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Writing A Scholarship Essay Accomplishments

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. 

Paragraph I
(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.

Paragraph IV
(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.

Having been blessed with scholarships that paid for about one third of my college education, I'll share a tip that helped me write strong essays: State accomplishments, not adjectives. In other words, this tip applies the classic writing advice, "Show, don't tell."

Accomplishments are clearer than adjectives are. See, anyone can write, "I'm very hardworking, dedicated, and responsible." Not everyone can write, "I have a 3.9 GPA, volunteer for six hours a week at my church, and am treasurer of the student council." Stating accomplishments shows how you're unique and possibly even how you're better than the other applicants. Adjectives give vague ideas of your abilities. Accomplishments clarify what you've done and what you can do in the future.

Detailing two or three accomplishments rather than stating four or five adjectives can also help readers get to know you better. Why is that beneficial? The more readers feel that they know you, the more memorable you'll be when it's time to select the winning essays.

Why do I advise detailing just two or three accomplishments? First, this will keep the essay focused, which also makes you a more memorable applicant. People probably won't remember essays that read like autobiographies. They're more likely to remember the essay about "the girl who survived cancer who now aspires to be an oncologist." Accomplishments are usually more interesting to read than adjectives. Capturing and maintaining readers' interest in your writing is vital.

Second, sticking to two or three accomplishments will keep the essay concise, which is important if there's a length limit. Even if there isn't a length limit, remember that scholarship providers are busy people. An essay that conveys its message in two pages will probably work better than an essay that needs three pages to do so.

Third, if you dislike writing transitions between points (which I did when I wrote my essays), including only two or three detailed points will lower the number of transitions necessary.

Try replacing adjectives with concrete accomplishments, and you could win the next scholarship you apply for!


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