How to start an essay for a scholarship about yourself

How to start an essay for a scholarship about yourself

About Yourself Scholarship Essay Examples

By Staff Author · Published May 24, 2018 · Updated May 24, 2018

A popular scholarship essay prompt is “Tell us about yourself.” This question is relatively open-ended, which may make it difficult to answer at first glance. What should I tell them about myself? My struggles, my goals, my passions…? These may all be fitting topics, depending on the scholarship. We’ll show you some scholarship essay examples about yourself, along with writing tips to guide you along the way.

What They Want to Know about You

As you prepare to write, think of the topics the scholarship committee would be interested in. These may include:

  • Your current degree, as it applies to your overall career goals. You can explain why you chose your current educational path and what you want to do with that.
  • Your short-term and long-term professional goals. Frame your answer as if to say “Where will you be in 5 years? Where will you be in 10 years?” Scholarship committees like to reward people with defined aspirations.
  • Past experiences that sparked your passions. You could talk about an influential person in your life, but make sure most of the essay focuses on you. After all, you are talking about yourself.
  • Something about you that relates to their organization. With any scholarship essay, you should try to connect yourself with the organization providing the funding. Don’t force a connection. Find one that naturally fits. Mention hobbies, experiences and goals that match what the review committee is looking for.
  • Something unique that sets you apart from other applicants. This may be volunteer experience, career specialties, situational differences (growing up in an area that didn’t encourage education), etc.

Note that you do not have to throw all this information into one essay. Choose the elements that best fit the scholarship. If you were on the review board, what would you want to learn about each applicant? What would make you choose one applicant over another? Keep this in mind as you develop your thoughts.

What They Don’t Want to Know about You

There is plenty of information you could include in an about yourself scholarship essay. There is just as much information to avoid though. Some topics to keep out of your essay include:

  • False information. Do not make up stories or fabricate goals to fit the prompt. The scholarship committee can instantly tell when someone is lying, and they will disqualify you immediately.
  • Past struggles that do not pertain to the essay topic. You can briefly mention struggles from your past, as long as you mention how you’ve learned from them. Do not make your essay a long story about the hard life you’ve led. Focus on your triumphs, not your obstacles.
  • Vague goals and aspirations. Scholarships are usually given to students who have a plan. If you say, “I’m not sure what I’m doing yet,” the committee will select a more motivated candidate. If you have a plan and a backup plan, that’s fine. Just make sure you mention both options and show which one you favor.
  • Cliché stories that most people tell. There is something that makes you stand out as a person. Use that to your advantage. Don’t rely on generic information they’ll find with other applicants.
  • Unrelated elements of your personal life. In most cases, you should not mention your significant other in the essay. You might mention a spouse if you need to reference your children or a turning point in your life, but these personal details do not fit most essays. Any information that seems frivolous or ill-placed should be removed from the essay.

Read through your essay carefully. If you stop at one point to say, “Why did I mention that?” get rid of the corresponding information. Showcase the best elements about yourself in a fluid and cohesive manner.

Short Scholarship Essay Example: Tell Us about Yourself (100 Words)

With 100 words, you can only focus on one or two elements of your life. Think about your biggest selling points – the things that show you are the ideal candidate. Start by introducing yourself and your educational status. Then jump into the main topic of the essay. You may not have room to mention how the scholarship will help your education. Instead, mention how your education can help your career. The other information will be implied.

My name is Christian Wood. I am a high school senior who will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall. I am getting a degree in journalism so I can become an online journalist. My goal is to work for the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, or another news outlet that has a strong online presence. The internet is already where most people get their news, and the industry will be even bigger by the time I graduate. Getting a degree in journalism with a focus on digital media will set me up for a fulfilling, fast-paced career fit for the future.

Medium Scholarship Essay Example: Tell Us about Yourself (250 Words)

With a mid-length scholarship essay, you have more space to explain how your past has influenced your present and future goals. You should have rom for an intro paragraph, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion (maybe incorporated into the last body paragraph). Think of a few main points you want to touch on, and write those down first. If you still have room, you can add more details about yourself.

My name is Sarah, and I spent the better part of my childhood on the wrong medication. I am a survivor of a common problem in clinical psychology – misdiagnosis. From antiquated testing methods to limited education, there are many reasons why professionals provide inaccurate diagnoses. I want to help change that. Therefore, I am pursuing a Ph. D. in Clinical Neuropsychology so I can open my own psychological testing facility.

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child because I had trouble focusing in school. My doctor prescribed medication to improve my symptoms, but all it did was make me numb to the world around me. I couldn’t think or process emotions, and most of the time, I had no emotions at all. I went through this for several years until my parents finally decided to get a second opinion.

They took me to someone who specialized in psychological testing for children. Her evaluation showed that I didn’t have ADHD at all, just a combination of dyslexia and dysgraphia (difficulties with reading and writing). She put us in touch with a therapist who helped me learn how to work around my conditions, and my life improved tremendously. I went from being a lifeless student with barely passing grades to an honor roll student full of joy and excitement.

Unfortunately, my story is not one of a kind. There are countless children in America who are put on mind-altering medications that do not adequately address their needs. I cannot help all of those children, but I can provide a better alternative for the ones in my area. Through proper education, funded by financial aid, I can learn about psychological evaluations and provide the most accurate diagnoses possible.

Long Scholarship Essay Example: Tell Us about Yourself (500 Words)

Scholarship essays that are 500 words or longer let you tell the whole story. You can discuss your past, present and future in a comprehensive manner. Avoid rambling and make sure each topic contributes to the overall essay. If one piece feels out of place, remove it and elaborate more on the existing elements. By the end of the essay, the reader should have a full understanding of who you are and what you want to accomplish.

My name is Sierra Breault, and I am a junior at Murray State University. I am double-majoring in Criminal Justice and Forensics Science, and I will graduate in 2020 with two bachelor’s degrees. My career goal is in criminal justice so I can put an end to widespread criminal activities. I want to contribute to investigations that take down gang leaders, prevent illegal gun trade, and stop the distribution of illegal drugs.

I come from a small town where drugs, gang violence, and crime are on every corner. My family lived in a tiny two-bedroom house right next to the town meth lab. We never reported the activities from next door because, quite frankly, we were scared to. Then one day, there was an accident in the garage that caught the house on fire. It was early in the morning, and the only people to help were the volunteer firefighters nearby. They couldn’t control the flames in time, and our house was burned as well.

This experience was not the only reason I wanted to study criminal justice, but it did play a big part. I started exploring the career more when I decided that a desk job just wasn’t for me. Throughout high school I struggled because of the routine nature of it all. I saw the same people and attended the same classes every single day. I knew I didn’t want a job that would be that stagnant. That’s when I got the idea to work in law enforcement, because there would always be a new challenge for me to tackle. After researching the field even more, I set my sights on crime scene investigation.

I have done much better academically in college than I ever did in high school. That’s because there is no routine to the experience. Every week, I have new projects to complete, tests to study for, and activities to try. I have been involved with the campus Crime Stoppers organization all three years of college, and I was elected president for the upcoming term. This lets me work closely with law enforcement to supplement my college education and further my career.

After graduating, I will apply for work as a dispatcher in a state organization, such as the Office of Drug Control Policy or the Department of Criminal Investigation. While my ultimate goal is to work as a forensic analyst or crime scene investigator, those positions usually only go to people within the organization. Dispatch is the most direct option for career entry, giving me the best chance to pursue my dream career.

I am applying for this scholarship to help me finish the last two years of my degrees. As a college junior and soon-to-be senior, my scholarship opportunities are limited. Most awards are reserved for freshmen. I took advantage of those early on, and I have one recurring scholarship that cover half of my tuition. However, I need additional financial aid to cover the remainder of my academic costs. I appreciate your consideration, and I hope that you can help me pursue a profession in criminal justice. This is my passion, and I have a clear plan to turn that passion into a lifelong career.

How to Start a Scholarship Essay

The lights dimmed. Darkness. The room settled. Silence. Then, the distant whirring of. something. What was it? Suddenly, brightness and sound and images launched me into a magical world. At age 6, my first movie experience made an indelible impression. Now, twelve years later, I embrace the formal steps toward becoming a unique storyteller. A visual artist. A filmmaker.

And that’s just one example of.

How to Start a Scholarship Essay

So, look: who doesn’t want free money? Scholarships are abundant; so are applicants. Your essay’s first few sentences need to distinguish you. They must grab the attention—or imagination—to make your reader want to continue. There isn’t one sure-fire way to write an essay, but here are some universal tips to help elevate each of your submissions.

Before Your Write
Get a pen and paper—not your computer, not yet—and brainstorm. Think about the question or topic you’ll be addressing and write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how random or unrelated your thoughts may seem. Try to fill a page. Once you have that, sift through them. Rearrange the most relevant ideas into your outline.

As You Write
Make your intro short and sweet. Don’t simply restate the question or say how you’ll be answering it. Get right into it. Whatever the overall tone of your writing—whether scholarly or casual—you can engage the reader with either a pertinent story or a personal anecdote. As humans, we’re more likely to identify with and remember a story, as opposed to just facts and figures.

Is there a quotation that might work as a lead for your essay? Almost certainly, but use caution here: many other essay writers will have the same idea, and they’ll likely mine the same books and websites as you to find that quote. Other people’s quotes don’t reveal anything about you, which is really what the reader wants to know. Who you are should imbue your prose.

Another opening option: you could kick off with a question, just not the one you’re trying to answer. If you’re responding to «Why Does Recycling Matter?» then you could start with something like:

When was the last time you had to wade through three feet of garbage to cross the street? For me it was when I visited New York City one summer during a trash strike. The smell and filth were overwhelming. Today, though, citizens of Gotham are less likely to encounter that for one reason: recycling.

Be clear in your language: word selection matters. Use a thesaurus sparingly. Better to stick with the words you know—it keeps your writing more natural, more you.

Finally, keep in mind the school or organization sponsoring the scholarship. Let their values guide what you write. This doesn’t mean that you should merely say what they want to hear; stick to your ideas, but express them in a way that your reader will appreciate. An essay for an athletic scholarship should read differently than one for a faith-based scholarship. Each of your application essays should be unique. One size will not fit all.

After You Write
These tips may seem obvious Because they are . And that’s usually where scholarship applicants trip up. So, take heed!

  • Rewrite . First drafts are just that, and they don’t win anything. Good writing requires review and revision.
  • Use spellcheck but don’t rely on it solely. Read your writing thoroughly and eliminate silly mistakes such as confusing Our with Are , or Their with There . Same rule for an automated grammarcheck—let it be your starting point.
  • Proofread multiple times. Does your writing flow? Is your premise supported by subsequent paragraphs? Have you addressed the topic thoroughly? Is your copy lean and mean? Are you observing the correct style for the application?
  • Get a second opinion . Ask someone you trust for an honest appraisal of your essay Before you submit it. If any feedback rings true, rewrite as needed.
  • Follow instructions regarding word count, format, or other formal guidelines. You don’t want your essay rejected on technicalities.


Nitro and Other Options
We’re more than just your source of the knowledge to pay for college. Our quarterly Nitro College Scholarship will award someone $5,000. All you need to do is provide brief answers to just three questions. (While you’re at it, tell your friends. If someone you refer wins, we’ll give you $1,000!)

There are four factors we consider in assessing each submission: quality, completeness, creativity of ideas, and creativity of the social media element. So tell us about yourself. It only takes a few moments and who knows? You might just be starting the next semester with a nice Nitro check in hand.

If you’re essayed-out or just not that into writing, you can still have a shot at some free dough. Check out these no-essay scholarships.

How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay

Hayley Capp, winner of the 2013 QS Leadership Scholarship, shares her top tips on How to write a winning scholarship application essay.

There is no one way to write a winning scholarship application. If you gathered together all the scholarship entries that have ever won a prize, you would find it difficult to identify what made them the same. Each would offer a distinctive style employed by the author; a unique insight into his or her past, present and future aspirations.

This uniqueness is the key, and the first point to remember when you pick up your pen to write. Make your scholarship application essay exclusive to you, personalize it, delve deep into your passion and drive to study your subject, and create a response that could only ever relate to you. It is this individuality that stands out, and that’s exactly what catches a judge’s eye and defines a winner.

I won the 2013 QS Leadership Scholarship, so will base my guidance on my own thought process when shaping my application essay. However, the basic principles that I highlight with this example can be extracted and applied to other scholarship essay writing processes.

1. Read and re-read the essay statement you are being asked to respond to, and identify the key themes.

From my own example, the essay statement was: ‘Where I have demonstrated responsible leadership, or innovation, and how it made a difference either in my community or in my work’. I identified the key themes as ‘leadership’ and ‘community impact’.

2. Understand the meaning of the key themes.

After identifying the key themes, it is important to understand what each of these ideas really means, beyond the initial level. For instance, I acknowledged that the meaning of ‘leadership’ involved identifying the effects my leadership had – the actions taken and results achieved under my leadership – and not simply describing the position I held and my responsibilities. The more depth you bring to your understanding of the meaning of each theme, the more examples you will be able to identify to demonstrate your abilities.

3. Fill your scholarship essay with keywords/synonyms of keywords used in the scholarship statement.

Using the keywords from the Scholarship statement throughout your essay will demonstrate your commitment to addressing the question being asked. For instance, I made a special effort to ensure references to ‘leadership’; ‘innovation’ and ‘impacting communities’ ran throughout my essay.

4. Make an engaging start to your essay.

If you are struggling to start your scholarship application essay, why not include a quote or statement that relates to your intended course, and which you can later link to the main body of your text. Showing wider knowledge and aptitude for your subject will help convince the judges that it is a worthwhile investment to support you in your chosen course.

5. Understand the criteria used by the scholarship committee to evaluate application essays.

Based on my own experience, I have outlined what I believe to be the key criteria used by Scholarship committee judges for evaluating scholarship application essays on the themes of leadership and community impact. My advice would be to address all of these areas in your essay, whether the question explicitly asks for it or not.

What to include in scholarship essays about leadership:

  • The extent of the leadership experience and degree of accomplishment. What were the results? Did you manage to grow a society from 10 to 100 members through your tenure?
  • Why you got involved in the leadership experience. What was your initial inspiration and how did the experience make you feel? This is a very important aspect as it allows you to show your sincerity and demonstrates your passion.
  • What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them? Inspirational stories of perseverance despite adversity make readers (especially judges) want to help you succeed. It also shows that you have great leadership qualities: the ability to adapt to new situations and the determination to not give up.
  • What did you learn?How did these lessons shape you as a leader? Every experience brings new lessons and personal growth opportunities and the best leaders are humble and realize this. Speaking about these lessons indicates that you have truly reflected on your experiences and that you understand what leadership is. (In other words, you know that leadership isn’t just about getting a title like “President” or “Executive Director”.)
  • What does this mean for the future? A scholarship isn’t just an award; it’s an investment in your future. So if you plan to continue being involved in your particular leadership activity in the future, tell the judges.

What to include in scholarship essays about community impact:

  • How much time did you dedicate to the activity? The scholarship committee is likely to be looking for applicants who made a fairly long commitment to a community activity.
  • Why was it important to you? Joy from helping others? Excitement of trying something new? Opportunity to form relationships with others? Having a genuine reason helps build a convincing essay.
  • Why was it important to the community? Ask the question: What would be different for your community if you didn’t do what you do? It is most important to show that you recognize the real needs in your communities, and act to address these.
  • What did you gain yourself through giving to the community? It is important to show that you understand how through giving, you end up receiving more in the end. Sharing what community service has taught you and how it helped you develop demonstrates that you have truly gained from your participation and suggests you will continue doing so in the future.

My final point of advice when writing your scholarship application essay or cover letter is to really show that you know who you are. What are the relevant past and present experiences that demonstrate your abilities and where are you headed? Use carefully selected language to emphasize your passion, ambition and enthusiasm and remember to adopt a positive mindset, in which you believe in all the great things you have done and plan to continue achieving in the future. If you don’t believe in yourself, why would the judges?

You can browse our various scholarship listings here, and QS also offers its own scholarships. Also, you can download our free guide for more advice on how to find scholarships to study abroad.

Hayley Capp is the winner of the 2013 QS Leadership Scholarship. Covering up to US$10,000 of course fees for a graduate program, the scholarship is awarded to the applicant best able to demonstrate his/her ability to use entrepreneurial and leadership skills to make a positive impact on a community.

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