When you’re applying for a scholarship, writing the essay seems to be the most challenging part of the entire process. With so many complex questions that require elaborate answers, most students want to give up before even getting started.
But, the key is to get familiar with the topics discussed in these essays. Although you may think this is impossible, most application essays cover similar ideas. So, you can use the scholarship essay prompts from this article as your guide to preparing for the real deal. That way, you can carefully prepare all your answers. You can also learn how to write a college application essay that’ll perfectly accompany your scholarship essay too.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the typical college scholarship essay questions and how you should answer them.
Answering the Most Common Scholarship Essay Questions
Each essay question is unique, which is why applicants must think differently. There’s no universal approach that’ll provide all the answers to these questions, and individuals often need to think outside of the box if they want to win a scholarship for their higher education.
Here you’ll find the top 11 topics commonly found on scholarship essays.
Tell About Yourself
Almost every scholarship essay asks its applicants to say something about themselves before moving on to any other questions. Although a relatively simple question at first glance, summing up your entire life into several paragraphs isn’t that easy.
Most applicants can’t seem to recall previous experiences worth mentioning, or they have trouble distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information under pressure. As a result, some undergraduates only mention the basic information about themselves that is unrelated to the scholarship program.
To avoid this, think about your key life events that led you to this point. Consider mentioning:
- Previous experiences that motivated you to choose your field of study;
- Relevant achievements and successful events;
- Values you hold that are supported and admired by the scholarship organization;
- Short-term and long-term goals;
How Will You Benefit from This Scholarship?
Of course, everyone’s seeking financial benefit from scholarship organizations. But, the decision largely depends on how you plan on spending the funds. People choosing the scholarship winner don’t only want to pick qualified and successful candidates, but also candidates that’ll benefit most from their financial help.
In that case, you’ll want to include all the potential benefits the scholarship can bring you, such as:
- Attend a more expensive college you otherwise couldn’t afford;
- Pay for an special internship that’ll broaden your knowledge and sharpen your skills;
- Finance books, laptops, or any other necessary learning equipment;
- Pay for housing if you’re attending a college far away from your primary residence;
Share Some Cases When You Failed and What You Learned from It
Upon seeing this question, many students hold back from sharing their previous mistakes as they’re afraid they make them look bad. Little do they know sharing such life experiences can do the exact opposite since it allows students to reflect on their previous mistakes and learn from them.
If you want to answer this question appropriately, honesty is always the best policy. The most efficient method is to show the self-awareness and personal growth you gained from the event. You could:
- Briefly describe the situation and what led to you failing;
- Reflect on the errors and mistakes you made;
- Explain what you learned from that experience and how it helped you grow;
- Provide a better solution you would opt for now that you’ve progressed;
Describe a Situation Where You Stepped Up as a Leader
Leadership is one of the key traits a successful college student in 2021 has to own. That’s why this is one of the most common scholarship essay topics too.
Here, you can talk about any activity or event where you got a role as a leader, so you weren’t only a passive participant. Whether you were the head of a school project, a captain of the sports team, a coordinator of volunteer activities, or responsible for something else, this is your ticket to success.
Even if you had a minor role you believe it’s not worth mentioning, include it. Scholarship organizations aren’t interested in how important the role was but how the experience affected you. Because of that, make sure you mention:
- Choose work or school-related projects;
- Briefly explain your leadership position;
- Talk about what this experience equipped you with;
- Explain how you can use the acquired leadership skills during your education;
What Are Your Ambitions for the Next Five Years?
Scholarship organizations want to finance students who are willing to finish their higher education on time and launch their careers immediately after. In other words, they want to ensure the students they finance do succeed in the professional field.
That’s why these kinds of scholarship essay topics are used to determine the applicants’ ambitions and plans that extend college education. By providing a detailed description of your long-term goals, you’ll show dedication and ambition in turning your dreams into reality.
- Do proper research about your future possibilities;
- Talk about how you intend to achieve these plans;
- Show how the scholarship can help you in reaching your goals;
- Show the scholarship committee you’re serious about pursuing your degree;
Describe a Contribution You’ve Made to Your Community
Scholarship committees aren’t only interested in your academic success. Instead, they genuinely want to get to know you as a person before deciding whether you’re a good fit for their organization. Talking about community contributions is a handy way to find out more about the applicants.
How you helped your community, how you made it better, and what you gained from this experience isn’t the entire point of this essay topic. With the help of your answers, the organizations can forecast how you’ll use your previous experiences for future opportunities. Here’s what you should cover:
- Talk about the activity - volunteer, charity, or community work are the best choices;
- Reflect on the contributions you made to your community with the activity or project;
- Mention what you learned along the way;
- Explain how you’ll continue supporting your community;
What Are Your Academic and Professional Goals?
Although this is one of the most straightforward scholarship essay questions, that doesn’t mean there’s no room to get creative. An effective answer to this question will provide a clear list of your academic plans and goals for the future, which will showcase your ambition.
But, if you genuinely want to make an impression, you’ll need to get more creative. A unique approach is to tell more about what motivated you to choose a specific goal in the first place. For instance, you could mention your life-long passion that eventually led to your professional goal or an epiphany moment. Think about covering the following ideas:
- Talk about your professional goals and how you plan to achieve them;
- Reflect on the previous experiences that led you to these goals;
- Mention the values that could help you in achieving your goals;
- Circle back to how a scholarship can further assist you in the realization;
The Biggest Inspiration for You
Talking about yourself isn’t the only possible way to show who you are and what you stand for. Scholarship institutions often like to ask their applicants about their heroes and learn more about their applicants in this way as well.
While you may think this doesn’t paint an accurate picture of your passions and goals, you’ll indirectly mention many things about yourself throughout the essay. How your biggest influence shaped your values, goals, priorities, and motivations are just some of them.
- Mention the key traits and events of your biggest influence;
- Focus on how your influence inspired or motivated you;
- Explain what you learned from your hero;
- Think about how this will assist your academic and professional life;
Things That Make You Unique
You can take various directions while answering these types of scholarship essay prompts. Whether you want to focus on your upbringing, education, traits, ways of thinking, skills, experience, hobbies, or something completely different, always remember being unique is highly appreciated and valued by scholarship institutions.
Some students decide to talk about their upbringing and how it shaped them into the person they’re today. In contrast, others choose to mention hobbies that taught them about teamwork, persistence, and determination. This only goes to show there’s no right or wrong approach to this essay prompt.
- Talk about what makes you unique;
- Explain how it shaped you into the person you are today;
- Describe how this helps you achieve your short-term and long-term goals;
- Mention the ways scholarship can help you nourish and develop your unique characteristics;
Reasons You Want to Study at a College?
Plenty of students struggle with his question. Since many of them only feel pressured to attend college or simply want to have a degree, it’s crucial to set them apart from students who share a genuine passion for what they’re learning.
This is where more complex scholarship essay questions come in handy as they can paint a closer picture of the applicants’ true intentions for attending college. When answering this essay question, talk about:
- Previous experiences that led you to this point;
- What motivates you to get a degree;
- How a scholarship can help you study what you’re passionate about;
- Your plans after obtaining a college degree;
Why Do You Deserve This Scholarship?
As one of the most challenging and most common scholarship essay topics, you must be ready to discuss why you deserve this scholarship. The key to successfully answering this essay question is making your application stand out without being arrogant.
- Prove why you’re a standout applicant through your exceptional knowledge and skills;
- Mention your previous achievements that backup your claims;
- Talk about what makes you unique and different from the rest;
- Stay respectful by recognizing the competitive nature of the contest;
Tips on How to Prepare for Writing a Scholarship Essay
Just because you know what the frequent scholarship essay ideas are doesn’t mean you’re fully prepared to write the essay. A lot goes into what makes a perfect essay, so applicants need to take extra preparation steps.
- Brainstorm the ideas - it’s good to brainstorm several potential answers to come up with the winning approach.
- Read previous winning examples - by reading scholarship essays that won in the past, you’ll get a better idea of what the particular organization is looking for.
- Practice writing techniques - good writing requires a lot of practice, which is why you should take the necessary time to master your writing techniques.
Not all people are good writers capable of expressing their thoughts onto a paper or coming up with unique scholarship essay ideas. Does that mean these people don’t deserve a chance to win a scholarship?
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