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Scholarship Essay

Personal Statement for Scholarship Application

The personal statement is your opportunity to speak to the scholarship judges in your own voice about who you are, why you study [your degree or academic pursuits], or what you want to do with your life. You might explain how different aspects of your life—academics, work, activities, hobbies, study abroad, family—come together to inform your choices.

  • Take the same care writing your personal statement that you would with a course paper. Pay particular attention to the instructions for each scholarship. Depending on the application, your personal statement may be a single essay or a series of short paragraphs.

  • Address each topic requested and conform to the specified format and length limit. You may be asked to write a personal statement describing your academic interests, life goals, extracurricular or leadership experiences, or what the scholarship would enable you to do.

  • Expect to write more than one draft. Ask for feedback from a faculty advisor or look for guidelines.

  • Write in a clear, straightforward style. Have confidence that you are an interesting person with some great ideas, unique experiences, and worthy dreams. You don't need to decorate your essay with ornate or emotion-laden language or quotations from famous people, to make it interesting.

  • Show—don't tell—what a great candidate you are by the way you write and the things you write about. Leave it to your recommenders to praise your gifts as a writer, your dedication to community service, or your passion for research. Your job is to show these things implicitly.

  • Define any specialized terms so that selection judges outside of your major field will know what you're talking about.

  • Proofread your essay and use the spell-check tool. Have someone read your essay or personal statement for clarity and style.

While challenging to write, the personal statement is an extremely useful learning experience. Whether you win the scholarship or not, your time is well spent. Once you have written a personal statement for one scholarship, you may be able to adapt it for others.

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