The first thing to make note of is that the lessons associate with this activity is a long lesson. Unfortunately, many students are simply unwilling to devote the necessary attention required to create a “Winning Scholarship Package.” Consequently, many hours of research, essay writing/review, and completing scholarship applications are squandered for some of the following 5 reasons:

  1. Applications are poorly prepared with misspellings, improper grammar, and are incomplete
  2. Essays are poorly written, contain misspellings, improper grammar, and fail to respond to the writing prompts
  3. The student does not meet the requirements of the scholarship (e.g., GPA, financial status, etc.)
  4. The student's body of work (i.e., grades, coursework, test scores, leadership, and service) do not make the student a strong candidate for consideration
  5. The student either fails to submit all requested documents, or the documents themselves do not make the student a strong candidate for the scholarship (e.g., transcript, test score reports, recommendation letters, résumé)

Applying for scholarships can be exhausting and frustrating. Identifying the type of scholarships for which you are a competitive candidate, preparing scholarship applications, and writing scholarship essays is likely to require many hours of your time. Not only must you engage in many hours of research, you must invest the necessary time required to write high quality scholarship essays and provide thoughtful responses to questions and writing prompts. However, the time and energy spent researching scholarships and writing essays will be squandered if you fail to submit high quality and error-free scholarship applications by posted deadlines, in accordance with submission instructions, and accompanied by all requested documentation. Even after all of these things are done and applications are submitted, you must develop a follow-up plan and timeline to ensure that you do not miss mail or email notifications. While you may be tempted to focus your energies on earning big money scholarships, scholarships for a few hundred dollars can provide significant support toward funding personal expenses, purchasing books, paying travel expenses, and closing financial aid gaps remaining after receiving state, federal, and institutional funding.

Each year, millions of students apply for institutional and private scholarships. Prior to the discontinuance of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, we assisted 5 students in writing 8 high quality essays and developing high quality application packages resulting in their becoming 1 of the 1,000 students selected from an annual pool of over 60,000 applicants. In 2018, we successfully assisted two students in being selected from over 500 nominations to awarded 2 of the 11 full-ride Northeastern University Torch Scholarships. While not all scholarship programs are as competitive as being accepted into an Ivy League institution, many scholarship programs receive thousands of applications for the small number of scholarships awarded. Since all students applying to such programs must meet the same application criteria, the decisions are often determined by the completeness of the application, and what is written by, and about the student—the student’s essay and supporting letters of recommendation. This activity, one of the longest, is reflected in five parts: (1) Engaging in an analysis of each scholarship; (2) Planning an approach to writing the essay; (3) Writing the essay; (4) Reviewing the essay; and (5) Proofreading the final application package. An easy to follow checklist will guide you through each part. Each checked box indicates a stronger overall scholarship application package.

Estimated time to complete: Undetermined. 


Develop a process for creating high quality scholarship application packages.

Estimated time to complete: Undetermined

Guiding Questions

  • What are the steps for developing well-written scholarship essays?
  • What is a “high quality” scholarship application package?
  • Why do I need an essay reviewer and proofreader?
  • What type of documentation will be required to support my scholarship applications?
  • Who will review my essays and proofread my applications, and how much time will they require?


  • My Profile Forms, résumé, recommendation letters, and scholarship applications