Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to write your personal statement. It may be your best chance for making the case of why you should qualify for aid or a scholarship. It is an important document that sets you apart from other applicants. Devote enough time to making it accurately reflect who you are, demonstrate your writing ability and provide evidence of your achievements.
Get organized. Develop a logical structure for your statement. Write an outline that organizes your ideas and categories. Get input from others about what to include. Ask teachers, parents and others whom you trust for feedback. Include enough details to be thoughtful and complete, but avoid being long-winded.
Be personal and reflective. Share information about who you are. Tell the readers what you want them to understand about you. Give them information about your family and past experiences and how they have motivated you to pursue your studies. Explain how your work and academic experiences have given you knowledge about your field. Describe personal experiences that have helped you hone in on your goals.
Be authentic. Write about who you really are and what you really care about. Do not try to write what you think the readers want to hear. The application committee will know right away if you are not being honest. They read so many essays that they can distinguish the difference between genuineness and insincerity. Showcase your true desires, accomplishments and strengths.
Avoid humor and clichés. Remember that those reading the essay do not know you. They may not understand your sense of humor, so it’s best not to use it in this essay. Avoid using clichés in order to make your application essay more specific and persuasive. Instead of saying that you’re a “people person” or a “Jack of all trades,” provide specific details about yourself and your experience.
Use specific examples. Reinforce general claims about yourself with specific details. For example, if you state that you feel comfortable with people of different backgrounds, give details that explain why. Perhaps you have been an ESL tutor, or you grew up in a military family and traveled around quite a bit. Provide concrete examples of your motivation and leadership. Explain how you are going to use your education to accomplish your goals.
Give yourself time for revisions. Prepare to write several drafts of your personal statement. Get feedback from others. For example, show it to people on campus such as professors, advisors, classmates and teaching assistants. Revise it for clarity and content. Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
If you're planning to apply for a college scholarship, you will probably need to submit an essay along with a resume, transcript and other background information. Looking at a few sample essays before you start writing can help you get inspired to craft a winning essay of your own.
Two Original Essays to Review
There are many different types of scholarship programs, each with its own criteria. Two of the most common types are academic scholarships and professional association scholarships.
Academic Need-Based Scholarship
Colleges and other types of organizations often award scholarships to students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and also have financial need. Letters written for this type of program should emphasize outstanding academic accomplishment in terms of grades and financial need, as well as extracurricular activities and community involvement.
The value of education is something that I have understood since a very young age. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to attend college, and faced many struggles in their personal and professional lives because of this. They made a commitment early in my life to do everything within their power to instill in me a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work and dedication.
Professional Association Scholarship
Professional associations frequently set up scholarship funds to provide educational expense assistance to people preparing for careers in the field they represent. Letters written for this type of program should emphasize a commitment to success in the profession with examples to illustrate, as well as information on how the funds will benefit the applicant.
As a sophomore at XYZ University, I am honored to have an opportunity to apply for the Society for Professional Widget Makers Scholarship program. I am committed to pursuing a career as a professional widget maker and, as you can see from my transcript, am making progress toward earning a degree in this field with an excellent grade point average.
In addition to focusing on my studies full-time, I am also involved in a number of campus and community activities. I am involved in the ______________ and ______________ organizations at my school, and have also volunteered with ________________ during school breaks. I also hold down a part-time job as a ________________, where I have an opportunity to learn valuable skills that will help me in my Widget Making career while earning money to fund my education.
As you know, a college education is quite expensive, but it is an investment that is certainly worthwhile. I received a partial scholarship from XYZ University as an incoming freshman, and am paying for the rest of my educational expenses with student loans and the money that I earn from my job. Receiving this scholarship will enable me to continue to make progress toward my degree in preparation for a career as a widget maker.
I greatly appreciate your consideration. Please know that this scholarship will make a significant positive impact on my ability to continue in school and will be greatly appreciated. I look forward to becoming an active member of the Society for Professional Widget Makers once I graduate from college and begin working in the field. I can assure you that I will be a dedicated professional that you will be proud to count among your ranks.
Four More Resources for Sample Essays
The above documents are simply two examples of letters that may be appropriate for scholarship programs. There are many other ways to approach writing these types of documents. If you'd lie to review additional samples, see:
- San Diego State University lists the full text of several winning application essays based on different situations ranging from samples for incoming freshmen through a graduate students.
- University of Michigan - Flint offers an example essay written from the perspective of a nursing student seeking funds to continue her studies.
- CollegeScholarships.com offers a selection of topic-based essays, including documents focused on describing obstacles the applicant has overcome as well as people who have been major life influences and more
Considerations for Using Sample Essays
One of the most important things to remember when reading through a sample essay is that it's meant to be a guide and an example only. You should never plagiarize sample essays, no matter where you found them, and you should never copy specific details from these samples or attempt to imitate their styles.
Showcase Your Personality
A significant strength of your scholarship application is the fact that it comes from you. Your individuality and personality will help you write the best essay you can, and it's an asset to draw upon your past experiences and unique thought processes when you prepare your work.
Use Your Voice
Rather than trying to use a preset style or tone in your work, give your writing a genuine voice that is professional yet compelling. Many winning essays reflect this combination of characteristics, but you shouldn't force your essay to sound a certain way or write it to cater to a specific type of reader.
Use Sample Essays
Use available sample essays as you brainstorm topics and ideas for your own work. Try to think of a list of concepts to fit the scholarship theme, and write those concepts down. If you get stuck or you need something to stimulate your thought process,try using persuasive writing prompts to generate a new set of ideas.
Still Thinking You Need Another Sample?
If you have no idea where to start when trying to win a scholarship, you may feel reassured after looking at a few sample essays. They can spur good ideas that might help you outline your work, choose which of your topics is most fitting, and find a writing style that makes you feel comfortable. No matter what approach you take, get at least one other person you trust to review your essay before sending it in. Make revisions as needed and proofread carefully before submitting your scholarship application packet.