Applying for college scholarships can be an extensive process. You may need to provide very detailed information about your education, work experience, extracurricular activities and volunteer work. All of these provide details about your experience, but they don’t necessarily tell the scholarship committee a lot about you as a person. Some scholarships applications may require you to write an autobiographical essay, also known as a personal essay. Take your time when writing this, as it often is the key determinant of whether you receive the scholarship.

Create an outline for your autobiographical essay. At the very least, include sections that describe your personal characteristics, activities you are involved in, your leadership experience, why you should be awarded the scholarship and what you plan to accomplish through your education.

Include details about your strengths and weaknesses when discussing your personal characteristics. Avoid demographic information and focus on your personality and what has built your character. Include obstacles you have overcome and how those challenges have helped shape you as a person.

Give details about the activities in which you are involved. You’ve probably listed these activities somewhere else in the application, but the essay gives you a chance to discuss the extent of your involvement and why these activities have special meaning to you.

Describe how and where you have demonstrated your leadership ability, such as in the classroom, in clubs, during sporting events or even within your family or circle of friends. Explain why you felt the need to take on a leadership role and what you learned from it.

Focus on your ability to be a positive role model and how you will contribute to society when discussing why you should receive the scholarship. The committee wants to see that the money will be put to good use through your education and ultimately, through your career path. Discuss any activities or volunteer work you’ve done that are related to your future career to demonstrate your passion and drive to succeed. Avoid talking about why you need the scholarship. Instead, focus on how you will use the scholarship funds if they are awarded to you.

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