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Home » Student Services » Scholarships » Financial Aid & Scholarships » Scholarship Essay Writing Resources

Scholarship Essay Resources

The essay is no longer just a significant part of the application package. It is a separate scholarship competition. A well-written essay must not be EXTEMPORANEOUSLY written.

A ❝QUALITY❞ essay is the answer!

Be part of the 10 - 15% who are ❝IN❞ every scholarship competition...NOT just completing a scholarship application.

FIRST - Read the Do's and Do not's, to eliminate unforeseen mistakes.

SECOND - Let the question(s) guide your essay and those details required by the individual sponsor.

THIRD - Use the following ❝Basic Writing Rules❞ to start your personal statement/essay

FOURTH - Use the ❝Essay Writing Tools❞ to help FOCUS your efforts and get HELP!

Writing Assistance:

What To and Not to Do

Scholarship writing,DO's and DON'TS: Need to be read before you write your essay or personal statement. Not doing so can mean the difference between clarity and guessing what you need to do to be Successful.


  • DO: Use the How to Apply for Scholarships web page
  • DO: Create an outline, to organize your writing around the questions.
  • DO: Use examples when writing to support your answers and clarify your points of interest.
  • DO: Answer all questions or select the BEST QUESTION if given a choice.
  • DO: Review EACH draft, ensure the draft is reviewed for correct format, grammar, spelling, and punctuation; this will mean only minor corrections are done on the final review. 
  • DO: Have someone (an Instructor, English Lab Tutor, or Scholarship Specialist, etc...) review your ❝Final Draft.❞
  • DO: Print your Final Paper on regular printer paper, make sure it looks perfectly. Use a ❝SCHOLARSHIP ONLY❞ printer cartridge (meaning a cartridge saved for the scholarship process only).
  • DO: Make it your goal to make the ❝PERFECT❞ impression. Remember all parts of the application package are scored. Make it your best effort, you want to receive the maximum possible points.
  • DO: Save the essay on your computer in a specific file for use again later, along with the sponsors questions. The essay can be revised to answer similar questions later. Saving the question will remind you what the answer was addressing.


  • DO NOT: PLAGIARIZE it will be easily discovered and you will be ELIMINATED from the competition.
  • DO NOT: SUBMIT more pages or words than are required.  This will cause you to be eliminated or receive less points when scored.
  • DO NOT: Write Too short of an essay or Personal Statement, write closer to the maximum number of words than too few. Too few shows lack of interest, concern, facts and depth of understanding of subject and how to write.
  • DO NOT: Write your essay/personal statement using slang, texting, or inappropriate language.  Sponsors expect college level language, prose.
  • DO NOT: Write your essay/personal statement using abbreviations or contractions.  Sponsors expect college level language, prose.
  • DO NOT: Write your essay/personal statement using college, organization, university or other types of acronyms, for example: SDSU, USD, USC, AAUW, EOPS without ❝FIRST❞ spelling the college, organization, or university name out first then in parenthesis () place the acronym, San Diego State University (SDSU).  Sponsors expect college level language, prose.
  • DO NOT: Handwrite your essay/personal statement
  • DO NOT: Elaborate on how ❝broke❞ you are, or how ❝badly❞ you need to pay rent, or that you need to get your car fixed....etc.

    - First - Scholarships are normally for college expenses ONLY. 

    - Second - If you are not asked about those things, you are complaining and sponsors ONLY want to have their questions answered.

  • DO NOT: Discuss how you are receiving social assistance (unless specifically asked by the sponsor)

Basic Writing Rules

1. ALWAYS — follow the sponsor's directions/guidelines:

  • READ ALL ❝Terms and Conditions❞ for the scholarship or Essay Contest.
  • Then review the entire application or webpage requirements, this includes all questions and ALL requirements & special instructions. If the sponsor's guidelines are not clear seek assistance from the ❝Scholarship Specialist❞.

2. BEFORE WRITING STARTS — Focus on the sponsor's essay/personal statement instructions/requirements! If you are unsure, contact the ❝Scholarship Specialist❞ for an appointment to review the application materials.

  • HOW TO BREAKDOWN ESSAYS — Sponsor's essay/personal statement can be challenging to understand. If you are unsure, contact the ❝Scholarship Specialist❞ for assistance or use the basic techniques shown in these EXAMPLES: BREAKDOWN-ESSAYS.

3. FORMAT & WRITING — The essay and personal statement, use basic steps and guidelines to start your paper. Begin with the correct formatting, either set by the sponsor or basic writing fundamentals. Also begin writing, use basic grammar of your paper.

A. Format and Guidelines — Use as the sponsor(s) state (if given) when writing the Essay/Personal Statement.  If none are provided, at a minimum use the following guidelines:

  • Use plain white bond paper, 8 1/2 x 11
  • Left & Right margins 1" Top and Bottom
  • Use a Standard Header: ❝Personal Statement❞ or ❝Essay❞
  • Double Space the sentences on your paper. (Except your address or header)
  • See - PDF Writing EXAMPLE: – (Help guide your scholarship essay writing)

B. Writing & Grammar Basics — Follow correct writing guidelines, ensure the essay is broken down into paragraphs; use transition sentences between each thought or paragraph.  Review your paper with a spelling and grammar checker, ensure punctuation, vocabulary, and style are corrected with each draft; check essay flow by reading ❝your paper❞ out loud.  Ask yourself: ❝Is there depth to my Answer or Answers?❞

  • Use the Online Writing Tools provided below. Never guess at what is or is not correct.
  • Use a ❝Proof Reader❞ Example: Scholarship Specialist, Professor or Counselor or the Writing Center. Regardless of PERSONAL feelings DO NOT use friends as proof readers. It is best not to place your friends in a position to suggest corrections (that may or may not be correct) your friends may be uncomfortable and not tell you.
  • Your essay should be UP LOADED as a ❝PDF❞ unless otherwise directed, this will ensure your essay is received the same way it was written.

Online Writing Tools

WRITING TOOLS, The online writing resources below are available to help all essay needs applicants may use them to develop, organize, prepare, their essay.  These writing tools are recommended for use when writing your personal statements or essays.

Resources - OWL English - Purdue University Writing Lab


Resources - OWL English - Purdue University ESL Writing Lab


Resources - MLA Example - University of Maryland Guide


Resources APA Example - University of Maryland Guide


Resources - Cuyamaca College Writing Center


- The Video Presentation Assistance

Sponsors provide one of several options to the written essay, Video Essay Presentations are more common today than ever before. This does not mean they are easier. Use the following VIDEO Presentation Guide to assist you in preparing for the challenge.


VIDEO Presentation Guide


How to UpLoad a Video Securely

Discuss your essay with your Scholarship Specialist by making an appointment.

Contact Us

For further assistance and guidance in applying for scholarships, please contact the Scholarship Office. We are located in the Financial Aid Office (Building 300) at the Student Services Center. To make an appointment please email or call (619) 660-4537 provide  your Student ID number, please provide your best date and time that you are available.  Walk-in appointments are welcome.

Ernest Williams
Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
1 (619) 660-4537

*Cuyamaca College Financial Aid Office does not guarantee the accuracy of translated text through Google Translate. If the information you are translating is not clear, please return to the home page of Cuyamaca College Financial Aid & Scholarships, click "Contact Us," and call for assistance, or email your question to the appropriate Advisor. Cuyamaca College Financial Aid Office disclaims and will not accept any liability for any problems caused by the use of the Google Translate feature.

Last Updated: 11/27/2019
  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District