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Writing a personal statement
Transcript of Writing a personal statement
Know Your Audience
Do your research on the organization offering the scholarship
What is their mission?
What is the purpose of the scholarship?
Create a Thesis
Similar to how you create a thesis for your academic essays, your scholarship essay should have a thesis too.
Brag a Little
Scholarships are awarded based on merit, so it's important that you highlight your accomplishments.
A professional organization may seek to help students pursue careers in their field.
A foundation may offer a scholarship in memory of a person who was passionate about a cause.
Your essay should highlight how you represent the values and mission of the scholarship. Context matters.
Example: A foundation is offering a scholarship to students studying to become teachers in low-performing schools. You should discuss why you want to work in such an environment, the relevant experiences you've had and how you plan to achieve this career goal.
Write an essay that a judge will remember. You want to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
If you're applying for a scholarship for future teachers, you can assume all your competitors want to be teachers too, so the question is: what makes you the best teacher for this scholarship?
Describe what is unique about you.
Another way to make your essay stand out is to be creative with your essay structure. You could lead in with a catchy story. Share a piece of yourself. The reader should be able to get a real sense of your personality from your essay without ever meeting you.
Every Word Counts
Choose your words wisely.
Everything you include in your essay should serve a purpose. You want to present a clear and concise thesis backed up by specific examples.
Avoid general statements;
Grammar and spelling always count. A poorly written essay is hard to follow and judges will not look favorably upon sloppy work.
Proofread and then proofread again! Have someone else look at it too.
Tips borrowed from UC Irvine Scholarships Resource Guide
What is the objective of your essay?
You should be able to express the point of your essay in one sentence.
Your whole essay should revolve around your thesis.
Keep in mind tip #2 though; only include achievements that relate to your thesis. Don't include items that have no relation to the scholarship, like writing about being star soccer player when the organization is looking for student who volunteer in the community.
Choose your applicable accomplishments and contextualize them. While it's important to boast, never lie or embellish.
Example: I was honored to be selected as volunteer of the year by the students at xyz school where I have been a reading tutor for the past year, volunteering 10 hours a week.
show don't tell.
A common mistake is to write a "woe is me" essay. Scholarship judges do not want to read a sob story or an essay about how much you need financial support. Scholarships are based on merits. Judges want to hear what you've accomplished despite your challenges. They want to hear about your potential and the great things you will accomplish with their scholarship support. A scholarship essay should be uplifting.
A word of caution
Adhere to word limits
Always type your essay.
When you're done writing, re-read the prompt.
Have you answered the question?
Have someone proofread your essay and give you feedback.
Never plagiarize someone else's work.
Once you have a good personal statement you can recycle it for other scholarship applications.
In the spring of 2007, as I was starting a new semester at the Salt Lake Community College, I found out I was going to have my second child. I was happy but also troubled. I was in a marriage that I knew was not healthy. I felt like I was drowning and my head was barely above water. One of those nights I dreamt I was swimming in the ocean. This huge squid came and latched itself to my leg. I tried to break free from it but I couldn’t. My mom and another woman came and were fighting it too. We were all struggling to pry it off. I looked down and saw my leg shriveling up. The squid was sucking out my life and no matter how much my loved ones wanted to help me I was the only one that had the knife in my pocket to pry off the animal. It was really hard to get to that knife. I had to pull it out of my back pocket. As I endured the pain of my leg and organs being sucked out I felt this surge of incredible strength, I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live and so I stabbed the squid as hard as I could. It wouldn’t give up. I stabbed it again and this time it loosened its grip. I was able to squiggle away and it didn’t follow me. The animal was a lot bigger than my knife and me but I had managed to wound it and it swam away. I swam to the top and I was free.
I wrote this dream down when I woke up that morning.
A couple of years later, I found the dream written in a notepad. I was a single parent struggling to make ends meet. I felt tears well in my eyes and I remembered how strong I had been to get out of that abusive relationship. I remembered the strength my children gave me and how much I wanted to fight to be alive and to be safe for them. I remembered those years of hardship. I remembered how much I loved going to school and I decided to return.
How have your educational or professional experiences shaped your personal and professional goals? What are your goals, and what is the role of this program in helping you achieve them? Finally, how do you describe the contributions you think you can make to the field of education after completing this program? (Limit to no more than 250 words)
I am determined to create a culture of college access for all students. There has to be a change in our educational system and I want to learn new strategies on ways to combat these issues through your program. I am also constantly plotting ideas on how we can implement a change. One of the most important aspects I want to contribute to, is forming a better way of communication between parents, teachers, higher education administration, K-12 administration, and students. This lack of communication can lead to several problems affecting our communities such as low retention rates which impact the eligibility of K-12 students graduating and meeting the A-G requirements. I want to help bridge this gap and feel your program will provide me with the proper tools to combat this issue.