Unlocking Creativity: Dennis Bonnen, Second Floor Strategies Founder, Shares Strategies For Brainstorming Your Scholarship Essay

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Scholarship essays are one of the most critical components of a student’s scholarship application. It allows students to showcase their personality, academic achievements, and goals. However, writing a scholarship essay can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t clearly understand what to write about. This article, led by thoughts from Dennis Bonnen, Second Floor Strategies Founder, will discuss effective ways to brainstorm ideas for your scholarship essay.

Read and Understand the Requirements:

The first strategy for brainstorming ideas for your scholarship essay is carefully reading and understanding the application requirements. Study and identify the important values the scholarship provider emphasizes in their application. These include community service, academic achievements, volunteer work, and leadership skills. You can then use these values as prompts when creating your essay.

Reflect on Your Personal Experiences and Achievements:

Your personal experiences and achievements can be the best sources of inspiration for your scholarship essay. Think about what activities, hobbies, or interests you excel at and have significantly accomplished. From there, you can narrow your ideas and pick out one that stands out. In doing so, you can effectively express your unique personality in your essay.

Seek Inspiration from Other Resources:

Seek inspiration from other sources, such as reading scholarship essays, blog posts, or articles. You can also check out different scholarship essay prompt examples online and use these as an outline or guide for your essay. However, be careful not to copy someone else’s work or ideas, which can lead to plagiarism and disqualification.

Brainstorm with Others:

Brainstorming with others can be a great way to find new ideas and perspectives for your scholarship essay. You can seek help from friends, family members, teachers, or guidance counselors. They can offer different perspectives, ideas and provide constructive feedback on your essay.

Take Time to Refine and Edit Your Essay:

After brainstorming, take some time to refine your ideas, and outline your thoughts. Write a draft essay, and read it aloud to yourself to achieve clarity and coherence. Use spell-checking and grammar tools to avoid errors, and have someone else edit your essay. This will help you refine and polish your essay, ensuring it is well-written and error-free.

Use Mind Mapping Techniques

Mind mapping is a popular brainstorming technique that involves creating a visual representation of your ideas. Start with a central idea, such as “my passion for environmental sustainability.” Then, branch out with smaller ideas related to the central idea, such as “volunteering at a local community garden” or “participating in a recycling program.” Mind mapping can be a helpful tool for generating ideas and organizing your thoughts.

Ask for Feedback

Sometimes the best ideas come from others. Share your writing prompt and ideas with a trusted teacher, friend, or mentor. They may provide a different perspective and valuable insight into what works and is missing in your essay. Once you have their feedback, don’t forget to consider their suggestions and apply those that improve your work.

Take Your Time

Brainstorming isn’t an exact science. It may take several brainstorming sessions before you develop something exciting and compelling. Assign yourself a regular time to brainstorm and space out the sessions to give yourself time to reflect. Once you’ve got an idea, don’t be afraid to take time off and return to it with fresh eyes later. A well-crafted essay needs time and patience to develop.


Scholarship essays require depth and quality. You must research to support your ideas, claims, and statements. It could be research on your intended studies, volunteer work, or the scholarship provider. Incorporating research allows you to showcase your dedication and knowledge on the topic, which increases your chances of standing out to the committee.

Be creative

Winning scholarships often require unique and creative approaches to the essay. Avoid using clichéd topics or writing about overused elements that may be boring to the committee. Instead, take a different approach by using humor, irony, or specific examples that showcase your personality. Be creative and push yourself to showcase your creativity in the essay.


Lastly, freewriting is another excellent strategy for brainstorming your scholarship essay. Set a five to ten-minute timer and write down anything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or structure; the goal is to write down as many ideas as possible. Once the time is up, review your writing and notice the outstanding ideas. You might be surprised at how many unique and compelling ideas you’ve generated.


Dennis Bonnen, Second Floor Strategies Founder, knows that brainstorming for your scholarship essay can be daunting. Still, it is a critical step leading to a winning essay and, ultimately, a scholarship. Following these strategies for brainstorming your scholarship essay, you can develop an original and compelling essay highlighting your unique achievements and qualifications. These strategies will help you achieve clarity and coherence in your essay, making expressing your ideas, personality, and goals easier. Remember, it’s important to take the time to refine and edit your essay, ensuring that it’s polished, error-free, and ready to impress the scholarship committee.