How To Write a Great Scholarship Application Essay

Earning a CIEE Global Navigator Scholarship is a prestigious honor that can help you stand out for years to come, especially on college applications! Plus, these scholarships give hundreds of students like you access to study abroad opportunities each year. Whether you are applying for a merit scholarship or a combination merit and financial need, our essay writing portion is a vital part of the scholarship applications, as they give us a unique window into each applicant. Stuck on the essay questions? Maybe writing isn’t your forté and you need some pointers. Or maybe you’re a seasoned wordsmith that loves a good blog post. Either way, read over these helpful hints before you begin your scholarship application essays. And remember, we’re here to help!

Read the questions carefully.

Some of the short essay prompts have multiple questions, so make sure you read through each a few times. Make sure you fully understand the question and how you can best answer it. It’s crucial that you answer all parts of each question fully. For example, our third short essay question asks, “How do you spend your time outside of school? This could include sports, extracurricular activities, family commitments, part-time jobs and more. Please share how many hours per week you spend on each activity or task. How have these activities helped you develop your personal strengths?” It may be easy to start answering the question right away, as soon as you read the first sentence. But, if you read carefully, you’ll see that there is a second follow-up question at the end.

Open up a Word/Google Doc.

Copy the essay prompts into your Word doc and brainstorm ideas and details to support your answers. We encourage you to write it all out in another document, check your word count, spelling and grammar, and then paste it into your application. Sometimes, it’s easier to write in a format you’re accustomed to rather than an online form.

Remember the basics.

Don’t forget your WWWWWH (you know, your Who, What, Where, When, Why, How)! Of course, you won’t need to use all of these to effectively answer the prompt. If something was hard, tell us why. If you overcame a challenge in some way, tell us how. Stick to one primary point and use details to support your answer. Strong essays answer questions fully and always keep the prompt in mind. For example, our first short essay question asks, “Why is it so important to you to experience the high school summer abroad program and the host country you selected?” Think about what it is that makes studying abroad with CIEE so important to you, and in particular, the country you selected. And why?

Get specific.

Don’t be vague! Give us detailed answers and use real life examples to make your point. Generic essays won’t stand out, but well-thought out responses will. For example, our second short essay prompt asks, “Please describe a moment in your life when you’ve overcome a challenge that felt particularly meaningful to you. What did you learn about yourself in that moment? How did it impact what you saw for your future?” Explain yourself thoroughly here and describe with as much support as you can.

But be concise.

Longer isn’t always better! Cut out any sentences that are repetitive or don’t help your point. Some of the stronger essays are able to answer our questions in fewer words, without extra words. Forget the fluff – these short essays deserve authentic, quality and honest answers. Looking for a sweet spot? Consider sticking to 350 words and no more than 600.

Always read your writing.

This is arguably the most important part! Spell-check is a helpful tool, but don’t rely on it to catch everything! Carefully read through your responses a few times and make sure everything is clear and your grammar is up to par. Ask a family member or classmate to read over your short essays, too. Would you turn this into your teacher for a grade? Consider that before you hit submit. This is your chance to make a good impression!

Applying early increases your chances to get a scholarship. It demonstrates your commitment to the program and gives our selection committee more time to evaluate your application.

Finish Your Scholarship Application Today!