Scholarship committees ask for letters of recommendation so they can learn about you through someone else's eyes. However, in order to learn about you from your perspective, they will usually ask you to answer one or more essay questions or write a letter of intent.
Essays are an excellent opportunity to present yourself in a professional manner and to emphasize your accomplishments. It is up to you to tell the reviewers what they need to know and to convince them that you are deserving of their award.
Always have someone proofread your essay or personal statement. Spellcheck doesn’t catch everything. It’s good to have a 2nd pair of eyes look over your writing for errors, suggestions and any inconsistencies.
Starting an essay is often the hardest part of the process, so you might find it easier to start in the middle. Write the meat of your essay first and then the rest will follow. Your conclusion will flow from the main points of your essay, and then you will be able to go back and write your introduction, now that you know exactly what you are introducing.
The committee will want to know more about you than just your scholastic statistics. While that information is an important part of who you are, it is not the entire package. This is the time to define yourself not only in terms of academics, but also your talents, experiences and pursuits. Write about things you are passionate about and what you have learned or achieved. Include events that have encouraged positive growth in your character or major obstacles that you had to overcome in order to continue moving ahead in life.
Include specific and clear descriptions of your educational and career goals so that the scholarship reviewers understand what you want to accomplish. You should also include in your essay why you need (not want) the scholarship in order to realize those goals. Evaluators want the money to go where it will do the most good, so explain exactly what it is that you will be able to achieve if you receive the scholarship.
When deciding which events to include in your essay, you should choose things that are not reflected in other portions of your application. When writing your essay, think about how and why you reached your goals rather than just listing your accomplishments. You want to engage the reader and make him/her understand who you are and how you got to where you are today.
Remember to include only relevant information and to keep your answers concise. Never exceed an essay's specified word count. Scholarship reviewers have numerous applications to read and may not even finish yours if it is too lengthy. Read over the application and follow the guidelines carefully.
If you are having problems getting your thoughts in order or just need some help polishing up your essay, the Page One Writing Center, part of The Student Learning Center, on the first floor of the Health Sciences and Student Resources Building (HSSR) accessed through The Grove, has free resources and tutors to help you. Take advantage of their “Writing Your Personal Statement” workshops!