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How to Write a Personal Statement for Scholarships

Bold.org Editorial Team

Top experts in a variety of areas

The most common requirement across all scholarship application processes is undeniably the scholarship essay, a subsection of which is the scholarship personal statement. Although it may seem daunting for the fate of your scholarship to rest on a single essay, you can think of the personal statement as an opportunity. A personal statement for scholarship applications is your chance to show the scholarship committee why you deserve this scholarship and why you are indubitably the best candidate they have so that they can make an informed decision about who will receive the award.

If you want more general tips on writing a scholarship essay, check out this guide on how to write a scholarship essay, but if you want help with writing personal statements specifically, read on to learn more.

The distinction between a scholarship personal statement and an essay is not always an obvious one. There is often a lot of intersection, and a scholarship may even ask you to write an essay when it's really a personal statement.

In general, scholarships will almost always give essay prompts to applicants, and these can vary greatly. For instance, a community service scholarship may ask you to write about how you plan to use your educational background to better your community in the future while an engineering scholarship may ask you why engineering poses an intellectual challenge to you.

By contrast, a personal statement is oftentimes more open-ended. It's a piece of writing that introduces you as a candidate and says something about who you are. It may be anecdotal or it may be biographical; this will depend on you. The statement is a place to share your relevant personal qualities and personal growth to illustrate why you are the right candidate. You can include things like your family background, test scores, other prestigious scholarships you have received, and really anything that you think bay be relevant. As you read on to learn more about writing a killer personal statement, check out the table of contents below to see what exactly this guide will contain.

Writing a scholarship personal statement

  1. Beginning early
  2. Carefully read the prompt
  3. Brainstorm
  4. Outline
  5. Writing
  6. Editing

Beginning early

When completing a personal statement for scholarship applications, it is always best to start writing as early as possible. Not only will doing so help you remain organized and cognizant of deadlines, but it will give you more time to think, write, edit, and even gain valuable insight into what it is that you are trying to express.

Additionally, writing your personal statement early on can give you more time to address any potential obstacles or issues that may get in your way. Beginning early may feel tedious, but it is undeniably the first step to writing the best personal statement possible. Be sure not to

Carefully read the prompt

This step may seem obvious, but that's only because it is incredibly important. Writing a successful personal statement for scholarship reviewers to consider is heavily dependent on a thorough understanding of the prompt.

The prompt may be as wide as "write a personal statement," or it may be more specific, asking applicants to relate their personal statement to a specific topic or idea. An effective personal statement addresses all parts of the given prompt and demonstrates an understanding of what is being asked. Finding sample personal statements online is a great way to see how successful scholarship applicants have connected their personal importance to the prompt in order to successfully write a personal statement.

Brainstorm

The great thing about personal statements is that the name alone already gives you some direction: personal. Personal statements should be about you and your experiences, so when you brainstorm, keep things personal. Consider things like your notable personality traits, skills, accomplishments, passions, difficulties in life, goals, extracurricular activities, etc., and see how these may relate to the scholarship you are applying for. Additionally, you can think about the world around you, like how certain family members have been role models to you, or how an ethical dilemma helped you realize something important.

Whatever the case, just make sure that every personal statement for scholarship applications is authentic. Don't attempt to write what you think the reader wants. Instead, you should do your best to write honestly and truthfully. Authenticity is something that strong personal statements have in common, so when brainstorming yours, be sure to be honest.

Outline

In terms of actually writing your scholarship personal statement, a logical structure is integral to an effective and well-thought-out statement. The typical parts of a scholarship personal statement are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

Everyone writes outlines differently, but now that you've brainstormed your ideas, organize them into these three parts and consider the most effective way to convey your message. Consider searching online for personal statement examples to get a better handle on what the structure of your personal statement should look like.

Writing

Your writing should be authentic, structured, and grammatically correct in order to be successful. Do not offer any drawn-out essay responses, and keep your work concise. Scholarship committees may read hundreds of personal statements, so you want your work to stand out without being too long and/or tedious. A short personal statement that conveys your authenticity is a great way to impress committees; show them you can do more with less.

In terms of writing, excellent grammar and language skills will really set you apart. Make sure you have varied sentence structure to maintain the flow of your writing, and maintain a logical movement from point to point. If this is something you struggle with, see if you can talk to teachers, counselors, or other campus resources to see if you can get help with writing your personal statement.

Finally, stay away from clichés like "from a young age" or inspirational quotes; you don't want to reiterate things that others have already written. You want your personal statement to be as honest about your experiences as possible without seeming trite or forced. Fortunately, after successfully brainstorming and outlining your personal statement, writing shouldn't seem too difficult.

Introduction

The introduction should grab the reader's attention so that from the start, they're invested in your personal statement. For scholarship application reviewers who read tons of personal statements, something unique and attention-grabbing can be a welcome break from less interesting writing.

This does not mean that you should attempt to be humorous or even raunchy. Although humor has its place in formal writing, it is important to remember that you are still writing a personal statement for scholarship applications, which is both personal and professional.

Find a unique way to introduce yourself and begin to describe who you are. This could range from your sexual or gender identity to your educational background--whatever you feel is a strong indication of who you are and how you are the best applicant for this scholarship. As your introduction comes to an end, lead into the main part of your personal statement. For scholarship application readers, the introduction is the first writing they will see from you, so be sure to start of strong and organized.

Body

The main two points you want to cover in your body paragraph are a) why you are currently the best candidate for the scholarship and b) how this scholarship connects to your future goals and plans. Scholarship readers want to know why you deserve a scholarship, so covering these two topics is imperative to a successful personal statement.

However, since almost everyone will be writing on these same topics, you should still try and make your essay stand out. A great way to do so is to include a relevant anecdote in your personal statement. Whether you're discussing a research query or a family member, the best personal statement examples use anecdotes to show/prove who the writer really is and why they deserve a scholarship, as opposed to merely stating it.

For instance, instead of stating that you care about your community, consider sharing a specific examples to illustrate that you care about your community. Scholarship application committees really want to know who their candidates are, and sharing a story that illustrates your character is an excellent way to convey this to them.

Conclusion

Finally, begin the conclusion of your personal statement with a brief summary of why you are the best candidate, and then conclude with how this scholarship will fund your graduate or bachelor's degree and thus your future. Illustrate why your future goals make you the best applicant, and really impress the readers.

Editing

Editing is the final step of the process. When writing a personal statement for scholarship applications, and also when writing college essays, having grammar mistakes is a huge red flag. Not only can errors prevent readers from having a clear sense of what you want to say, but they are also just sloppy, so be sure to edit your work thoroughly. Then, after editing your personal statement yourself, which includes both proofreading and improving your writing, don't be afraid to share your writing with someone else.

Even if you don't have access to a prestigious scholarship advisor, having a friend, parent, teacher, or counselor read your work can give you some insight that you may not otherwise have. Getting multiple points of view on your writing can help you develop a truly strong personal statement.

When you are finally done writing your personal statement or any other scholarship essays, submit your application before the deadline and breathe easy knowing you put your best foot forward.

Frequently asked questions about scholarship personal statements

What should you include in a personal statement for a scholarship?

At the bare minimum, a personal statement for a scholarship should include why you are the best candidate for the scholarship and how the scholarship will impact your future plans and goals. Your writing should be authentic and honest, and you should try to really convey why you are the ideal candidate for the scholarship. Additionally, although you should keep your writing concise, employing a relevant anecdote to help you illustrate why you are the ideal candidate can be a great way to set yourself apart.

How do I make my scholarship application stand out?

There are several ways to make your scholarship application, and your personal statement, stand out. First and foremost, you should be sure to remain organized and gather all of your necessary materials correctly. This means using correct grammar, writing professionally, and getting other necessary documents like letters of recommendation and transcripts in time.

Once you have met these conditions, you will be a viable candidate. However, in order to really stand out the two most important things are authenticity and sincerity. Successful personal statement examples all seek to accurately and honestly portray who the writer is so that scholarship providers really feel as though they are giving their money to a worthy candidate. A personal statement can be as well written as possible, but if the scholarship committee gets the sense that it is not an honest depiction, then it won't be successful.

Using anecdotes to really illustrate your personality can be a great way to portray who you really are. As you go on to write your personal statement, remember to bring out your personality and share your true self.