How to start a scholarship essay (with examples)
As an admissions officer, I reviewed thousands of essays for students seeking admission and scholarships. The essay is one of the most important parts of the scholarship application process–a strong essay can go a long way. However, with so much competition, it is important for your scholarship essay to stand out. That’s why it’s important for you to start a scholarship essay off right!
There are some very simple things that you can do to ensure that your essay is engaging from the very first sentence. In fact, beginning your essay with an exciting opening is one of the most important things you can do, because it will immediately distinguish your essay from the others.
Keep on reading to learn more about how you can nail the very first sentence and start your essay off right!
Engage the reader with the first sentence
No matter what type of essay you are writing, you will want to ensure that the very first line grabs the attention of the reader. One of the biggest mistakes that students make when starting their essay is simply restating the prompt. This is bland and boring.
Now, you might be wondering, “how do I engage the reader with the very first line of my essay?”. The good news is that there are several ways that you can do this that are very easy to do.
First, you could begin your essay with conversation This can be an interesting and unexpected way to start your scholarship essay. Maybe someone asked you an unexpected question? Perhaps you were having an interesting conversation with a friend or family member? Either way, dialogue can be a powerful tool to start your essay.
Alternatively, you can choose to start your essay by placing the reader right in your shoes and show them something from your life. Appeal to the senses and show the reader what you see, hear, smell, or taste. These specific details will help your essay come to life and make it even more memorable.
Also recommended: What’s the best scholarship essay format?
Scholarship essay introduction example
Next, we’ll look at a specific example of how you can open up your essay. Let’s say you are applying for the Questbridge scholarship program. One of the essays that you will be asked is:
We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations, and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most influenced you. How are they shaping your future aspirations?
You might be tempted to rephrase the question and start your essay with something like:
“I have grown up in a rural context and this has formed my aspirations and allowed me to accomplish academic success…”
This is generic and will not engage your reader at all.
Instead, what if you started off your essay with something like this:
“I look outside my bedroom window and see Henry, my favorite chicken, pecking at something in the dirt.”
Makes a big difference, right? As a reader, you are probably wondering: why does this person have chickens outside their bedroom window? Why did they name this particular chicken Henry?
As shown, there are many questions that we as readers will have after reading an engaging essay opening such as the one just shared; We want to learn more about the student who is writing this essay. After all, as a writer trying to stand out in a pile of essays, that is our main goal.
We hope that you have a better understanding of how to start a scholarship essay so you can maximize your chances of winning scholarships!
Next Steps for Writing Your Essay
As a next step, you can check out these guides for writing different types of essays: