Below are some common scholarship essay questions. You can use these as a great starting point for a pesonal statement. Some of these essay questions are used in the Maricopa Scholarship Database.
- What life experiences have shaped who you are today and what challenges have you overcome in achieving your education (i.e. financial, personal, medical, etc.)?
- Explain why you need financial assistance.
- Describe your academic and career goals and your plans to achieve them and discuss any of your extracurricular/volunteer activities (both on and off campus) that you may perform.
- Describe an event in which you took a leadership role and what you learned about yourself.
This is a sample essay to help guide you when you are writing essays for scholarships. Keep in mind that all scholarship applications are different, so you may have to design your essay to meet those specific requirements.
(State an overview of what you are going to talk about in the essay. If the essay is about you, give a brief description of your experiences, goals, aspirations, family background, etc. Touch on why you want the scholarship.)
For as long as I could remember, I have wanted to be a veterinarian. I have been responsible for the care and feeding of pets ever since I was in the second grade. In high school, I participated in the 4-H club as well as the Junior Humane society. To reach my goals, I realize that I must pursue an eight year college education which will begin with the Fall 2010 semester. I am very excited about my future and feel that with the opportunity your scholarship will provide, I can help many animals.
Paragraph II & III
(Go into more detail on one of the topics listed in paragraph I. For example, elaborate on your previous experiences, family and financial situation, volunteer work, employment, academic career, future goals, college plans, etc.)
My love for animals has been encouraged by my family and friends. I have had the opportunity to volunteer with the local animal shelter and provide basic care to the stray animals. With the help of my biology teacher, I was able to start a 4-H club on campus. Many of the other students on campus developed an interest in the animals and now our club has 100 members. My family also has many animals for which I provide care, including basic needs as well as first aid. I find that I enjoy that aspect of pet ownership best. Unfortunately, my family cannot afford to pay for my entire education, so I hope to use my skills and love of animals to help me pay for college.
(Conclude your essay with a wrap-up of why you should be considered for the scholarship; how do your goals match those of the organization, etc.)
Your organization stands for what I believe in. Like your organization, I hope to help animals for the rest of my life. To reach my goals, I need as much help as possible. I already have the moral support of my family and friends, but that is not quite enough to make my dream come true. I hope that your organization can help me reach this dream by awarding me your scholarship.
I’ll be honest: I hate writing scholarship essays.
I hated it back in high school, senior year, writing handfuls of essays for countless different organizations, only to lose out on most of them in the end. There were only two scholarships that I received my first semester of college: one from my high school student council for serving as treasury secretary for two years, and one for the children of employees from the company where my father works.
From personal experience, I can give you two pieces of advice:
Firstly, check to see if school organizations that you’re actively involved in have scholarship funds. You’re much more likely to receive money from an organization that knows you rather than an organization whose scholarship you technically qualify for because you went to two meetings that December of your sophomore year. That’s how I got the one from the student council.
On the other hand, I played softball for one season back when I was around twelve years old—needless to say, the girls’ softball league did not give me their award even though I wrote a darn good essay about that one time I got hit in the face and had to sit out our game with a bloody nose (it was character-building!).
Secondly, there are scholarship funds that give away money to every person who submits an essay (this was the way that the scholarship at my dad’s company worked). Now, there’s not a ton of funds that work this way, but they do exist, and you may have to do some digging to find them. If you do, just don’t be too lazy to write that essay.
Scholarships are like the lottery: you can’t win if you don’t play, as cliché as it sounds. But how do you “play” if, like me, you hate the idea of writing dozens of essays on different variations of the same prompt: “What are your education goals, and how will this money assist you in achieving them?”
You can recycle essays. What this means is that you can use the same essay that you submitted for one scholarship fund and submitted it to another (or three). If the prompts are similar enough, all you have to do is change up a few words to make sure it’s tailored to the proper audience. Tweak essays, mash up essays, and apply to scholarships you don’t even think you’ll get—what’s the worst that can happen?
Or you can find scholarship funds whose prompts don’t resemble typical scholarships at all. They don’t even have to be “scholarships,” per se. For example, last summer I submitted a 500-word short story to a contest offering $2,000, $1,000, and $500 as its top prizes. I didn’t win, but at least I threw my hat in the ring. If you’re having fun, or if you’re writing about topics you’re interested in, then the process won’t even seem like a quote-unquote “scholarship essay.”
Of course, there are even scholarships funds that don’t require an essay to win (I’m constantly getting emails about those no-essay scholarships from Fastweb!). Apply for these too.
Earning good grades at the college level can also earn you scholarships from your school. For example, I ended up overpaying my tuition bill this semester because they applied a scholarship to my account that I wasn’t even aware of—now I’m entitled to a refund. Scholarships like these are ones that you don’t even have to apply or appeal for (and appealing, or asking your school for more money, is another ballgame entirely).
As a college student, I have even less time now than I did in high school to be writing dozens of scholarship essays. That’s why I encourage you to find to a variety of different types of funds—which require different application formats and varying time commitments—and submit, submit, submit. Good luck!
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