Personal Statement for Scholarship 250 Words Sample
Please provide a personal statement regarding how your academic achievements, personal interests, and life experiences have helped prepare you to succeed academically and to be an active member of the __ community.
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
As a member of my generation, it is my responsibility to become active in changing the world for the better. Enrolling, and excelling, in many extra-curricular programs has enhanced my ability to engage in an active role in improving the school as well as the community. Becoming active in reaching out and providing aid for those who seek it has reinforced my inspiration to take time out of my life to benefit others. Selecting advanced subjects has successfully challenged my work-ethic and time management skills.
Academics are my highest priority, but I maintain a well-balanced lifestyle by pursuing the pleasures in life: spending time with friends and family, working hard at my job and gaining a dependable income, and exercising by playing in a recreational basketball league.
I am so grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me, and I do not regret the choices I have made in my life through those opportunities. I have lived a very unique and special life, learning a vast number of lessons along the way. In my life, I have travelled abroad, exposing me to new cultures and have adapted in a way that was accepted by those cultures. I have traveled to a different state with my father to attend a program that taught me the importance of enthusiasm and positive reinforcement. Due to the opportunities given to me, and the lessons I have learned throughout my life, I am confident in saying that I am well-adapted and prepared to succeed and achieve at the University of ____________.
Original Source: College Confidential
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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)
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.
- Guide to Writing a Winning Personal Statement for University
- Personal Statement versus Statement of Purpose
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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:
- 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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Leadership Personal Statement Example
by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad
In personal statement prompts.
Graduate schools, especially Business schools, require prospective applicants to write an essay exhibiting their leadership capabilities. The leadership personal statement aims to know about the candidate’s ability to lead and manage others.
While writing this essay, you must provide a real example where you demonstrated leadership and, as a result, made an impact and created value. A good leadership personal statement should also discuss any challenges you faced as a leader and what you learned from that experience. This essay helps admissions committees see whether you align with the graduate school’s core values and principles.
Here is an example of a leadership personal statement that helped the applicant get into top business schools in the US.
Sample Leadership Personal Statement for Graduate School
I initiated a project named ‘Lightening up the Lives’ to provide cheap power for households of the country’s biggest slum – the Nagasi colony, having 20,000+ minorities living without electricity. The low-income level of the colony dwellers left them without access to government-supplied electrical connections, which had high installation costs and tariffs. Additionally, the residents could not borrow from conventional banks without any collateral. Living in the heart of the country, the irony of their helplessness triggered the desire in me to create meaningful change in their lives.
I realized that solar energy could solve these people’s problems, given ample sunlight availability and lower installation costs. So I approached First Electric (Pvt) Ltd, the largest solar panel supplier in the world, for support on a pilot project. But the management’s risk averseness due to no collateral on offer became a stumbling block.
I proposed a customized microfinance strategy that made First Electric’s management more confident. First, I proposed leveraging community trust and referrals. Once people offered to finance started paying, new people were provided the funding that directly correlated with the number of new invitations. This way, the financed people had pressure from the colony to pay on time to avail of new financing.
I soon realized the limitation of this strategy as it would take years to lighten up the whole slum. I then approached different NGOs and other possible financing channels to fast-track the process. Despite being given cold shoulders by more than 20 such organizations, I found a ray of hope with USAID. USAID was initially unwilling to participate in the project due to politico-legal reasons. However, after multiple meetings with the management, I convinced them to do a pilot project. I connected USAID to First Electric, negotiated discounted offers for the panels, and with the initial USAID grant, I was able to provide solar panels to 250+ families within six months.
It was a challenging time that tested my patience and resolve. However, I learned creative problem-solving with my never-say-die attitude, which helped me face rejection. I also learned the power of effective communication and how teamwork can achieve higher goals.
The happiness I created in the lives of people who had given up hope of having electricity in their homes is a proud achievement. However, the recognition I received from State Minority Minister was truly humbling as he said: “You are a perfect example of courage, innovation, and determination. I do not doubt if God gives you more strength, you can change the fate of many.”
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How to Write a Killer Scholarship Personal Statement: Definitive Guide With Examples
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
- 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.
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