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scholarships with personal statement essays

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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scholarships with personal statement essays

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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scholarships with personal statement essays

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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  • Applying For Scholarships

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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How to Write a Scholarship Essay | Template & Example

Published on October 11, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.

A good scholarship essay demonstrates the scholarship organization’s values while directly addressing the prompt. If you plan ahead , you can save time by writing one essay for multiple prompts with similar questions.

Table of contents

Apply for a wide variety of scholarships, make a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, tailor your essay to the organization and the prompt, write a focused and relevant personal story, scholarship essay example, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Scholarships are a type of student financial aid that don’t require repayment. They are awarded based on various factors, including academic merit, financial need, intended major, personal background, or activities and interests.

Like college applications, scholarship applications often require students to submit their grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and an essay.

A scholarship essay shares your values and qualities in the context of a specific question, such as “How does technology affect your daily life?” or “Who has had the greatest impact on your life?”

Be wary of scholarship scams

While some applications may not require an essay, be wary of scholarship scams that do the following:

  • Guarantee you scholarship money for a fee
  • Claim scholarship information is exclusive to their company
  • Ask for your bank or credit card information to hold the scholarship

Some legitimate companies do charge for releasing comprehensive scholarship lists or creating a tailored list of scholarship opportunities based on your profile.

However, you can always discover scholarship opportunities for free through your school counselor, community network, or an online search.

Many students focus on well-known, large scholarship opportunities, which are usually very competitive. To maximize your chance of success, invest time in applying for a wide variety of scholarships: national and local, as well as big and small award amounts. There are also scholarships for international students .

In addition to charitable foundation and corporate scholarships, you should consider applying for institutional scholarships at your prospective universities, which can award money based on your application’s strength, your financial situation, and your demonstrated interest in the school.

Check with your guidance counselor, local organizations, community network, or prospective schools’ financial aid offices for scholarship opportunities. It’s a good idea to start applying as early as your junior year and continue throughout your senior year.

Choose the right scholarships for you

Choose scholarships with missions and essay topics that match your background, experiences, and interests. If the scholarship topic is meaningful to you, it will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay.

Don’t shy away from applying for local scholarships with small dollar amounts. Even a few hundred dollars can help you pay for books.

Local scholarships may be more tailored to your community, background, and activities, so they’re likely more relevant to you. Fewer students apply for these scholarships, so you have less competition and a higher chance of success.

Some places to look for local scholarships include

  • Civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc.
  • Your church, mosque, synagogue, or place of worship
  • Community groups, such as the YMCA
  • Ethnicity-based organizations
  • Your local library or local small businesses
  • Organizations related to your intended major
  • Your city or town
  • Your school district
  • Unions, such as SEIU, the Teamsters, CWA, etc.
  • Your employer or your parents’ employers
  • Banks, credit unions, and local financial institutions

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

While researching scholarship opportunities, create a scholarship tracker spreadsheet to keep track of the following:

  • Scholarship amounts
  • Required application materials

You can use our free Google Sheets template to track your scholarship applications.

Scholarship application tracker template

You can also include scholarship essay prompts in your college essay tracker sheet . By grouping or color-code overlapping essay prompts, you can plan to write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can also reuse or adapt your main college essay .

Even if you’re adapting another essay, it’s important to make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, stays within the word count limit , and demonstrates the organization’s values. The scholarship committee will be able to tell if you reuse an essay that doesn’t quite respond to the prompt, so be sure to tailor it to the questions asked.

Research each organization

Before writing, research the scholarship organization’s mission and reason for awarding the scholarship. Learning more about the organization can help you select an appropriate topic and relevant story.

While you should tailor your essay to the organization’s values, maintain your authentic voice. Never use false or exaggerated stories. If the organization’s values don’t align with yours or you can’t brainstorm a relevant story for the scholarship, continue searching for other scholarship opportunities to find a more appropriate one for you.

After researching the organization, identify a specific personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies why you will be a successful student.

Choose a story with the following criteria:

  • Responds to the prompt
  • Demonstrates the organization’s values
  • Includes an authentic story
  • Focuses on you and your experience, not someone else’s

A good scholarship essay is not

  • A resume of your achievements
  • A lengthy opinion piece about the essay topic
  • An essay featuring a negative tone that puts down others

If appropriate, you can briefly address how the scholarship money will help you achieve your educational goals. You should also end with a brief thank-you.

Take a look at the full essay example below. Hover over the underlined parts to read explanations of why they work.

Prompt: Describe how working for Chelsea’s Chicken restaurant has developed leadership skills that will help you succeed in college. Give specific examples of leadership characteristics that you have exhibited during your employment with us.

As a nervous 16-year-old, I walked into Chelsea’s Chicken for my first day of work determined to make enough money to put gas in my car and buy pizza on the weekends. My only previous job was mowing my neighbors’ lawns when they were on vacation, so I had no idea what to expect. I was a bit intimidated by my new responsibilities, especially handling money and helping disgruntled customers.

However, it didn’t take me long to learn my way around the cash register and successfully address customer complaints. One day, Roger, the store manager, asked me if I wanted to join Chelsea’s Chicken Leadership Training Initiative. He said he saw leadership potential in me because of my attitude with the customers and my enthusiasm for learning new job responsibilities. It surprised me because I had never thought of myself as a leader, but I quickly agreed, and Roger handed me a three-ring binder that was thicker than my math and science textbooks put together! He told me to take it home and read over it during the following week.

In that binder, I discovered that being a leader means taking the initiative, especially when the job is undesirable. One week later, I got to practice that idea when a little kid threw up in the bathroom and missed the toilet. It smelled terrible, but I stepped forward and told Roger that I would clean it up. My coworkers thought I was crazy, but I started to believe in my leadership potential.

That night as we closed the store, Roger pulled me aside in the parking lot and told me that he could tell that I had been studying the manual. He wanted to give me more responsibility, along with a dollar-per-hour pay raise. I was surprised because I had been working there for only a couple of months, but his encouragement helped me make a connection: good leadership helps other people, and it often is rewarded. I was determined to experience more of both.

Within a month, I was ready to take the Team Leader exam, which mattered because I would receive a promotion and a much bigger raise if I passed. But, when I got to work, two of the scheduled team members had called in sick. We were noticeably short-handed, and our customers weren’t happy about it.

I walked back to the lockers, put on my vest and hat, and took my place behind an open register. Customers immediately moved into my line to place their orders. Roger looked at me with surprise and asked, “Did you forget that you’re testing tonight?” I responded, “No, sir—but what’s the use of taking a leadership test if you aren’t going to lead in real life?” Roger smiled at me and nodded.

He stayed late that night after we closed so that I could leave early and still take the test. I noticed that Roger was always staying late, helping employees learn new skills. His example taught me that leaders take the initiative to develop other leaders. He gave me a clear picture of what shared leadership looks like, making room for others to grow and excel. When I asked him where he learned to do that, he said, “From the same leadership manual I gave you!”

Chelsea’s Chicken has offered me so much more than a paycheck. Because of Roger’s example, I have learned to take the initiative to care for my family and friends, such as being the first to do the dishes without my mom asking or volunteering to pick up my friend for our SAT prep course. Now, as I prepare to enter college, I have confidence in my leadership ability. I know I’m signing up for a challenging major—Biology, Pre-Med—yet I also know that Chelsea’s Chicken has helped me to develop the perseverance required to complete my studies successfully.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing


  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

A scholarship essay requires you to demonstrate your values and qualities while answering the prompt’s specific question.

After researching the scholarship organization, identify a personal experience that embodies its values and exemplifies how you will be a successful student.

Invest time in applying for various scholarships , especially local ones with small dollar amounts, which are likely easier to win and more reflective of your background and interests. It will be easier for you to write an authentic and compelling essay if the scholarship topic is meaningful to you.

You can find scholarships through your school counselor, community network, or an internet search.

You can start applying for scholarships as early as your junior year. Continue applying throughout your senior year.

Yes, but make sure your essay directly addresses the prompt, respects the word count , and demonstrates the organization’s values.

If you plan ahead, you can save time by writing one scholarship essay for multiple prompts with similar questions. In a scholarship tracker spreadsheet, you can group or color-code overlapping essay prompts; then, write a single essay for multiple scholarships. Sometimes, you can even reuse or adapt your main college essay .

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

Published: 12 Apr 2021 Scholarship Application 51,393 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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How to Start a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

scholarships with personal statement essays

As an admissions officer, I reviewed thousands of essays for students seeking admission and scholarships. The essay is one of the most important parts of the scholarship application process–a strong essay can go a long way. However, with so much competition, it is important for your scholarship essay to stand out. That’s why it’s important for you to start a scholarship essay off right!

There are some very simple things that you can do to ensure that your essay is engaging from the very first sentence. In fact, beginning your essay with an exciting opening is one of the most important things you can do, because it will immediately distinguish your essay from the others. 

Keep on reading to learn more about how you can nail the very first sentence and start your essay off right!

Engage the reader with the first sentence

No matter what type of essay you are writing, you will want to ensure that the very first line grabs the attention of the reader. One of the biggest mistakes that students make when starting their essay is simply restating the prompt. This is bland and boring. 

Now, you might be wondering, “how do I engage the reader with the very first line of my essay?”. The good news is that there are several ways that you can do this that are very simple to do. 

Related:  How to answer scholarship essay questions about your career goals

Begin with dialogue

First, you could begin your essay with conversation. This can be an interesting and unexpected way to start your scholarship essay. Maybe someone asked you an unexpected question? Perhaps you were having an interesting conversation with a friend or family member? Either way, dialogue can be a powerful tool to start your essay.

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Put the reader in your shoes.

Alternatively, you can choose to start your essay by placing the reader right in your shoes and show them something from your life. Appeal to the senses and show the reader what you see, hear, smell, or taste. These specific details will help your essay come to life and make it even more memorable. 

Also recommended: What’s the best scholarship essay format?

Scholarship essay introduction example

Next,  we’ll look at a specific example of how you can open up your essay. Let’s say you are applying for the Questbridge scholarship program . One of the essays that you will be asked is:

We are interested in learning more about you and the context in which you have grown up, formed your aspirations, and accomplished your academic successes. Please describe the factors and challenges that have most influenced you. How are they shaping your future aspirations?

You might be tempted to rephrase the question and start your essay with something like:

“I have grown up in a rural context and this has formed my aspirations and allowed me to accomplish academic success…”

This is generic and will not engage your reader at all. 

Instead, what if you started off your essay with something like this:

“I look outside my bedroom window and see Henry, my favorite chicken, pecking at something in the dirt.” 

Makes a big difference, right? As a reader, you are probably wondering: why does this person have chickens outside their bedroom window? Why did they name this particular chicken Henry?

See also: Here are our top writing & essay scholarships for students!

Keep the ending of your essay in mind as you write the opening

While crafting your opening, be open to ideas about how to close your essay. There is no need to stress about the ending now, but being mindful of effective ways to end an essay is always a good idea. Say you are opening your scholarship essay with Henry the chicken. Is there a way for Henry to make an impactful appearance at the end of the essay to close things out in a way that perfectly wraps everything up? The key is for the essay ending to be meaningful and memorable for the reader. 

Don’t miss: Our free scholarship search tool

If you can’t think of a “wow” scholarship essay beginning, keep writing!

Sometimes, we know what we want to say, point by point, but we are not ready to be creative when it comes to opening an essay. In that case, keep writing! There is always the option of going back and crafting an engaging opening after your essay is written. Simply write your main idea where the first paragraph would be to guide you as you write. After, go back when your creative juices are flowing, and craft the amazing opening (and closing) that your scholarship essay deserves!

Final thoughts

As shown, there are many questions that we as readers will have after reading an engaging essay opening such as the one just shared; We want to learn more about the student who is writing this essay. After all, as a writer trying to stand out in a pile of essays, that is our main goal. 

We hope that you have a better understanding of how to start a scholarship essay so you can maximize your chances of winning scholarships!

Additional resources

Scholarships360 is the go-to for all things college admissions and scholarships! Wondering how to write a 250 word essay and how to write a 500 word essay ? Curious how to write an essay about yourself ? Wow, do we have the resources to help! Additionally, check out our free scholarship search tool to help you finance your college education. Best of luck to you and your future endeavors! 

Key Takeaways

  • The first sentence of the essay is what makes the reader want to continue reading 
  • Engage the reader by appealing to the senses
  • Create a sense of wonder in your essay, making the reader want to learn more about you
  • Keep the ending of the essay in mind as you craft the beginning

Frequently asked questions about how to start a scholarship essay

What is an essay hook, how long should my scholarship essay be, scholarships360 recommended.

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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.

How to Write a Personal Statement for Scholarships

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"Be Bold" No-Essay Scholarship

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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Application essays

Your application essays give you the opportunity to introduce yourself, your interests, and sometimes your project ideas, to a selection committee. A great personal statement will give the committee members a sense of who you are, your motivations and interests, and how the scholarship, program or opportunity aligns with your past experiences and future goals.

Writing these essays takes time. You may work through multiple drafts before feeling confident in your work. In addition to giving yourself time to brainstorm, draft, and redraft, be sure to give yourself time to proofread and edit. Seek feedback from your professors, advisors, writing centers and other mentors.

Advisors in our office are available to read and give feedback on essay drafts for scholarship, graduate school and other applications you might be working on. Contact us to request an appointment for help with your personal statement.

Do your homework on the scholarship you are applying for.

Keep in mind the characteristics, requirements, expectations, and/or mission of the specific scholarship to which you are applying.

Reflect on your purpose for applying, your past experiences and your future interests.

A personal statement is not just a listing of your achievements. It is a narration that describes how your interests/plans/perspectives have developed and those experiences that have been critical to that development – why your goals are what they are and how that relates to the scholarship.

Know your audience and how to address them appropriately.

Learn all you can about the nature of particular selection committees through both research and communication with scholarship foundations, past scholarship recipients, graduate students, interns, faculty, etc.  Scholarship websites and application materials often reveal the kinds of selectors involved, and such information can be used to shape material and decide on the level of technical detail and explanation needed. For graduate school, thoroughly research program websites and faculty members (read their CVs).

Important Note: You should not write your personal statement based on what you think the selection committee wants to hear. It should be an honest depiction of who you are, what you want, and how you plan to get there.

Begin drafting with the expectation that you will write multiple drafts.

Most people writing personal statements end up with a first draft that is fairly general, containing mostly vague statements and ideas that could have been written by just about anyone. This is why personal statement writing has to be a process you work through. Multiple drafts are necessary to get past that initial draft, taking those general ideas and distilling them down to the essence of the information you’re trying to convey, fleshing them out with specifics from your experiences.

While working on your first several drafts, do not limit yourself to a certain number of pages or words. Write out all of your ideas first, taking as many pages as necessary, then make choices about what is most important, and edit down. If you limit yourself from the beginning, you are more likely to leave important information out of the final draft.

Revise, Revise & Revise Again.

It can take many drafts to distill your writing down to a final product that directly, concisely and persuasively presents your points. Continued editing and revising is absolutely critical to eradicate words, sentences, even whole paragraphs, that don’t actually contain any real information.

Crafting Your Personal Statement

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How to Write a Scholarship Essay and Win

A young man smiling at his computer.

For a college student, scholarships are the best assistance to financial aid. However, as a college sophomore, I had no desire to write essays that had nothing to do with my school curriculum.

My days of writing essays for enjoyment departed when 5-page minimums became necessary to pass a class. But, I have recognized that scholarships are a resourceful way to boost financial aid IF you dedicate your time to them.

By practicing some or all of these skills I did to win my first scholarship, your college education could be a source of not only financial freedom but also income. Now, when you are writing a personal statement or essay for a scholarship, you should repeat this mantra: 

“This scholarship will pay for my education. I will win this scholarship.”

A big part of receiving my scholarship came from manifestation. When I worked towards my scholarship, I immediately began telling myself I would win the scholarship (I have the TikTok drafts to prove it).

Telling yourself that you already have what you desire pushes the drive to obtain said desire. Affirming your wants only pulls them closer. Setting your mind up mentally for success is key to achieving what you manifest. 

Now that you believe in your ability to win, you have to begin putting in the work. My scholarship required that I 1) Have a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, 2) Be African American, 3) Be a college sophomore or junior, 4) major in business or science, and 5) attend two or more NSLS Speaker Broadcasts.

So, when you are applying for a scholarship, make sure you check off ALL boxes of the eligibilities! Be sure to read the rules and policies of each scholarship you apply to, even if they are a page or two long, as it will help you in the long run.

When you have checked off the eligibility requirements, it is time for the longest part of the scholarship: the essay/personal statement. Most scholarships have a word or page count, and this is the time when you shine.

I have learned that essay and personal statement scholarships are gems, as most people avoid these because they have to write. Do not let this dissuade you.

The best part about personal statements/essays is that they give the writing material, and it’s either about where you see yourself in the future, the scholarship company, your interest, or something random.

In the case of my scholarship, I had to write a personal statement on my career interest and goals. So, here are the steps I followed for my personal statement.

  • Be honest. As obvious as it sounds, you want to write about something that applies to yourself or your future self. Even though you may never encounter the scholarship committee, write something you would not be ashamed to speak aloud! Not to mention, you’ll have much more conviction and passion if it is something you have done or see yourself doing.
  • Outline/write a rough draft. Realistically, we would all love to be able to open our computers and type the perfect essay and submit it. But, it is better to have a rough draft before you compose a final. When I wrote my personal statement, I sectioned it out; 1) my past and current achievements, 2) how my current achievements play into my career goals 3) how my career will influence my future and my community. Treating the personal statement/essay like a memoir helped create a flow for my paper.  Outlining your essay before writing your rough draft will produce a story-like flow, grabbing the attention of the scholarship committee! 
  • Get your rough draft revised. Now, you may read your essay and think it is perfect, but there is no shame in getting a fresh set of eyes. Throughout my high school and college freshman career, I was stubborn about going to the writing resource center and only used Grammarly to revise my paper. Having your work checked may feel embarrassing, but you have nothing to fear. Paid professionals and staff in writing centers, schools, and universities work to help you improve your craft. If you want helpful criticism and an elevated chance at winning, have a tutor or teacher review your paper. 
  • Rework your rough draft (a.k.a “the final draft”). With your revised rough draft, you will enter the final stages of the winning essay. You can use the same process in step 1, digging deeper for enriching material to help your paper reach the word count. Remember, do not make your personal statement or essay extremely personal. Although the goal is to tell the scholarship committee about yourself, you do not want to sound too eager or revealing. A general rule of thumb is if you would not feel comfortable reading it out loud, it might be too much (of course, still have it revised with resource centers for accuracy). 
  • Get your final draft checked. Did you think you only had to get revised once? The more you get your paper checked, the better! While you are getting your paper checked, be sure to engage with the tutors and ask them questions about your essay to ensure you understand their criticisms and resolutions to your work.
  • Turn in your paper. You’ve done it! You have completed the scholarship statement, and now you can submit it.

Now that you have the steps to submit a winning personal statement, here are a couple of tips as you write the essay and apply for scholarships in general.

  • Start on your essay as soon as it opens! Working on your scholarship far from the deadline is essential for time management and accuracy. Giving yourself enough time to outline, write, and revise your essay will heighten your chances of winning and build your writing skills.
  • Indent your paragraphs. Writing in paragraphs helps transition your essay/personal statement and builds character. Not to mention, it shows the scholarship committee that you know how to format a paper!
  • Write a general essay/personal statement. A great rule of thumb is that scholarship essays can be reused (it is your work). Your foundation paper can be about yourself and your career goals, academics, why you pursued your major, and how you will prompt change with your education. 
  • Apply to “you” specific scholarships. When applying for scholarships, research scholarships that speak to you as an individual. For instance, if you are a junior in high school and you play soccer, research High School Athlete Scholarships or Soccer Scholarships. If you are a college student, research scholarships for your major (Public Health Scholarships). You can also research scholarships that apply to general interests or hobbies. With more individuality in your search, you make it easier to write your paper. 
  • Apply to as many scholarships as you can. Winning scholarships is like the lottery; you only win if you play. By applying to multiple scholarships, you steadily increase your chances of winning. Plus, it boosts your writing creativity, but be sure not to overload yourself!
  • Never stop applying! As tireless as it is to apply for scholarships, never stop ! Your chances can only improve if you continue applying. Aim to apply for 3-5 scholarships a month, and watch those Congratulations come in. Great scholarship websites are: 
  • UNCF (United Negro College Fund)
  • Scholarship Owl

Companies such as McDonald’s, Delta, and Amazon offer scholarships for employees, their families, and students.

Scholarships are a wise tool for financial freedom as you pursue higher education. Although they may be uninviting based on word or page count minimum, do not let this intimidate you.

Just think about how relieving it would be to have that money for tuition, books, and housing. If you garner enough scholarships, your university could end up rebating you for the surplus (which is more money for you!).

Anticipating the bigger picture of scholarships and what they can do for you is more splendid than what is holding you back. If I could go back to my sophomore year of high school, I would have begun researching for scholarships immediately.

As a college sophomore, I implore you to take that first step and apply for a scholarship that requires a writing piece. Do not be afraid to go out and search for those scholarships, and remember that you have what it takes to be a winner!

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Author: Harper Cooper

Hi! My name is Harper. I am a rising sophomore at Xavier University of Louisiana, majoring in Biology on a Pre Med track. I live in Atlanta, GA and I enjoy live music, reading, writing, and lifting. I am the founder of Black Women Do STEAM, an organization focused on uplifting and promoting Black Women in the STEAM field. I am also a mental health advocate, with aspirations to open up a sexual and mental health clinic.

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The FAFSA has undergone several changes this year, causing unexpected delays for both students and colleges.

Luckily, there are several ways to pay for college that’ll lighten the financial burden of your studies. Without further ado, let’s review a few ways to pay for college.

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. …

6 Awesome Scholarship Essays That Worked

When it comes to paying for college, scholarships are the best form of financial aid, since they offer students free money that never needs to be repaid. But let’s face it: completing scholarship applications, especially the essays, can feel overwhelming. The scholarship essay is arguably the most important part of the application and should be well-thought-out. In this article, we’ll walk  through five scholarship essay examples and explain why they worked, so that you can write your own winning scholarship essays .

Here are 6 winning scholarship essay examples that worked:

Why this scholarship essay example worked:, how could this essay have been better , want more resources on writing your scholarship essay, get started with your scholarship essay.

The essay is your chance to let your personality and life experiences shine through, giving you the opportunity to stand out from other applicants.

The best way to get an idea of what scholarship committees are looking for is to look over scholarship essay examples from past winners. Take some time to analyze the writing style, think about the strong points, and consider how you can improve. Below, we’ll show you just how you might dissect a scholarship essay.

Searching for scholarship essay examples

1. Going Merry Scholarship Success Story by Gabby DeMott

What’s a winning scholarship essay look like? Check out this Going Merry success story with Gabby DeMott.

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

“There were only a few minutes to go and our eyes were glued to the screen. On the edge of our seats, clutching whoever happened to be next to us, we watched as the referee blew his whistle and the German players took their free kick. The ball was hit with precision and skill; it flew up over the Swedish players, past their goalie, and was caught safely in the back of the opposing team’s net. We all jumped up and screamed, a mixture of German and English, of excitement and relief, of pride and anticipation.

We stood, enraptured, for the last several minutes of the game as Germany kept its 2-1 lead over Sweden. The horde of us, Germans and Americans alike, hugged and cheered and made our way out onto the balcony, where we chanted “Deutschland! Deutschland! Deutschland!” for the whole village, the whole country, the whole world to hear. Never have I felt so accepted while being an outsider, so proud of a country that isn’t even mine, so part of something I didn’t really belong to.

My German friends didn’t care that we were from different countries; they didn’t care that we would only be staying for three weeks. They accepted us into their homes and their daily lives, their traditions and their celebrations. In watching that World Cup game, it didn’t matter that we were from different places; we were all cheering for the same team. The acceptance I felt in Germany extended beyond that living room. I came to the country on a three week exchange with ten other students from my school.

We each stayed with host families and attended the Wildermuth Gymnasium, which was surprisingly accommodating to a gaggle of loud American teenagers. The teachers were friendly and welcoming, the students treated us like ordinary peers, and even the people I interacted with in public were understanding.

Before coming to Germany I feared judgment based on my level of the language (which is nowhere near as good as the German students’ English) and American politics. It was intimidating to be in a country with limited knowledge of the language and the customs, even though everyone was welcoming. People did ask myself and the other students about the US’s political climate, but no one blamed us for it. They recognized that we were outsiders, that the place we came from had flaws, and they accepted us anyway.

Since that trip, I’ve found myself trying to provide that acceptance to people in my own country. For example, I work at a canoe livery and we receive a lot of visitors with limited English. Some of my coworkers will avoid such customers because they don’t want to take the time to explain things, to exercise patience with someone who may not understand them. If people had done this to me in Germany, my time there would have been much less enjoyable; in fact, I would have been offended.

So now when someone walks up to me at the livery and asks a question in English that isn’t perfect, I smile and welcome them. I take my time to make sure they understand, that they can have a good time, and that they feel accepted. It’s a small action, but I know firsthand that it can make a big impact, at my place of work and in the world. “

  • It shares a personal story of realization. Gabby’s essay throws us right in the middle of the action in her story, from her perspective. She paints a clear picture of where she is, how she feels, and what her goals were in that moment. She then goes on to explain the unity of the German and American students to introduce other people in the essay. LESSON TO TAKE : When including additional people in an essay, introduce them early on so you can continue telling your story in an organic way.
  • She reflects on her previous fears and explains how she’s moved past those to grow. In the fifth paragraph, Gabby shares how she feared judgment due to her level of the German language and American politics. As Gabby became more familiar with the host families and her German friends, she realizes they accepted her, and she relaxes. LESSON TO TAKE: Sharing a story in sequential order can help illustrate personal growth and how your character changed for the better.
  • She answers the prompt and demonstrates how she’ll put her newfound knowledge in action. Once Gabby realized her German friends and host family accepted her, regardless of her fears, that sparked a realization for her when she returned home to America. Gabby concludes her essay by explaining how she’s providing that same acceptance she received in another country to acquaintances and people in her country, to be patient, help them enjoy themselves, and to welcome them.  LESSON TO TAKE : Consider concluding your essay with a wrap-up of what you learned, and how you plan to apply that lesson in your life.

2. Who is a “Good” Doctor? by Joseph Lee

Below is a winning essay from Joseph Lee, Rush Medical College for the Giva Scholarship.

ESSAY PROMPT: Who is (or what makes) a good doctor?

“Had you asked me the same question one year ago, my answer would have been vastly different to the one I will give today. In the summer of 2012, with my first year of medical school completed, I embarked upon my last official summer vacation with two things in mind: a basketball tournament in Dallas and one in Atlanta. My closest friends and I had been playing in tournaments for the past 10 summers, and it was a sacred bond forged together in the name of competition. However, two weeks before our first tournament, I became instantly and overwhelmingly short of breath. Having been born to Korean immigrant parents, I was raised to utilize the hospital in emergency cases only, and I knew this was such a case. A few scans later, doctors discovered numerous pulmonary emboli (PE), caused by a subclavian deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and just like that, I was lying in a bed of a major hospital for a life threatening condition.

Fast forward a few months, and I am lying in a similar bed to treat the underlying cause of the subclavian DVT: a first rib removal. There is little that can adequately prepare someone physically, emotionally or spiritually to undergo surgery; and my thoughts continued to race in the days following. In addition to the expected physical pain, isolation, fear and frustration were a few of the emotions I experienced in the four day ordeal. The procedure went according to plan thanks to a skilled surgeon and his team, but the attributes that made the doctor “good” went far beyond his ability to operate.

“Wow. I’m glad you are feeling better” and “I can’t believe you went through that” are common reactions people have when they see the scars on my upper chest. Quite frankly, the past nine months have been difficult, literally full of blood, sweat and tears. But through it all, I have been able to maintain my positivity and gratitude knowing that I have gained the invaluable experience of being a patient and discovering the vulnerability and trust that patients give their doctors. Patients indulge information to doctors that they may have never told anyone in their life and in doing so, place a great deal of trust and responsibility in the hands of a doctor. Many patients will not understand the mechanism of disease behind their condition and anticipate that the doctor will explain to them and their family why it is that they are feeling the way they are and ultimately heal them. And that is precisely what my surgeon understood: the privilege of being able to care for patients and the intimacy of the doctor-patient relationship. And as I awoke to the care of my worried parents, the first thing they wanted to discuss was the details of the procedure that was methodically and patiently explained to them by my “good” doctor.

In study after study, patients have reported dissatisfaction with their medical care, not because of lack of knowledge or health outcome, but because their doctors did not show enough warmth in the encounter or listen to the patient’s questions and concerns. There are few times where a patient and their loved ones are more vulnerable and in need of compassion than when dealing with a hospitalization. And for some doctors, a patient may be another item on a checklist, but that patient is someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, sister or brother. My “good” doctor understood this and would often say “If you were my son…” when discussing treatment options, reflecting on the type of care he would want for his family and treating me similarly. Such ideals are rooted in love and compassion for patients, not as clients in the health care system, but as fellow human beings striving to make something of themselves and the world around them (I).

Unfortunately, the ordeal of living with a chronic illness or undergoing a major operation extends beyond the confines of the hospital. Whether it is creditors harassing patients for medical bills, prescriptions that need to be refilled, or lifestyle modifications that need to be made, the health care experience doesn’t end when a patient walks out of the hospital doors. It often takes merely a minute, as in the case of the “good” doctor who told me that as a student I could apply to get the procedure financially covered by the hospital. Such foresight in anticipating financial concerns and directing me on the next steps to be taken provided relief in the surmounting stress.

Lastly, the “good” doctor understands that as our patients are human, so are we. This means we will make mistakes, some of which can result in life-threatening consequences. With that said, the “good” doctor practices humility and honesty, apologizing and sharing as much information with patients as possible. Although no one strives to make mistakes, they will happen, and how one reacts to them is a distinguishing feature of the “good” doctor (II).

Of all the qualities I tried to explain in what makes a “good” doctor, there was no emphasis on skill and knowledge. And while being able to fulfill the duties of making the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment plans is expected, the intangibles of love, compassion, foresight and honesty is what makes a doctor, “good”. I learned such lessons in the purest manner possible, by being a patient myself, and will use them to guide me in all future patient encounters, as I strive to be a “good” doctor.”

  • It tells a captivating story. This essay immediately pulls the reader in, immersing the audience right in the story. . We want to know how Joseph’s definition of a good doctor changed and why it did so. Hooking your reader from the first sentence of your essay or even the first paragraph is a surefire way to keep your reader engaged in the story you’re telling. The story itself is also told really well, with good pacing and just enough detail to elicit empathy without causing boredom. (He could have easily given too much scientific/medical detail!)  LESSON TO TAKE : When telling an anecdote, consider how much detail is the right amount, to make it engaging.
  • It’s a list, without you realizing it’s a list. After the first 2 paragraphs (which are mostly story-telling), the rest of the essay is effectively a list of ways that doctors are “good”: they recognize the intimacy and trust involved in the doctor-patient relationship (paragraphs 3-4), they anticipate future sources of patient stress (paragraph 5), and they exercise humility (paragraph 6). Joseph could have easily structured the essay simply by saying “There are 3 main things that make a doctor good” and then explaining each idea. However, that would have been much more boring! Instead, he expertly hides the list format, by couching it in an engaging story. LESSON TO TAKE: Not all list-type essays need to feel like lists.
  • It’s personal and believable. Joseph takes a negative personal experience, shows what he learned from it and how it caused him to grow as a person. Sometimes essays about singular, defining moments or experiences can seem blown out of proportion and thus not credible. This one feels right: a big ordeal in his life that has therefore shifted his perspective.  LESSON TO TAKE : Consider which personal stories to tell, and make sure the “size” of the story feels right.

3. Life Happens Scholarship by Emily Trader

Here is an example of a moving scholarship essay on the topic of family loss by Emily Trader for the Life Happens award.

ESSAY PROMPT: How has the death of a parent or guardian impacted your life financially and emotionally? Be sure to describe how the loss of your parent/guardian impacted your college plans, and explain how the lack of adequate (or any) life insurance coverage has impacted your family’s financial situation.

“When I was seventeen years old, my father lost his battle with kidney failure and cardiovascular disease. As long as I shall live, I do not believe that I will ever forget the first moment I saw my father’s once vibrant face in that cold and unforgiving casket. I won’t forget his lifeless and defeated hands, or how his pale lips would never utter another joke or speak to his grandchildren. Even though the day of his funeral was undoubtedly the worst day of my life, I wish I could relive it just to be with him one more time. Since that moment, I have felt as if all of my grief and longing resides underneath my skin with nothing to relieve the pressure. On September 8th, 2016, I lost my voice of reason, my confidant, my cheerleader, and my best friend.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had lost so much more. Upon my father’s passing, he left us with funeral and medical expenses that his insurance would not cover. Because he did not have any form of life insurance, the financial burden of his death was now the responsibility of my mother and me. Even though my mother works night shifts as a neonatal nurse and her commute is nearly two hours, she was forced to pick up extra shifts to support my family. Though I already had a job and I worked about ten hours a week, I now work anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five hours a week, and I am also a full-time high honor student. Even though the death of my father forced me to realize the importance of cherishing time with my family, I do not see them very often because of our busy schedules. I also sacrificed my social life and the joy that every senior in high school should experience. Instead of football games and homecoming, I had to deal with mourning and the possibility that I would not attend college because of my family’s financial troubles.

If my father had a life insurance policy, we would not have to work ourselves to the bone and sacrifice our physical and emotional well-being to keep up with expenses. I would not have to worry so intensely about the future of my education on top of the crippling grief that I have felt over the last five months. If this devastating experience has taught me anything, it is this: financial planning for these situations is absolutely invaluable. I will not soon forget the stress and despair that I have experienced, and I now realize that to have a life insurance policy is to throw your surviving family members a crucial lifeline. Though no one can ever prepare you for the trauma of losing a parent, life insurance allows you to grieve without the constant stress of financial burden, and for that reason, it is an absolutely essential precaution.

I love and miss you so much, Dad. Thank God I will see you again.”

  • She answers the prompt . It would be easy to write an essay that just spoke to her grief, or to what her father was like and how much he meant to her. But the essay prompt asks applicants to reflect on how the loss has affected the student emotionally and financially. Emily does a great job of this, by connecting the financial parts (she and her mother needing to pick up extra hours of work), with the emotional (due to the work schedule, the family not being able to spend as much time together). She also addresses how this might affect her college plans. LESSON TO TAKE : 
  • She provides (beautiful) detail. The first paragraph immediately pulls the reader in because of the detailed description she provides (“ his lifeless and defeated hands”, “pale lips” ). Similarly, the specificity of how her family is shouldering the financial burden (e.g. her working 25-to-35-hour weeks) make it feel more real rather than generic.  LESSON TO TAKE : Use details and descriptions to make something feel more emotional and tangible.
  • She knows her audience . This scholarship is funded by Life Happens, an organization formed by seven leading insurance providers, in order to educate the public about important insurance planning topics. Clearly Emily researched the provider and understood that an essay that spoke to the importance of insurance planning would be well-received by the essay readers. LESSON TO TAKE : Research the scholarship provider and adjust your content to fit the organization’s or company’s mission statement (or business model).

4. Going Merry Scholarship Success Story by Jesus Adrian Arroyo-Ramirez

Jesús Adrian Arroyo-Ramirez wrote a winning scholarship essay (and video!) that he submitted on Going Merry . He earned an outstanding $40,000 through the Golden Door Scholarship.

ESSAY PROMPT: What differentiates you from the hundreds of DACA students who apply to our scholarship? Use one of those opportunities to tell us something else we cannot see just by looking at your grades, test scores, and transcripts.

“I always knew I was different than my friends in some way. Growing up, I struggled to speak English while everyone else had little to no problems. I needed extra help in school while my friends coasted by with ease. My friends would hop on planes and travel all around the world while I had to stay at home. At the age of 13 all of my friends started driving while I still couldn’t.

I built up the courage and asked my mother why I did not have access to the simple liberties everyone else did. My name Is Jesus Adrian Arroyo-Ramirez, and I was illegally brought to this country when I was just six years old. At the time I had no clue that I was breaking any laws, and I did not realize the fact that my life was going to change forever. Growing up with a different citizenship situation than my peers was and still is the biggest challenge I have to face in my life.

Looking back there is not a single thing that I would change. Knowing that I had to work harder than everyone else lead me to be the person that I am today. I took that fire inside of me, pushed myself, graduated first in my class with a cumulative 4.0 GPA, became a Kansas Scholar, and graduated High School with a semester’s worth of college credit. In November of 2016, everything began to look up for me. I received a work permit and a social security card all thanks to the DACA program. I was finally able to get my license, get a job, and most importantly attend college.

I plan to continue my success in the classroom and do everything to the best of my ability as I know that under my current circumstances it can all be ripped away from me at any moment. Growing up with my situation has taught me to not take advantage of a single opportunity. There has been continued support around me past and current and I know there are people out there rooting for my success. I will strive to be the first generation in my family to graduate from an American University and I will set a stepping stone for my future family so they will not have to struggle as I did. My citizenship is not a setback, it is a mere obstacle that I will always learn to work around if it means giving my future children a better life, just like my mother did for me.”

  • He shares how hardships made him who he is today. Right off the bat, Jesus sets the tone for his essay by sharing how he struggled to speak English and that he was not given the same opportunities as his peers. He shares his mother’s explanation on why he lived a different life, along with his honesty in the challenges of growing up with a different citizenship situation than the teens around him. LESSON TO TAKE : Share personal details (as you feel comfortable), and consider including a defining memory or conversation hat contributes to your story. This can help paint a picture of your beginnings or your inspirations.
  • He includes emotional details. Although Jesus grew up with hardships, he persevered and mentions he wouldn’t change anything. It may have taken a little longer than his peers to get his license, but he also excelled in school, pushed himself to graduate first in class, and take college courses on top of all that. LESSON TO TAKE : Tell your story with details, feelings, thoughts and emotions to explain where you came from and where you are now.
  • He plans for the future . Jesus shared his personal story with us, and then explains how he plans to continue his success without letting anything get in the way of his path. He goes on to say his citizenship is not a setback, and that he works to provide a better life for himself and for his future children. LESSON TO TAKE : Include your plan at the end of the essay. Consider how you’ve grown and how you will bring these lessons learned with you to help your future.

5. Why College Is Important to Me by Nicole Kuznetsov

Here’s an example of a simple yet creative and heartfelt essay on the popular prompt, Why is college important to you?

ESSAY PROMPT: Why do you want to go to college? Why is it important to you?

“As a child, my life had structure. Coloring books had lines, letters took on very specific shapes, and a system of rules governed everything from board games to the classroom. I found comfort in the fact that my future had an easy-to-follow template: elementary, middle, and high school, college, job, family retirement, “happily ever after” ending. When I graduated from elementary school I was told I completed 25% of my education. During my middle school graduation, I was told I was halfway there and I know I’ll be told I’m 75% done when I throw my cap in the air this June. College was always factored into the percentage and the overall formula for life. And I never questioned its importance. I always figured it is important because it is necessary.

Going to college makes sense. From helping my parents land stable jobs after coming to America to giving my brother the chance to gain work experience at some of the top financial firms, college educations have shown their worth in my family. Yet I didn’t think about what actually goes on inside the magical universities until I entered high school. Applying to the Academy for Math, Science, and Engineering was the first time I had actively made a decision in my education. With the encouragement of my parents and favorite science teacher who recognized that I would excel in the challenging environment of like-minded students, I applied. Four years later, I can confidently say they were right.

My class of twenty-six has shown me the benefits of a collaborative rather than a competitive environment, especially the impact that camaraderie with my peers has on our collective learning experience. Each student has an inspiring level of passion and motivation that made me excited to learn, work on projects, and participate in discussions both in and out of the classroom. I used my education to gain skills and open doors for myself such as an internship at my local hospital. I gained confidence in my abilities to communicate with individuals from strangers my age to practicing professionals. I was thinking longer and harder than I ever had before to solve individual problems and large-scale challenges. In all honesty, I was having fun.

Looking back on my years at the Academy I realize how big of an impact the school made on how I view education. I wasn’t coming to school to mark another day off my calendar and inch closer to finishing the next 25%. I came to school to learn and question and push myself. Now, as a senior, I’m excited. I’m thankful for the sample that my high school gave me of what learning is supposed to be like and thankful that it left me wanting more. I’m entering college in August with a new understanding of its importance. It is important because it is what I want for my future.”

  • It finds structure through chronology . This essay is basically structured like a chronological timeline: As a child, I believed this. Then I applied to this high school (my first active academic decision). Then the high school changed me. Now I’m a senior and I believe this. Not all stories are best told in time order, but the simplest stories often are. And simple stories provide structure, which scholarship committees love. LESSON TO TAKE: Consider structuring your essay like a timeline, emphasizing the milestones along the way that have led you to where you are today. 
  • It is simply told . While the essay is descriptive, it doesn’t try to get fancy with overly flowery language or unnecessarily long SAT words. And that’s the strength of it. For instance, this passage [“ College was always factored into the percentage and the overall formula for life. And I never questioned its importance. I always figured it is important because it is necessary” ] explains her child’s logic in a really clear and well-written way. 
  • It’s got (mostly) great topic sentences . We here at Going Merry love a good topic sentence– that is, a sentence at the beginning (or end) of a paragraph that summarizes the rest of the paragraph. It helps “signpost” the most important parts of your essay. Here, three of the four paragraphs (1, 2, and 4) have strong and concise topic sentences. “As a child, my life had structure” sets up the rest of the paragraph to explain what these structures and unquestioned rules were. “Going to college makes sense” sets up why college made sense to her parents. 

6. Financial Literacy for Hispanic Women by Rosaisha Ozoria

The inaugural Founder’s Scholarship supported by the New York Women’s Bond Club in honor of Michaela Walsh goes to two New York City public high school students who won an essay competition writing about their hopes for the future of women and girls worldwide . Winners of this scholarship won a trip to accompany Women’s World Banking to Amman, Jordan for their biennial gathering of WWB network members.

PROMPT: Write about your hopes for the future of women and girls worldwide.


“Twice a week I head down to volunteer at the Los Sures Social Services office, situated next to the local senior citizen home, to help at the food pantry. We distribute food to people in my neighborhood. Many are familiar faces. Many are middle-aged Hispanic women with children dangling from their hips like grass skirts. These women are there as a result of their culture and lack of financial knowledge. In our Spanish culture, patriarchy prevents women from preparing for themselves as much as they should. This leads to Hispanic women having little or no money management skills. Financial illiteracy is a major issue in my neighborhood, and that is why I hope to give Hispanic women a chance for a better future through financial education.

While I was volunteering I met a woman who happened to live in the same building as my aunt. Unemployed with two young children, and a husband earning minimum wage at a fast food restaurant, she struggled to get by every day. I thought to myself – many in my community are just like her. Then I realized I could do something to help. How? I can start a financial literacy program, which teaches Hispanic women to earn and manage money. Once a woman becomes financially literate, she is capable of making good personal and professional decisions, empowering her to improve her family’s financial well-being. Moreover, such a program will help Hispanic women become competitive employees, even in a slow recovering economy such as the one we are experiencing now.

Participating in the 2013 Women’s World Banking Global Meeting in Amman, Jordan gives me access to invaluable resources that will help me achieve this goal. I hope to find mentors from a roomful of inspiring, experienced leaders who will offer me their guidance. Also, meeting accomplished women from other countries means access to new ideas and unique perspectives. And if I am lucky, I may even come across individuals who can provide financial support to jumpstart my financial literacy program for Hispanic women. Lastly, I will tell my idea to everyone I meet in Jordan, a baby step to help Hispanic women rise from poverty.

The world continues to change rapidly, especially with globalization. It is about time that Hispanic women strive for gender equality. Thus, it is essential that Hispanic women increase their roles and knowledge in finance. The women in my neighborhood shall no longer be left out. I will task myself to help these women become better, stronger and most importantly, take control of their lives. I want to be involved so that they can save themselves from any unforeseen financial crisis. This is a tremendous goal, but for me, it is an opportunity to make a difference – in my neighborhood and for my Spanish community.”

  • There is clear structure . Right off the bat, the introduction summarizes what the reader can expect to find in the body of the essay. In particular, the closing line of the first paragraph (“ Financial illiteracy is a major issue in my neighborhood, and that is why I hope to give Hispanic women a chance for a better future through financial education”) works as an effective topic sentence, tying together the anecdote and the reason she’s interested in networking with the scholarship provider, Women’s World Banking. The last 2 paragraphs also serve clear, independent purposes: the penultimate one establishes what she would do with the scholarship (the trip to Amman), and the final paragraph explains why her particular interest is important for the larger Hispanic community. LESSON TO TAKE: Clear structure helps the reader follow your point better (especially if they’re skimming, which scholarship essay readers almost definitely are!) So include a summarizing topic sentence at the beginning or end of your first paragraph, and make sure each subsequent paragraph serves a purpose that moves forward your argument or story. 
  • The author’s passion shines. Rosaisha, the scholarship winner, is clearly passionate about serving her Hispanic community of women.  And rather than simply saying that, she shows us how she cares by using personal examples from her volunteer work. LESSON TO TAKE : Show, don’t tell. Use specific personal examples, and don’t be afraid to show your emotions.
  • She stays positive.   Even though Rosaisha discusses what might be considered a  difficult and personal topic, she keeps the tone light and inspirational. She expresses hope and her desire to make a change in the world, answering the essay in a positive tone.  It’s important to make sure your essay is not too depressing to read. (Essays about personal trauma are a bad idea.) This is a scholarship provider, not a therapist! 

While this was a winning essay, we note that it did have two points of weakness: 

  • The second paragraph lacks a bit of structure. Her point ends up feeling a bit generic, and it’s unclear what she is thinking versus planning or actually doing . For instance, she realized she could start a financial literacy program. Did she then do so? It’s unclear. 
  • The last paragraph is again a bit general. Often scholarship committees want to see what concrete steps will be taken, using the scholarship award. Here she speaks in lofty terms about what goals she hopes to accomplish, without explaining ways she might accomplish this goal. 

For more information on writing a killer scholarship essay, check out our list of helpful tips .

Also check out these related blog posts: 

  • 6 tips for writing scholarship essays about academic goals
  • How to write the best personal statement, with examples
  • How to write an awesome essay about your career goals

Scholarship essay examples that worked

You can start writing your winning scholarship essay today and submit it to thousands of scholarship applications, all in one place. Sign up for Going Merry today to put your pro scholarship essay writing skills to practice. Going Merry is your one-stop scholarship shop to search and apply for scholarships to get you on the right foot for funding your future.

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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.

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Personal Statement for Scholarship: A Short Guide for Students

EssayEdge > Blog > Personal Statement for Scholarship: A Short Guide for Students

Entering the university of your dream is an event that can change your whole life, but sometimes it appears to be an unaffordable thing; however, more possible it becomes with a personal statement for scholarship . If you are wondering how a piece of writing can help you change your life, this article is to explain the importance of this essay. 

Table of Contents:

Scholarship personal statement: what is the importance of this essay? 

Many people are struggling with university admission for many reasons. Someone doesn’t have enough time or willingness, or someone, vice versa, has time, knowledge, and desire but doesn’t have enough money to pay for the whole educational process. Even if money isn’t the critical trouble, getting the scholarship may be an excellent point in your future CV as it will prove that you have enough motivation and skills to receive a scholarship. 

One of the requirements is to submit your scholarship application with the scholarship personal statement. It is a crucial essay as, through the words, you can have a kind of face-to-face conversation with the scholarship committee. A well-written essay can rapidly increase your chances of getting the allowance. Therefore, you must take it seriously and allocate some time for covering all essential topics and, finally, for writing. 

Many students find it challenging to make up their thoughts and write scholarship essays worth even reading. Here is your chance to prove yourself and demonstrate that you are the one who is worth getting the scholarship. 

How to write a personal statement for scholarship?

A well-written essay can change a lot, mostly when we talk about scholarships personal statement . To illustrate your desire and ability to study in particular universities, you have to insert as much crucial information as possible into your essay. The thing is that the scholarship committee will undoubtedly take into consideration a well-written essay. Therefore, what do you need for it? 

Kiran S.

Your essay must contain three paragraphs: 

  • Introduction Here you must begin your story with a gripping fact. Tell about something that impressed you and changed your mind, something that determined your decision about the future specialization. It may be a story from childhood, a piece of the conversation, a film that had impressed you, and you decided to do particular things in the future. 
  • Main body paragraph It is a paragraph where you have to narrate both your educational and personal background. You must provide as much information as possible to cover all aspects of your life that are somehow related to your specialization choice. Don’t neglect to include all essential information in this paragraph: your skills, abilities, places where you worked and what you learned from that experience, courses that somehow changed your mind, and, finally, connect that all with the story of your life. 
  • Conclusion The last paragraph of your scholarship statement should tell the reader about your future intentions and perspectives. Explain how the scholarship may help you implicate your purposes in your life and how it will help you and the people around you. Try not to provide abstract and uncertain information here. Speak your mind and keep it real. 

Having this content in your paragraphs may increase your chances of receiving the scholarship approval as a well-written personal statement scholarships committee will admit as one that is worth attention. 

Scholarship personal statements tips 

If you are struggling with how to write a personal statement for scholarship, these tips are to help you cope with this challenging task. 

  • Write sincerely Yes, it is the main rule of every essay. You have to be honest and write only the facts and data related to your experience and background. Even if you use some samples , don’t write about something that you can’t prove. 
  • Stick to the requirements One of the steps to success is to keep your essay at the right length. As a rule, the perfect word limit is 500-700 words; try to stick to it and not write a lot. Don’t forget to double-space the essay and use a readable font. It is a part of the visual impression of your writing. 
  • Find your inspiration The writing process may seem exhausting and tedious, especially if you are not such a fan of writing. Read some articles about scholarship personal statements writing and take to your mind some crucial tips and tricks. Moreover, you can refer to the scholarship personal statement sample and find something similar to your story. Reading such examples can make a writing pattern in your mind, and it may be easier for you to write your essay. 

Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:

  • Peruse and check it In case you have the essay in front of your eyes, peruse it as many times as even possible. While reading it, again and again, you can find some mistakes or understand that some data is not necessary or, on the contrary, something is missing. If you feel that you are stuck and have doubts about anything, you can refer to a college editing service . Professional editors can point on the things that must be improved and help you deal with any arising issues. 
  • Ask for peer feedback And again, if you are not sure about something, ask your friends, colleagues, or relatives to read your essay from the perspective of the person who doesn’t know you. Their feedback may bring up some ideas for developing your essay into a better one. 
  • Provide particular examples Your aim is not to describe but to prove. If you are writing about a skill you have, don’t forget to strengthen it with a case you had. For instance, if you write that you have good leadership and team-work skills, you have to reinforce that with a particular situation or story when you had to prove yourself. 

Scholarships personal statement content that makes the essay unforgettable 

First of all, your essay must be engaging and gripping. Think closely about each word you write, the appropriateness of lexis you use. Pretend to be a storyteller. Your essay should be smooth and understandable. 

Tell the most impressive facts about your life, don’t mention anything only to fill the word-limit gap. It is better not to write anything rather than write something vapid. You have to keep in mind that each sentence must bring new information or reinforce the facts you have already told. 

One more important thing is that the story you begin in the first paragraph must be like a red thread till the conclusion. Don’t devote each paragraph to a new story. Concentrate on the beginning and keep writing with the thought of it. 

Try not to transform your essay into a mess. The content must be structured and linked. The scholarship committee reads a ton of papers day by day; therefore, they have an eye on the writing. The reader can easily define what person you are just having a look at your essay. 

Your essay aims to leave the reader with the feeling of completeness to give an impression of you as a person they know well. Therefore, include all your best sides. Provide information about the activities you have taken and the achievements you have made.  Elaborate on everything that is essential. Don’t neglect to include the facts that can somehow impress or give additional data on why you are the perfect candidate to receive the scholarship allowance. 

Writing an essay for the scholarship may be hard and exhausting, but receiving the scholarship approval may be the most intriguing and important step of your life. Therefore, you have to make up your thoughts and be ready to allocate some time for the writing process. 

For more information, you can refer to EssayEdge blog. Our professionals undoubtedly know how to make your personal statement for scholarship a prominent one. 

Successful enrollment in a prestigious school and scholarship are two key goals of many applicants. The quality of education in top schools is high, as well as the tuition fees. We post this information to make you think you deserve it. Don’t deny yourself your dreams: the right mindset and dedication will help you craft an outstanding scholarship essay. Trust your paper to a supplemental essay proofreading service : you’ll know your weaknesses and correct them quickly.

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The Marshall Scholarship


The Marshall Scholarship is awarded for two years of study in any discipline, usually at the graduate level, and is tenable at any British university. Only the best students who apply make it beyond a school’s internal selection committee to the regional review panel interviews, where about 130 students are interviewed out of 800 applicants, for about 40 awarded scholarships. Of these applicants, more than half typically have a perfect GPA. Marshall Scholars receive payment of tuition and travel as well as a personal allowance to cover living expenses.

The Marshall Scholarship Selection Criteria

Criteria used by Marshall selectors in awarding scholarships include:

  • evidenced distinction of intellect and character;
  • strong motivation and seriousness of purpose, as represented by the proposal of a specific, rigorous academic program.

Selectors also appreciate evidence that Marshall Scholars will view themselves as US cultural ambassadors to the United Kingdom and understand the United Kingdon's role on the world stage. Specifically, Marshall selectors have noted their disappointment in past applicants who seemed unaware that Great Britain is no longer an Empire and did not seem to acknowledge that it is a modern multicultural society. Therefore, applicants should be cautious about how they characterize modern Britain and avoid historical stereotypes.

The Marshall Scholarship Application Essays

The most significant writings in the Marshall application are a personal statement of up to 1000 words and a one-page summary of the proposed academic programme. The personal statement typically discusses personal motivations, experience in research or teaching, academic activities, and career goals. Most writers keep this essay focused on motivations and ambitions, while some focus more on academic examples such as senior thesis work or research, and some writers introduce their target program in the final paragraph. In their personal statements, former applicants have expanded on such details as their parents’ professions, an influential teacher or course they took, important texts they have read, theories and positions they uphold, future applications of their research, and conference presentations and publications. Stressing academic achievements here is of little to no value, in that academic excellence in Marshall candidates is a given.

In the one-page proposed academic programme essay, tie your experience directly to the target school(s) and provide a clear study plan. Although students list two preferred universities elsewhere in their application, most use the one-page summary to discuss their first choice only. Clearly, the best writers evidence their suitability for the program while showcasing details to prove that they understand the program’s offerings, especially if they have chosen specific individuals at the target program with whom they would like to study.

Evaluation of Two Sets of Sample Marshall Scholarship Application Essays

The first set of Marshall essays in the pdf below takes an interestingly creative approach, with the writer describing himself as a “biological anthropologist by day” and a “philosopher by night” in the personal statement. These two unlikely partnerships, wedded in one person, are exemplified by a paper the student wrote about a “consilience between Nietzsche and the theoretical work of Amotz Zahavi.” We also find affecting narrative in the personal statement, with the writer depicting himself standing waist-deep in a Costa Rican swamp and working with human cadavers in a gross anatomy course. The accompanying academic programme essay is dominated by connections between the writer’s background and his target program, the University of Leeds.

The second set of Marshall essays is generally more formal and research-based, but ultimately equally personal, with detail including the writer growing up as the son of two Presbyterian ministers and extensive descriptions about his physical activities, which he ties directly to the personal attribute of energy. As this student clarifies, his research concern is with fundamental principles of light and the philosophy of measurement, which he intends to study with a particular professor at Cambridge. Most importantly, the writer also notes in his academic programme essay that he aims to complete a third year of undergraduate studies followed by a one-year MPhil research program at the graduate level.

The Marshall Scholarship process begins online, where you can set up an account for your application as well as read about profiles of past Marshall winners.

Visit the Marshall Scholarship website.

If I Wanted a Top LSAT Score in 2024, This is What I’d Do [FULL BLUEPRINT‪]‬ Law School Admissions Unplugged Podcast: Personal Statements, Application Essays, Scholarships, LSAT Prep, and More…

If I Wanted a Top LSAT Score in 2024, This is What I’d Do [FULL BLUEPRINT] Free Easy LSAT Cheat Sheet: https://bit.ly/easylsat Book A Call: https://form.typeform.com/to/Et1l5Dg6 LSAT Unplugged Courses: http://www.lsatunplugged.com Unlimited Application Essay Editing: https://www.lsatunplugged.com/law-school-admissions Unplugged Prep: http://www.unpluggedprep.com/ Get my book for only $4.99: https://www.lsatmasterybook.com LSAT Unplugged Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lsat-unplugged/id1450308309?mt=2 LSAT Unplugged Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lsatunplugged/ LSAT Unplugged TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@lsatunplugged LSAT Coaching YouTube Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgOHAiSs08EbD-kfDFqIEoMC_hzQrH-J5 Law School Admissions Coaching YouTube Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgOHAiSs08EbsqveKs_RZEy2sqqbz3HUL Subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/user/LSATBlog/?sub_confirmation=1 ***

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Heritage University

Master of Social Work

  • Master of Social Work Home

Program Curriculum

  • Student Handbook
  • Practicum Manual

Applications accepted through March 1, 2024.

Fall 2024 admissions is open for students who qualify for Advanced Standing only.  Admissions for traditional two-year students and the second cohort of Advanced Standing students will open in November 2024 for Fall 2025 Admissions.

Admission Requirements

The application requires the submission of transcripts, a personal statement, an essay response to a social issue prompt, and two recommendations. Required criteria include:

  • An earned a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting association.
  • A preferred minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale over the last 60 semester credits (90 quarter credits) of the undergraduate degree. Applicants have an opportunity to provide a description of any extenuating circumstances in their academic history that may be taken into consideration by the Admissions Committee.

Advanced Standing

  • Students who have earned a baccalaureate social work degree within the last 10 years may apply for Advanced Standing. Advanced standing is awarded to students who have earned a baccalaureate social work (BSW) degree and who meet additional criteria for eligibility.
  • To be eligible for Advanced Standing students must have graduated from a U.S. baccalaureate program in social work or social welfare accredited by the CSWE or a Canadian bachelor’s level social work program accredited by CASSW (CASWE). No exceptions can be made.  Professional experience or related degrees do not qualify. Students who have a baccalaureate degree from a social work program outside of the U.S. may have their degree evaluated by the International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service through CSWE and may apply for Advanced Standing if the degree is determined to be consistent with CSWE requirements.
  • Advanced Standing applicants will have earned preferred minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale overall in undergraduate BSW courses. Applicants can provide a description of any extenuating circumstances in their academic history that may be taken into consideration by the Admissions Committee if their GPA falls below this level.
  • A supplemental essay is required for Advanced Standing applicants to demonstrate achievement of CSWE social work competencies.
  • Advanced Standing applicants who graduated more than 10 years before applying can appeal for an extension if they demonstrate continued professional growth through social work experience, professional training, leadership, and advancement in the social work field.

Admissions Essays

The purpose of the comprehensive essay questions is to assess applicants’ academic experience, personal experiences, and personal and professional goals. These questions aim to provide insightful and reflective responses, allowing the admissions committee to gain a deeper understanding of each candidate’s unique qualities, motivations, and overall fit with the Master of Social Work program at Heritage University.

Personal Statement: (500-750 words)

How has your personal background shaped your perspective and prepared you to become a master’s level social worker?

Please include:

  • How your professional aspirations align with the MSW Program Mission.
  • The skills, professional work, and/or lived experiences that will contribute to the field of social work.
  • The values or characteristics you hold that will enhance your ability to practice social work.

Commitment to School-Based Practicum: (Yes/No)

Will you commit to a school-based practicum placement at least two days per week for the duration of the MSW program?

(This question assesses the applicant’s fit for one of the seats allocated to achieve goals for the Department of Education grant.)

Advanced Standing Applicants Only: (500-750 words)

Please describe a specific social work challenge or social issue that you encounter in your professional experience. Next, explain how you utilize the social work competencies to address the challenge or issue.

CSWE Competencies can be found in the Council on Social Work Education 2022 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards.

Students in the traditional MSW Program complete two years of coursework (both blue and yellow).  Students with Advanced Standing begin in Semester 3 and take only the final three semesters (yellow only).

The MSW Program at Heritage University is designed to fit into a busy professional schedule.  Classes will be held in a hybrid format with online work as well as in-person classes on the Toppenish campus held on seven (7) Saturdays from 8am-5:00pm each semester. Class sizes range from 12 to 25 students with personalized attention and support.  This format allows students to experience the best features of in-person learning with the added flexibility of hybrid learning.

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Is the program online?

While the Council on Social Work Education considers the MSW Program at Heritage University to be an online program because more than 50% of the content is delivered online, it is more accurately described as a hybrid program.  Online content and coursework will be required each week, and classes will meet seven Saturdays a semester on the Toppenish campus for in-person learning.  Saturday sessions are required.

What does a typical Saturday session look like?

You will have three classes and a practicum seminar meeting each of the seven Saturdays. Classes will usually begin at 8:30am and last for 90 minutes each.  A lunch break will be provided that can be used for study time, group project work, individual advising, or traveling to Toppenish or Wapato for lunch.  We aim to finish classes by 4:30pm on each of the Saturdays we meet in person.

What are the practicum requirements?

Students in the traditional two-year program complete 900 hours of practicum over four semesters.  Students with Advanced Standing complete 500 hours over two semesters.  Students should plan to complete two days per week in their practicum placements.  Work-based practicum is possible if it meets the criteria described in the Practicum Manual.  The Practicum Director ensures that student learning goals are considered when placements are made.  

Do I qualify for Advanced Standing?

Advanced Standing applications are open to candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program within the last 10 years and complete the supplemental essay to demonstrate sufficiency in the social work competencies. Due to accreditation requirements, no other degree or work experience can substitute for a bachelor’s degree in social work.

How will the grant for Mental Health Services in the Schools from the Department of Education impact me?

Educational Service District 105 (ESD 105) and Heritage University have a grant-funded partnership to implement the Yakima Grow Your Own Consortium to offer a Master in Social Work program focused on school-based social work and mental health. School districts partnering with ESD 105 to host internships include Union Gap, Wapato, Toppenish, Mt. Adams, Granger, Yakama Nation Tribal School, Mabton, Grandview, Royal and Wahluke. Students who commit to a practicum placement in these districts will be prioritized for admissions and will be eligible for partial scholarship funding.

When does the program begin?

Our first cohort, an Advanced Standing only group, will begin in August 2024.  There will be a week-long orientation process to refresh students on the social work competencies, prepare for practicum placements, and learn about the program structure and expectations.  Classes will begin on August 19 th , with first Saturday class held on August 24 th .

MSW Program [email protected]

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Your gift makes a difference and transforms the lives of our students, their families and our communities. Questions? Please contact us at [email protected] or (509) 865-8587.

When I was a student, school choice benefited me and it will help Tennessee children too

Education freedom scholarships, with their decentralized approach, promotes a more nimble and responsive educational system than traditional public schools..

  • Walter Blanks Jr. is a spokesperson for American Federation for Children and is a member of the Beacon Center of Tennessee Impact Board.

Gov. Bill Lee's bold proposal for  Education Freedom Scholarships  in Tennessee is a beacon of hope for parents, families, and education reformers, ushering in what would be the next evolution in the state's approach to learning and educational attainment.

The scholarships offer a groundbreaking alternative, empowering parents with the ability to tailor their children's education, while demonstrating a level of accountability that outshines traditional public schools.

During the governor’s State of the State,  Lee doubled down on his plan  to give parents and students the opportunity and access to choose the best school that works for their own personal needs.

Lee stated, “The premise behind education freedom, and the one thing that most all of us agree upon, is that parents know what’s best for their child’s education.”

Lee then went on to say, “There are thousands of parents in the state who know their student would thrive in a different setting, but the financial barrier is simply too high. It’s time that we change that. It’s time that parents get to decide — and not the government — where their child goes to school and what they learn.”  

While the battle for school choice rages on, it’s extremely important not to forget the students who would actually benefit from such a program.

School choice benefited me and my family

Growing up in Ohio,  school choice became my lifeline , rescuing me from the clutches of a failing educational system.

The traditional public school I attended was struggling to provide quality education, leaving me disheartened and uninspired. The principal of the school told my mother, “If you give us five years, we will have the middle school and the high school turned around.”

My mother responded with, “In five years, Walter will either be in jail or in a body bag.” When my family discovered the school choice program, it opened a world of possibilities. School choice was more than an alternative; it was a catalyst for change, sparking a transformative journey that continues to shape my life positively.

Since moving to Tennessee, I have quickly realized  the education outcomes  in the state are not where they should be, and many families could benefit from similar programs that are being passed across the country.

Existing education choice programs across the nation have demonstrated impressive accountability mechanisms. By allowing parents to use allocated funds for various educational expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring, or educational materials, choice programs like Education Freedom Scholarships promote a dynamic and tailored approach to learning. 

More: Gov. Bill Lee delivers State of the State to Tennessee General Assembly

Public schools, while essential, often face bureaucratic challenges that can hinder adaptability and responsiveness.

In 2023, the state of Tennessee spent roughly $10 billion dollars on public schools with very little (if any) accountability to parents and students. In Nashville,  roughly 30%  of third grade students are proficient (or considered “on track”). Within the public school system, families without the resources to change schools are left with empty promises, little improvements, and ultimately, no other option.

Education Freedom Scholarships, with their decentralized approach, promotes a more nimble and responsive educational system. This agility allows for quicker adjustments to address the evolving needs of students, ultimately better preparing the next generation for the challenges it will face.

Gov. Bill Lee's Education Freedom Scholarship proposal offers hope for Tennessee's education system, fostering innovation and unlocking its full potential. By prioritizing students' interests, the state can deliver quality education, ensuring a brighter future and a more adaptable model. It's time for Tennessee to embrace this opportunity, ushering in an era of empowerment and accountability in education.

Walter Blanks Jr. is a spokesperson for American Federation for Children and a beneficiary of a private school choice program, driven by a lifelong commitment to improving educational access. Blanks is a member of the Beacon Center of Tennessee Impact Board.


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    The scholarships offer a groundbreaking alternative, empowering parents with the ability to tailor their children's education, while demonstrating a level of accountability that outshines ...