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how long should a scholarship personal statement be

How to Write a Personal Statement for a Scholarship + Examples

What’s covered:, what is the purpose of the scholarship personal statement, what to include in your personal statement, personal statement example: breakdown + analysis, how to make sure your writing is effective.

Either before or after you’ve gotten into your dream school, you’ll have to figure out how to pay for it. For most students, this involves a combination of financial aid, parent contributions, self-contributions, student loans, and scholarships/grants. Because scholarships are money out of someone else’s pocket that you never have to pay back, they are a great place to start!

Scholarships come in two forms: merit-based and need-based. Need-based scholarships are also often called grants. These designations tell you whether an organization looks at your financial situation when deciding about your scholarship.

Additionally, different scholarships fall under different categories based on the mission of the organization or person providing the scholarship’s financing. These missions typically emphasize different things like academic achievement, specific career goals, community service, leadership, family background, skill in the arts, or having overcome hardship. As you select scholarships to apply for and complete your applications, you should keep these missions in mind.

No matter what type of scholarship you are applying for, you will be asked to provide the review committee with standard materials. This includes your transcript, GPA, and resume/extracurriculars, but also, importantly, your personal statement. A scholarship personal statement is a bit different from your normal college essay, so we’ve put together this guide and some examples to help you get started!

The purpose of your personal statement is to help a review committee learn more about your personality, values, goals, and what makes you special. Ultimately, like with your college essays, you are trying to humanize your profile beyond your transcript, GPA, and test scores.

College essays all have one goal in mind (which is why you can apply to multiple schools at once through applications like the Common App or Coalition App): convince admissions officers that you would be a valuable addition to the university environment. The goal of your scholarship personal statement is different and differs more from one scholarship to the next. Rather than convincing various review committees that you are a generally good candidate for extra funding for college, you need to convince each review committee that your values have historically aligned with their organization’s mission and will continue to align with their organization’s mission.

Common missions amongst those who give scholarships include:

  • Providing opportunities for students with career ambitions in a particular field
  • Helping students who have experienced unexpected hardship
  • Supporting students who show outstanding academic achievement
  • Funding the arts through investing in young artists with strong technical skill
  • Supporting the development of civic-minded community service leaders of the future
  • Providing opportunities for historically underrepresented ethnic communities 

If a specific mission like this is outlined on an organization’s website or in the promotional material for its scholarship, the purpose of your personal statement is to show how you exemplify that mission.

Some scholarships ask for your personal statement to be guided by a prompt, while others leave things open for interpretation. When you are provided a prompt, it is obvious what you must do: answer the prompt. When you are not provided a prompt, you want to write a personal statement that is essentially a small-scale autobiography where you position yourself as a good investment. In either case, you should identify a focus or theme for what you are trying to say about yourself so that your application does not get lost in the shuffle.

Prompts include questions like:

  • Why do you deserve this scholarship?
  • How have you shown your commitment to (leadership/community service/diversity) in your community?
  • When did you overcome adversity?
  • Why is attending college important to you?

If you are provided a prompt, develop a theme for your response that showcases both your values and your achievements. This will help your essay feel focused and will subsequently help the review committee to remember which candidate you were as they deliberate.

Themes include things like:

  • I deserve this community service scholarship because my compassion for intergenerational trauma has inspired me to volunteer with a local after-school program. I didn’t just sympathize. I did something about my sympathy because that’s the type of person I am. Within the program, I have identified avenues for improvement and worked alongside full-time staff to develop new strategies for increasing attendance.
  • I overcame adversity when my mother had to have a major surgery two months after giving birth to my younger brother. I was just a kid but was thrown into a situation where I had to raise another kid. It was hard, but I’m the kind of person who tries to grow from hard times and, through my experience taking care of a baby, I learned the importance of listening to body language and nonverbal cues to understand the needs of others (baby and nonbaby, alike).

Without a prompt, clarity can be harder to achieve. That said, it is of the utmost importance that you find a focus. First, think about both your goals and your values.

Types of goals include:

  • Career goals
  • Goals for personal growth
  • The type of friend you want to be
  • The change you want to make in the world

Values could include:

  • Authenticity
  • And many more!

After you write out your goals/values, write out your achievements to see what goals/values you have “proof” of your commitment to. Your essay will ultimately be an exploration of your goal/value, what you have done about your goal/value in the past, and what you aspire to in the future.

You might be tempted to reflect on areas for improvement, but scholarships care about you living out your values. It is not enough to aspire to be exemplary in leadership, community service, or your academic field. For scholarships, you have to already be exemplary.

Finally, keep in mind that the review committee likely already has a copy of your extracurricular activities and involvement. Pick one or two accomplishments, then strive for depth, not breadth as you explore them.

My interest in the field of neuroscience began at a young age.  When I was twelve years old, my sister developed a condition called Pseudotumor Cerebri following multiple concussions during a basketball game.  It took the doctors over six months to make a proper diagnosis, followed by three years of treatment before she recovered.  During this time, my love for neuroscience was sparked as I began to research her condition and, then, other neurocognitive conditions.  Later, my love of neuroscience was amplified when my mother began to suffer from brain-related health issues.  My mother had been a practicing attorney in Dallas for over twenty years.  She was a determined litigator who relentlessly tried difficult cases that changed people’s lives.  Now, she suffers from a cognitive impairment and is no longer able to practice law.  Oftentimes, she has headaches, she gets “cloudy,” her executive functioning slows down, she feels overwhelmed, and she forgets things.  My mother has gone from being the strong, confident, emotional and financial caretaker of our family to needing significant help on a daily basis. Once again, with this illness came a lot of research on my part — research that encouraged me to pursue my dreams of exploring neuroscience.

Due to my experiences with my mother and sister when I was in middle school, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the field of neuroscience.  I also knew that, to obtain this goal, I needed to maintain superior grades in school while also pursuing opportunities outside of school to further my education.  In school, I was able to maintain superior grades to the point where I am currently valedictorian in a class of 567 students.  In addition, in school, I challenged myself by taking 16 Advanced Placement classes and 19 Honors classes.  Two of the most beneficial classes were AP Capstone Seminar and AP Capstone Research.  AP Capstone Seminar and AP Capstone Research are research-oriented classes where students are given the opportunity to pursue whatever track their research takes them down.  As a junior in AP Capstone Seminar, I researched the effects of harmful pesticide use on the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children.  This year, as a senior in AP Capstone Research, I am learning about the effects of medical marijuana on the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  

Outside of school, I furthered my education through taking advantage of the Duke TiP summer program. Duke TiP is a summer program run by Duke University where students who score extremely well on the SAT as middle schoolers are able to take college classes at different universities throughout the summers of their middle school and high school years.  I took advantage of this opportunity twice.  First, I went to Trinity University in San Antonio to expand my horizons and learn more about debate.  However, once I was done exploring, I decided I wanted to go into neuroscience.  This led me to take an Abnormal Psychology class at Duke University’s West Campus.  This class opened my eyes to the interaction between neuroscience and mental health, mental illness, and personality.  Years later, I am currently continuing my education outside of school as an intern at the University of Texas Dallas Center for Brain Health.  Through this internship, I have been able to see different aspects of neuroscience including brain pattern testing, virtual reality therapy, and longitudinal research studies.  With this background, I have positioned myself to be accepted by top neuroscience programs throughout the nation.  So far, I have been accepted to the neuroscience department of University of Southern California, the University of Virginia, the University of Texas, and Southern Methodist University, as well as the chemistry department at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.  

It is with this passion for neuroscience driven by my family and passion for education driven by internal motivation that I will set out to conquer my career objectives.  My educational aspirations consist of acquiring a bachelor’s degree in a biological or health science that would assist me in pursuing a medical career as a neuroscience researcher.  I decided to attain a career as a researcher since my passion has always been assisting others and trying to improve their quality of life.  After obtaining my Masters and my PhD, I plan to become a professor at a prestigious university and continue performing lab research on cognitive disorders.  I am particularly interested in disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  In the lab, I hope to find different therapies and medications to help treat the 3.5 million people around the world suffering from ASD.  Furthermore, I want to contribute back to underserved populations that struggle because they do not have as much access to medical assistance as other privileged groups.  As such, I hope to do a part of my research in less developed or developing Spanish-speaking countries. This will also allow me to pursue my love of Spanish while pursuing my love of neuroscience.  I think that following such a career path will provide me the opportunity to learn about the medical needs of the autistic community and improve their quality of health.  Furthermore, I hope to train a new generation of students to strive to research and make comparable discoveries.  Whether it be through virtual reality labs or new drug discoveries, I believe that research leads to innovation which leads to a brighter future. 

This student does a great job of making themself appear competent and dedicated to the field of neuroscience. This is primarily because they provided tangible evidence of how they have pursued their dedication in the past—through their AP Capstone courses, their Abnormal Psychology class at Duke TiP, and their internship at UTD. There is no doubt in the mind of a reader that this student is high-achieving. 

This student also engages successfully with a past-future trajectory, where they end with a vision of how they will continue to use neuroscience in the future. This helps the review committee see what they are investing in and the ways that their money will go to good use.

This student has two major areas for improvement. As we have said, the purpose of a personal statement is for a student to humanize themself to a review committee. This student struggles to depict themself separately from their academic achievements. A solution to this would be for the student to establish a theme towards the beginning of their essay that relates to both their values as a human and their achievements.

At the beginning of the essay, the student explores how their interest in neuroscience began. They explain their interest through the following sentences: “During this time, my love for neuroscience was sparked as I began to research her condition and, then, other neurocognitive conditions” and “Once again, with this illness came a lot of research on my part — research that encouraged me to pursue my dreams of exploring neuroscience.” The student made the great decision to tell the backstory of their interest, but they described their research in very mundane and redundant terms. Instead, they could have focused on their value of intellectual curiosity as a magnetic force that encouraged them to research their mother and sister’s ailments. Curiosity, then, could serve as a value-related thematic throughline to taking AP Capstone classes, taking college courses during the summer that weren’t required, and interning before even graduating high school.

A second area for improvement would be avoiding statistics. As the student identifies their valedictorian status and the number of AP classes they have taken, they might turn away certain personalities on a review committee by appearing braggy. Even further, these statistics are a waste of space. The review committee already has access to this information. These words distract from the major theme of the essay and would have been better used to humanize the student.

Throughout my academic career, I have been an avid scholar, constantly pushing myself towards ambitious goals. I held and continue to hold myself to a high standard, enrolling myself in rigorous curriculum, including Honors and Advanced Placement courses to stretch my mental potential. During my junior year of high school, I took four AP tests, two on the same day, and earned the AP Scholar with Honor Award. Additionally, I received the Letter of Commendation for the PSAT/NMSQT, and qualified for Rotary Top 100 Students both my freshman and senior year, a sign of my commitment to my studies. However, school has not been all about having the best GPA for me; beyond the numbers, I have a deep drive to learn which motivates me to do well academically. I truly enjoy learning new things, whether it be a new essay style or a math theorem. I always give each class my best effort and try my hardest on every assignment. My teachers have noticed this as well, and I have received school Lancer Awards and Student of the Month recognitions as a result. It is a major goal of mine to continue to aspire towards a high level of achievement regarding future educational and occupational endeavors; I plan on continuing this level of dedication throughout my educational career and implementing the skills I have learned and will learn into my college experience and beyond.

This fall, I will begin attending the University of California Los Angeles as an English major. I chose this major because I am fascinated by written language, especially its ability to convey powerful messages and emotions. I also enjoy delving into the works of other authors to analyze specific components of their writing to discover the meaning behind their words. In particular, I cannot wait to begin in-depth literary criticism and learn new stylistic techniques to add more depth to my writing. Furthermore, I recently went to UCLA’s Bruin Day, an event for incoming freshmen, where I was exposed to many different extracurriculars, some of which really piqued my interest. I plan on joining the Writing Success Program, where I can help students receive free writing help, and Mock Trial, where I can debate issues with peers in front of a real judge. The latter, combined with a strong writing background from my undergraduate English studies will be extremely beneficial because I plan to apply to law school after my undergraduate degree. As of now, my career goal is to become a civil rights lawyer, to stand up for those who are discriminated against and protect minority groups to proliferate equality.

As a lawyer, I wish to utilize legislation to ameliorate the plight of the millions of Americans who feel prejudice and help them receive equity in the workplace, society, and so on. Though this seems a daunting task, I feel that my work ethic and past experience will give me the jumpstart I need to establish myself as a successful lawyer and give a voice to those who are often unheard in today’s legal system. I have been a Girl Scout for over a decade and continually participate in community service for the homeless, elderly, veterans, and more. My most recent project was the Gold Award, which I conducted in the Fullerton School District. I facilitated over ten workshops where junior high students taught elementary pupils STEM principles such as density and aerodynamics via creative activities like building aluminum boats and paper airplanes. I also work at Kumon, a tutoring center, where I teach students to advance their academic success. I love my job, and helping students from local schools reach their potential fills me with much pride.

Both being a Girl Scout and working at Kumon have inspired me to help those in need, contributing significantly to my desire to become a lawyer and aid others. My extracurriculars have allowed me to gain a new perspective on both learning and teaching, and have solidified my will to help the less fortunate. In college, I hope to continue to gain knowledge and further develop my leadership skills, amassing qualities that will help me assist others. I plan to join multiple community service clubs, such as UCLA’s local outreach programs that directly aid residents of Los Angeles. I want to help my fellow pupils as well, and plan on volunteering at peer tutoring and peer editing programs on campus. After college, during my career, I want to use legal tactics to assist the underdog and take a chance on those who are often overlooked for opportunities. I wish to represent those that are scared to seek out help or cannot afford it. Rather than battling conflict with additional conflict, I want to implement peaceful but strong, efficient tactics that will help make my state, country, and eventually the world more welcoming to people of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. These goals are close to my heart and therefore I will be as diligent as I am passionate about them. My perseverance and love for learning and community service drive my ambition in both education and life as a whole, and the drive to make the world a better place is one that I will carry with me for my entire life.

This student emphasizes two values in this essay: hard work and community service. These are values that go together nicely, and definitely make sense with this student’s end goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer! That said, some changes could be made to the way the student presents their values that would make their personal statement more convincing and engaging.

Structurally, instead of using a past-future trajectory, this student starts by explaining their academic achievements, then explains their career goals, then explains their history of community service, then explains their future desires for community service. This structure loses the reader. Instead, the student should have started with either the past or the future. 

This could look like 1) identifying their career goals, 2) explaining that hard work and a commitment to community service are necessary to get there, and 3) explaining that they aren’t worried because of their past commitment to hard work and community service. Or it could look like 1) providing examples of their hard work and community service in the past, then 2) explaining how those values will help them achieve their career goals.

Additionally, like with our other example, this student shows a heavy investment in statistics and spouting off accomplishments. This can be unappealing. Unfortunately, even when the student recognizes that they are doing this, writing “beyond the numbers, I have a deep drive to learn which motivates me to do well academically. I truly enjoy learning new things, whether it be a new essay style or a math theorem,” they continue on to cite their achievements, writing “My teachers have noticed this as well, and I have received school Lancer Awards and Student of the Month recognitions as a result.” They say they are going beyond the numbers, but they don’t go beyond the awards. They don’t look inward. One way to fix this would be to make community service the theme around which the essay operates, supplementing with statistics in ways that advance the image of the student as dedicated to community service.

Finally, this student would be more successful if they varied their sentence structure. While a small-scale autobiography can be good, if organized, every sentence should not begin with ‘I.’ The essay still needs to be engaging or the review committee might stop reading.

Feedback is ultimately any writer’s best source of improvement! To get your personal statement edited for free, use our Peer Review Essay Tool . With this tool, other students can tell you if your scholarship essay is effective and help you improve your essay so that you can have the best chances of gaining those extra funds!

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how long should a scholarship personal statement be

The College Application

How to Write a Killer Scholarship Personal Statement: Definitive Guide With Examples

A lady searching for scholarships, and preparing to write a scholarship personal statement

The Importance of an Effective Personal Statement

Whether you’re coming straight out of high school, are a transfer student, or are an adult student returning to college after a long absence, one of the first things you’ll want to do when preparing for college is to look for scholarships.

At all levels, college is expensive. Winning scholarships that cut down on costs is a priority for most of us, and writing an effective scholarship personal statement can help you do that.

There are many important parts of the process when it comes to scholarship applications. Locating the scholarships and gathering all the relevant information are key components, but your scholarship personal statement is arguably the most important part of a scholarship application.

Writing a powerful and memorable personal statement can really make your application stand out among the hundreds of other submissions.

Table of Contents

What Exactly Is a Scholarship Personal Statement?

A personal statement is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a statement, paragraph, or essay about yourself. It should tell who you are, where you came from, what your dreams, goals, and aspirations are, and more. It should focus on your strengths and tell scholarship committees why you deserve their money.

Sometimes, personal statements can be written in response to an open-ended question, such as, “ Tell us about yourself. ” More often, though, scholarship applications have a very specific prompt that you’re supposed to follow when writing your personal statement.

Following the Prompt

A prompt is something that many colleges or other types of scholarship committees will give you to help guide your writing. Some essays won’t have a prompt. We’ll discuss those later on in the article. For now, let’s focus on the applications that provide you with prompts.

When given a prompt, please stick to it and answer it fully. You don’t want to trail off onto some other tangent or write your statement how you want to write it simply because it sounds better or because you already have a standard scholarship personal statement you like to use. Answer the prompt that is given, and answer it honestly and completely.

Some prompts require you to respond to the questions asked in the order given, while for others ( most of them ), you can follow whatever order that suits you, so long as you address all questions.

Knowing about some common prompts beforehand will help prepare you for what you may be asked and will keep you from being blindsided. Knowing some common prompts early on can also prepare you a little more about what to write.

Common College Scholarship Personal Statement Prompts

1.   why do you deserve this scholarship.

This is probably the most commonly asked prompt for any scholarship personal statement. Most organizations that give scholarships know why you want the scholarship. What they don’t know is why exactly they should give it to you. Your answer to this prompt should be one that fully answers the question by telling the scholarship committee not only why you deserve the money, but also why you need it at all.

Why you deserve something and why you need it are two totally different questions. This prompt, though, requires you to answer both. The reasons you need the scholarship money could involve a number of factors, including:

  • Financial hardship in your family
  • Coming from a single-parent or foster-parent home
  • Older siblings already at college
  • Parent(s) is disabled, out of work, or incarcerated
  • Coming from a low-income family, neighborhood, or Title I school
  • Receiving government assistance (housing, food stamps, etc.)
  • Being a ward of the state with no support system

All of these reasons – and more – are why you might need the money. Tell the committee that in your scholarship personal statement.

Telling them these things should not be seen as “feeling sorry for yourself” or begging for help. These are all legitimate reasons you could potentially need help paying for college. As long as you’re being honest, these are definitely things that should be included in your personal statement.

Telling the committee why you deserve the scholarship is a little different. While all those reasons are why you need the money, they don’t explain why you deserve it. This is the part of the scholarship personal statement where you sell the committee on YOU.

Tell them about all the great things you’ve done. If you were an honor roll student, a member of the BETA Club or National Honor Society, or a National Merit Scholar, put that in your statement.

Other reasons you could cite as to why you deserve a scholarship include:

  • Exceptional athletic ability or talent
  • Many hours of documented community service
  • Having served your country honorably in the military
  • Impressive personal stories of overcoming adversity
  • Exceptional ACT/SAT scores
  • A schedule that shows an impressive balance of grades, sports, community service, etc.

Just as listing the reasons you need the scholarship isn’t begging, listing these reasons for deserving the scholarship isn’t bragging. There are hundreds, possibly even thousands, of people, trying to get the same scholarships you’re trying to get. You need to stand out above the crowd.

2.  Tell us about overcoming your greatest challenge.

Although this prompt is worded quite differently from the first prompt, in essence, you can answer them both in a similar way. All of those reasons you might have for needing the money are also challenges you’ve had to overcome to succeed in life.

Other possible challenges could include the loss of parents, a physical or mental disability you’ve had to learn to cope with throughout your life, or a dangerous, scary, or upsetting life event you’ve lived through in your past.

For this type of prompt, you’ll want to start with the challenge you faced. Be as honest and descriptive as possible about what it was. Then be equally honest and descriptive about the steps you took to overcome it. If, after overcoming the challenge, you received some kind of recognition or award, make sure you mention that as well.

3. Why do you want to attend college?/Why is education important?

This is another very popular question that’s asked on scholarship applications. A scholarship committee wants to know that you have actual, obtainable goals for your education and your future before they give you money to use for college.

If you can’t effectively explain why college – and education in general – is important to your future goals, most committees won’t want to take a chance on you.

There are different ways to approach this particular prompt. If you fit into a category of people who have notoriously been excluded from higher education in the past, such as African Americans, women, or other minority groups, talking about that can help your case.

You can discuss how hard the generations that came before you fought for you to be able to attend college and how you want to honor that.

You can also take a wholly personal approach to answering this question. Mention any relevant struggles you’ve been through, and don’t be afraid to talk about your family. Did they go to college?

If not, discuss what an honor it’ll be to be the first in your family to graduate from college. Those types of things are all relevant reasons you might want to attend college.

No matter which way you decide to go with your answer to this question, don’t forget to talk about your goals and how college is the only way for you to achieve them in your scholarship personal statement.

Be specific. Talk about your intended major and how that major and the classes you’ll take for it will help you become what you want to become. If you’re applying for a college-specific scholarship, talk about why you want to go to that specific college.

4. Random and Unique Essay Prompts

Sometimes, no matter how hard you study and prep in order to write a good essay, a scholarship committee comes up with a personal statement essay prompt that seems like it’s entirely out of left field. These types of prompts can be anything.

For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been known to ask students seeking scholarships in the past, “ What do you hope to find over the rainbow? ”. And for 2022/23, one of UNC’s application prompts required fill-in-the-blank type of responses, including:

  • If I had an extra hour in every day, I would spend it…
  • If I could travel anywhere, near or far, past, present or future, I would go…
  • The last time I stepped outside my comfort zone, I…

The 2022/23 Yale-specific questions on the Coalition and Common App included the following short answer questions:

  • You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?
  • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What would you ask them to discuss?

Another unusual prompt you might come across is “What would you do if you were a superhero?” .

There really isn’t a way to prepare for these types of prompts, but knowing they exist and that you might run across one is a good start.

For many people, these are the best kinds of prompts to receive. They give you a chance to let your imagination run wild, and they’re a nice change from the same old “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” type of questions.

So if you do happen to run across one of these, don’t immediately dismiss it. These types of prompts give you a chance to have a little fun. They are a chance to have your personality shine a little, and who knows- you might just impress the scholarship committee!

Writing Scholarship Personal Statements for Applications without Prompts

If you’re asked to write a personal statement but aren’t really given a prompt, simply tell the college a mixture of all those things listed above. Talk about your achievements, accomplishments, and instances of overcoming obstacles. Talk about your history, and tell them why you need the scholarship and why you deserve it.

There are also a few other Do’s and Don’ts to remember. Do be specific, but don’t get too complicated. Keep things simple and light, while also being thorough. Your personal statement is like a mini autobiography.

You want to highlight all the key points while putting a heavy emphasis on your strengths. You can mention a weakness, especially if you’ve learned to overcome that weakness, but don’t focus too much attention there.

Arrange your essay in a logical order that makes sense and flows well. Also, try to keep to one or two central themes throughout the entirety of the statement. Clear, concise personal statements are easily read and extremely memorable. Don’t be afraid to tell a story, though.

You never want to lie or exaggerate in your personal statement, but you should make it as interesting and as entertaining as possible while sticking to the facts.

Be very clear and precise about your goals and dreams. Don’t add in a lot of hypotheticals, maybes, or uncertainties. Scholarship committees want to know that you have a solid goal for your future.

They don’t want to give money to someone who might want to be an engineer and thinks botany is great but also really loves the idea of cosmetology and is just going to “stay undeclared until I figure it all out.” Umm…that’s an extreme example, perhaps, but you get the idea.

Don’t add in a lot of unnecessarily long words. Your personal statement should read like an actual story of your life, not a poorly written thesaurus. Trust us on this.

Scholarship committees will be much more impressed if you write an honest, well-organized, and coherent essay about yourself than they will if you find a way to use the words “ platitudinous ,” “ audacity ” and “ impecunious ” in your personal statement.

Also, avoid cliches and extremely long and wordy sentences.

Personal Statement Review: If you need help brainstorming or reviewing your essay, check our personal statement helper page.

Standard Scholarship Essay Format

The first thing you want to do when writing your scholarship personal statement is to set the formatting up correctly. Some scholarship applications will provide you with specific formatting requirements.

If not, the standard formatting requirements of a scholarship essay or personal statement are usually as follows:

  • One-inch margins on all sides
  • Double-spaced
  • No additional line spaces between paragraphs
  • Typed in Times New Roman
  • Typed with 12-point font

Specific guidelines given in the scholarship instructions always supersede these formatting guidelines. Be sure to use proper grammar and punctuation. If these aren’t your strong points, ask a teacher, mentor, or friend to look over your essay for any errors.

You could also utilize this awesome  spellcheck and online grammar check tool , or use any other that works for you. 

After you’ve got the formatting correct, the next thing you want to do is put together your outline. This can be done on paper, on the computer, or just inside your head, but it does need to be done.

You need at least a loose outline to make sure your essay flows smoothly and makes sense as written. While the exact structure of your essay will depend largely on your own writing style and the essay prompt, here’s the general structure for most essays.

Step 1: Introduction

Your introduction should be no more than 2 paragraphs long, and you want to catch the reader with a very interesting and engaging first sentence. You should also outline the key points you’re going to be making in the remainder of your essay. If you were writing an English paper, this would be your thesis.

Step 2: Body Paragraphs

You should always have at least 2 body paragraphs, preferably 3. Remember, long paragraphs of text running together can be hard for readers to wade through and absorb, so try to keep your paragraphs to no more than 5 sentences if possible.

If you change topics, such as moving from talking about your family to talking about your strengths, you should also change paragraphs.

Your body paragraphs are where you really sell yourself as a great student with a lot of potential to the scholarship committee. Remember- be specific but simple!

Don’t get bogged down in big, thesaurus-like words, and avoid clichés. Just be honest about your life experiences, your accomplishments, and your future goals.

Step 3: Conclusion

In this last paragraph, you’ll want to sum up everything. This is also the paragraph where you talk about how much being awarded this particular scholarship would benefit you and what you would do with the money that will help you achieve your goals.

It’s also nice to thank the scholarship committee for taking the time to read through your application and consider you for the scholarship.

Scholarship Personal Statement Examples

Below you’ll find some examples of actual scholarship essays that were written by actual college students seeking scholarships. Some are examples of what to do, while others are examples of what not to do.

If you’re stuck and don’t know where to begin, hopefully, these will give you a little inspiration.

Sample Essay 1

“The day was May 28, 2014. My doctor told my parents that I would need Spinal Fusion Surgery with rods and screws, and it had to happen quickly. Before surgery, the doctor suggested strength training for the muscles in my back so that I’d recover faster. I immediately went to the local gym and began working with a personal trainer, Justin. I learned so much from him including how the body works and how surgery takes time to heal. After surgery, I knew that I wanted to use my experience to help others, just like Justin helped me.”

– Read the rest   here .

This is an excellent example of an introductory paragraph for a scholarship personal statement. With the author’s first two sentences, I was hooked. This student knows how to immediately capture the reader’s attention and pull him into his story.

He’s relating a true story in response to a prompt asking him about his after-college plans, but he’s doing it in such a way that it’s instantly interesting, and engaging, and makes us want to read more.

The student also has a great transition sentence. Although we only provided a portion of the essay that stops just before he tells us exactly what his goals are, it’s obvious by the last displayed sentence that that’s exactly what he’s about to do.

He’s about to tell us his plans for his future, after already telling us why he chose those plans.

In just a few short sentences, this student catches our attention, tells us about a horrible thing that happened to him that he had to overcome, explains how that situation shaped what he wants to do with his future, and transitions into telling us his goals.

This is a masterfully crafted introductory paragraph.

Sample Essay 2

“Unlike other teens, I’m not concerned about money, or partying, or what others think of me. Unlike other eighteen-year-olds, I think about my future and haven’t become totally materialistic and acquisitive. My whole outlook on life changed after I realized that my life was just being handed to me on a silver spoon, and yet there were those in the world who didn’t have enough food to eat or place to live. I realized that the one thing that this world needed more than anything was compassion; compassion for those less fortunate than us.”

In contrast to example one, this sample section is an example of what not to do when writing your personal statement. It starts off badly and just keeps ongoing.

The first couple of sentences of this student’s essay don’t paint her in a great light because of how they’re written. It’s fine to tell the scholarship committee that you aren’t a partier and that you care about your future, but it’s not okay to do it while sitting in judgment of other people.

The very first words of this essay are “Unlike other teenagers.” This automatically sets the writer apart, which would be fine if she were going on to say something positive about “other teenagers.”

For instance, if she were to say that she didn’t grow up getting to socialize and spend time with friends because she was homeschooled her whole life or that she didn’t learn about the advantages of technology because she grew up in a rural community, her opening words would’ve been fine.

Instead, she immediately jumps into saying harsh, degrading things about “other teenagers.” She lumps all teenagers into a stereotypical group of irresponsible partiers who care only about their appearances and material things.

Casting other people in a bad light is never a great way to let your light shine in any arena, but this is especially true when trying to craft a strong college personal essay.

The transition to her revolutionary life moment didn’t make a lot of sense, either. She says her “whole outlook on life changed” after realizing there were poor people in the world. This is off-putting for 2 reasons.

The first is that most people, including children, know there are poor people in the world. It isn’t really a secret and doesn’t usually come as a life-changing shock.

Secondly, the way her essay is written, she says she never did those bad things that other teens did. Then she says her whole life changed when she realized there were poor people in the world.

As written, this makes it sound like she changed and started doing these things after her revelation, which is certainly not what she meant at all, but because of the chronology of her essay, that’s how it sounds.

Sample Essay 3

“And, that strength was something that came not only from knowing how to cook my own food, lug armfuls of wood three or four times a day, and make my own safe and cozy place in the world, no matter where. It came from an inner sense of seeing things as they are. Life isn’t just out of a magazine with the best appliances and the nicest furniture. There are other things in life, like dirty floors, and relationships that don’t always work, and meals that have to be made. But, that’s not all bad.”

– Read the rest   here .

This is another example of an essay Don’t. The whole essay, which isn’t listed here, isn’t bad as a whole, but it also isn’t clear and precise. The sentences are long and wordy, and the student uses conjunctions, like “and” and “but,” to start sentences.

Grammatically, that isn’t the best way to write. This is an example of an essay that could have been quite good if only the student had spent some time editing it, proofreading it, and perhaps handing it over to someone else to look over it before he submitted it.

Never underestimate the power of revision and constructive criticism when writing your own scholarship essay.

Sample Essay 4

“Through the successes of my efforts, I also realized that poverty was just a societal limitation. I was low-income, not poor. I was still flourishing in school, leading faith-based activities, and taking an active role in community service. My low-income status was not a barrier but a launching pad to motivate and propel my success. […] Success is triumphing over hardships — willing yourself over anything and everything to achieve the best for yourself and your family. With this scholarship, I will use it to continue focusing on my studies in math and engineering, instead of worrying about making money and sending more back home. It will be an investment into myself for my family.”

– Read the rest here .

These are two paragraphs from the same essay, both excellently written. This student came from a very poor background and had to begin making money to help out their family at a very early age.

In this essay, the student does a great job of discussing hardships in the past in an honest, straightforward way that invites the reader’s admiration rather than pity.

The way he spends a brief amount of time talking about his hardships and then moving swiftly into how those hardships motivated him to want more from life is very well-done.

His conclusion paragraph is also spot-on. He acknowledges that the only way to overcome hardship is “willing yourself” to achieve. This shows that he has a willingness to work hard and experience to back it up.

He then goes on to tell how he’ll use the scholarship money if he receives it. He says that he’ll “invest into [him]self” and take this opportunity to work hard, even if it means he has to suffer financially for a few years, in order to achieve what he needs to achieve to ensure future financial success for both himself and his family.

This shows him to be a hard worker, someone caring and empathetic enough to put family first, and intelligent and enterprising.

These are all great things colleges want from prospective students, and he showcases these traits in himself without being overt or in-your-face about it.

Sample Essay 5

“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.”

The prompt for this particular essay was about managing money. In terms of staying on topic and having a good opening sentence, this writer did a really nice job.

The writer also makes the article very relatable because being a teenager and not knowing how to manage money is something most of us can remember quite easily.

In addition to being relatable, the first paragraph also holds our interest because it is easily read, not packed full of synonyms from the thesaurus, or written loftily.

The writer also does a great job with his “thesis” sentence. The last sentence of the paragraph is simple and straight to the point.

It lets us know what’s coming next; he’s about to list the keys to managing money successfully. This is a very well-organized introductory paragraph.

Where the writer falls short, though, is with his grammar. There are obvious run-on sentences and missing commas in that first paragraph. He also starts a sentence with a conjunction, which isn’t great as a general rule. The bad grammar and poor editing/proofreading take away from his entire paragraph, which otherwise would have been really good.

We’ve said it once, and we’re saying it again: Don’t skip the proofreading/editing stage ( fyi , we have great packages here to help with this ). If that isn’t something you’re good at doing, ask a teacher, mentor, friend, or loved one.

Grammar is important. You can have the best idea in the world, and bad grammar will keep people from hearing it because they’ll be too distracted by the errors.

When proofreading or editing for grammar, here are the most common questions to ask yourself:

  • Did you write in complete sentences? (No fragments, run-ons, or comma splices)
  • Did you run the paper through spellcheck and grammar check?
  • Is all of your punctuation correct?
  • Is it clear to whom or what your pronouns are referring?
  • Are there any  misplaced or dangling modifiers  in your essay?
  • Did you write in an  active voice ?
  • Are you being repetitive?
  • Did you use the right word between  commonly confused words ?
  • Did you use proper subject/verb and noun/pronoun agreement throughout?
  • Does your essay make logical, organized sense?

Before submitting your essay, edit through it using these questions as a guide.

Summing It All Up

The importance of writing a great, moving, and memorable scholarship personal statement cannot be overstated. Scholarship applications are uniform for all students.

Scholarship committee members are forced to read through the same types of information for all the students who apply. The one place you’re able to stand out and be creative is in your personal essay. That’s why it’s so important that you make it count.

A strong personal scholarship essay can be the tipping point between no money and lots and lots of money, so plan for it. Make time to do it right and edit it properly.

Consider it the most important part of your application process, and set aside the appropriate amount of time for drafting it, writing it, and editing it before the submission due date.

Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s an educator, parent, spouse, or friend, there is someone out there who wants to see you succeed. That person will be happy to help you craft the best possible scholarship personal statement.

How long should a scholarship essay be?

A scholarship essay should typically be between 500 to 1000 words. However, always adhere to any specific word limits set by the scholarship. If no limit is specified, aim for a concise essay within this range.

Focus on clear expression of ideas and experiences, and ensure to proofread for clarity and coherence. It’s more about quality than quantity.

Further Reading:

The Best GMAT Prep Courses, According to MBA Students

Best MCAT Prep Courses, According to Med Students

Best NCLEX Prep Courses, According to Nurses

Accredited ABSN programs in North Carolina

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how long should a scholarship personal statement be

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Scholarship Story

Personal Statement for Scholarship: How to Write and Examples

Table of Contents

A substantial part of the applications are personal statement for scholarship. Writing a stunning personal statement is vital if you’re hoping to win a scholarship. The personal statement is your chance to convince the board that you deserve the scholarship. While your curriculum vitae may be remarkable, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of students are likely to be just as remarkable. A personal statement is an excellent way of setting yourself apart.

Personal Statement for Scholarship

There’s no right way to write a personal statement for a scholarship, but here are some tips on how you can write a killer personal statement that can help you to elevate your pitch.

What is a personal statement for scholarship?

A personal statement is an overview of your accomplishments, talents, interests and objectives that are often included in applications for universities or scholarships or on resumes. It is a sample of writing (often about 2 pages) that describes you to the best of your abilities, your reasons for choosing the course you have chosen, your research interests, your goals and the creative ways you can add value to the program you are applying to.

The purpose of the personal statement is to provide an opportunity for those reviewing applications to learn more about you, your education goals, and how the scholarship will help you to continue your education.

How do you write a personal statement?

To guide you in composing your scholarship personal statement, here are some tips on how to get started.

Be concise, be organized, be focused

Make sure that your personal declaration follows a coherent order. Try to ponder how it might sound to an audience that doesn’t know you. Getting input from people you trust can help you get different points of view on how those who read it actually impact your personal statement. Avoiding long, drawn-out essay responses will not only help keep the attention of your reader, but will also show you’ve been thoughtful about your writing.

Be reflective

A personal statement, just because it narrates challenging times, is not always impactful. Strong personal statements should show that the writer has reflected on their past experiences and achievements and learnt from them. Ideally, the writer will be able to show progress towards a clear outlook on how he or she sees the world and the direction he or she is heading in the future. An effective personal statement gives a clear sense of your personal qualities and how you used and developed them to respond to your challenges and opportunities.

Get personal

The readers want to get an understanding of who you are, and the only way to do that is by sharing a little about who you are. That’s why it is called a personal statement after all. This is your opportunity to share what you feel they should know about you for making an informed decision with the reader.

Make it authentic

A personal statement for scholarship should show you who you really are and what you support about, not what you assume the readers want to hear. Remember that those who read your application will also be able to read many other applications, and will be able to tell you immediately if what you write is honest and genuine. It’s also worth remembering that some programs require a finalist interview where it’ll be easy to spot those who haven’t been authentic in their personal statements.

Give yourself plenty of time for revisions

Before submission, personal statements need to go through several revisions. Read your writing to others, and rewrite the content and style for accuracy. Pay attention to proper grammar and punctuation rules, and don’t forget spell checking. It’s also strongly advised that you make use of campus resources to gain valuable insight into how to improve your personal statement for scholarship.

A short personal statement, a strong personal statement

“My love of astronomy started when I looked up as a child at the darkness of space and found it captivating and awe-inspiring at the same time.” “From seeing my first production on stage I have been passionate about William Shakespeare’s works. I am fascinated by the way in which Shakespeare is still relevant today.

Can you see why these two examples are inaccurate?

While they are very favorable and well-worded statements about why a student might want to study astronomy, or Shakespearean literature, both of these examples of Personal Statement lead to clichés and generalization very rapidly.

We are not suggesting that when writing a personal statement for scholarship you should not use positive words, but this positive language needs to be supported up with solid, specific examples and thorough analyses. Remember: Showing, not telling, is the key to an excellent personal statement.

Why, then, is Shakespeare relevant to today? What specific examples could you use of an author from the 16th century to demonstrate its relevance to the modern age? Similarly, proclaiming a love for night sky wonders is all well and good, but why did it make you want to study astronomy?

Impose a limit on how many adjectives or descriptive sentences you use in your writing. It is important to remember that a personal statement in a relatively short number of words has to accomplish a lot. If you over-use words such as ‘ambitious,’ ‘astonishing,’ and ‘awe-inspiring,’ you’ll end up repeating yourself.

Structure of a personal statement

Structuring your statement is important to ensure it reads well. Write your personal statement as an ongoing prose piece, just like an essay. You might want to follow this structure:


Your introduction should be brief, explaining why you’re excited about applying for the scholarship. The strongest introductions often have an academic focus, so think about the reading of the background that you did.

Avoid such phrases as ‘I always have’ or ‘from a young age’ or anything like that. Focus on one particular thing about the offered field that interests you. If you have a hardship, leave your introduction to the end. Once the main body of your personal statement has been written, it will be clear what your strongest motivations for applying are. Then you can integrate that into your introduction.

The main body of your personal statement should include examples that show your preparedness.

Start by choosing between three or four examples. For an idea of what examples you could include here, refer back to step one. Try to have at least one example related to your course which focuses on academic reading. Just avoid listing skills or qualities, and explain in detail your skills and experiences. Make sure you show when writing about skills or qualities that they are relevant to your future studies.

Try to think academically, as well. Imagine you are an admissions tutor when choosing your examples: are you demonstrating your knowledge of the subject through detailed examples? Are you showcasing the skills you need to apply the scholarship successfully?

Your conclusion should summarize your statement’s key points and remind the granting committee of your strengths. This is a good opportunity to write about your future plans, too. How does the scholarship that you apply for fit into your larger picture?

Examples of personal statement for scholarship

Whether it’s a scholarship essay about yourself, a creative writing scholarship, or an essay on why you deserve the scholarship, the personal statement for scholarship examples below can help you better understand what may result from following a good format.

Personal statement for scholarship: Example #1

As a child of immigrant parents, I learned to take responsibilities for my family and myself at a very young age. Although my parents spoke English, they constantly worked in order to financially support my little brother and me. Meanwhile, my grandparents barely knew English so I became their translator for medical appointments and in every single interaction with English speakers. Even until now, I still translate for them and I teach my grandparents conversational English. The more involved I became with my family, the more I knew what I wanted to be in the future.

Since I was five, my parents pushed me to value education because they were born in Vietnam and had limited education. Because of this disadvantage, I learned to take everything I do seriously and to put in all of my effort to complete tasks such as becoming the founder of my school’s Badminton Club in my sophomore year and Red Cross Club this year. Before creating these clubs, I created a vision for these clubs so I can organize my responsibilities better as a leader. The more involved I became, the more I learned as a leader and as a person. As a leader, I carried the same behavior I portrayed towards my younger cousins and sibling. My family members stressed the importance of being a good influence; as I adapted this behavior, I utilized this in my leadership positions. I learned to become a good role model by teaching my younger family members proper manners and guiding them in their academics so that they can do well. In school, I guide my peers in organizing team uniform designs and in networking with a nonprofit organization for service events.

Asides from my values, I’m truly passionate in the medical field. I always wanted to be a pediatrician since I was fourteen. My strong interest in the medical field allowed me to open up my shell in certain situations: when I became sociable to patients in the hospital as a volunteer, when I became friendly and approachable to children in my job at Kumon Math and Reading Center, and when I portrayed compassion and empathy towards my teammates in the badminton team. However, when I participated in the 2017 Kaiser Summer Volunteer Program at Richmond Medical Center, I realized that I didn’t only want to be a pediatrician. This program opened my eye to numerous opportunities in different fields of medicine and in different approaches in working in the medicine industry. While I may have a strong love for the medical field, my interest in business immensely grew as I soon discovered that I didn’t only have to take the practical approach in the medical field. With this interest, I plan to also become a part of a medical facility management team.

In the future, I hope to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor by attaining an MD, and to double major in Managerial Economics. I intend to study at UC Davis as a Biological Sciences major, where I anticipate to become extremely involved with the student community. After graduation, I plan to develop a strong network relationship with Kaiser Permanente as I’ve started last year in my internship. By developing a network with them, I hope to work in one of their facilities someday. Based on my values, interests, and planned future, I’m applying for the NCS Foundation scholarship because not only will it financially help me, but it can give motivation for me to academically push myself. I hope to use this scholarship in applying for a study abroad program, where I can learn about other cultures’ customs while conducting research there.

Personal statement for scholarship: Example #2

Nothing is more important to me than ending racial inequality and discrimination in America, as I do not want my younger siblings to face the discrimination Black people continue to face in our present society. After winning our fight to freedom and provoking the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, why do Black teens face higher poverty rates than Whites and are still four times more likely to be incarcerated? “That was such a long time ago. You really need to get over it,” my White peers say when referring to racial inequalities. But, why then, in 7th grade, after winning Nazareth Academy’s Spelling Bee competition, did my fellow White classmate state with a heavy dose of surprise, “You know…when I first saw you, I didn’t think you were going to be smart?”

I hope to contribute to ending racial discrimination by utilizing our present interconnectivity and running a social media campaign titled #It’sNotOver. #It’sNotOver aims to oppose the widespread misconception that, because racial inequality was legally outlawed, de facto racial inequality does not still persist in our society. Our recent presidential election may have brought life to a ‘Divided America’, but it also exposed how influential social media is. By raising awareness of racial disparities that occur everywhere, I might encourage a new wave of change in our country like that of the present Time’s Up movement. Furthermore, if I can access the influence of celebrities in my #It’sNotOver campaign, like that of Time’s Up, I might similarly capture the attention of millions of people and inspire action against this issue across the globe.

I know that social media can only do so much in addressing these issues as not everyone can afford the luxury of having internet access. However, I hope that my campaign can inspire all those who do have access to take it upon themselves to be the change by being inspired by the fact that we are globally united in this issue. Although I expect negativity and criticism from people who either do not believe that this issue exists or do not believe in our cause, I am willing to encounter it if it means our society as a whole irrevocably can grow to accept each other’s differences.

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how long should a scholarship personal statement be


How to Write a Good Personal Statement for a Scholarship ( 7 PDF Sample Examples)

Published: 12 Apr 2021 Scholarship Application 51,278 views

How to Write a Good Personal Statement for a Scholarship ( 7 PDF Sample Examples)

Have you been asked by the scholarship committee to provide a personal statement for a scholarship? Are you clueless on how to draft a statement of purpose for scholarship? Do you need a perfect step by step guide to get you started?  Say no more! We got you covered. Today, you will master the art of writing a winning personal statement.

You will learn the following:

  • What is a scholarship personal statement?
  • Types of Personal Statement topics
  • Parts of a Personal statement for scholarship
  • Perfect step by step guide to writing a winning scholarship personal statement
  • Tips on scholarship personal statement: Dos and Don'ts
  • How to structure and format a personal statement
  • Sample example of a personal statement for scholarship
  • Sample example of personal statement for scholarship pdf
  • Personal statement for scholarship application examples

What is a Scholarship personal statement?

A personal statement for scholarship is a short content that conveys the message that you are a perfect candidate for a scholarship in an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate programme. In your personal statement for scholarship 500 words, you will be providing solid evidence and examples pertaining to your experience and motivation. Your personal statement will explain why the particular programme is the right one for you, how it's connected to your personality and previous studies and what changes you would make in your society if you follow the programme.

The purpose of a personal statement is to invite the admission committee to get to know you better. You are to convince the admission committee that you are a good fit for a chosen degree. The aim is not to impress the application committee. Rather, the goal is to point to the kind of student you are. Like sample scholarship application letter for masters degree, you have to do some self - reflection to figure who you are and your future goals. When you do that, you can easily transfer your individuality to the essay.

Check out: How To Write A Letter Of Intent For Scholarship (4 PDF Sample LOI Example)

Six (6) Types of Personal Statements  Prompts

As earlier mentioned, your personal statement should share something about you. It should include aspects that have not been found in your résumé. It should indicate how deserving you are of the scholarship. It should be geared towards the scholarship provider's goals.

Usually there are various topics for composing personal letter for scholarship. You would choose one category prompt and develop your personal statement. Your choice of topic will determine the parts of your scholarship personal statement.

Prompt (1): Why do you want to attend this institution?

Simply let the committee know why you are interested in that institution. Focus on what makes the programme or scholarship so unique. Does it offer career services and facilities? Is it known for talented professors that you want to learn from?

Prompt (2): Overcoming a Problem

You will be asked to identify a problem or a failure you encounter. In personal statement for scholarship sample doc,this is where you will share how you overcame it along with the lessons you were able to learn. It could be bullying, addiction, loss of a family member or a close friend, moving to a new city etc. Share it and let the committee know the stuff of which you are made up.

Prompt (3): Creative topics

Some universities offer special, think - outside - the - box topics. They could be as tricky as "What can be actually be divided by zero?". In sample personal statement for scholarship application pdf like this, you could consider each question on its own. Brainstorm innovative ideas and see which ideas you feel passionate about.

Prompt (4): A Personal History of You

This topic asks you to relate an event in your life that incited a period of personal growth. You could also pinpoint a person who had a catalyzing effect on you and made you have a new understanding of yourself. Your first job, a unique talent that you have or a personal goal you achieved can be very catching ideas for your statement of purpose for scholarship application sample.

Prompt (5): Brainstorming New Ideas

This category of topics is about understanding how you relate with novel and diverse perspectives. You could refer to a time when you questioned a long - held belief. The reasons for changing your perspective could make a great scholarship personal statement for scholarship 500 words pdf. Universities want to know how you handle differences.

Prompt (6): Your Future Goals

What does your future look like? Do you want to be a professor? A chef? A journalist? This personal statement for scholarship application examples pdf prompt reflect on what you would like to become professionally. Through this topic, the scholarship committee wants to know how the scholarship would help you learn what you need to acquire so that you can achieve your career goals. They want to measure your level of awareness, vision and determination.

Parts of a Personal Statement for Scholarship

After you choose your topic, you may be tempted to quickly proceed with writing your sop for scholarship samples. Pause!!! You have one more step to take. You need to create an outline . An outline will help you to coordinate your thoughts and ideas. It will guide the direction of your writing and you would not be rewriting your content countless times.

There are two ways to create your outline. There is the process outline and the passion outline . If you want to discuss your personal growth, the process outline will help in explain the journey of your personal growth (before, during and after stages). If you want to share your passion, use the passion outline to relate various experiences that shaped you in becoming more competent.

After creating your outline, you can safely proceed with the sections of your statement of purpose for scholarship pdf.

Introduction Paragraph:

For example, say you are preparing a sample personal statement for fulbright scholarship. The introduction is the most sensitive part of your personal statement. Do you know why? You would need to grab the attention of your commitee and keep them reading. You could use a rhetorical question, a quick story, a surprising fact or simply a short explanation of what you will talk about in your content.

Body Paragraphs:

This part depends largely on your choice of topic and your choice of outline. If you are discussing about overcoming a problem, a personal history of you or your future goals, use the process outline and share the lessons, your background and your long - term career goals.

If, on the other hand, you choose to discuss a newly adopted idea, why you want to go to the school, or something creative, deploy the passion outline to think outside the box and relate your unique perspectives on life.

Just make sure that you are authentic, unique and use copious examples in your personal statement essay for scholarship.


What if you are concluding your statement of purpose for fulbright scholarship? This is not just the part where you summarize the previous paragraphs. This is the point where you leave a lasting impression on your reader. Use a call - to - action or a hope for the future to explain why this scholarship is important to you.

Read: How to Write a Good Scholarship Thank You Letter (8 PDF Sample Examples)

The Perfect 8 Step - by - Step Guide to writing a Winning Personal Statement for Scholarship

Still concerned about how to start your example of personal letter for scholarship? Don't worry. Here is a step - by - step manual that can guide you from the minute you sight the essay prompt to the minute you hit "Submit".

Step One (1): Read your Prompts

Carefully read your topics. Understand what the scholarship committee is asking of you. Before choosing the prompt you want, try to grasp what the personal statement for university scholarship

should be like. Check carefully if there is anything like "Write on your topic in three pages of 600 words"!

Step Two (2): Be on the lookout for additional information

Are there rules and guidelines for additional information that may not be in the prompt? You need to read them carefully. Ascertain the kind of formatting that is required, when the scholarship application statement due date is or what you may need to submit with your personal statement.

Step Three (3): Brainstorm Novel Ideas

Don't rush to write the personal statement for applying scholarship with the first idea that pops up in your head. Consider various ways to answer the prompt you chose. Jot down all the ideas that come to mind and review them later.

Step Four (4): Outline your personal statement

Organize essential points and concepts of your content. As it was suggested earlier, this will help you coordinate your major ideas so that you won't forget them. In that way, you will write the best statement of purpose for scholarship.

Step Five (5): Create a mouth - watering introduction

When writing personal statement for scholarship, keep your thesis concise but at the same time, arrest the attention of your reader. Be more concerned about your story and less worried about big vocabulary. In a simple way, try to communicate the core concept of your content.

Step Six (6): Be yourself when writing the body paragraphs and conclusion

At this stage, make your scholarship statement example personal and relatable. Simply, write what you know. Find a way to share why your choice of topic is significant to you. Let the body paragraphs reflect your personal knowledge, experiences and passion. Make your essay as specific as possible and customize it to fit the scholarship.

Step Seven (7): Revise your personal statement

This time, re-read your personal statement sample for scholarship pdf with a critical eye. You can read it out loud and listen to the flow. Is it consistent? Is it logical? Is there a room for reworking?

Step Eight (8): Proofread, edit and hit "submit"

Look specifically for spelling and grammar errors. For example, say you are writing a fulbright personal statement example. Find a friend who has a strong command of the written word and can completely address the people alongside the content. Finally, submit your personal statement in the chosen electronic form (docx or pdf).

Tips: What TO do when writing a personal statement

  • Start your personal statement for college scholarship with a captivating sentence so as to arrest the attention of the admission officers.
  • Relate outside interests and passion of your course.
  • Ensure you write what comes naturally.
  • Have a close family relative or friend to proof read it.
  • Be specific and express everything in short paragraphs.

Tips: What NOT TO do when writing a personal statement

  • Don't attempt to sound too savvy.
  • Don't procrastinate. Prepare the statement purpose for scholarship ahead of the deadline.
  • Don't duplicate information from your resume.
  • Don't spend too long on the introduction.
  • Don't be dishonest. Yet, don't involve too much negative information.

Consider : How To Write A Good Scholarship Acceptance Letter (5 PDF Sample Examples)

Personal Statement Formatting

Now, here in Scholarship Tab , we say that the personal statement format for scholarship is as important as the content. So here is how to do a thorough formatting of your statement of purpose for scholarship sample.

Your personal statement must:

  • be between 500 - 700 words.
  • have short sentences of not more than 25 - 30 words.
  • be between 1 - 2 pages.
  • have a maximum of 47 lines.
  • use headings (optional) to break up the content, eg "How did I develop my passion", "Why I wish to study in this college"...
  • use Arial or Times New Roman font and size 12 - 14 px.
  • be left - aligned and have 1.5 px line spacing.

Sample Personal Statement for Scholarship Application

Did you think we would leave you without a sample? Not a chance. Here is a personal statement sample for scholarship

 of Melissa, a student applying for Masters in Creative Writing. Read and learn:

“Can you compose a story for me? I am a keynote speaker at a conference. I want to start with a story and arrest the attention of my audience. Can you handle that for me?” That was a favor asked by my endearing lecturer in my university days. I could tell that he reposed confidence in my writing skills. So, for the umpeenth time, I agreed to assist him in storytelling. Let me explain how I became the capital helping hand of many keynote speakers.

I always remembered myself with a pen and a piece of paper. I wouldn't tag myself as an enchanting speaker. But I was surprisingly celebrated for my essays in school. My maths teacher would always frown each time I murdered the solution of a mathematical equation or geometry on the board. However, you could see the English teacher's face light up whenever she praised my writing performance to my parents. Miss Katherine, my English teacher, soon became my muse for acquiring a bachelor's degree in English Literature in my early 20s.

In high school, my writing prowess was noticeable even amongst my peers. Soon, I was dragged to theatre stage plays. Was I asked to perform? Not exactly! I was asked to write theatre scripts. In time, the refreshing and full - of - life dialogues stole the hearts of the returning audience and we would always win.

In my university days, I worked as a copywriting intern in an advertising agency. One of our clients was a Non - Governmental Organization (NGO) aimed at combating the effects of gender inequality. I was particularly touched by their projects. So I gave my very best in composing a thought - provoking content for their publicity. I was soon informed that the NGO gained immense popularity in a short period of time. I was elated. One day, the founder of the NGO called me while I was on a break. I still remember her words:

“I just want to thank you for the article you wrote for us. Thank you, Melissa for sharing your talent. You have helped thousands of women gain confidence in what we do and feel protected. You should be proud of yourself!”

That one - minute call revealed my life time purpose - to put the bemoaning thoughts, unmet requests, unrealized dreams and unattended needs of unprotected women in writing. This propelled to establish my magazine called WWW - Writing for Wonderful Women.

That's why I want to study Creative Writing. I want to develop my niche in the publishing world. I know that with the lecturers of this program,  I will sharpen my research and writing abilities. With your help, I could facilitate my dream - my dream of airing the views of less privileged women with a pen and a paper.

Check out: Top 20 Online Jobs for College Students 2021

Statement of Purpose for Scholarship Sample pdf

Did you like the above sample personal statement for masters scholarship? Do you want to remain inspired and get the best out of it before you write your own? Here is personal statement for scholarship pdf. Download it, digest it and compose your own masterpiece! Download  statement of purpose for scholarship sample pdf

Sample Letter Examples Personal Statement for Scholarship

We understand that there are specific scholarships whose personal statement need to be tailored. We want to share them with you as we desire nothing more but for you to excel. Here are some leading examples:

Sample Fulbright Personal Statement

Fulbright is a popular US cultural program that aims at improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy and intercultural competence between the people in the USA and other countries.

Here is a sample example of the personal statement to get the fulbright scholarship.

PTDF Scholarship Personal Statement Sample

The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) aims at qualifying graduates and professionals in the field of engineering, geology, science and management in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. Do you want to become a PTDF beneficiary?

Write, edit and download your ptdf scholarship personal statement sample here.

KGSP Statement of Purpose

The Korean Government Scholarship Program statement of purpose kgsp is designed to equip international students with opportunities to study at higher educational institutions in Korea for academic degrees. So you would need to compose a thought – provoking personal statement for kgsp

Check out this link and see how a well accepted kgsp statement of purpose looks like.

CFA Scholarship Personal Statement Sample

The CFA Institute Scholarships are intended to promote the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence. There are various types of scholarship such as access scholarship, women's scholarship or regulator scholarship.

If you are eligible for any of the above, download the tailored CFA Scholarship personal statement for scholarship examples.

Nus Merit Scholarship Personal Statement

What about the nus merit scholarship personal statement? The program is a highly coveted scholarship that targets high calibre of individuals that showcase academic excellence and outstanding leadership qualities.

If you have presented and excellent record of leadership, check out the sample nus merit scholarship personal statement

Sample Scholarship Personal Statement for Masters

Are you interested in getting a masters degree? Were you asked to provide a thrilling personal statement? 

Check out this smashing  sample scholarship application letter for masters degree pdf

So, as you can see, with the proper guide and excellent personal statement samples, your personal statement will help the admission officers to know more about you as a student, your goals and how the scholarship will help you continue your education. So write memorable personal statement essay examples for scholarships that stand out among the hundreds of other submissions.

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Writing a Personal Statement

Perhaps the most critical piece of many scholarship applications is the personal statement. It is often the chance for you to make the best case for why you should be given a scholarship. Personal statements allow the reader of your application to gain the strongest feel for who you are as a person, what sets you apart from other applicants, provide evidence of your intellectual and creative achievements, and show your writing ability.

Your personal statement should be treated as the equivalent of a face-to-face interview. A well-written statement adds clarity, richness, and meaning to the information collected in other parts of your application. It is also an opportunity to explain how factors outside of your school environment have enhanced or impeded your ability to maximize available academic and intellectual opportunities.

While there is no one correct way to write a personal statement, here are some tips that are universally applicable:

Start on your personal statement early.

Give yourself time to think about your topics, and carefully consider the rationale behind each question.

Be clear. Be focused. Be organized.

Make sure your personal statement follows a logical structure. Try to think about how it may sound to an audience who doesn’t know you. Getting input from people you trust—teachers, friends, relatives—can help you get different perspectives on how your personal statement affects those who are reading it. Avoiding long, drawn-out essay responses will not only help keep your reader’s attention but will also show that you were thoughtful about your writing.

Get personal.

The readers want to get a sense of who you are, and the only way to do this is to share a bit about who you are.  After all, it is called a Personal Statement. This is your chance to share with the reader what you feel they should know about you to make an informed decision.

Make it authentic.

A personal statement should showcase who you are and what you care about, not what you believe the readers want to hear. Remember that those reading your application will be reading many other applications as well and will be able to tell right away if what you are writing is honest and authentic. It is also worth keeping in mind that some programs require an interview for finalists where it will be easy to spot those who have not been genuine in their personal statements.

Be careful with humor and clichés.

What might seem funny or bitingly ironic to you might not seem that way to someone who doesn’t know you. Remember that the personal statement is an opportunity for you to give a complete picture of yourself. Don’t allow clichés to speak for you.

Be reflective.

A personal statement isn’t effective simply because it chronicles difficult circumstances. Strong personal statements should show that the writer has reflected upon and learned from their past experiences and achievements. Ideally, the writer will be able to show progression towards a clear perspective of how he or she sees the world, and what direction he or she is headed towards in the future. An effective personal statement gives a clear sense of your personal qualities and how you have used and developed them in response to your opportunities and challenges.

Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.

Being too vague or writing too generally will not make your personal statement memorable. Thousands upon thousands of personal statements discuss initiative, but only hundreds show initiative using concrete examples of demonstrated motivation and leadership. But examples are only one part of the equation. You also need to show how you have assigned meaning to your experiences and how you have grown from them. Prove that you have a sense of who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to use your education and your experiences to accomplish your goals. Although some events have long-term or even lifetime ramifications, it is usually better to focus on recent events because they shed more light on who you are right now.

Finally, give yourself plenty of time for revisions.

Personal statements should go through several drafts before submission. Read your writing to others, and revise for clarity in content and in style. Pay attention to rules of correct grammar and punctuation, and don’t forget to spell-check. It is also recommended that you make use of campus resources (such as professor, teaching assistant, advisor, Academic Assistance and Tutoring Center, classmates, or friends) to gain valuable insight into how to improve your personal statement. If you are applying for prestigious scholarships, make sure to submit all personal statements to the Prestigious Scholarship Advisor for editing and guidance on re-writes.

We hope these tips will help you get organized and will inspire you. Your personal statement is the best tool you have to show us the individual gifts you have to offer.

  • EXPLORE Random Article

How to Write a Personal Statement for a Scholarship

Last Updated: April 21, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 130,321 times.

Applying for scholarships is a common experience for many college-level students. However, some students may get overwhelmed when they learn scholarships require personal statements or essays in response to a specific prompt. Scholarship essays are a critical part of applying for funding, as they give the scholarship committee an idea of how an applicant relates to their organization and the goals of their scholarship. A strong essay can help an applicant stand out from a pool of people with similar credentials. All it takes is a little bit of time to plan the essay in advance, and a critical eye for revisions.

Planning Your Essay

Step 1 Read the prompt.

  • Prompts may also give you guidelines regarding things like essay length or word count. Check carefully to see if your prompt specifies things like, “Write 500 words on the topic,” or, “Write two to three pages.”

Step 2 Look for additional instructions.

  • Check the web page for the scholarship or the group or organization offering it to find additional rules and regulations.
  • If something is not specified by the scholarship provider, such as the length of your submission or the due date, contact the providing organization and ask, “What are the guidelines for this scholarship?”

Step 3 Brainstorm a few ideas.

  • Your first idea may still provide for the most cohesive essay, but brainstorming multiple ideas helps you think outside the box and consider multiple facets of the prompt.
  • Jot down your ideas in no more than a few sentences. If you can, give yourself a full day and night to clear your head, then come back and review your ideas with fresh eyes.
  • When reviewing your ideas, try to avoid obvious answers. If, for example, the prompt is to write about someone you admire, avoid talking about the President or a well-know philanthropist. Turn instead to your own experiences to make your essay unique.

Step 4 Outline your essay.

  • Make each important concept it's own heading, then add two to three points under it supporting your core point or idea.
  • If you don’t like traditional outlines, you may want to try flowcharts, thought webs, or other forms of visual organization to show how your ideas relate.

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

Drafting Your Essay

Step 1 Create a thesis.

  • Try to keep your thesis as concise as possible. Worry less about fitting in big vocabulary words and more about making your point clearly and meaningfully in as few words as possible.
  • For example, “Some theorize that it is possible to travel through time because of evidence such as,” may be shortened to, “Time travel theories may be supported by arguments such as.”

Step 2 Write what you know.

  • If your prompt asks you directly about personal ambitions or experience, don’t just provide a synthesis of what you have done. Also touch on why your schoolwork and extracurricular activities are important to you.
  • Make your essay stand out by talking about why your experience is personally significant.
  • If your prompt does not deal directly with personal experience, still find a way to talk about why the topic you choose to address is significant and meaningful.

Step 3 Start with a rough draft.

  • Use your first draft as an opportunity to get down all of your points and ideas. Do not worry so much about flow or formatting. Start by ensuring the content is present.
  • If possible, give yourself a day or two between writing your first draft and revising your essay. This way, you are more likely to catch errors with grammar and formatting. [6] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 4 Make your essay specific.

  • This means avoiding trying to write a general essay that you can use for all application. Take the time to customize your essay to fit each scholarship, because even if both ask, "What was an experience that changed your life?" an academic and a community service scholarship are going to expect two different kinds of answers.

Step 5 Revise your essay.

  • Try reading your essay out loud to yourself. Listen closely to what you are saying to see if it makes sense. [7] X Research source
  • Trying working from a print-off if possible, alongside a computer screen. This way, you can make notes and edits on your paper before changing everything in your text document.

Finalizing Your Essay

Step 1 Proofread your paper.

  • Try working one line at a time and covering up the rest of your essay with a blank sheet of paper to focus your attention on what you are editing at that moment.
  • Do not rely on computer spelling and grammar checks, as they often miss common mistakes such as homophones and alternating verb tenses.

Step 2 Find an editor.

  • Ask someone you know has a strong command of the written word. They should be able to identify common spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as reading for the overall flow of the essay.
  • Let your editor see the prompt, as well as your essay, so that they can understand how clearly and completely you address your essay topic.

Step 3 Add identifying information.

  • If your essay is more than one page, add your last name and page number to the header or footer of each page.

Step 4 Submit your packet.

  • Confirm receipt of your application if you don't get one electronically. Call into the scholarship office and ensure that your application, including your essay, has been received.

Expert Q&A

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

  • Give the essay to a multiple peers or reviewers to read and critique before sending it in. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Do not repeat information that is located elsewhere within your application. Your essay should be comprised of personal information that you decide to provide. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 1

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  • ↑ http://www.studentscholarshipsearch.com/tips/scholarship-essay-tips.php
  • ↑ http://www.inc.com/john-boitnott/10-longtime-brainstorming-techniques-that-still-work.html
  • ↑ https://www.estrellamountain.edu/students/scholarships/essay
  • ↑ Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.. Educational Consultant. Expert Interview. 18 June 2020.
  • ↑ http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2013/01/31/4-ways-to-make-your-scholarship-essay-stand-out
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/editing-and-proofreading/
  • ↑ http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/Proofreading.html
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/561/01/
  • ↑ http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/peeredit.html
  • ↑ https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarship-application-strategies/tips-for-formatting-scholarship-application-essays/

About this article

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

If you need to write a personal statement for a scholarship, carefully read the scholarship application to see if there is a particular subject or prompt you should follow. Once you know the topic for your statement, write about why you are interested in your field of study, how the scholarship will help you achieve your goals, and what you think you can bring to the program. In addition, you should make the essay specific to the particular scholarship you are applying for. For tips on finding someone to proofread your scholarship essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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7 Steps (And Examples) For Writing a Killer Personal Statement

David Jun 24, 2019

7 Steps (And Examples) For Writing a Killer Personal Statement

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Personal statements (also known as college essays) are a major part of both college applications and scholarship applications. Unfortunately for some, writing a personal statement isn’t as easy as it sounds. How are you supposed to write a great essay that sets you apart from the competition? How are you supposed to talk positively about yourself without bragging and coming across as arrogant? All of this in only a couple hundred words? These are tough questions, but rest assured, we’ve got answers. This guide will walk you through a 7 step process that will help you write your personal statement, and increase your chances of getting into college and winning scholarships. In addition, at the bottom of this post, we have 7 (!) example templates that you can use to give you inspiration for your own personal statements. Buckle up, here we go!

Personal Statement vs College or Scholarship Essay 

There is a lot of confusion about the differences between personal statements and scholarship essays. Before we begin, it’s important to clarify what a few of these commonly-used terms actually mean.

  • Personal statement- an essay you must write for your college applications or scholarship applications to prove that you deserve to be accepted.
  • Scholarship essay- this term is used interchangeably with ‘personal statement.’ They are basically the same thing.
  • Essay prompt- the essay question or topic that you must write your essay on. This will be provided for you in the application.
  • Supplemental essay- an additional essay that you may need to write for an application. This is not always needed and the topic may vary between schools or programs.

Now that we’ve explained the terms, let’s dig in and go through how to write a personal statement in 7 easy steps.

Step 1 – Understand the Different Question Types

Thankfully, colleges and scholarship providers give you some direction on what to write about. Each application contains an essay prompt that you are asked to respond to. While these prompts are open-ended and can be answered in many different ways, they usually fall into one of a few categories. Being able to identify the category an essay prompt belongs to is the first step in formulating an outstanding response. Let’s go through the category types.

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Prompt Category 1: Overcoming a Problem

“You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down”. Muhammed Ali. “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”. Henry Ford. “I get knocked down, but I get up again, no you’re never gonna keep me down”. Chumbawamba. You get the idea 🙂 We all encounter hardship at some point in our lives. This type of essay prompt asks you to identify a problem or failure you faced and to describe how you overcame the problem, and what lessons you were able to learn. It’s worth noting that two essay prompts from The Common App this past year were from this category: Have a look and see:

Common App Question 2

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Common App Question 4

Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Prompt Category 2  – A Personal History of You

These kinds of questions ask you to pinpoint an important person or event in your life that helped shape you into the person you are today. For these kinds of questions, you should write about a specific formative experience, key event, or key person from your life. It’s better to focus on a specific event or person than to tell your life story. This past year there were 2 questions of this kind in The Common App:

Common App Question 1

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Common App Question 5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Prompt Category 3 – Openness to New Ideas

Are you open to new ideas? How do you express these ideas, especially when relating to people with different beliefs than your own? This type of prompt aims to see how you engage with new and differing perspectives. One of the questions from The Common App this past year is a great example of this category.

Common App Question 3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

  Prompt Category 4  – Your Future Goals

What do you want to do when you grow up? Do you want to become an astronaut? A doctor? A content writer? These types of prompts are designed to help the committee understand what you’re interested in and how you plan to apply what you learn in college towards a future career.  While there were no questions like this on The Common App this year, you might still see this kind of essay prompt if you are applying to a specialized program. Here is an example from the University of Southern California

Example “Your Future Goals” prompt:

Describe one example of how you might use design as a future architect. The admission committee will review this statement as a measure of your awareness, determination, and vision.

Prompt Category 5  – Why Do you Want to Go to This School? 

These prompts are pretty much what the title suggests. In this type of personal statement, you should let the committee know why you are interested in that particular school.

Prompt Category 6 – Creative Prompts 

Some schools value creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and eloquent writing. As a result, you might get an essay prompt that asks you to write unique, and creative personal statements. For example, you might be asked how their school will prepare you for a job that won’t exist by the time you graduate. The University of Chicago, notorious for its strange prompts, has asked “What can actually be divided by zero?”. The key to these prompts is to show off clever, creative, out-of-the-box thinking that relates to what and where you want to study.

Step 2- Brainstorm and Plan

DON’T. OVERLOOK. THIS. STEP. Many students think they’ll finish faster if they skip the planning and just start writing. The truth is that good brainstorming will actually save you time. When you brainstorm effectively you will

  • Be able to eliminate prompts that don’t work for you
  • Be able to identify prompts that might work for you
  • Come up with things you could write about for each prompt
  • Be in the best position to start writing a great essay. This is much better than starting to write an essay only to realize that it’s not going to work and you need to start over.

After reading the essay prompt options, and figuring out which category it belongs to, take some time to write down some thoughts and ideas that you could write about. Here are some leading questions you can ask yourself that can help you think about what you can write for your personal statement.

Prompt Category 1: “Overcoming a problem” Brainstorming:

Think of some problems you have encountered in your life. Once you have a problem (or two), think about how you overcame it. If you aren’t happy with how you overcame it then you can focus on what you learned from the experience. Here are some ideas that might help you identify problems you’ve experienced that might be good to write about.

  • Loss of a family member or close friend
  • An injury or health problem (physical or mental)
  • A difficult relationship with a family member, friend, or romantic partner
  • Moving to a new city or state, or changing schools
  • Revealing a sexual or gender identity to friends or family
  • Issues with acceptance, bullying, addiction, body image, or anything similar

Prompt Category 2: “A Personal History of You” Brainstorming:

This category of essay prompts probably requires the biggest amount of brainstorming. These questions want to know about your background, identity, interests, accomplishments, and more. Here are some ideas you can brainstorm that might help you figure out what to write for this type of personal statement:

  • When you first became aware of an important identity (for good or bad)
  • Your first job
  • Volunteer experience
  • A class that motivated or inspired you in some way.
  • A new hobby
  • A memorable victory or failure
  • A leadership position you took on
  • A family member, friend, teacher, or celebrity who has impacted you.
  • A personal goal you achieved
  • A quality in yourself you are proud of
  • A unique talent you have

Prompt Category 3: “Openness to New Ideas” Brainstorming:

The world is more polarized than ever before. For this reason, universities want to know how you handle differences. For these kinds of questions, it can be helpful to think about:

  • Religion or Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Social class
  • Country, state, or city of origin
  • Sexual or gender identification
  • Political beliefs
  • If so have you ever spoken about them to anyone? How did it turn out?

Prompt Category 4: “Your Future Goals” Brainstorming:

Future goals tend to be based on what you’d like to study but can also include long-term career goals. It’s important to show determination, vision, and ambition in these kinds of personal statements. For these kinds of questions it can be helpful to think about:

  • What you’d like to do professionally when you grow up
  • Why you’d like to do it
  • What kinds of things do you need to learn in order to get where you want to go?
  • How will the things you need to learn help you?
  • Does the school have a reputable program?
  • Does it have a well-known faculty?
  • Does it have state-of-the-art facilities?
  • Does it have a great network of graduates who could be mentors?

Prompt Category 5: “Why this School” Brainstorming:

This kind of prompt requires much of the same brainstorming as the previous one.  Ideas to brainstorm should be centered around why you want to attend this particular school. For example:

  • Is there a program that makes the school special?
  • Is the school known for a talented faculty or professors you want to learn from?
  • Is the school affordable?
  • Is student life alive and vibrant?
  • Does the school offer excellent career services, programs, and facilities?
  • Do you want to become involved with a certain sport or activity the school is known for?
  • Are you interested in living in the city or town the college is located in?

Prompt Category 6: “Creative Prompts”  Brainstorming (h3)

Since these are so unique, it’s hard to say what should be brainstormed. Consider each question on its own. Try to brainstorm a few creative, out-of-the-box ideas. See which ideas you feel most passionate about and take the writing in that direction.

Step 3: Choose the Best Topic

Maybe, for a “history of you” essay prompt, you’re debating between writing about a few things. Maybe you can’t decide between talking about volunteer experience, a friend who impacted you, or how your identity affected who you became. Now is the time to narrow it down and choose one topic you want to write about. Your topic should be one that you can write an interesting story about, one that highlights your personality, and one that shows a side of yourself that can’t be found in your transcripts or resume. If you aren’t sure which to choose, you can try this tactic of freewriting to see what comes easiest to you. The freewriting strategy recommends writing about a topic in an open way to see which topic is the easiest to write about, and which topics let you talk about the best ideas. If you start coming up with a lot of ideas and things to write about for one of your topics, go with it! If not, move on to your next topic and try freewriting again.

Step 4: Create An Outline 

Now that you have your topic, it’s time to create an outline on how to do it! Like brainstorming, you should not skip this step! Creating an outline is like mapping out your essay. It makes the writing much much easier, and in the long run, will save you lots and lots of time. When you have a good plan, you don’t end up rewriting the first sentence of your essay 100 times. There are two common ways to structure your personal statement – the journey structure and the passion structure. If you are writing about a time of personal growth, you should probably consider the journey structure. The journey structure focuses on the before, during, and after of your personal growth. If you plan to write about something you love doing, we recommend using the passion structure.  The passion structure consists of multiple experiences all related to a single theme (e.g., your passion). This structure works well when you have a number of different experiences across your life that all played a significant role in shaping who you are today. We have a whole separate post that talks about both journey and passion structures for personal statements .

Step 5: Writing Your Personal Statement 

Now that you have your outline, you are ready to finally start writing your personal statement! If you’ve done everything until now, including writing a good outline, this should be quick and easy. Keep in mind that no matter how many words you are asked to write, your personal statement should have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. We’ll quickly go over how to write each one

Step 5a – Introduction Paragraph

The introduction is crucial. It is your chance to grab the committee’s attention and convince them to keep reading.  Your introduction should contain three things:

  • An attention-grabbing first sentence (a hook)
  • A short explanation for what you will talk about in your essay
  • The thesis statement in which you address the essay prompt.

Your introduction should be short, sweet, and to the point. Some ideas you can use for a hook are:

  • A rhetorical question
  • A memorable quote
  • A quick story
  • A surprising fact
  • A strong surprising statement

If you need more detailed guidance, this post talks about how to write a scholarship essay introduction 

5b) How to Write Body Paragraphs

This depends on so many things. It depends on if you decide to use a journey structure, a passion structure or something else entirely. For that reason we’ll simply give you some tips to keep in mind while writing the body of your essay:


What makes you unique? What makes you, well…you? SAT scores and grades aren’t relevant here. What can you tell the committee about your character? What are some of your achievements? What are some of your goals for the future? The personal statement is the place to give readers an insight into who you are as a person aside from your test scores. Use this space to charm and impress.


It will help you charm and impress if you are honest and genuine. Write about what you hold near and dear to your heart, and not what you think readers are expecting to hear from you. Also, speak in your own voice that shows who you are! Don’t look for big synonyms because it makes you sound smarter. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

Concrete Examples

Stories and examples are powerful devices that help people remember who they are. If you are passionate about animals, writing about your volunteer experience in an animal shelter is much more powerful than writing about how you love animals. Committees have to read through hundreds of scholarship applications. Examples and anecdotes will help your essay stand out. Better to prove it than to say it.

Know your Reader

If you are writing a personal statement for a scholarship, your goals should also align with the mission of the scholarship committee. The same can be said of a unique school or program. To understand the mission, you’ll have to get to know the organization. You can do this by browsing their website.

Stay within the required word limit. If the maximum word limit is 500, don’t write 800 words. This is a sure-fire way to get you disqualified or to have the committee stop reading after about 500.

5c) How to End your Personal Statement

Your conclusion needs to give the committee one last impression of who you are. It should leave them remembering you. Your conclusion should do these three things:

  • Wrap up your story by summing up your main points
  • Clarify your thesis in a new and fresh way
  • Answer the question: Why is all this important?

Some ideas on how to answer the question: why is this important

  • A big thought
  • Hope for the future
  • A call to action

If you need more guidance, read this post that talks about how to end a scholarship essay

Step 6: Edit Your Statement!

Once you finish writing, it’s super important to read the whole thing and to edit it before you turn it in. Editing your work means reading it through several times until you are confident that it sounds good and that there are no mistakes in it. Before you do this, however, it’s a good idea to take at least a 12-hour break from the computer. Giving yourself a break will give your brain and your eyes some time to relax. You will be fresher and in a better state of mind to catch mistakes if you give yourself some time to breathe. When you start editing, read your essay from top to bottom. Read it several times.  Pay extra close attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, capital letters, and sentence structure. Your personal statement is a reflection of you and your standard of work. If you submit an essay with mistakes in it, that says far more about who you are than anything you write in your statement. Submitting work with mistakes may give the committee the impression that you are lazy or careless. You obviously don’t want to do that. Once you’ve read everything over everything and are confident that it’s flawless, have a family member, friend, teacher, or counselor look over it to make sure you didn’t miss anything. An extra pair of eyes can give a fresh perspective, and help you catch anything you may have missed.

Step 7 – Hit the Submit button!

Finally! It’s time to submit your essay. Great job putting in all the hard work. Go buy yourself a cupcake or treat yourself to something nice. You earned it.

Example Personal Statements

Need some extra inspiration? We’ve got 7(!) sample personal statements that you can use to give you ideas and ensure you are on the right track. Each of the 7 personal statements below is for a different kind of prompt, as was categorized above. Some of the prompts are taken from this year’s Common App questions.

Prompt Category 1 – Overcoming a Problem Sample Essay

Common App Essay Prompt 2: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?  When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents decided that it was a good idea for me to spend less time on the couch playing video games and more time moving my body. They encouraged me to try out for the high school swimming team. I wasn’t particularly talented at the sport, but I did have a number of childhood swim lessons up my sleeve. It might also be a good time to mention that I went to a small private high school that accepted everyone onto their sports teams, so I didn’t have much to lose  Another thing worth mentioning is that I am from Minneapolis where we spend many winter days in below zero weather. Jumping into a not-heated-enough indoor pool at 6 am, 3 days a week isn’t exactly enticing. But, for one reason or another and against all odds, I didn’t put up much of a fight. I guess I knew deep down inside that it would be good for me to start doing something else with my life besides sitting behind a computer screen all day long.  As expected, I was accepted onto the swimming team but at a big cost- I was by far the weakest link. I seemed to overlook this minor detail and didn’t foresee the toll that it would take on me and on others. I quickly realized that I couldn’t just dance around the pool swimming like a drowning dog. I had a team that was counting on me, and in some weird way, I was counting on myself. Despite being majorly out of my comfort zone, I started to go to the gym a few times a week after school to increase my strength. I worked hard during swim practice and even put in some hours on the weekend. I had never pushed myself like that before, and I was really proud to see what I was capable of.  I may not have gone home with any medals, but by the end of the year, I had increased my speed and had mastered the butterfly stroke. It’s the little things in life, right? My parents also seemed pleased by the fact that I was no longer glued to the couch every day after school. I weirdly found joy in the sport, which was the last thing that I expected to find. I am much more open to trying new things now and have a lot more confidence in myself. 

Prompt category 2 – A Personal History of You Sample Essay

Common app question 1: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.” It was April of my freshman year of college and all my friends were heading to Cancun, Mexico for the quintessential college Spring break trip. I, on the other hand, was heading to Haiti, to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for 7 days to rebuild homes that had been destroyed in the hurricane. For some reason that my friends found to be odd, the thought of my pasty white skin frying on the hot Mexican sand alongside hundreds of other college students didn’t quite appeal to me.  I have always been a woman of my own, and have never been one to follow in the footsteps of others. Sometimes that has gotten me into trouble, but more often than not it has made me a strong and independent young woman who isn’t afraid to stand out and be different.  I boarded the plane with my 12 other volunteer mates, with no expectations. I had never volunteered abroad, nor had I ever traveled alone without my family members. Not to mention, I was the only college freshman on the trip. I was looking forward to the wisdom that my elder companions were to impart on me.  Needless to say, the volunteer trip completely changed my outlook on life. While my friends returned with stories of drinking and partying (I’d hardly call that a story), I returned with the deep connections I’d formed with my volunteer mates and a passion for helping communities overcome natural disasters. After coming back from that trip, I decided to double major in emergency management and psychology. It is my dream to one day hold a position in the Red Cross. For now, I will study and absorb as much information as I can, and continue to volunteer around my local community. And, if the opportunity arises for me to take my knowledge and skills abroad, I will gladly do so again . 

Prompt category 3 – Openness to New Ideas Sample Essay

Common App Question 3 – Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?  My mom always told me that happiness is right under your nose. Growing up, despite my privileges, I always dreamed of being elsewhere. My house wasn’t big enough, my clothes weren’t nice enough and my town was boring. I would sift through National Geographic magazines at the library, dreaming of laying on a tropical beach in Bora Bora or walking the cobbled streets of Lisbon. I was always searching for whatever else was out there. I promised myself that as soon as I finished high school, I would skip this boring excuse of a town and get out of here to see the world and find my true calling. Once I started college, I used my newfound freedom to my advantage. The long breaks during school allotted me plenty of time to start seeing the world. I worked hard during the semester, in both my studies and my nannying job, and was able to fund my travels around the world. I saw the Eiffel Tower, walked on the Beijing wall, and was bewildered by the northern lights in Norway. During my junior year of college, I spent six months studying abroad in Barcelona. I binged on paella and Spanish omelets during the week, and on pasta in Italy and schnitzel in Germany over the weekends.  After the semester was over, I extended my visit and did a homestay with a local family in northern Spain. I became part of their family that summer, doing chores around the house and running to buy bread from the local bakery.  Despite loving the experience, after a while,  I found myself missing the sub-par greek salads from the local diner in my hometown and the familiar faces I’d see when I went for Sunday morning bagels. I knew then and there that I was ready to come home.  I returned home with a newfound realization of how massive the world is and how much of it I want to see. But, I also returned finally to understanding what my mom meant when she told me all these years that happiness is right under my nose. True happiness is found when you’re around people who love and care about you. I will definitely keep traveling the world, but I won’t be taking my home for granted any time soon.

Prompt Category 4 – “Your Future Goals” Sample Essay

Describe how you might use what you learn in university in a future career. The admission committee will review this statement as a measure of your awareness, determination, and vision. My name is Billy Meijers and I am a senior at York Secondary School. I plan to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. After I finish my bachelor’s degree, my plan and hope is to work as an elementary school teacher in Provo.  I have always known that I wanted to work as a teacher, thanks to my passion for working with children and teaching others. Throughout high school, I volunteered at a local homeless shelter with children and also worked as a day camp counselor during my summer vacations. While teaching and working with children has always come naturally to me (which of course is a strong asset to have as a teacher) these qualities are not enough to make you a successful teacher. A teacher needs to know how to manage their classroom, develop curriculum, and work with a diverse group of students who come with their own unique needs. My desire to develop these skills is what is leading me to study early childhood education in college.  I am happy to say that I have already learned so much in high school. I am fascinated by the childhood development and psychology courses I have taken thus far. It’s so important to understand the psychology of young children to be able to respond to their needs and teach them. Learning about cognitive and behavioral psychology will help me within the classroom setting and I’ll be able to mold my curriculum using these skills.   I can’t wait to continue my studies and acquire more skills. I still have so much to learn about planning curriculum and managing classrooms. Next year I plan to start an internship at a local elementary school as a teacher’s assistant. With any luck, the next 4 years will prepare me to be an amazing teacher where I will be able to make a real difference in the world! 

Prompt Category 5 – “Why This School” Sample Essay 

There are thousands of universities and colleges. Why are you interested in attending Michigan? I always thought that I would follow in my family’s footsteps and go to George Washington University. When I say family, I am referring to my entire family- grandparents, parents, older siblings, cousins, you name it. I was the typical three-year-old child decked out in GW attire from head to toe, and you better believe that there is plenty of photo evidence to prove it.  I never really gave my future much thought, because it seemed set in stone that I would pursue my bachelor’s degree at GW University. My parents were so excited and never shied away from talking about it. However, everything changed for me when I visited the University of Michigan during my junior year of high school with my theater company.  I met several students in the theater department and connected with them right away. They told me all about the program and it instantly felt like a great fit. I had the privilege of seeing several plays during the weekend and my eyes glowed with both admiration and envy. As I looked up at that stage I knew wholeheartedly that that was where I wanted to be.  Upon returning home, I was surprised to find my mind wandering, dreaming of starring in plays at the University of Michigan. How would my family react if I didn’t carry on the GW legacy? I was so scared to share the news with my family and felt a gut-wrenching feeling for betraying our family tradition. But I couldn’t lie to myself- it was so obvious where my heart was.  I shared it with my family and they took the news better than I thought. They were sad that I don’t want to go to GW, but they want me to follow my dreams.  I would be honored to study theater at the University of Michigan. I have so much to learn from the excellent instructors and fellow students, and a lot to share with others. 

Prompt Category 6 – “Creative Prompt” Sample Essay 

By the time you graduate from college, there will be jobs that don’t exist today. Describe one of them and how The University of Chicago might prepare you for it. With technology growing what feels like a million miles per second, and new inventions being created on the regular, it’s hard to know exactly what the future holds. The Institute for the Future predicted that 85% of jobs that students will perform in 2030 don’t exist yet. So, is there even a point in going to university if you’ll end up working in a job that doesn’t exist yet?  Absolutely! University can prepare you to work in a variety of fields, and not only for one specific job. In fact, because the future is so unknown, the best thing you can do for yourself and your future is to get a college degree. Let’s take for example social media influencers. This is a new job that has only become mainstream over the last several years. Many social media influencers went to college and pursued degrees of all sorts. While they may not be directly using the degree they got in college, they definitely gained a lot of valuable skills from their studies, which helped contribute to their success today. College teaches many invaluable skills like critical thinking, writing, and communication. It also teaches you soft skills like teamwork, learning how to live independently, learning how to manage your schedule, and much much more.  Let’s imagine how university courses can prepare anyone for jobs a hypothetical job that doesn’t yet exist. With the heavy presence of social media and technology in all of our lives, you can imagine that many people are rapidly becoming addicted to their devices. Introducing the “digital detox therapist-” a career that is likely to exist by 2030, if not before. While there is currently no academic path to becoming a digital detox therapist, there are plenty of psychology and marketing courses that can prepare students for this career. Digital detox psychologists would need to have a background in addiction, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. They will also need to understand consumerism and marketing. As you can see, while there is no direct way to study for this career, college can still benefit you in the long run and make you a sought-after candidate for this hypothetical career and presumably many others.

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David Tabachnikov ScholarshipOwl

David Tabachnikov is the CEO of ScholarshipOwl. Formerly at Waze and Google, David is an experienced CTO/R&D manager with over 10 years of experience of leading tech teams. David fervently believes that students should have greater access to education, and is passionate about using technology to help them achieve that goal.

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The personal statement.

The Personal Statement is at the heart of most scholarship and fellowship applications and it remains one of the most challenging but rewarding written efforts that you will encounter in the scholarship process. It is, strictly speaking, your story.  It asks you to find a way to articulate who you are because of the what, why, and where.  In other words, the personal statement asks you critically reflect on how you define yourself based on your sense of self, what you value, what you are passionate about, where those passions come from and how they are both manifesting in your current experience and will likely take further shape in your future.  It compels you to drop the pretense, break through any and all previous assumptions of what defined you coming into your undergraduate experience (GPA, test scores, captain of team, etc.) and really begin to dive deep into your own authenticity. 

A strong personal statement not only tells your story, it does so in a way that is both captivating and sincere.  It is focused, clear, concise, and compelling.  In actual fact, it is probably the most difficult writing you will do as a national scholarship applicant, maybe even as an undergraduate.  It is challenging for a variety of reasons:

  • A Personal Statement forces you to write in way that conflates your ‘academic voice’ with your ‘personal voice’.  After years of having your ‘personal voice’ trained out of your writing style, a Personal Statement asks you to put it back in given that you are making an effort to tell your particular story;
  • A Personal Statement should reflect the level of critical reflection that has both shaped your sense of self and your sense of purpose.  Meaning, you’ve given some time and thought to the effort;
  • In addition to telling at least a small part of your larger story, a Personal Statement should reflect your trajectory, detailing where you have come from and how that is shaping the next steps you plan to take;
  • It requires you to think about your strengths, achievements and accomplishments and maybe even write about them.  This is perhaps one of the strangest, if not most difficult things for any ‘high-achieving’  individual who also tends to be quite humble when describing themselves;
  • It requires a certain level of commitment to your future plans, even though those sitting on a review committee recognize that what you put forward as your future plans (certainly while still an undergraduate) amounts to your best, well-educated guess;
  • It is short.  Most Personal Statements are a maximum of 1000 words in length or less.  That means you have to reduce (in the best sense of the word) your story to fit those requirements, hence the necessity of very clear and concise writing.  A Personal Statement does not afford you the opportunity to pad your essay with a long introduction and grand, summative conclusion.  There simply isn’t word-count enough.  So, find a way in your first two sentences to capture your readers’ attention and proceed from there.

But, all that to say, if done well and with adequate time to reflect, write long, edit, revise and refine, your Personal Statement could also be one of the most rewarding pieces of writing you engage in while a student.  It will help you not only develop a strong portfolio for your national scholarship applications; it will also guide you in your efforts toward graduate school, further professional pursuits, even job interviews.  Why? Because you have given yourself a moment to stop, think, and write about what is at the very core of you and how that has and will continue to shape who you are becoming.  If done well, your Personal Statement will be an authentic representation of yourself and will serve you in the best of ways, providing you with a kind of bell-weather as you pursue your next best thing.  In fact, with minor adjustments apropos to your developing life-story, you may find your Personal Statement remains relatively unchanged at its core.  Why? Because, chances are fairly good that your own core sense of self will remain relatively the same.  So, rise to the challenge of the Personal Statement, overcome it, and benefit from the process of thinking and writing about your most authentic self.

And, of course, remember that you have the support of the CCSA staff, who recognize the difficulty of starting to write a Personal Statement.  We all have our own ways of brainstorming and ‘priming the pump’; sometimes one of the best ways to start, is to have a good long chat with someone about what you really (really) care about, why, and where and what you hope to see all those cares move you toward.  That’s precisely what we are available to do with you – chat, listen, draw story-boards, idea webs, you name it – so, contact us to make an appointment.  There is absolutely no reason you should feel you have to tackle the Personal Statement process on your own.

Suggestions and Tips:

  • Do your homework and make sure you understand the purpose of the scholarship, fellowship, or nationally competitive experiential learning opportunity for which you are applying.  This will offer some shape to the tone of your writing efforts.  It will also help you identify what is important to those who will be assessing your application and making a determination as to its outcome;
  • Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, reflect, and really dig deep into your core.  Use whatever method best suits you to keep track of important ideas, quotes, contacts, plans, connections, dreams, and opportunities so as to have a kind of personal reference collection that will be useful in both planning for your future and crafting a Personal Statement;
  • Ask yourself certain key questions, like:
  • What hurts you about the world and how do hope to help alleviate that hurt?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • What gets you about of bed in the morning?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What challenges have your overcome and how have you come understand them as opportunities?
  • When have you lost all sense of yourself when involved in a particular activity or experience because it came so naturally to you?
  • What do you really care about and why?
  • Who do you really care about and why?
  • Who has inspired you? Who has helped to shape your academic experience and why? 
  • Why are your studying your particular subject and how have you come understand the challenges and unique opportunities within your discipline(s)
  • Where have you been in the world that has shaped your sense of self and your place in the world?
  • What are your greatest dreams and how do you to intend to build/have you built the foundation from which to launch those dreams?
  • What do you hope to contribute to your personal circle, to your local community, to your nation, to the world? And, how do you imagine beginning to do so.

4. Even though your final draft will likely only be 1000 words or less, write long.  You can always edit down and make your drafts tighter as your thinking and writing becomes more focused. 

5. Expect to write a number of drafts, hence the necessity of giving yourself plenty of time to think, reflect, write, and edit. Once you have a draft you are comfortable with, start to peddle it out to friends, family, peers, colleagues, and faculty mentors and advisors for further guidance and suggestions on refining your statement.  Of course, share any and all drafts with CCSA staff as they are happy to help with conceptual challenges right on down to red-lining;

6. Use other parts of your developing application portfolio – like your Curriculum Vita/CV , your project or research proposal, writing samples, research you’ve done on your programs of interest, etc. to help guide your Personal Statement (but, don’t regurgitate your CV);

7. Give examples.  There is tendency when writing about oneself to keep it in the abstract realm of ‘passions’ and ‘dreams’ but your reader needs something concrete to tack down those abstract ideas and understand them in the context of your real-life experience.  So, be specific and identify relevant antidotes that help paint a better picture of the story you are telling;

8. Give yourself plenty of time to edit, revise, spell-check, edit, revise, edit, send out for review by others, read aloud, edit, revise, set the document aside for 24-48 hours, and then edit one last time.   Remember this is the core of your application and it is your chance to articulate your core self and what care about in an authentic way.  It deserves all the time you can give. 

You’ve got the ‘Do’s’, now some ‘Don’ts’

  • Don’t include anything in your Personal Statement that you would not be comfortable speaking about in an interview situation.  Remember, every last bit of your application is fair game and if you don’t want to be pressed on an experience, an opinion, or anything else that may find too personal to attend to in actual conversation, don’t put it in your statement;
  • Don’t use your Personal Statement as a piece of opinion writing, a journal entry, a position statement, or even a faith statement.  Remember, this a nuanced assessment of who you are as it relates to what you are proposing to pursue on a national scholarship, in graduate school or as a professional;
  • Don’t apologize for yourself or your experiences.  This includes undervaluing your undergraduate institution, your personal background, even what state you’ve come from.  Find a way to describe in writing the way you have turned challenges into opportunities;
  • Don’t re-hash your CV.  You’ve provided all of the specific details of your actual experiences in your CV.  There is no point in re-telling it; you don’t have space in your word-count and you will surely lose the interest of your readers from the get-go;
  • Don’t go hunting for samples of Personal Statements from CCSA staff, other advisors or the internet.  There is a reason they aren’t readily available and it is largely due to the fact that if you are trying to write something that is authentically ‘you’, using someone else’s formula won’t get you very far in that effort toward sincerity.  So, don’t bother hunting anything down.  Talk with CCSA staff on how to get started and then dive in;
  • DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! A Personal Statement written the day before the deadline will not be as successful as one that has received a good deal of time and attention.  And, in fact, a poorly written statement may prove a detriment to your success.  So, plan ahead, set a schedule, and then, get to it.

Additional resources to help with writing your Personal Statement:

  • CCSA Information Sessions and Personal Statement Workshops – see our current CCSA Calendar for details about current offerings.
  • UChicago Writing Center
  • Writing Personal Statements online manual by Joe Schall

Food for Thought: Good writing takes time and practice.  Consider adding Strunk and White’s iconic text, ‘The Elements of Style,’ to your collection:  ‘Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell’.  

How to Write a Personal Statement for Scholarships

how long should a scholarship personal statement be

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Writing a Scholarship Personal Statement

Begin early, carefully read the prompt, editing and submission, frequently asked questions about scholarship personal statements.

The most common requirement across all scholarship applications is undeniably the scholarship essay, a subsection of which is the scholarship personal statement . Although it may seem daunting for the fate of your scholarship to rest on a single essay, think of the personal statement as an opportunity . A personal statement for these applications is your chance to show the scholarship committee why you are the best candidate for the award, giving them a brief glimpse into your accomplishments and background.

For general tips on scholarship submission writing, the Bold.org guide on scholarship essays is a great place to start. But, for more help with writing personal statements specifically, keep reading for the guide outlined below.

Here at Bold.org you can find even more exclusive, unique scholarships just for you. Start building a strong profile here to begin applying.

A young adult writes in a notebook, with textbooks nearby.

The distinction between a scholarship personal statement and an essay is not always an obvious one. There is often a lot of intersection, and a scholarship may ask you to write an essay that feels much like a personal statement that colleges typically require.

In general, scholarships will almost always give essay prompts to applicants, which can vary greatly. For instance, a community service scholarship may ask you to write about how you plan to use your educational background to better your community, while an engineering scholarship may ask you why you chose to pursue a career in STEM .

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By contrast, a personal statement is oftentimes more open-ended . It's a piece of writing that introduces you as a candidate and says something about your background and motivations. The scholarship personal statement is a place to share your relevant personal qualities and personal growth to illustrate why you are the right candidate.

You can include things like family background, test scores , other scholarships or awards you have received, and anything else that you think may be relevant. As you read on to learn more about writing a great personal statement, check out the table of contents below to see what exactly this guide will overview.

  • Beginning early
  • Carefully read the prompt

When completing a personal statement for scholarship applications , it is always best to start writing as early as possible . Not only will doing so help you remain organized and cognizant of deadlines , but it will give you more time to think, write, edit, and gain valuable insight into what it is that you are trying to express.

Additionally, writing your personal statement early on can give you more time to address any potential obstacles or issues that may get in your way. Beginning early may feel tedious, but it is the first step to writing the best personal statement possible.

This step may seem obvious, but that's only because it is incredibly important. Writing a successful personal statement for scholarship reviewers to consider is heavily dependent on a thorough understanding of the prompt .

The prompt may be as wide as "write a personal statement," or it may be more specific, asking applicants to relate their personal statement to a specific topic or idea. An effective personal statement addresses all parts of the given prompt and demonstrates an understanding of what is being asked. Finding sample personal statements online is a great way to see how successful scholarship applicants have connected their personal story to the prompt in order to produce an effective personal statement.

The great thing about personal statements is that the name alone already gives you some direction: personal . Personal statements should be about you and your experiences , so when you brainstorm, think about your life story thus far. Consider things like your notable personality traits, skills, accomplishments, passions, difficulties and obstacles, goals, extracurricular activities, etc., and see how these may relate to the scholarship you are applying for . Additionally, you can think about the world around you, like how certain family members have been role models to you, or how an ethical dilemma helped you realize something important.

Make sure that every personal statement for scholarship applications is authentic. Don't attempt to write what you think the reader wants. Instead, you should do your best to write honestly and truthfully. Authenticity is something that strong personal statements have in common, so when brainstorming yours, be sure to be honest .

A young woman writes on sticky notes at a desk.

In terms of actually writing your scholarship personal statement, a logical structure is integral to an effective and well-thought-out statement. The typical parts of a scholarship personal statement are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion .

Everyone writes outlines differently, but now that you've brainstormed your ideas, organize them into these three parts and consider the most effective way to convey your message. This is where finding online examples may come in handy to get started on structure.

Your writing should be authentic, structured, and grammatically correct in order to be successful. Do not offer any drawn-out essay responses, and keep your work concise. Scholarship committees may read hundreds of personal statements, so you want your work to stand out without being too long or tedious . A short personal statement that conveys your authenticity is a great way to impress committees; show them you can do more with less .

In terms of writing, excellent grammar and language skills are integral . Make sure you have varied sentence structure to maintain the flow of your writing, and maintain a logical movement from point to point. If this is something you struggle with, see if you can talk to teachers, counselors, or other campus resources to see if you can get help with writing your personal statement.

Finally, stay away from clichés like "from a young age," or inspirational quotes; you don't want to reiterate things that others have already written. Your personal statement should feel honest and unique, without seeming trite or forced. Fortunately, after successfully brainstorming and outlining your personal statement, writing shouldn't feel too difficult.

#1: Introduction

The introduction should grab the reader's attention so that from the start, they're invested in your personal statement. For scholarship application reviewers who read tons of personal statements, something unique and attention-grabbing can be a welcome break.

This does not mean that you should attempt to be humorous or even raunchy. Although humor has its place in formal writing, it is important to remember that you are still writing a personal statement for scholarship applications, which is both personal and professional .

Find a unique way to introduce yourself and begin to describe who you are. This could range from your sexual or gender identity to your educational background--whatever you feel is a strong indication of who you are and how you are the best applicant for this scholarship. As your introduction comes to an end, lead into the main part of your personal statement. For scholarship application readers, the introduction is the first writing they will see from you, so be sure to start off strong and organized.

Two female college students work together, writing at a table outdoors.

Scholarship application boards want to know why you are the best fit for the award. So, the main two points you should cover in your body paragraph are:

  • Why you are currently the best candidate for the scholarship
  • How this scholarship connects to your future goals and plans

However, because almost everyone will be writing on these same topics, you should still try to make your essay stand out. A great way to do this is to include a relevant anecdote in your personal statement. Whether you're discussing a research query or a family member, the best personal statement examples use anecdotes to show and prove who the writer really is and why they deserve a scholarship, as opposed to merely stating it .

For instance, instead of stating that you care about your community, consider sharing a specific examples of volunteer work or other involvement to illustrate that you care for your community .

#3: Conclusion

Finally, begin the conclusion of your personal statement with a brief summary of why you are the best candidate, and then conclude with how this scholarship will fund your degree , and thus your future. Illustrate why your future goals make you the best applicant, to impress the readers.

Editing is the final step of the process. When writing a personal statement for scholarship applications, just like in any piece of academic writing, having grammar mistakes is a huge red flag . Not only can errors prevent readers from having a clear sense of what you want to say, but they also give an unprofessional air to your writing, so be sure to edit your work thoroughly.

After editing your personal statement yourself, which includes proofreading as well as improving your writing, don't be afraid to share your writing with someone else . Even if you don't have access to a prestigious scholarship advisor, having a friend, parent, teacher , or counselor read your work can give you important insight on your work. Getting multiple points of view on your writing can help you develop a truly strong personal statement.

When you are finally done writing your personal statement or any other scholarship essays, submit your application before the deadline and breathe easy knowing you put your best foot forward.

A student highlights a printed text at a table, with study supplies nearby.

What should I include in a personal statement for a scholarship?

At the bare minimum, a personal statement for a scholarship should include why you are the best candidate for the scholarship and how the scholarship will impact your future plans and goals . Your writing should be authentic and honest, and you should try to really convey why you are the ideal candidate for the scholarship.

Additionally, although you should keep your writing concise , employing a relevant story from your life can help you illustrate why you are the ideal candidate and is a great way to set yourself apart.

How do I make my scholarship application stand out?

There are several ways to make your scholarship application and personal statement stand out. First and foremost, you should be sure to remain organized and gather all of your necessary materials correctly. This means using correct grammar, writing professionally, and getting necessary documents like letters of recommendation and transcripts in time.

Once you meet these expectations, you are more likely to be a viable candidate. In order to really stand out, however, two important writing practices are authenticity and sincerity. Successful personal statement examples all seek to accurately and honestly portray who the writer is so that scholarship providers really feel as though they are giving their money to a worthy candidate. A personal statement can be as well written as possible, but if the scholarship committee gets the sense that it is not an honest depiction, then it won't be successful.

Using anecdotes to illustrate your unique personality can be a great way to portray who you really are. As you go on to write your personal statement, remember to bring out your personality and share your true self.

Once you have a strong personal statement written, find exclusive scholarships to submit and apply to at Bold.org .

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The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey

Personal Statement for scholarship: How to Write One, How long Does it Have to be, and What Is The Word Count?

Hana LaRock

How to Write College Scholarship Essays

The personal statement that you write as part of your college application is your chance to show college admissions counselors who you are beyond your test scores and high school GPA. At some colleges, if your personal statement is very strong, it can lead you to get a scholarship from the school directly.

Usually, writing a personal statement for a college application is very different than writing a personal statement for a scholarship, which you will have to write separately if you are looking to get one to cover your tuition or part of your tuition when you go to college. The guidelines for a personal statement for a scholarship are not very clear, so it is helpful to have some information to get you started.

What Is a Personal Statement for a Scholarship?

According to PrepScholar, your personal statement, also commonly referred to as a "college essay," is an essay that you write as a part of your application. The goal of this essay is to give college admissions counselors an idea about who you are and ultimately, why they should let you into their school, especially over other applicants. Best of all, your personal statement can be a way for you to earn a scholarship to your prospective colleges.

If your prospective college does not award you a scholarship based on your college application, there are still other ways to earn a scholarship. If you are looking to apply for scholarships separately from the schools you are applying to, for instance, through a non-profit organization or a scholarship given by your high school, then you will need to write a separate personal statement.

Writing a personal statement for a scholarship can be more difficult that writing your personal statement for a college application, but you may be able to re-purpose the personal statement you wrote for your application for your scholarship application.

Why Is a Personal Statement for a Scholarship Important?

Unlike your personal statement for college which is designed to show who you truly are to college admissions counselors, perhaps giving you entrance over someone with identical qualifications, a personal statement for a scholarship is your chance to get money to pay for school.

For some students, this personal statement is much more important than the other because without money for school, you may not be able to attend at all. It would not matter, therefore, how many schools you have been accepted to. If you are able to pay for some of your college tuition, then having even a small scholarship can help lessen the burden. This is why your personal statement is important.

Good Personal Statement Examples

Before writing your personal statement, you will need to get an idea of what you need to write. According to Binghamton.edu, there are no set guidelines for scholarship essays, yet the funding organization might be able to give you some guidance on what they are looking for in their candidates.

Therefore, the first step is to look into each scholarship you want to apply for and to read the instructions carefully. If you are still not being given clear direction as to what topic you should write about in your personal statement, Binghamton has some suggestions:

  • Highlight your most relevant experiences in relation to the scholarship you are applying for. How have those experiences shaped you into the person you are today and a person that should earn this award? Remember, if you are applying for an academic scholarship, then your topic should be somewhat related to academics.
  • Describe significant obstacles you have had to overcome, and how you have stuck to all your goals despite these challenges. Stay positive.
  • Predict your future success and how you hope this award will help you get there. Scholarship organizations want to know that their investment will pay off. 
  • Explain the history of your interests and aspirations and how that ties into you needing a scholarship to help you grow.

Personal Statement Topics to Avoid

Writing a personal statement for a scholarship can be rather challenging because there are so many different directions you can go with it, especially if you are not being assigned a topic. In addition to knowing which topics make for a good starting point, it is also a good idea to know what to avoid writing about.

According to Scholarship.umd.edu, you should avoid writing to impress. The other credentials that you have to submit with your application will already be speaking to your academic success. This is no time to write a laundry list of all your amazing achievements, but instead, what "motivates, inspires and shapes" you.

You should also avoid being too general or too abstract. Be specific, be direct and be honest. You do not want the reader to have to do any additional digging to find out what you meant. In addition to this, avoid writing any cliches or using too much humor.

How to Write a Personal Statement for a Scholarship

Once you are comfortable with the knowledge that you have to write a personal statement for a scholarship, it is time to get moving. Writing your personal statement can feel a bit overwhelming, but if you follow some basic steps, you will be able to write it with as little stress and time as possible:

According to College Essay Advisors, it is never too early to start writing your personal statement or at least to start brainstorming. Since you will have to start submitting applications for scholarships in the fall of your senior year, you should begin your scholarship research around the same time. Once you know where you are going to apply for scholarships, and you are sure you have met the criteria, you can begin brainstorming some aspects about yourself that make you stand out.

Brainstorming is certainly helpful, but eventually, you will need to decide what you want to write about. A good tip is to talk to friends, family and your teachers about what they think makes you a good friend or a unique person. Write down anything that comes to mind, and see if it fits under one of those suggested topics. Come up with a few ideas, then narrow it down to the one you feel you can write best about.

Before you start writing, it is necessary that you take some time to look at a personal statement sample. Remember that you want to find a personal statement that was written for a scholarship and not for college admissions, unless it was a 2-in-1. Since most scholarship organizations also do not provide templates, you can use a personal essay sample to get an idea of what style to follow.

Once you've got your topic down, it's time to start writing your outline. There is no right or wrong way to write an outline. Just do what works best for you. Start with your intro, add your body and your conclusion. If the scholarship organization is asking you to answer specific questions, then your outline should reflect that.

Now, it is time to start writing! Go somewhere where you can get some peace and quiet to focus on writing. This might be at your desk in your bedroom, at the library or even at a friend's house. Not everyone has the privilege of writing in a quiet environment, so do what you can to get somewhere that is more calm, or put on headphones with relaxing music to block out noise.

After you write your rough draft, take some time to walk away from your personal statement and come back to it . You may come up with another point that you forgot to add, or you might realize that you want to remove something that you wrote.

A rough draft is not meant to be perfect, and you can really only notice errors after seeing it again with a fresh pair of eyes. It is also a good idea to ask an adult with some writing or academia expertise to read over your essay for you. Now is also the time to check for grammatical and spelling errors. You might go through this process several times before finalizing.

Last but not least, it is time to finalize your essay. Although there is always room for improvement in anything, eventually you will have to get your essay and yourself to a point where it is ready to submit. Of course, read it over again yourself a few more times and run your personal statement through a word processor to check for anything you did not catch.

How Long Should Your Personal Statement Be?

One of the challenges that students have when writing their personal statement is trying to figure out how long it should be. Some scholarship organizations will tell you this information, but others will not. Therefore, it might be up to you to determine how many words your personal statement for a scholarship should be. Some samples, according to one by Accepted.com, suggest that it should be no more than 500 words. This is a good place to start.

Personal Statement for a Scholarship Tips

Now that you know how to write your personal statement in order to help you earn a scholarship for college, there are some other tips you can take into account to help give yourself the best chance possible:

  • When writing, use specific examples to illustrate your experiences.
  • Include some reflection to show how your experiences made you the person you are today.
  • Do not ask for pity; frame any negative experiences in a positive light.
  • Get your personal essay started way before the deadlines so you have time to perfect it.
  • Even though you'll be writing in the first-person, try not to overuse "I,"
  • Allow your personality to shine through.
  • Be honest and sincere.

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  • Binghamton.edu: How To Write A Personal Statement for a Scholarship
  • UCDavis: Writing a Personal Statement
  • Accepted.com: The Personal Statement That Got Me a Large Scholarship to Cambridge

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.

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Application tips: writing a personal statement, writing personal statements for scholarship applications.

In many ways, writing a personal statement is a 180-degree turn from what you’re used to doing in college. You have been trained to write rather staid, formal, academic papers in which you know the format and what is expected of you, and the challenge lies in researching the topic at hand. In crafting a personal statement you are the world’s leading expert on the topic, but must create the method of conveying this information to the committee.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is…

  • Your introduction to the committee.
  • The heart of your application, which is your ticket to an interview, where the scholarship or fellowship will be decided.
  • A picture of you.
  • An invitation to get to know you.
  • An indication of your priorities.
  • Your story.
  • “a serious examination of the intellectual and personal experiences that have motivated you to participate in this process and to pursue the particular project you are proposing in your application, and the ways in which your intellectual and personal experience since entering college have informed your choices.”
  • Among your best opportunities to gain solely from the process of applying for a scholarship or fellowship. Even if you aren’t nominated or don’t win, you will have this amazing document that crystallizes who you are and what’s important to you in just a few hundred words. Taking the time to really work hard on this will pay dividends – if not financial reward in the form of a scholarship, then as help as you look for other next steps after graduation.

In the end, every personal statement I’ve read that I thought was truly exceptional had one thing in common: when I finished reading it, I thought, “I’d like to meet this person. I’d like to take this student out for a cup of coffee and learn more.” A really effective personal statement tells the reader what makes you different from everyone else in the applicant pool, and does so while utilizing engaging, interesting, and concise prose.

With that very general advice in mind, here are more specific do’s and don’ts for writing a personal statement:

  • Write from your gut. You’re used to writing from your head. Don’t let your head make it up. Listen to your gut, and get it down.
  • You can’t tell them everything. Have a few main points you want to get across, and let them find out the rest of your story in your resume, interview, letters of recommendation, and other elements of your application.
  • When you decide on the main points and stories you want to tell, answer these questions: What is the point of the story you’re telling? What do you need to include to tell it well? What isn’t necessary?
  • Have many others read it for objectivity and distance, since this is the most personal topic you’ll ever write about.
  • Remember your high school English teacher’s advice of “show don’t tell.” Don’t tell them that you’re enthusiastic or passionate about a topic; tell them a story that shows your enthusiasm and passion.
  • Include anecdotes of life-changing moments, or moments that clarified and crystallized what you want to do.
  • Tailor your essay to the opportunity and application. What instructions do they give you for topics, length, etc? What parts of your story does the committee most want to hear about?
  • The first paragraph is vitally important. It sets tone and direction of the rest of the essay, and provides quick personal insights. The conclusion should pull the essay together, but also point to the future and indicate how the themes developed throughout the essay will continue to develop. Give the committee a sense of how this opportunity will impact you in the long-term, and what the link is between your personal statement and proposed program of study.
  • Sell yourself. Students have a wonderful sense of egalitarianism (“We’re all talented. We’re all smart. We’re all wonderful. I’m no different from my peers.”) that I love, but that can hurt you in a personal statement, where you really need to set yourself apart from everyone else who is applying. Be careful, though, because there is a fine line here that you don’t want to cross. You have to write about yourself without being egotistical; be confident but not arrogant; be informative but also persuasive; and believe in yourself without seeming self-important.
  • Think about, plan, and pay careful attention to your tone. How will your tone come across to your reader? What does it say about you? Tone can speak to who you are more loudly than do your words.
  • Be authentic, accurate, and honest. Interview questions are usually based on your personal statement more than any other element of your application, so don’t write just what you think the committee will want to hear. Phoniness will come out in the interview and hurt you. In an interview, be prepared to delve much further into the topics and issues raised in your personal statement.
  • Give yourself lots of time to experiment and prepare many, many drafts, and perhaps even wholly different versions. Your first few drafts are likely to be awful. That’s ok. Don’t be afraid to be terrible. The important thing is to get your ideas down on paper, then dress them up later.
  • Think about how this fits in with the flow of your application – how does it mesh with your letters of recommendation? Your transcript? Your proposal?
  • Be human. Talk about your preferences, foibles, and obstacles. Explain and own your shortcomings.
  • Write about what excites you, and don’t be afraid to be sophisticated, detailed, and enthusiastic about it. This is especially true for scholarships that are strongly academic in nature, and that are being decided by academicians; they enjoy seeing young scholars excited about arcane or obscure ideas and research proposals.
  • Don’t be flowery in your prose
  • Don’t refer to me/I too many times
  • Don’t use this as a resume in narrative form. You should only talk about those accomplishments that are directly germane to the subject at hand. Let them find out about your other activities through the other elements of your application.
  • You should try to avoid references to past traumas, such as deaths or alcohol and drug use in your family. While these may be important moments in your life, it is too easy to accidentally write about them in a way that seems schmaltzy, exploitative, or designed to create pity for you. Only write about traumatic events if they are crucial to understanding your topic to be studied or to your theme. If you are writing about trauma, try to treat these moments with some distance and objectivity, and be sure to have others read your statement with this concern in mind.
  • Remember that this is not a confessional. Don’t be overly personal or reveal details that could cause your reader to squirm.
  • An academic paper with you as the subject.
  • A journal entry in which you reveal your most private thoughts and actions.
  • A plea or justification for the scholarship. Don’t whine or beg.


Okay, that’s all well and good. Now you have some very vague idea of what this is supposed to look like and some basic ground rules. But how do you get started?

In general, remember that this is about listening to your gut, not letting your head talk. You have to find ways to turn off the logical, academic, editing part of your brain and tune in to your gut. Do this by engaging in mindless, repetitive activities that allow your mind to wander away, like doing dishes, jogging, or driving on a long, straight, uncrowded interstate. Or try writing first thing in the morning, every day, before your brain has a chance to really wake up and kick in.

Listen for the small voice inside that really knows you best.

Then, start writing. Here are three plans of attack to begin writing your personal statement:

Brainstorm / Free write / Organize. Just sit down and just start writing about yourself. Don’t edit anything out. Just let everything about you spill out on the page. Then pick a bunch of the most promising-looking ideas and give yourself five minutes to free write on each of those topics to see which ones you can tease the most out of. Lastly, start organizing them: which ones fit together the best? How can you make sense of these disparate parts? Make a schematic, organizational, or flow chart that shows the relationship between them.

Make a timeline of your life. What three or five or ten events would someone have to know to understand you? How do they connect to one another?

Write short answers to a bunch of the following questions. Keep track of which ideas keep popping up, and when you seem to be repeating yourself. Limit yourself to one or two paragraphs so that you can answer as many of these as possible.

  • What experiences do you like talking about the most? What has been the most interesting, intriguing, and exciting part of your life – why, and what did you learn from it?
  • Discuss an activity or experience that has helped you to clarify your long-term academic goals.
  • Name a class or internship that you have taken to develop expertise in your major field of study.
  • Describe a person who has shaped your values or beliefs.
  • In five years, where do you see yourself working and what do you envision yourself doing?
  • Discuss a need of society that you hope to address in your career Use statistics and other published resources to document the magnitude of the problem.
  • Describe your hometown and explain its impact on your beliefs or values.
  • Discuss an obstacle that you’ve had to overcome to achieve your academic goals.
  • Write me a letter, and tell me everything you do, your personal history, and what matters to you.
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • When I was in kindergarten, one of my best friends loved to eat so much that he would hum with joy when he ate. What makes you so happy that you can’t help but hum? When are you really  you ? When have you been so immersed in what you were doing that time seemed to evaporate?
  • What ideas, books, theories, or movements have made a profound impact on you? Be honest and don’t try to impress anyone.
  • Where or how do you seem to waste the most time?
  • How are you a typical product of your generation and culture? In what ways do you deviate from the norm?
  • Which famous person (alive or dead; real or imagined) do you most identify with, and why?
  • What errors or mistakes have you made that have taught you something about yourself?
  • How have you changed since you came to Grinnell?
  • What is something you haven’t tried yet, but want to? What is keeping you from trying this?
  • Of which decision or accomplishment in your life are you the most proud?
  • What do you wish you had done differently in college?
  • What makes you different from everyone else?
  • What kind of contribution do you want to make, and how?
  • When did you first become interested in your field of study and why?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your goals? When did these become your goals, and why?
  • Describe an experience that changed you. How did you change? What does this change mean?

In the end, the process is worth it. Finalizing a personal statement and getting it to a point where you’re happy with and proud of it is not easy and takes a huge amount of time and energy. But even if you don’t win or even get an interview, going through the process of defining yourself and accounting for your life and decisions to this point will help you step back, look around, and engage your future.

Contributors include: Paula Warrick, American University; Jane Curlin, Willamette University; Mary Hale Tolar, Harry S. Truman Foundation; the Scholars and Fellows Office at Columbia University; Linda Critchlow, University of Puget Sound; Lori Coliander, University of Washington; and Barri Gold, Muhlenberg College.

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How to Write a Winning Scholarship Personal Statement With Examples

In this article, we’ll talk you through why a scholarship personal statement is important and questions to brainstorm before you get started.

We have great tips for how to adapt your statement depending on what the prompt question is, what to include and three examples of winning scholarship personal statements.

Our favourite statements use life experiences as a metaphor for success. One makes a connection between high jumping and medical school!

We also loved hearing about an aspiring party planner who spotted a niche in the market which led to a scholarship and a computer science star helping his local community online.

Table of Contents

What is a scholarship personal statement.

  • Tips for writing an Effective Scholarship Personal Statement – what should you include?

Scholarship Personal Statement Example #1

How to adapt your scholarship personal statement.

  • Scholarship Personal Statement Example #2
  • Scholarship Personal Statement Example #3

Brainstorming questions for your personal statement

Why is writing a winning scholarship personal statement important.

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

scholarship personal statement

It’s a short essay or paragraph about yourself, written for the purpose of applying for scholarships.

It should focus on your strengths and explain why you deserve the money being offered by the scholarship provider.

Remember that a scholarship might be money that can pay for school fees, accommodation or living expenses, or take the form of a portion of your school fees being paid for you so you should be clear about what you are applying for and make sure your statement mentions this.

A personal statement should sound honest and genuine in order to stand out from the competition.

Show them what makes you unique, such as your interests and achievements, and explain you deserve financial support from the scholarship provider.

A good way to do this is by sharing stories that showcase your passion for certain causes or topics related to your field of study or career goals.

Additionally, make sure that your language is appropriate; avoid using slang words or phrases that may not be understood by those reading your application materials.

Finally, keep in mind that shorter sentences tend to be more effective than longer ones when it comes to writing personal statements and stick to the word count!

Tips for writing an Effective Scholarship Personal Statement- what should you include?

1. identify your motivation for seeking a scholarship.

Explain the reasons why you need a scholarship.

Commonly, these can include financial hardship in your family, not having any close family support, coming from a single-parent or foster-parent home, parents who are disabled or out of work, coming from a low-income family or neighbourhood, and receiving government assistance like food stamps and housing aid.

List all of these reasons in your scholarship personal statement along with any other relevant information that might help the committee understand why you need their help paying for college tuition fees.

Make it clear that these challenges have made you stronger!

Explain why you deserve the scholarship by listing all of your achievements and successes that have led up to this point in time – be sure to emphasize anything that shows off your intellectual abilities as well as any awards or recognition related to these achievements such as being an honour roll student or National Merit Scholar designation.

Talk about your future goals and make it clear how obtaining a degree will help further those goals – this could include anything from pursuing an advanced degree in medicine to becoming an entrepreneur who needs business knowledge to create jobs in your hometown.

2. Write about a challenge you have faced and how you overcame it

Writing about a challenge you have faced and how you overcame it can make a great personal statement for scholarships.

You will show potential scholarship providers that you have the determination, perseverance, and resilience to overcome obstacles in order to achieve success – in other words, the challenge is a metaphor.

Additionally, sharing what lessons you learned from the experience will demonstrate your maturity, flexibility and ability to learn from difficult situations.

Colleges and scholarship awarding bodies are looking for positive people who are hard workers.

Explaining how this challenge helped make you stronger will make your application stand out from others in a positive way.

3. Talk about an interest or passion of yours

Talking about an interest or passion can help you write an effective personal statement for scholarships because it gives you the opportunity to share your motivation, achievement, leadership, and commitment.

By discussing these topics in your statement, you will be able to showcase why this particular field is important to you and how it has impacted your life.

This will help scholarship selection committees understand why they should award you with a scholarship and recognize your potential contributions as a future leader in the field.

In example #2 above, Sara wrote a fantastic personal statement about her passion for making parties affordable and personalised for ordinary people.

Volunteering at a retirement community, I was able to use my party planning skills for completely unique parties – ‘grandma’ baby showers!

So many of the residents were excited about becoming grandparents or great-parents but were far from family.

I created personalised party kits with cakes, balloons and banners for a relatively low cost and it was a wonderful way for residents to share baby photos and feel that they were included in the celebrations.

In the future, I intend to use my degree in event planning to set up my career as a party planner, specialising in events for seniors.

She went on to explain that she had made enough money from this unique service to put herself through 2 years of community college and intended to continue on a smaller scale while studying full-time.

4. Explain how a scholarship will help you achieve your goals

Your statement needs to give the awarding committee a clear understanding of what the scholarship will provide and how it will help you achieve your goals.

• ‘I would like to study X because it will help me achieve my career goals’ doesn’t really give enough information.

• ‘ I plan on transferring to School X after receiving my Associate degree from College Y in order to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Z field of study’ is better – but it doesn’t really make your application stand out.

• ‘My long-term career goal is to become an ABC practitioner/specialist with a Master’s Degree in XYZ field of study from University ABC by 2025, in order to help disadvantaged youth in the region reach their full potential.’ tells them how helping you to achieve your goals might help other people.

5. Provide details about your education so far

There’s no need to talk in too much detail, but remember that the committee will have a huge stack of applications to look at and it’s helpful for them not to have to keep flipping between your CV/resume and your personal statement.

Mentioning that you graduated High School with a 3.8 GPA and have been accepted to XYZ university to study Social Sciences with the aim of becoming a social worker will help them stay focused on the big picture.

6. Add any other information that will strengthen your application

When writing a personal statement for scholarships, it is essential to include information that can’t be found in your resume or transcript. This includes

  • painting a picture of who you are
  • sharing something about yourself that isn’t already known
  • showcasing your strengths.

Additionally, it should complement the other parts of your application and relate to the scholarship provider’s goals.

Finally, it can acknowledge any weaknesses but focus primarily on positive aspects and how any setbacks have made you stronger and more resilient.

7. Conclude with a statement of determination

A statement of determination reinforces your strengths and shows the granting committee that you are determined to succeed.

By ending with a brief summary of why you are the best candidate, right after stating how this scholarship will fund your degree, it will impress the readers and make them more likely to award you with the scholarship.

8. Proofread and revise your work carefully

  • Take a break from the computer: Give yourself at least a 12-hour break before you start editing your work to give your brain and eyes time to relax.
  • Read your essay from top to bottom: Read your essay several times from beginning to end, paying extra close attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, capital letters and sentence structure.
  • Have someone else read it over for a fresh perspective and help catch anything you missed during the reading process.

9. Include a relevant essay title

Why is this point 9 and not point 1? You never know how the direction of your essay might change during the writing process!

A relevant essay title can help provide a clear focus and direction for an effective personal statement for scholarship but be prepared to be flexible. Jessie’s essay, which we looked at earlier, ended up having the title ‘Setting the bar high’ which was a great play on words and referred both to high-jumping and the goal of achieving a medical degree.

By including a relevant essay title, you are able to write an opening paragraph that is both engaging and persuasive, thus increasing your chances of winning a scholarship.

10. Follow the instructions given by the scholarship provider

Research the scholarship you are applying for and familiarize yourself with its requirements and criteria.

Make sure that all documents required by the scholarship provider (including transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.) are included with your application package when submitting it.

Then proofread again!

When writing a personal statement for a scholarship, it is important to focus on why you deserve the award and how it will benefit your future.

The statement should be concise and interesting, while still providing enough information about yourself to demonstrate why you are deserving of the scholarship.

It is also important to include relevant details such as volunteer work, academic achievements, or extracurricular activities that have helped shape who you are today.

A good example of a scholarship personal statement can be found below:

(Free topic) – Setting the bar high

Every Saturday morning I spend three hours throwing myself backwards over a high jump bar in a feat that seems impossible. If you flinch or hesitate, you will crash into the bar and be out of the competition. When I was younger, and dreaming of being a doctor, some teachers thought I was setting the bar too high and advised me to aim lower. I approached my academic studies with the same determination as the high jump and have been offered a place at medical school.

I grew up in a very conservative small town in the south, where there are a lot of team sports for boys but few for girls past the age of 12. I came to high jumping quite late compared to other sports, when I was 13. I came 4 th in the under-14 state championship the following year and took 3 rd in the under-15s. What was interesting was that several of my teachers were very encouraging about me going to college and playing sports but nobody took me seriously when I told them I wanted to study medicine.

As I got stronger and started attempting higher and higher jumps in competition, my grades went up too. The confidence I got from winning medals and being a role model to other young athletes was reflected in my success in the classroom. The motto of the college I will attend is Vim Promovet Insitam, or ‘learning promotes one’s innate power’. The more I learn, in class and on the sports field, the stronger I feel, and more able to achieve my dreams and help others.

My family have always encouraged me to be the best I can be. My parents have raised me and my 4 siblings with good values, to rise to a challenge and to understand the importance of teamwork and supporting our community. I hope that one day I can come back here to practice medicine at the local hospital – and coach high jump at the weekends!

If you have written a good statement for a free topic (meaning you choose what to write about) it’s possible to adapt that essay and use it to answer other questions, so you can apply for several scholarships at the same time!

Common topics to prepare essays for:

1.      A challenge you overcame

2.      an important life event.

3.      An important community issue

4.      How you want to change the world

5.      how you are from an under-represented group in this program, 6.      what values are important to you.

Look again at the essay above and you can see how with some small changes, particularly in the introduction and conclusion, the essay could be adapted to suit all these questions.

Jessie is talking about not being considered ‘smart’ enough to be a future medical student in the context of the challenge of high jumping.

Using the word challenge, with synonyms such as ‘difficulty’, also changing the form of the word and using common collocations (challenging, challenged, rise to the challenge, greatest challenge) really ties the statement to the question.

Jessie could focus more on how being selected for the regional team and winning 1 st place in the regional competition showed her that she was capable of academic excellence and succeeding at anything she put her mind to.

3.      An important community issue to you

This would be a challenging angle for this essay, but we would suggest focusing on the lack of female role models encouraging young women to join sports teams in her neighbourhood.

There are usually many more sports teams for boys but girls are under-represented. Perhaps Jessie could also talk about the privilege of mentoring younger teammates and encouraging academic excellence as well.

Jessie might talk more about the importance of affordable, accessible health care to all and make the link between children being healthy and being able to attend school.

Not all students will be from an under-represented group. However, if you are, there are different ways to approach this question.

If Jessie felt comfortable discussing identifying as queer, then writing about the challenges of being an LGBTQ+ student in her small, conservative town would be appropriate.

Jessie could also talk about her racial or cultural heritage as a child of minority parents who immigrated to the USA when she was young.

If she had a physical disability, that would also be an appropriate topic to discuss. What’s important in this type of question is honesty and candour.

Jessie could focus on the importance of focus and determination.

Remembering the motto of the school she was accepted to, she can talk about the importance of helping empower young people to believe in themselves and their potential for success.

She could also talk about the importance of compassion – trying to move past being hurt by the lack of encouragement from her teachers in the early stages of her education.

Even better she could talk about gratitude for their help later on when she blew past all their expectations for her, as a role model for other young women.

Scholarship Personal Statement: Example #2

‘A creative way to solve a problem’

Volunteering at a retirement community, I thought of the perfect way to help pay my way through Junior College. I was able to use my party planning skills for completely unique parties – ‘grandma’ baby showers!

Growing up, I was raised by a single mom my who always encouraged me to study hard and aim for college. I got babysitting jobs as soon as I could and started earning a little extra money helping some of the parents throw birthday parties for their children. This was the beginning of a love of helping plan unique and special events and working towards my dream job of becoming an events coordinator. I needed to find a way to put myself through school to get an event management degree.

As well as babysitting and a few waitressing shifts that fit with my classes, I volunteered once a week to run a crafts class for local seniors. I realized that many of the residents were excited about becoming grandparents or great-parents but were often far from family or couldn’t travel easily. With the support of the care workers, I threw a ‘grandma baby shower’ for one of my favourite ladies there and was inundated with requests for more.

I created personalised party kits with cakes, balloons and banners for a relatively low cost and it was a wonderful way for residents to share baby photos and feel that they were included in the celebrations. The money I earned was enough to pay my share of the rent and bills at home and I am starting to save for state college. A scholarship to help pay tuition costs will mean I can continue my party business at the weekends to pay my other expenses and otherwise focus on my studies.

In the future, I intend to use my degree in event planning and my love of creative problem solving to set up my own business as a party planner, hire community college students to work part-time for me and specialise in events for seniors.

Scholarship Personal Statement: Example #3

Prompt – Why do you deserve this scholarship?

My name is John Abrams and by helping me, you’ll be indirectly helping many other students in the future. I am a student, a leader, a tutor and a future employer.

I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in Computer Science at XYZ State College. I maintain a 4.0 GPA and am an active member of several student organizations on campus including the Coding Club and the local Big Brother/Big Sister volunteer team.

I have tutored classmates in IT, science and math throughout my own high school years and now coordinate a group tutoring middle school and Junior High school students online. I’ve been able to procure tutoring jobs for several of my fellow students in this way, thanks to parents recommending me to their friends and asking me to introduce them to reliable tutors for their children. It made me realize that I am good at finding the right people for the right jobs and will put this skill to excellent use in the future.

During the pandemic, I volunteered with the ABC online Coding Club, helping kids from lower-income families learn to code, interact with other students online in a safe environment and encourage them to consider studying computer science in the future. As well as working on coding through popular games, we worked on some community projects as well, with the kids designing some interactive features for our local animal shelter’s website. Everybody loved it and the shelter got a lot of extra traffic on social media leading to increased adoptions. I believe that volunteering is the best way to appreciate what we already have and a few hours a week can make all the difference in the community.

My goal is to one day use my skills to set up an outstanding online tutoring business with a focus on IT and coding for kids and teens, doing projects to learn new skills that can also benefit worthy causes in the students’ own communities.

Before you start – use these questions to brainstorm ideas then go through the tips step by step to make sure you have covered all the important information.

  • What do you want to do professionally when you graduate? Why do you want to do it?
  • What kinds of things do you need to learn in order to get where you want to go? How will the things you need to learn help you?
  • Does the school have a reputable program? (How did you hear about it?)
  • Does it have a well-known faculty? • Does it have state-of-the art facilities ? • Does it have a great network of graduates who could be mentors?
  • Emotional barriers or challenges you have faced and how they have helped shape you into the person you are today.
  • Key events or key people from your life that have influenced and inspired you.
  • Accomplishments, events, and realizations that sparked periods of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Volunteer work or community service activities that have shaped who you are today and what they have taught you.
  • What is your best quality?
  • What makes you unique?
  • How could winning this scholarship benefit other people?

1. It gives you the opportunity to showcase your strengths and qualifications

You are giving the reader an in-depth look at who you are as a person as well as your qualifications.

A well-written personal statement adds meaning to the information collected in other parts of your application and gives readers an opportunity to get a better sense of who you are as an individual.

Additionally, it shows how factors outside of your school environment have enhanced or impeded your ability to maximize available academic opportunities.

A strong personal statement can help ensure that you receive the scholarship or program that best fits your needs while showcasing the qualities that make you worthy of financial support.

2. Helps the awarding body understand why you are deserving of their scholarship

Writing a winning scholarship personal statement helps the awarding body understand why you are deserving of their scholarship by providing them with the necessary information to make an informed decision.

By including anecdotes, examples, and personal stories in your essay, you can highlight your strengths and accomplishments while also showing them why you need the money.

Additionally, providing specific reasons as to why you deserve the scholarship will help them see that you are truly deserving of their support.

Ultimately, writing a stand-out essay will help win over their hearts and minds so that they know they’re giving it to someone who truly needs it and deserves it.

If the scholarship is for a small amount (every little helps) such as $500, make it clear what you will spend it on – books, or software – and it’s a great idea to say how you could share these or pass them on to other students later.

3. Allows you to focus on your own personal story and goals

Writing a winning scholarship personal statement helps you focus on your own personal story and goals by giving you the opportunity to tell your story in a unique way that highlights the lessons you have learned, the changes you have made, and the goals you are working towards.

If possible, make your experiences a metaphor for success.

For example, we were very impressed by the story of Jessie, who received a scholarship to help pay for medical school following her success as a high school regional high-jumping champion. She wrote,

‘Every Saturday morning I spend three hours throwing myself backwards over a high-jump bar in a feat that seems impossible. If you flinch, or hesitate, you will crash into the bar and be out of the competition. When I was younger, and dreaming of being a doctor, some teachers thought I was setting the bar too high and advised me to aim lower. I approached my academic studies with the same determination as the high-jump bar and have been offered a place at medical school. ‘

The motto of the university she would attend is Vim Promovet Insitam, or ‘learning promotes one’s innate power’. Later in her statement, she used this motto to make the point that the more success she had academically, the more confidence she gained in high-jumping, and vice-versa. This a great way to connect her chosen school and her suitability for both the course and a scholarship!’

4. Allows you to showcase your writing skills

Writing a winning scholarship personal statement requires you to be concise, authentic, and grammatically correct.

You need varied sentence structure and a logical movement from point to point.

Avoiding clichés such as “from a young age” or inspirational quotes will help make your statement feel unique without sounding like everyone else’s.

You will be able to impress scholarship committees with an impressive, unique piece of work that stands out from the rest.

5. Helps you prepare for other scholarship applications

Writing a scholarship personal statement helps you prepare for other scholarship applications by giving you practice in crafting a compelling narrative that showcases your potential.

You will ‘tweak’ every statement to make it fit the application but you won’t need to start from the beginning every time, so it’s important to keep all your applications organised.

Each one you write gives you valuable experience in presenting yourself as an attractive candidate while also gaining insight into what types of narratives are most effective in winning over judges.

This knowledge can then be applied when preparing for other scholarship applications.

6. Provides you with an opportunity to reflect and be proud of your accomplishments

As Jessie said, the more we learn the more inner power we have. Sometimes we can get caught up in academic work and can forget our goals or motivation.

Writing scholarship personal statements helps you reflect on your past experiences and achievements and learn from them.

It gives you the opportunity to showcase your strengths, such as resilience, determination, leadership skills, teamwork ability and more.

It also allows you to show progress from where you are and where you are headed in the future.

7. Helps you connect with the awarding body

Scholarship personal statements can help you connect with the awarding body by providing an insight into your background, experiences, and achievements that is not available by just looking at your GPA or letters of recommendation.

By sharing your story and highlighting what makes you special, you can create a connection with the awarding body that will make them more likely to choose you over other candidates.

It’s so important to research the awarding body – do any of them work on non-profit or community projects that connect to your experience and what you want to study?

Sara’s experience, detailed below, is a great example of an innovative idea tailored to an application, that helped her get both a place at a prestigious college and a substantial scholarship.

8. Could lead to a valuable monetary prize

The value of writing a winning scholarship personal statement is immense.

Writing a strong personal statement can help you stand out from the competition and give you the opportunity to earn multiple scholarships that could potentially cover all or part of your college expenses.

The more you practice, the better you get.

Keep and organise all your applications to save time in the future.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the purpose of a scholarship personal statement.

It’s to provide an opportunity for applicants to humanize their profile beyond their transcript, GPA, and test scores by highlighting their personality, values, goals, and what makes them special.

The specific goal of the personal statement depends on the scholarship on offer. For example, for scholarships that aim to provide opportunities for students with career ambitions in the non-profit field may be looking for applicants with strong technical skills or civic-minded community service leaders of the future.

By reading your personal statement along with your academic record and other application materials such as the achievements/activities list, scholarship review committees can make decisions about who they think are the best candidates to receive a scholarship.

What should the format of a scholarship personal statement look like?

If there are no specific instructions regarding font and layout, we recommend that you have one-inch margins on all sides, double-spaced lines, no additional line spaces between paragraphs, and 12-point Times New Roman font.

Write out an outline for your essay, making sure it flows smoothly from topic to topic and makes sense as written.

How can I make sure my scholarship personal statement stands out?

  • Be organized and gather all necessary materials correctly, including correct grammar, professional writing style and any necessary documents such as letters of recommendation and transcripts.
  • Ensure that your personal statement honestly depicts who you are by using anecdotes to illustrate your unique personality and portraying who you really are overall. People remember stories so choose your best story!
  • Make sure that your personal statement follows a logical structure and is well organized; think about how it may sound to an audience who doesn’t know you and revise for clarity in content and style accordingly.
  • Read over your writing with others for feedback on grammar rules, punctuation use/mistakes and clarity in content/style before submitting it to prestigious scholarship advisors if applicable for editing help with rewrites if necessary

How can I ensure that my scholarship personal statement is really original?

  • Stay away from cliches! Brainstorm and outline your personal statement using the questions above. This will help ensure that your statement is organized, concise, and free of clichés.
  • Use correct grammar and language skills: Make sure that you have excellent grammar and language skills when writing your personal statement; this will make it easier for the scholarship committee to understand what you are trying to say without getting distracted by mistakes.
  • Ensure variety in sentence structure. The shortest sentences can be used for making the most important point for added impact.

How can I incorporate my experiences in my scholarship personal statement?

  • As above – Brainstorm: Think about your life story thus far, including notable personality traits, skills, accomplishments, passions, difficulties and obstacles, goals, extracurricular activities and inspirational people.
  • Be authentic: Make sure that every personal statement for scholarship applications talks honestly and truthfully about your experiences.
  • Choose examples: Select between three or four examples that demonstrate your preparedness for future studies, your determination to succeed and your flexibility in the face of challenges.
  • Try to mention an experience or quality that is important to the awarding body. For example, the Lions Club Scholarships are awarded by a group that values good citizenship and community involvement above all else. Make sure there is a clear link between your story, your qualities, your financial needs and the organisation to which you are applying.

Related Articles

  • Guide to Writing a Winning Personal Statement for University
  • Personal Statement versus Statement of Purpose


Learn How To Write A Personal Statement For Scholarships

How To Write A Personal Statement For Scholarships

Table of Contents

Crafting a Winning Personal Statement for Scholarships: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understand the Purpose of the Personal Statement

Before you begin writing, it’s essential to understand the purpose of the personal statement. Typically, scholarship committees use this document to gain insight into your character, experiences, and future goals. Use it as an opportunity to stand out and make a lasting impression.

Research the Scholarship and its Criteria

Every scholarship is unique, with specific criteria and expectations. Take the time to thoroughly research the scholarship you are applying for. Understand the values of the organization offering the scholarship, and tailor your personal statement to align with their mission and goals.

Identify Your Key Strengths and Experiences

Highlight your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, community service, and any relevant work experience. Showcase how these experiences have shaped your character, skills, and aspirations. Focus on the qualities that make you a deserving candidate for the scholarship.

Create a Compelling Introduction

Start your personal statement with a captivating introduction that grabs the reader’s attention. You might consider sharing a personal anecdote, a relevant quote, or a brief overview of your journey. The goal is to make the reader interested in learning more about you.

Craft a Clear and Coherent Narrative

Develop a well-structured narrative that flows logically from one point to another. Ensure that your personal statement has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Each paragraph should contribute to the overall theme of why you are an ideal candidate for the scholarship.

Address the Selection Criteria

Explicitly address the selection criteria outlined in the scholarship application. If the scholarship values leadership, discuss your leadership experiences. If it emphasizes community service, elaborate on your contributions to your community. Tailor your responses to align with the specific attributes the scholarship committee is seeking.

Showcase Your Future Goals

Share your aspirations and how the scholarship will help you achieve them. Whether your goals are academic, professional, or community-oriented, demonstrate a clear connection between the scholarship and your future plans. This helps the committee understand the impact their support will have on your journey.

Edit and Proofread

After drafting your personal statement, review and edit it for clarity, coherence, and grammatical correctness. Consider seeking feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers to gain different perspectives. A well-edited personal statement reflects your commitment to the application process.

What should be the focus of my personal statement for scholarships?

Your personal statement should focus on showcasing your unique qualities, experiences, and achievements. Highlight academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and community involvement. Tailor your narrative to align with the specific criteria and values of the scholarship you are applying for.

How long should my personal statement for a scholarship be?

While the length may vary, most scholarship personal statements are typically around 500 to 1,000 words. Follow any guidelines provided by the scholarship organization and aim for a balance between providing sufficient detail about your experiences and maintaining the reader’s interest.

Can I reuse the same personal statement for multiple scholarship applications?

It’s advisable to tailor your personal statement for each scholarship application. While you can use a foundational draft, make sure to customize it to address the specific criteria and goals of each scholarship. This demonstrates your genuine interest and enhances your chances of meeting the expectations of different scholarship committees.

Final Thought

Writing a personal statement for scholarships requires thoughtful reflection and a strategic approach. By understanding the scholarship’s criteria, showcasing your strengths, and crafting a compelling narrative, you increase your chances of standing out among applicants. Remember, your personal statement is a powerful tool to convey not only your achievements but also your passion and dedication to your educational and career pursuits.

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How to write a winning personal statement for bachelor/master degree scholarships.

A personal statement is an essential component of a scholarship application . It is an opportunity for the applicant to showcase their personality, background, achievements, and future goals in a way that goes beyond their academic transcript and resume. Here are some steps to follow when writing a personal statement for a scholarship:

Read the instructions carefully: Before you start writing your personal statement, make sure you understand the guidelines and requirements of the scholarship. Pay attention to the word limit, formatting, and any specific prompts or questions that you need to address in your statement.

Brainstorm and outline: Take some time to reflect on your experiences, accomplishments, and aspirations. Jot down ideas and make an outline of the key points you want to cover in your personal statement. Consider how your personal story connects to the mission and values of the scholarship organization.

Grab the reader’s attention: Your personal statement should begin with a strong opening that captures the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. You can use a personal anecdote, a thought-provoking quote, or a rhetorical question to engage the reader.

Highlight your strengths: Use specific examples to illustrate your strengths, such as leadership skills, academic achievements, community involvement, or work experience. Show how these experiences have shaped your character and prepared you for future success.

Be authentic and sincere: Your personal statement should reflect your unique voice and perspective. Avoid using clichés or overused phrases and be honest about your challenges and weaknesses. Show humility and gratitude for the opportunities that have helped you get to where you are today.

Edit and proofread: Once you have written a draft of your personal statement, take the time to review and revise it. Look for grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies. Ask a friend or mentor to read it over and provide feedback. Make sure your final statement is polished and professional.

Overall, a well-crafted personal statement can make a significant difference in the scholarship selection process. It can demonstrate your commitment, passion, and potential as a future leader in your field.

What is the purpose of a personal statement?

The purpose of a personal statement is to provide a brief, compelling overview of who you are, what you have achieved, and what you hope to achieve in the future. It is often used as part of a college or job application and provides an opportunity to showcase your personality, accomplishments, and future goals.

How long should a personal statement be?

The length of a personal statement will depend on the specific application guidelines. However, in general, it should be around 500-800 words. It should be long enough to provide a comprehensive overview of your qualifications and goals but not so long that it becomes tedious to read.

What should be included in a personal statement?

A personal statement should include a brief introduction that grabs the reader’s attention, a discussion of your background and qualifications, a discussion of your future goals and aspirations, and a conclusion that ties everything together. It should also showcase your personality and unique perspective.

How do you grab the reader’s attention in a personal statement?

To demonstrate your qualifications in a personal statement, you should highlight your academic achievements, work experience, leadership experience, extracurricular activities, and any other relevant experiences or skills that set you apart.

How do you demonstrate your qualifications in a personal statement?

To grab the reader’s attention in a personal statement, you can use a variety of techniques such as starting with an interesting anecdote or quote, using descriptive language, or asking a thought-provoking question.

How do you showcase your personality in a personal statement?

A personal statement is typically used for college or job applications, while a CV is a comprehensive overview of a person’s professional experience and qualifications. A CV is often used in academic or research settings, while a personal statement is more commonly used in other contexts.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in a personal statement?

Some common mistakes to avoid in a personal statement include being too generic or cliché, focusing too much on weaknesses or challenges, being too arrogant or boastful, and using poor grammar or spelling.

Should you use a personal statement for multiple applications or tailor it for each one?

It is generally recommended to tailor your personal statement for each application. This means reading the application guidelines carefully and making sure your personal statement aligns with the requirements and values of the organization.

How do you convey your future goals and aspirations in a personal statement?

To convey your future goals and aspirations in a personal statement, you can discuss your career ambitions, your plans for continuing education or professional development, and how you hope to make a positive impact in your field.

How can you demonstrate your alignment with the values of the organization in your personal statement?

To demonstrate your alignment with the values of the organization in your personal statement, you should research the organization and understand its mission and values. You can then showcase how your own values and goals align with those of the organization, and how you hope to contribute to their mission.

Personal Statement For Bachelor Scholarship

how long should a scholarship personal statement be

Personal Statement For Master Degree Scholarship

how long should a scholarship personal statement be

In conclusion, a personal statement is an essential component of any scholarship application. It provides an opportunity for applicants to showcase their unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations, and to convince the scholarship committee that they are deserving of the scholarship. A well-written personal statement can make a significant difference in the outcome of an application and can help applicants stand out from the competition.

To write an effective personal statement, it is important to research the scholarship program and tailor the statement to its specific requirements and criteria. Applicants should focus on highlighting their strengths, accomplishments, and future goals, and demonstrate their passion and commitment to their chosen field of study. They should also provide specific examples of how they have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and community involvement, and show how they will use the scholarship to further their academic and professional aspirations.

Overall, a strong personal statement can make a compelling case for why an applicant deserves the scholarship and can leave a lasting impression on the scholarship committee. By putting in the time and effort to craft a thoughtful and persuasive statement, applicants can greatly increase their chances of success and take an important step towards achieving their academic and professional goals.

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How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (with example!)

how long should a scholarship personal statement be

Congratulations on finishing your bachelor’s degree, and starting the next chapter! You might be thinking about applying to graduate school, and fortunately, it’s very similar to applying to an undergraduate program. However, it’s probably been a few years since you’ve had to write an application essay, so you might be wondering how to write a personal statement for graduate school. If so, this guide is the perfect resource for you! Keep reading below to find out more, and don’t forget to check out the example of a graduate school personal statement.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is an essay that encapsulates your personal journey and how that’s shaped who you are as an applicant. They are typically 400-600 words, but can be longer or shorter. 

Be sure not to confuse a personal statement with a statement of purpose as they are two different types of admissions essays. Use this as an opportunity to show colleges what you value and what’s turned you into an ideal student for your desired school. 

What should I write about?

Personal statements are your chance to get, well, personal. While you should answer the prompt in its entirety, you should also write about yourself. Bring a personal element into your essay like family or a story of you overcoming an obstacle. 

Ideally, your story should relate to what you’re trying to accomplish at your graduate school of choice. Tie it all together: your personal experiences, your desired major, and your ideal outcome. 

Tips for writing a personal statement for graduate school

It’s important to start your graduate application as soon as you’re able. Usually, the first round of applications receive the best financial aid packages, so start early! 

Starting sooner can also give you the time to outline your essay and get it read over by your support system. You’ll want it all to be perfect, so don’t rush.

Be transparent

Instead of telling admissions what you think they want to hear, be open and honest about yourself. You want them to understand you, and the only way to do that is to show who you actually are. Offer up personal stories or things that genuinely interest you so that you can show off your sparkling personality!

Be original

Graduate programs are often very competitive since there’s a smaller admissions pool. As a result, your essay should be as original as possible to stand out from the crowd. Tell your story in an organic way, and approach the given prompt with an open mind. 

Related : How to write an essay about yourself

Check your work

It’s extremely important for you to proofread and check for correct spelling and grammar throughout your personal statement. Even simply reading your statement out loud can help you catch any errors and make sure your words flow together. You should also consider having mentors or people within your support system read over your essay to ensure your message is clear.

Common mistakes when writing a graduate school personal statement

Reusing your undergraduate essay .

Reusing your first supplemental essay as a template is a big mistake you want to avoid. Years have passed since then, and you’ve learned new skills and grown as a person and a student. 

The experiences you previously wrote might not resonate with who you are today or tell the graduate team what they want to know about you. It may also have grammatical errors that you might not have noticed before, so take a little extra time to start from scratch and create something new.

Repeating what’s in your resume

It’s likely that your graduate school of choice will require you to upload a copy of your resume as part of your application. Therefore, the admissions committee will already know your professional background, so tell them something else about yourself or provide further depth to a job experience. Repeating yourself only tells them one thing, and you want to be the most well-rounded applicant that you can be.

Graduate school personal statement example

Prompt: Please discuss how your experiences, both personal and professional, have led you to pursue a graduate business degree at this time. What are your short- and long- term goals and how will this program and the J. Mack Robinson College of Business help you achieve these goals? (750 words max)

While many of the applications you receive will detail the many ways that person has been the first to do something, I pose a different perspective: hope to be the last. In other words, you might see me as a first-generation college student, but I see the makings of becoming the last generation to worry about generational wealth in my family. 

Though it is true that I would be the first in my family to get my master’s degree, I’m hoping that my future success means I’ll be the last “first.” It’s not lost on me what this title means, but most of all, it signifies the dawn of an era. A dynasty bred from the struggles and achievements of those before it.

These are big shoes to fill, but I’ve never been afraid of a challenge and the things I’ve learned have helped me secure my future. For example, by observing different business models throughout the years, I found a secret about marketing: people love a product that loves them back. In my case, a product that’s always loved me back were books. I’d fallen in love with bookshelves and bookstores alike, so it only makes sense that a culmination of my love of marketing and books is the goal of one day working in book publishing. I want to know the inner workings of book promotion including design decisions and book tours. Eventually, I plan on working at one of the big publishers such as Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, or Macmillan.

Fortunately, I’ve been given opportunities to decide on my own path, which I hope to execute at Georgia State University. This school’s unique curriculum will be an asset to me since there are classes that specifically cater to buyer behavior, and that’s an area of study I’m particularly interested in. The Social Media Intelligence Lab and social media marketing class will hopefully give me an inside look into influencer marketing and its impact on product profitability. According to your mission statement, GSU educates future leaders, and I want to be a part of that.

As a mentor of mine once said, knowledge is meant to be shared, and if it isn’t, it’s control. I hope to build up the people around me with knowledge and experiences as I go out into the professional world just as I hope this program will do for me. If I’m accepted into this program, I plan on using my creativity and drive for not only my success, but for my family’s as well. There may be times I fall short of a goal, but failure isn’t an option. Each benchmark professors put in front of me will be conquered, and one day, I’ll be one of your notable alumni. 

Why this essay works:

  • The writer clearly researched the school and understands its values
  • The prompt is answered completely and seamlessly
  • The applicant knew their goals and thought of ways to achieve them at the college 
  • This statement communicates not only what the college gains from this applicant’s admission, but also what the applicant gains
  • It’s also well within the word limit

Frequently asked questions about how to write a graduate school personal statement

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How Long Should Your Personal Statement Be?

How Long Should Your Personal Statement Be?

Making sure your personal statement is the “right” length

What’s the right length for your personal statement? Is there a “right” length? In this article, you’ll find both simple and somewhat more nuanced answers to those questions, as well as tips on how to structure your personal statement in ways that take advantage of the “right” length.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

The simple answer is, for the Common App main statement, 650 words max; for the Coalition App , 500-650; for the UC PIQ s, 350 max.

The better answer is … a little more complex. Hence the quotes around “right” in the intro.

For each of the above, you don’t have to use every single available word. So don’t just stretch things—that generally leads to weaker writing. (You already know this. When a teacher once asked you to write a 1,500-word essay, and you got to around 1,300 and then just added fluff phrasing to pad out the word count, it didn’t make your writing better. Also, just a heads up: Your teachers know you do this. In college, padding word count will hurt you. A buddy of mine found that out the hard way at Harvard. Don’t be like him. At least with the “learning the hard way” part.)

That said, you will, in our experience, virtually always end up with a better essay by having your early drafts over word count (within reason), then as you revise (more on that below), cutting the fat and refining phrasing to get under the maximum.

One nice thing about using the applications mentioned above is that, because you can use the Common App or Coalition platform to apply to hundreds of different schools, it’s extremely likely that you only need to write one personal statement. (Unless you’re applying to schools that use their own applications, like MIT or Georgetown —check out those links for guides to their prompts. But you can likely still reuse large elements of your Common App personal statement in those applications.)

Important side note regarding that last paragraph: Please don’t actually try to apply to hundreds of different schools. There’s no single number that works for every student, but 10 is likely fine .

While the personal statement’s length doesn’t vary from school to school, the supplements required by different schools do vary. And for many schools, in particular the most highly selective schools, you’ll have to write a bunch of supplemental essays. For those, we have a bunch of free guides you can check out. (For example, Stanford , and Harvard , and Yale )

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be When There Isn’t a Limit?

This is a fairly common question, but it doesn’t really have an answer … because there aren’t really any colleges that require a personal statement that don’t offer some kind of word-count limit. At least, none that I can think of.

That said, some colleges do have major supplemental essays with no hard limit. For example, the University of Chicago doesn’t specify a hard word count for either of its prompts (a “ Why us ?” and its Extended Essay, with a bunch of fun possible prompts to choose from).

For large supplements like UChicago’s Extended Essay that don’t offer a hard word count, we’d generally recommend aiming to keep it under 650 (same as the main personal statement). You can go over, but you’ll have to justify doing so with some really strong writing.

Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement

If you want a more in-depth version, check out this step-by-step guide . For now, here’s the brief version:

Brainstorm your content

Here are three exercises to get you started:

Values Exercise

Essence Objects Exercise

Feelings and Needs Exercise

More in this post on how to write a personal statement or in that guide above

Decide on how to structure your content

We recommend two approaches to structure, depending on whether you feel you’ve faced significant challenges and want to write about them (and to clarify, you definitely do not need to write about challenges in a personal statement —though that’s a super common misconception): 

If not focused on a challenge: Montage Structure

If focused on a challenge: Narrative Structure

Really? Outline?

In your first draft, don’t worry about a fancy opening or ending, and don’t worry (within reason) about length. For example, if you’re writing a Common App personal statement, and your first draft ends up being 800 or 900 words, you’re fine. You’ll have to cut eventually. But cutting is the easiest part of writing—it mostly involves just using the “delete” key. 

Don’t let word count stop you from exploring early on. It’s exploration, experimentation, and revision that lead to strong writing. Not word counts.

Revise some more

Probably some more

You get the idea

How does the “right” length for a personal statement play into that approach?

For a montage, you’ll probably have somewhere between 4-7 paragraphs, each exploring different values through different moments and experiences. And you’ll probably want to split that word count fairly evenly across those paragraphs, so somewhere around 90-160 words per paragraph (with some leeway).

For a narrative, you’ll want to split the word count fairly evenly between three separate sections of content (though to clarify, each “section” will probably have more than one paragraph): Challenges + Effects, What I Did About It, What I Learned. So about 215 words per section, give or take. (For an in-depth explanation of those sections, see the guides linked above.)

Examples of Winning Personal Statements

Montage Example

My Twitter bio reads: angry brown girl, feminist, singer, meme-lover. You will notice live-tweets of my feminist Pride and Prejudice thoughts, analyses of Hamilton’s power for musical representation, and political memes. Just as my posts bring together seemingly disparate topics, I believe there is a vibrancy that exists at the multidimensional place where my interests intersect.  Growing up as a debater and musician, it was easy to see the two as distinct entities where I had to make unequivocal choices. At the start of my junior year, I decided not to participate in the musical in order to work for Emerge California, an organization that helps Democratic women run for office. There I learned about data science, gender distributions in public office, and how to work with the evil printer. I also halted my voice and piano lessons to focus on building my student-led non-profit, Agents of Change. As someone who has diverted my energy into community activism, I can attest to the power of grassroots movements. It has been so rewarding to measure the impact that my team has had on my community. But even so, I felt that I was losing touch with the music that was such a profound part of me.  I found a new way of being when I started combining my artsy and political sides. I took an intensive class on protest music, where I learned how political movements have been shaped by the music of their time. While in the class, we were asked to compose our own songs. I am not a songwriter, but I am an activist, and I embraced the opportunity to turn music into an outlet for my political beliefs. As a first-generation American, I am dedicated to raising awareness about refugee rights and immigration. My songs about the Syrian Refugee Crisis let me find a way to bring the two sides of me together and gave me a rush that neither music nor politics by themselves would have provided.  This introduction led me to apply to the Telluride Association Protest Poetics program, where I dove deeper into my own identity. I wrote songs about police brutality and the ways that as a non-black person of color I am implicated in instances of subliminal racism. Over the course of the program, as I became more familiar with the visual, literary, and performance art we analyzed, I slowly started to realize that, though I confront colorism, jokes about Indian culture, and intra-community violence in some form every day, my proximity to whiteness still gives me immense amounts of privilege. I have come to know that this means I have a responsibility to both be at the forefront of movements, and conscious of not stepping over the voices of other intersectional identities. I hope that the music I choose to perform and the way I live my life can amplify, not overwrite, any of the struggles that others deal with daily.  Last year, I had another opportunity to use music to pay homage to an issue I care deeply about. In my South Asian community, mental health is an issue that is often papered over. When a member of my school community committed suicide, I was asked to sing “Amazing Grace” for the school to both unify and honor the student. Though I thought that I had really understood the power of music, holding that space for my entire school had a profound resonance that I still don’t fully understand.  My voice is an instrument for change -- whether it be through me raising my hand to contribute to a discussion in a classroom, speaking out against gun violence at a rally, or singing at an event of solidarity. I know that someday my voice, in conjunction with many other unique voices and perspectives, will make a difference.

We think there are 4 key qualities that strong personal statements possess : Values, Insight, Vulnerability, and Craft (probably in roughly that order of importance). You can check out that link for more detail and, once you’re done with your personal statement, put it through the Great College Essay Test. Let’s talk through how the essay above checks those boxes.

Values: Tons of ’em. She does a great job weaving values through every paragraph, and using detail and action to illustrate how those values have manifested in her life. Equality/social justice/representation, community/engagement, music, art, politics, mental health …

It’s useful to notice that rather than following the standard dictum “show, don’t tell,” she does a nice job showing, then telling. We’d recommend that latter approach, as it plays into craft (more on that below), but also ensures your readers on the admission committee (who may be reading pretty quickly) don't miss your point.

Insight: One way to think of insight is to frame it as your response to the question “So what?” Why do these moments and experiences matter to you? How have they molded you? And how have they shaped what you value and why you value it? That last question is one of the easier ways to start weaving insights into your essay—what are the lessons you’ve learned about the values you’re demonstrating?

Lines like, “As someone who has diverted my energy into community activism, I can attest to the power of grassroots movements,” or, “I slowly started to realize that, though I confront colorism, jokes about Indian culture, and intra-community violence in some form every day, my proximity to whiteness still gives me immense amounts of privilege. I have come to know that this means I have a responsibility to both be at the forefront of movements, and conscious of not stepping over the voices of other intersectional identities,” do a great job showing how she’s worked to develop skills of reflection. And there’s actually some nice insight in acknowledging that there are things that “I still don’t fully understand.”

Vulnerability: There are many ways to be vulnerable in a personal statement. One way the essay above uses is to offer up some of the things that matter to us, things that we hold close to our sense of self. Because when we do so, we’re risking having someone tell us we’re wrong. When this author takes that risk, and is willing to share where she’s found meaning, I feel closer to her.

Craft: That first line functions as a nice, quick hook—as soon as I read it, I’m curious where we’re heading next—in addition to thematically setting up the essay. She has some good variation of phrasing and sentence structure. And she’s clearly spent a good amount of time (as in, 5+ drafts) revising and refining. (Keep in mind that one thing you’re showing your readers is that you’re ready to write at the college level—meaning turning in a first or second draft probably isn’t putting your best foot forward … )

And since this post is about personal statement length, let’s look at how the author above apportioned her word count in a way that helps her show the admission officers who she is and what the skills, qualities, and values are that she’ll bring to a campus: 

Notice that the intro is pretty quick—it uses just over 50 words to give us a clear sense of focus and direction and voice. That allows the author to dedicate more like 100-150 words to each body paragraph, showing a different side of who she is and what she values. It wouldn’t necessarily be bad to have a longer intro, but keep in mind that it’s the moments and experiences in the body that demonstrate your values and insights that will tend to have the biggest impact on the reader.

And while she didn’t use every single one of the 650-word maximum, she came pretty close (636).

Narrative Example

My eyes flutter open and I see blinding lights. I feel an overwhelming nausea, grab the bucket next to me and throw up. I lay my head down in exhaustion and feel a cast around my head. I had just gotten surgery on my left ear to have bilateral cochlear implants for profound deafness. This was the start of my journey. I was the kid who had to spend hours after school rebuilding my speech and language skills with a speech therapist, the one who always wore my hair down so no one would notice the implants, the one at the swimming parties who would pretend I had to go to the bathroom just so no one would see me take them off. And every night I had to remember to charge my batteries, so I could hear the next day.  On top of all this, I was also shy. In school, I sat in the back of the class so no one would notice me. When my teachers forgot to turn on my microphone in class, I wouldn’t say anything because I was afraid to bring attention to myself. After school, I had to review my classmates’ notes because I couldn’t simultaneously write and hear everything the teacher said. I remember so strongly a feeling of unfairness that I was literally the only student in my school who had to deal with these issues.  There was one place where I was an equal and didn’t feel like I was constantly catching up: my ballet classes. There, I was more outgoing and didn’t constantly feel pressured to speak--dance was a language that didn’t require talking. Though dance became an escape, it still wasn’t enough to balance out my need to fit in. In order to overcome my nearly constant frustration, I decided I needed to connect to my deafness. I started an internship with a speech pathologist and for the first time interacted with other people with hearing loss: kids of all ages, each with their own struggles. During junior year, I did an independent study and learned more about the effects of deafness on language development.  When I heard about Leadership Opportunities for Teens (LOFT), a program that promotes leadership skills and self-advocacy with teenagers like me, I joined. There, I had an epiphany. During a discussion with other participants from all over the country, several of them spoke of being bullied, and I realized for the first time how supportive my own academic environment had been. Whereas other students dealt with taunting and physical abuse, I was in a school with accommodating teachers and students who were curious about my experience. The only person who had been contributing to my shyness and fear was myself. And from my dance experiences, I knew I was capable of more.  Armed with my new knowledge of the science of deafness and a little hope, I began advocating for myself. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I began to feel proud of my abilities to keep up with my hearing peers. Gradually, I found myself feeling more relaxed in school and empowered to try new things I had never done before, like running, volleyball, and cheer. I even began introducing myself to strangers. Now, as a senior, I find myself in leadership positions like yearbook editor and a freshmen mentor. And every time a teacher forgets to turn on the microphone, I raise my hand in front of the entire class and remind the teacher to please turn it on. And she does. I’ve spent my whole life dealing with my hearing loss and the obstacles it threw in my path. Looking back at the moment where I woke up from surgery, I don’t think of the nauseating side effects; I see it as a blessing that gave me the gift to hear and a challenge to overcome obstacles that have made me braver. — — —

Same game as above: Values, Insight, Vulnerability, Craft.

Values: Again, we see a bunch of values throughout the essay, especially in the actions she takes to work through her challenges: art/dance, community/engagement, autonomy, independence, self-awareness/perspective, exploration, growth, bravery …

And, as with the first essay, notice that she does a nice job of both showing and telling—her actions help us see what values she’s developed through her experiences, but she also takes the time to directly mention those values at times (e.g., “made me braver.”)

Insight: She does a nice job answering “so what” by reflecting on how these experiences have shaped her, for example, through how she came to understand that while dance was a useful escape, it wasn’t an answer to her problems, or through how she came to understand the support she had, and using that to consciously make different, braver choices that would lead to her growth.

Vulnerability: There are vulnerable elements throughout the essay, but in particular, notice how she offers up details early on (like her worries, fears, and anxieties) that are probably a little scary to share. But again, doing so makes me feel closer to her and the story she’s offering.

Craft: There’s a nice, quick hook that draws us in by giving us a quick sense of mystery through the images and sensations, then resolves it without leaving us wondering for too long. She does a nice job varying phrasing and structure, and uses clear transitions to give us a sense of place and connection. And, as with the montage essay above, she has clearly spent a good deal of time revising and refining.

Length/word count: This essay does a nice job of apportioning word count in the way we talked about above—about one-third for Challenges + Effects, one-third for What I Did About It, and one-third for What I Learned (some of which is sprinkled throughout the essay, but the bulk of which comes toward the end). Splitting the word count that way allowed her to create a nice narrative arc that takes advantage of every one of the 650 words available to her.

Check out these other personal statement resources:

How to Write a Personal Statement

Personal Statement Examples

How to Write a Challenges-Based (i.e., Narrative) College Essay That TBH Wasn’t That Big of a Deal

how long should a scholarship personal statement be

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Writing the Personal Statement

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This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.

2. The response to very specific questions:

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific

  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Find an angle

  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know

  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .

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  1. How to Write a Personal Statement for a Scholarship + Examples

    What's Covered: What is the Purpose of the Scholarship Personal Statement? What to Include in Your Personal Statement Personal Statement Example: Breakdown + Analysis How to Make Sure Your Writing is Effective Either before or after you've gotten into your dream school, you'll have to figure out how to pay for it.

  2. The Killer Scholarship Personal Statement Guide: w/Examples

    1. Why do you deserve this scholarship? This is probably the most commonly asked prompt for any scholarship personal statement. Most organizations that give scholarships know why you want the scholarship. What they don't know is why exactly they should give it to you.

  3. Personal Statement for Scholarship: How to Write and Examples

    It is a sample of writing (often about 2 pages) that describes you to the best of your abilities, your reasons for choosing the course you have chosen, your research interests, your goals and the creative ways you can add value to the program you are applying to.

  4. How to Write a Good Personal Statement for a Scholarship ( 7 PDF Sample

    A personal statement for scholarship is a short content that conveys the message that you are a perfect candidate for a scholarship in an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate programme. In your personal statement for scholarship 500 words, you will be providing solid evidence and examples pertaining to your experience and motivation.

  5. Financial Aid and Scholarships

    The 2024-25 FAFSA and CADAA are now open. The priority filing date for both applications has been extended to April 2, 2024. Visit Apply for Financial Aid for details. The Department of Education has announced they will send information from the 2024-25 FAFSA to schools in mid-March.

  6. PDF Tips for Writing a Scholarship Personal Statement

    Your personal statement should be a minimum of 200 words. To get you started, consider the following: 1. What are your strongest personality traits that make you an ideal candidate for a scholarship? 2. Does any attribute, quality, or skill distinguish you from everyone else? 3.

  7. How to Write a Personal Statement for a Scholarship: 13 Steps

    1. Create a thesis. Depending upon the length of your essay, this may be as simple as a topic sentence, or it may take multiple paragraphs. Regardless, your thesis should communicate the core concept that holds your essay together. All the concepts that you mention in your essay should relate back to your thesis.

  8. PDF How to Write a Killer Scholarship Personal Statement: Definitive Guide

    an adult student returning to college after a long absence, one of the first. things you'll want to do when preparing for college is to look for scholarships. At all levels, college is expensive. ... have a standard scholarship personal statement you like to use. Answer the prompt that is given, and answer it honestly and completely. 1/6/23 ...

  9. 7 Steps (And Examples) For Writing a Killer Personal Statement

    Essay prompt- the essay question or topic that you must write your essay on. This will be provided for you in the application. Supplemental essay- an additional essay that you may need to write for an application. This is not always needed and the topic may vary between schools or programs. Now that we've explained the terms, let's dig in ...

  10. The Personal Statement

    The Personal Statement is at the heart of most scholarship and fellowship applications and it remains one of the most challenging but rewarding written efforts that you will encounter in the scholarship process. It is, strictly speaking, your story. It asks you to find a way to articulate who you are because of the what, why, and where.

  11. How to Write a Personal Statement for Scholarships

    Award $25,040 Deadline 21 days left to apply Create Free Bold.org Account In this article Writing a Scholarship Personal Statement Begin Early Carefully Read the Prompt Brainstorm Outline Writing Editing and Submission Frequently Asked Questions About Scholarship Personal Statements

  12. PDF Scholarship Personal Statement Guide

    These are taken from actual scholarship applications. Example 1. 1) Include a typed personal statement of 500-750 words expressing how your school experiences-academics, extracurricular activities, outside activities and work experiences-are shaping your educational and career goals, why you should be considered for scholarship support, and any ...

  13. Personal Statement for scholarship: How to Write One, How long Does it

    Unlike your personal statement for college which is designed to show who you truly are to college admissions counselors, perhaps giving you entrance over someone with identical qualifications, a personal statement for a scholarship is your chance to get money to pay for school.

  14. Application Tips: Writing a Personal Statement

    Writing Personal Statements for Scholarship Applications. In many ways, writing a personal statement is a 180-degree turn from what you're used to doing in college. You have been trained to write rather staid, formal, academic papers in which you know the format and what is expected of you, and the challenge lies in researching the topic at hand.

  15. Scholarship Personal Statement Examples

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) What is a scholarship personal statement? It's a short essay or paragraph about yourself, written for the purpose of applying for scholarships. It should focus on your strengths and explain why you deserve the money being offered by the scholarship provider.


    Personal statements for graduate school, however, are usually between 2-3 pages long 1.5 or double-spaced with regular margins and in easy to read font (Calibri, Times New Roman, etc.). CAN I USE THE SAME PERSONAL STATEMENT FOR EVERY INSTITUTION I AM APPLYING TO?

  17. How To Write A Personal Statement For Scholarships

    How long should my personal statement for a scholarship be? While the length may vary, most scholarship personal statements are typically around 500 to 1,000 words. Follow any guidelines provided by the scholarship organization and aim for a balance between providing sufficient detail about your experiences and maintaining the reader's interest.

  18. How to Write a Winning Personal Statement for Bachelor ...

    The length of a personal statement will depend on the specific application guidelines. However, in general, it should be around 500-800 words. It should be long enough to provide a comprehensive overview of your qualifications and goals but not so long that it becomes tedious to read.

  19. How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (with example!)

    - Scholarships360 Advertiser disclosure How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (with example!) By Varonika Ware Reviewed by Bill Jack Edited by Maria Geiger Updated: December 7th, 2023 Congratulations on finishing your bachelor's degree, and starting the next chapter!

  20. How Long Should Your Personal Statement Be?

    The simple answer is, for the Common App main statement, 650 words max; for the Coalition App, 500-650; for the UC PIQ s, 350 max. The better answer is … a little more complex. Hence the quotes around "right" in the intro. For each of the above, you don't have to use every single available word.

  21. Postgraduate Personal Statements

    How long should a Masters personal statement be? When writing a postgraduate personal statement, you should aim for a word count of around 500 words (one A4 side of text). ... Access to our £6,000 scholarship competition; Weekly newsletter with funding opportunities, application tips and much more;

  22. The Personal Statement

    1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2. The response to very specific questions:

  23. Personal Statements for PhD Study

    How long should a PhD personal statement be? A PhD personal statement should be 400-500 words, fitting on one side of an A4 sheet of paper. Your university may set a specific word count or maximum length, so make sure to check the application details. Either way, you should aim to be disciplined and concise.

  24. What records are exempted from FERPA?

    Records which are kept in the sole possession of the maker of the records, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the records. Records of the law enforcement unit of an educational agency or institution. Law enforcement unit records are ...

  25. JobBridge

    11K likes, 1,173 comments - jobbridge.korea on February 12, 2024: "朗Finally GKS 2024 Application is in process朗 And you know why you have chances?﫵 Be..."