Sample 250 Word Scholarship Essays

In college, there are many instances where you may be required to write a 250 word essay – your application, exam questions, small writing prompts, etc. A 250 word limit may seem like a novel to some, but others find it difficult to get their point across  with so few words. In this guide, we will look at a 250-word essay example, along with tips on how to write a great 250-word essay.

The Basic Format of a 250-Word Essay

All essays consist of the same three parts: an introduction with a thesis, a body paragraph or body paragraphs that support the thesis, and a concluding paragraph that summarizes the overall essay.

In 250 words, you will most likely have 3-4 paragraphs in total, each with 50-100 words. This will allow for 3-5 concise but detailed sentences per paragraph.

A Step-by-Step 250-Word Essay Example

To help visualize this process, let’s go ahead and write a simple 250 word essay.  You’ll see our writing sample in green and our explanation of what we did (and what can be done) with each section in normal text.

Without further ado, let’s get started on our essay!

TOPIC:  How has your family upbringing influenced your educational goals?

Step 1 – Write Your Thesis

Your thesis is the first thing you should consider in your essay. Simply put, it’s the main idea of your essay that will control everything else you write. If you could summarize the question in just one sentence, how would you do it?

For our topic  How has your family upbringing influenced your educational goals? our thesis will be:

My parents saw little value in a formal education. It was their lack of passion that led me to my educational goals.

Step 2 – Write Your Introduction

In the introduction, the first sentence can be a broad or general statement that sets the tone for the piece. It is usually supported by a second sentence that leads into the thesis. The optional third sentence may pose a question that the thesis aims to answer, or it may prompt the reader to think about the topic in a different light. The final sentence of the intro paragraph clearly establishes the thesis.

As a general rule of thumb, the introduction should go from broad to specific, sentence by sentence, gradually leading up to your thesis. Here’s a sample example of an introductory paragraph.

Parents are supposed to push you past your goals, or at least, that’s what I always believed. I was raised in the generation of “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” My parents did not follow that philosophy, and they saw little value in a formal education. It was their lack of passion that led me to my educational goals.

Word count:  Introductory paragraph, 64 words. 

Step 3 – Write The Body Paragraph (s)

Next, we’ll continue with the body paragraph. Remember, body paragraphs should support the thesis and be about 3-5 sentences or 50-100 words long. In a short essay you may opt for only one body paragraph but in a longer one you may need more.

So how should your body paragraphs support your thesis? Think of each body paragraph as an argument that supports it.

Working with our thesis  “My parents never saw the value of formal education and that’s what lead me to my educational goals”, then each paragraph could be abouthow not seeing the value of formal education led to the writer pursuing it.

For example, maybe the writer didn’t want to end up in the same work as their parents. Or maybe it was the parents’ lack of belief in the writer that pushed them to pursue a better future.

Let’s have a look at what a body paragraph can look like for our 250 word essay.

From as far back as I can remember, I knew I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of my parents, at least not when it came to work. My father had worked on the family farm all his life and my mother had been a housewife since graduation. They were both content with the simplicity of their lives and wanted the same for me. I remember my father telling me that college was “expensive and a waste of four years”.  I knew however, that I wanted a career in the city that would be more challenging than simple farm life could provide. The only way to make that possible would be through formal education and a college degree. 

Word count:  Body paragraph 119 words. Total essay is now 181 words. 

Step 4 – Summarize with a Conclusion 

The final paragraph is the conclusion. You may start this paragraph with “To summarize,” “As evident by X, Y, and Z,”  or a similar statement that highlights the biggest points in your essay. Use the conclusion paragraph to sum up the main point of your essay using different words. The last sentence can be something broad that leaves the reader wondering. Let’s see how we can write a conclusion for our sample essay.

While my parents may not understand the value of formal education, I know it is essential for my future. This has helped me immensely, by making me realize that without strong parental support, I’m the only one who’s responsible for my own goals. In a way this has been the strongest source of motivation. And for that, I am forever grateful.  

Notice how we summarize the main point of the essay in the first sentence. We then connect the first sentence to the a conclusion we arrive at. Finally we end in an optimistic tone by stating how this has been helpful and we are grateful. Unlike the introduction paragraph, which flows from broad sentences to specific, a conclusion generally flows the opposite way, from specific sentences to broader concepts.

Word count: Concluding paragraph 61 words. Total essay is now 242 words. 

Sure, we came up 8 words short. But being that close should not be considered an issue. If for some reason you are required to write 250 words minimum, you can make the essay longer by sprinkling in a few extra words.

The Entire 250-word Essay Altogether

Parents are supposed to push you past your goals, or at least, that’s what I always believed. I was raised in the generation of “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” My parents did not follow that philosophy, and they saw little value in a formal education. It was their lack of passion that led me to my educational goals.

From as far back as I can remember, I knew I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of my parents, at least not when it came to work. My father had worked on the family farm all his life and my mother had been a housewife since graduation. They were both content with the simplicity of their lives and wanted the same for me. I remember my father telling me that college was “expensive and a waste of four years”.  I knew however, that I wanted a career in the city that would be more challenging than simple farm life could provide. The only way to make that possible would be through formal education and a college degree. 

While my parents may not understand the value of formal education, I know it is essential for my future. This has helped me immensely by making me realize that without strong parental support, I’m the only one who’s responsible for my own goals. In a way this has been the strongest source of motivation. And for that, I am forever grateful.  

Should I Write More Than 250 Words or Less Than 250 Words?

When a professor or college entry application asks for a “250 word essay,” 250 words is generally a rough guide. No one is going to fail you if you go over or under the limit by a few words. We’d say a good gauge is plus or minus 50 words. As a general rule of thumb though, try to stay as close to 250 words as possible without going too far over or under.

Essay Writing Tips

Here are some quick tips for writing a great 250-word essay:

  • Write the first draft from start to finish without any pauses. This will make the writing sound fluid, and you can make adjustments after that.
  • Avoid over-editing your work. Ideally, you should take a long pause between editing sessions so you can clear your head and come back with a fresh perspective.
  • Try not to think about the word count too much. Once you get in the habit of writing four 3-5 sentence paragraphs, you’ll find your words naturally get close to 250.
  • Don’t throw fluff sentences in your essay. Professors see right through those. Instead, think of an additional sentence to enhance the support in your body paragraphs.
  • If you feel like you have concisely and sufficiently answered the question below the word count, trust your gut. Most instructors will value quality over quantity.

The more 250-word essays you write, the easier they will become. Feel free to practice with free essay prompts online to train your brain to write with this rhythm. You’ll soon be able to whip out 250 words without checking your word count!

Using a previous scholarship essay contest we hosted, where our judges received more than 4,000 essays, we noticed some frequent mistakes students make that can instantly disqualify you from an essay contest.

We thought to ourselves, "Hello, learning opportunity!

Here, an example of what NOT to do in an essay – and some tips on making yourself a better candidate for scholarship cash.

Here’s one of the essays we received for a previous scholarship contest, to help you learn the do’s and don’ts of essay writing:

“To be able to hold onto your money you have to know how to manage it. Money management is a complicated process. As teenagers we often have no idea how to manage money and we end up wasting a lot of it. But in a bad economy most of us have had a crash course in what happens when you don’t manage your money properly. We have had to delve into a world foreign and unfamiliar to us and solve our own money problems. The most successful of us have managed to still have some semblance of a social life without going over our small budgets. The keys to doing this successfully are actually quite simple.

Set up your own budget of expenses. Teenagers may not have to worry about paying a mortgage or rent but we do have to be able to pay for gas, insurance for our vehicles, and the never ending list of project expenses and supplies for classes. So you have to sit down and balance what you spend in a month with what you actually make, and whether that’s the money you get for your birthday that you manage to stretch with help from mom’s pocketbook or it’s the minimum wage that you get from the local fast food joint where you have managed to find employment the money comes from somewhere and it needs to be written down.

Review your expenses daily. This includes balancing your checkbook and reviewing your online statements, as well as calculating any emergency expenses that you were not considering. This needs to be fluid as sometimes things come up that you just couldn’t have forseen.

You have to get creative. You are not always going to have the time to sit there with a calculator crunching numbers so create small ways to keep thing balanced without having to. Send yourself easy phone reminders about a few of your expenses. Always bring your school id with you because a lot of places will give students discounted rates. And finally, just remember where your money is going it will help.”

So, what was wrong and what was right?

One thing the essay writer did correctly was to stay within the word count for the contest.

The essay contest stated within the rules that essays should range from 250-350 words and this essay comes in at 349 words. Good job!

Another positive is that the writer stayed on topic and answered the question that was presented.

However, even though the writer did stay on topic, the response took a meandering approach and didn’t take a strong or memorable stance. In short, the “meat” of the essay wasn’t there. Think of it this way: sum up in one sentence what you want the reviewer to know and remember after reading your essay. Did you get that across in a clear and concise way?

Each essay should get across at least one breakout idea (aka, the thesis statement) and the rest of the essay should focus on selling that point. If it’s a new, creative or off-beat idea, focus on selling and explaining that. If it’s a common idea, focus on trying to say it better than anyone else.

Here are a few more examples of what the essay writer did wrong:

Misspellings –

Misspellings are the fastest way to ensure an essay is disqualified. When combing through a stack of essays, a judge will first rule out the essays with simple misspellings. Long story short: run a spell check and have someone else you trust look over it. It’s always best to get a second set of eyes.

Incomplete sentences – Remember, each sentence should have a subject (someone or something) and a verb (action). Wondering if your sentence is complete? Here’s a hint: A complete sentence tells a complete thought.

No capitalization –

it’s bad enough not to capitalize words at the beginning of a sentence, but at the beginning of a paragraph it stands out even more! Yikes!

Missing punctuation –

In this example, the writer does not have proper command over the use of commas — namely they are missing in places they should have been added and added places they are not required.

Poor grammar and sentences that don’t make sense –

The essay writer uses poor word choices, improper grammar and mistakes such as having too many spaces between words. Another example of poor grammar is the confusion of grammatical persons — in the beginning of the essay the writer uses the first person plural (we) and toward the end, the writer uses the second person (you).

Run-on sentences –

In this essay, one sentence has 72 words. As a rule, try to keep sentences no longer than 35 words each.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you write an essay. Remember, you don’t want to give the judges any reason to disqualify your essay right off the bat.

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