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.
Writing a good college essay is perhaps one of the most essential skills you should gain when applying for college. When you submit an application, you’re basically trying to convince a complete stranger that you have what it takes to go to their school.
Yet what do you give them? A few years’ worth of grades, test scores, and a $50 application fee. That’s what makes the college essay so important.
These allow you to show admission counselors the side of you that isn’t visible from your transcript or ACT score report. In fact, they may even be able to tell more about who you are.
Here are a few tips that should help you create an outstanding essay.
1. Be original.
Colleges want to know about you. Therefore, their essay topics will most likely ask you something about yourself. The key to writing a good essay is to understand that these admission counselors aren’t looking for just a unique or interesting response – they’re looking for something original.
For example, if an essay prompt asks you to write about something you did over the summer, you could write about that pretty cool trip you and your family took to Disneyland.
However, if you really want to wow your essay reader, you could write about something you did that wasn’t as “fun” but still had an impact on you. Instead of writing about roller coasters and getting sunburned, you could write about how volunteering at the animal shelter gave you a brand new perspective on life and ignited a passion for animal rights within you.
An original topic may not be the most exciting, but as long as you write about how it affected you personally, this will make your essay stand out among the rest. .
2. Write about you.
Growing up, we’ve been taught that essays are supposed to be formal and that they should hardly ever be written in the first person. College essays are not like that. College essays are about you and you only. That’s why you can include as much first person narrative as you want, as long as you’re getting your point across.
What makes a college essay impactful is one that is personal to the person who wrote it. While it may seem a bit weird to write about yourself when you’re so used to just writing about facts, remember that your essay reader wants to know about you.
If an essay prompt asks you what you like to do about your free time, don’t write that you like to swim because it’s a great form of aerobic exercise. Write that you like to swim because you can recall your happiest memories when you were in the pool, swimming with your friends.
A big factor colleges consider is who you are as a person, and essays are the primary place you can demonstrate that.
3. Enlist the help of others.
As it should be with any essay, have others proofread yours. Not only will they point out grammatical errors (or awe in your brilliance), they’ll bring a new perspective to the table.
A friend of mine recently asked me to go over her supplements she was sending off to an Ivy League school. One of her essays was a response to a prompt in which she had to write a letter to a future roommate. It was a brilliant essay – it was funny and showcased her interests…yet something about it was missing. After discussing it, we both realized what it was missing – and that was the conclusion, the tying up all the loose ends. My friend finally concluded the essay by discussing how she believed creating meaningful relationships was what she was most looking forward to in college, and that she was very excited to meet her new roommate. The essay was now complete.
By having others look at your essays, they’ll bring new ideas that you may not have considered. These fresh insights will not only make your essays stronger and more impactful, but they’ll showcase who you are a little bit better. Chances are, whoever you have read your essay will know a little about you themselves – and this could make your essay a bit more unique and original.
4. Follow the guidelines!
Most, if not all, essay prompts come with some sort of guideline. It could either be a word count or the prompt itself. Don’t get too caught up in the excitement of writing a killer essay and forget to read these requirements. They’re just as important as the actual essay!
You wouldn’t want to write a beautiful essay that’s fifty words over the word count and jeopardize your admission would you? Pay close attention to the requirements and what the essay is asking for. Your essay will be all the better.
Overall, your essay should reflect your best answer to the prompt – with your own unique twist, that shows off how awesome you are. When colleges create their essay prompts, they have an idea of what kind of responses they should be getting. By answering something that they may not have imagined, this will make your essay stand out from the rest.
Remember to be original, write about you, enlist the help of others and follow the guidelines, you’ll be writing amazing essays in no time!
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