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.
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.