of a college application.
UTNE Reader describes the best way to write a personal essay by focusing on composition and staying on point.
This step-by-step guide to composing a strong college application essay is a great starting point for people who are diving into college applications, or just a good reference for anyone who feels stuck writing their admissions essay and needs advice about what to do next.
Morrison Institute for Public Policy gives insight on the best ways to structure essays and even gives contextual advice for students to have the most well-rounded essay possible.
Monash university’s Language and Learning Online website shows how to structure essays with a straightforward picture of an essay outline with detailed breakdowns of each section.
University of Waterloo gives valuable tips for writing an essay with a strong focus on properly structuring each part in an intuitive way for the reader to comprehend.
Power to Change provides valuable insight on writing essays with ways focused more on your life around writing the essay and how it better prepares you to write well.
Lifehack’s “7 Tips for Writing Exam Essays” is great for a quick read-through before sitting down to work on an essay. It underlines some common sense essay advice in combination with often overlooked aspects.
EssayEdge provides personalized editing services for all types of academic essays. By working with a professional editor, students can improve their essays and their writing skills for future essays.
Essay Forum is fantastic for people who can’t find particular questions about writing essays or have a road block inhibiting their ability to finish a thesis. Users are able to post questions to a community to find the best solution to anything essay related.
Boston University has a video tutorial advising students on how to “Write an Essay that Stands Out.” The video is informative and to-the-point in order for the fastest way to improve writing an essay.
The Essays Section of ACT Den gives advice on particular parts of an essay, the writing process, and even different types of essays with the tricks to each.
James Cook University has a simple illustration of how to form an essay and it is useful for those unfamiliar to the process.
The University of New South Wales gives simple tips for writing and structuring essays. The advice is great for brushing up on essay areas possibly forgotten.
Watson-Brown Foundation’s Scholarship Director Sarah Katherine McNeil gives her top 10 tips for writing essays successfully. Since the advice comes directly from someone who awards scholarships and has read a significant number of scholarships, it is very helpful.
Birmingham City University Centre for Academic Success helps students write an essay with a general overview of the process. The advice is great for those not extensively versed in essay writing.
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology touches on the essentials of a good essay through its guide on writing a good outline.
Writing.com is an online community for writers to share their work and get constructive criticism. A section of the site is dedicated to essay writing, and you’ll have to sign up for a membership, but that’s free and well worth it.
College application and admissions essays often serve the purpose of showing the college’s admissions office what unique strengths and qualities a potential student will contribute to the school. The personal nature of these essays dictates a slightly different style than a typical essay, and knowing how to make a good impression in the first paragraph is key.
This article from the University of Chicago’s Law School showcases admissions essays from students who successfully got into the University’s law program. Looking at examples of success is a great way for students to learn what works for a college admissions essay.
Story to College is an online, storytelling-based college application essay course and it uses innovative techniques to help students stay engaged and retain better writing techniques to successfully formulate a quality college essay.
Essay Hell is a writing source that assists prospective college students with their college application essays to optimize their chances to get into the school they desire.
WOW Writing Workshop works with students to get as acquainted with them as possible because in order to write an effective college essay, a student must integrate their own experiences into it. The 10-step method was developed by professional writers and teachers, with professional coaching available as well. Wow Writing Workshop also offers an online tutorial and a free version of their product.
Wisechoice is a website designed to help guide students through college planning. They help students coordinate visits to colleges, trim their essays into more a formative representation of the student, and even locate applicable scholarships. Their Essay Tamer is fantastic at walking students who may be nervous about the application writing process through some excellent exercises.
StatementofPurpose.com specializes in offering advice, examples, prompts, and exercises to help students write statements of purpose for any academic purpose, from college or scholarship applications to applying for fellowships or even just proposing a class project to colleagues or professors.
Veritas Prep gives students a list of ways to turn a crucial corner on writing a college admissions essay. Additionally, they provide links to more essay tips at the bottom of the page to supplement the content.
The University of Georgia’s Undergraduate Admissions provides suggestions for writing admission essays and the tips are designed to help students have the best chance to succeed.
The Admission Centre’s “Essay” Section categorizes an assortment of topics and details how to avoid common mistakes students make when writing college admissions essays.
College Essay Whiz guides students through the process of applying for college by advising students on which schools most closely fit characteristics they desire. Additionally, their experts provide advice on college essays and applications to graduate programs, including law and medical school.
MIT Admissions breaks down how to write the best college essay and explains why writing well is so difficult. they reference other great writers and their tips as well, so it’s lush with useful information.l
The National Association for College Admission Counseling gives straightforward advice for achieving the best results on a college essay. This accredited institution is designed specifically to help students get in and prepare for college, so their wealth of knowledge is almost unparalleled.
Since 1989 Teen Ink has provided a series of formats for teenagers to publish their works. A special section looks at “Today’s Best College Essays” and it helps paint a better picture of what good college essays are supposed to look like.
The Straighter Line explains how to write an essay that will get the student noticed, along with emphasize how they will fit into the culture of the university. The tips are to-the-point and intuitive resources to improving any writing process.
Quintessential Careers helps students with their collage application essay process through a three-step system that is easy-to-understand, while simultaneously not lacking content.
Think Tank Learning gives interesting insight into an area not commonly thought of – undecided majors. Their article on writing college application essays is particularly useful for those who are still trying to figure out what they want to major in.
Hamden Patch’s article focuses on preparing students to write quality admissions essays and has a chief goal of helping relieve stress of high school seniors filling out college applications.
How to Write a Scholarship Essay assists those unfamiliar with the process by breaking down step-by-step how to write a scholarship essay with great bullet points to underline important details.
Vanderbilt University’s “The College Essay” category is plush with articles on the admissions process and how to succeed in writing the best application essay possible.
Scholarships are often awarded by organizations that espouse specific ideals, and applicants often have to write about their relationship to the organization or the cause. Participation in activities you’re passionate about makes great fodder for these topical essays.
Collage Scholarships.com gives students examples of Sample Scholarship Essays to equip them with the best resources to secure scholarships to fund going to college.
The Gradesaver Scholarship Essay Help gives great tips to students who are preparing their essays to gain scholarships for college. They categorize each part of the essay, including easy-to-miss things, like making sure to consider the values of the institution.
MiraCosta College’s “Tips for Writing a a Great Scholarship Essay” look at a number of ways to improve your scholarship essay and includes links to other resources for fine-tuning.
Study Domain’s Scholarship and Study Abroad Tips section has an article devoted exclusively to writing quality scholarship/admissions essays. The article not only touches on the things to watch domestically, but information for applying to study abroad.
Cornell College’s “Tips for Writing Essays for Scholarship and Fellowship Applications” helps students currently in college apply for upperclassmen scholarships and graduate fellowships in a straightforward manner.
School Tutoring details the process to writing scholarship essays that lead to acquiring the best possible scholarships. The 10 tips are easy to follow, but very informative.
Evolutionwriters makes writing college scholarship essays a much less daunting process with some great tips for honing in on easier-to-miss elements.
How To Learn’s “Best College Scholarships 2013 Essay Writing Tips” help students with five tips to implement to turn a crucial corner on scholarship essay writing that allow students to stand out of the pack.
The Saybrooke College Blog Scholarship Essay Samples are all varied in theme and approach, so that students can have a better picture of how to apply their efforts when writing a scholarship essay.
University of Michigan’s Sample Scholarship Essays look at quality essays to give students an idea as to what is expected when applying for scholarships. The examples should be sufficient to give any student looking for guidance on scholarship essays.
Owens Community College outlines how to write a strong scholarship essay through good proofreading advice and personal insight. It explains the best approaches to scholarship essay writing and good ways to ensure success.
Scholarship Experts provide great tips on how to engage the reader of a scholarship essay through honest and useful advice.
University of Alaska Anchorage’s Office of Student Financial Assistance helps students lessen the financial burden incurred by tuition through a series of useful essay-writing tools and advice for nailing scholarship essays.
International Student’s Essay Writing Center looks at all forms of writing essays that will be evaluated, be it for scholarships or admissions. The advice is geared towards those who plan to study internationally or currently are.
California State Polytechnic University looks at scholarship essays and the best course of action for qualifying for scholarships. The tips they give on writing a scholarship set students up for the best opportunities.
University Language Services highlights the key features to writing a scholarship essay that will prove most fruitful when evaluated.
Front Range Community College aims to equip students with the best resources for successfully writing scholarship essays. The tips are useful for improving scholarship essays before submitting.
Lucid Movement points at easy scholarship writing advice so students can easily understand how to improve their essays.
Kansas State University’s section on writing scholarship essays is useful since it tailors its content help students achieve the best results possible. The advice gives an overview, followed by a more thorough explanation for scholarship essay writing.
The Borough of Manhattan Community College has categorized each part of the scholarship essay process and elaborated on them to paint the best picture on how to succeed at writing scholarship essays.
Practicing essay-writing and looking at the successful essays of those who came before you are two great ways to prepare for writing scholarship and admissions essays.
CollegeBasics.com published a list of Seven Ways to Make Your College Essay Stand Out and it’s an effective tool to help really give a prospective college student’s essay the “pop” it needs to succeed.
Study Guides and Strategies’ section, “The Essay Exam” points out the most crucial things to analyze on a college admissions essay before submitting.
The Writing Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides a wealth of knowledge to help students create a well-rounded essay.
David Gauntlett assembled a guide to writing essays in communications and media studies while at the University of Leeds. A pdf form of the document is available for download.
The University of Exeter assembled a very informative “brief guide to writing essays” and it provides a bunch of introductory material for building a better understanding of effective writing methods.
Massey University, located in New Zealand, emphasizes the best way to go about writing online, as well as the most effective ways to learn via the internet. Their resources are incredibly useful for those interested in improving their essay quality.
Kimberly Chapman breaks writing an essay down into 8 parts to paint the best picture for essay writing, no matter which part help is needed on.
Scholarship Junkies’ “Common Essay Questions 101” section helps students not only with fixes to their essays by underlining errors commonly seen, but also with scholarship advice and helping students understand who they are better.
Unask.com provides tips on “How to Write an Essay” from Tom Davis and the format is broken down into numbered sections with bullet points breaking down subsections to easily locate the area a student may be having trouble with.
LK Livingston’s “Guide to Writing a Basic Essay” is great for analyzing different parts to essays, with sections focusing on improving the topic, outline, thesis, body, introduction, conclusion, and more.
Christine Bauer-Ramazani uses this excellent outline with her ESL students when teaching proper essay structure. Bauer-Ramazani teaches in the Applied Linguistics department of Saint Michael’s College.
The AFS Intercultural Programs partnered with British Petroleum (BP) to create a scholarship, which includes quality essay prompts, useful even to those not interested in the scholarship.
The Generic Scholarship Essay Prompt is designed to help students preparing to apply for scholarships by creating tools to help refine their scholarship essay writing skill set. While it may seem like a natural extension from essay writing, scholarship essays many times require a more sculpted vision of the student’s goals and academic endeavors.
Kris Hintz from College Blog lists his ten favorite college essay prompts, which should give students a good picture of what to expect when applying to college, as well as a good basis for practicing.
Common App is what is used by a large number of universities so that students may create applications and apply to a variety of schools, without having to repeatedly go through the menial tasks of filling in simple information. Their essay announcement gives insight as to what students can begin to expect as of August 1st, 2013 on the Common App Essay.
Art History Rules’ published Essay Structure Guidelines to equip students with a concise vision of how to formulate their essays, including outlines.
De Montfort University’s insight into basic essay structure gives students a breakdown of how to approach writing essays through intuitive steps and links.
Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ page has section devoted entirely to writing personal statements online, a very important part of the process in applying for scholarships.
Strategy Coach has an Essay Composer for helping students break down, point-by-point, the arc of writing a proficient essay.
Easy Essay helps students with their essays through easy-to-use steps and resources.
Stanford’s Graduate School of Business provides the essay questions for prospective students. The questions underline the larger goals a student must have when preparing for graduate school.
Chapman University’s Essay Prompt Definitions break down commonly used words from essay prompts so that students understand the proper way to approach different subjects.
College Essay Coach walks students start-to-finish through writing essays and giving professional guidance to those in need.
College Essay Samples is a great resource for looking at examples of admissions essays and also a variety of degree-specific essays.
The Nearest Name has essay tools to simplify the process for plotting ideas. With a Main Idea Organizer, Essay Outline, and Organizational Patterns, the resources are easy to use and helpful.
Harvard Writing Center helps students’ essay writing by supplying a wide number of in-depth walkthroughs for the writing process. Categories like “How to Read an Assignment” and “Developing a Thesis” are a few examples of the range in topics as well.
Ms. Lenihan’s Essay Tools gives you a list of great resources for writing an essay. It includes links to help with thesis statements as well.
The Scribd Essay Writing Kit is a very comprehensive tool for writing and includes printable tools for helping improve writing skills.
University of Leicester’s “Essay Writing Diagnostic” helps students identify the best course of action for writing an essay by first outlining 4 different methods and breaking down the best approach to writing the essay.
The “College Tools” page from Hillsborough Community College helps students with critical thinking essays, as well as general education essays, and supplements these by providing information to reinforce essay rubric procedures.
The Writing Essays page from Time 4 Writing has categories to give overviews of the introduction, thesis, and conclusion of an essay in easy-to-understand terms.
Colleges and scholarship awarding organizations get so many applicants that it would be nearly impossible to discern who was most deserving of their award or admission without asking for a written statement. Writing about yourself can be difficult, but learning to communicate something unique and positive about your character in the relatively small space of an essay is an important skill for all manner of scholarship and college applications.
If you’re starting to write a personal essay for school, but don’t know where to begin, “What is a Personal Essay” gives a great understanding to students.
Santa Rosa Junior College helps students with personal essays by first defining the objective of one and then explaining how to accomplish this goal.
Salt Blog’s tips for writing personal statements are great sources for navigating the scholarship essay process, which has become increasingly inundated with applicants.
Dartmouth’s section on personal essays shows readers very simple guidelines and the necessary steps to completing it.
St. Bonaventure University acknowledges the difficulties to writing personal essays and gives advice as to the best approach for doing well on writing one.
The Honors Program at Wright State University provides valuable insight for the most critical components of writing successful personal essays.
The Guide to Grammar and Writing examines the best approaches to writing a personal essay through underlining the importance of different literary devices and a focused narrative.
Helping Hand College Guidance helps students prepare for success in college through a variety of ways and has a section devoted entirely to perfecting the personal essay.
UC Berkeley’s Personal Statement section just touches briefly on how to execute a good personal statement. The tips are concise and make for a quick read-through.
The University of California takes students step-by-step through the process of writing a personal statement. The tips are structured around a number of prompts and students must determine which most closely fits their personal statement.
There were so many great resources for students trying to write essays for both admission and scholarships, that it was hard to limit it to just 100. We’ve gathered together 10 more which offer fantastic insight for students. Writing scholarship essays, as well as admissions essays, proves to be a great source of stress for students given their importance. These 10 additional resources can offer even more tools that help relieve some of the stress and anxiety. Stress-free essay writing is the best kind of essay writing!
Scott Hawksworth is YesCollege.com's founder and podcast host. His goal with the show is to not only help prospective students gain first hand knowledge about the degree programs they'll enroll in, but to also highlight the careers of fantastic professionals in higher ed. Scott has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from The Ohio State University.