Earning one of the countless scholarships available for high school and college students requires proving you are a worthy candidate. In order to apply for a scholarship, students typically must write a statement that describes their accomplishments and goals. To stand out above the rest, emphasize your uniqueness, leadership experience, long-term goals and community service.
Highlight Your Uniqueness
A key characteristic to set you apart from other candidates is individuality. Purdue University's Online Writing Lab advises you to write about unique elements of your life, such as culture, traditions or hardships. Show how these distinct characteristics have shaped your values and aspirations. Avoid clichés such as "every cloud has a silver lining," "leaps and bounds" and "never a dull moment" – these only make you sound like everyone else. The University of Arizona suggests using "vivid personal experiences as supporting details."
Follow the Leader
Showing that you are a capable, confident and fair leader increases the success of your candidacy. Leadership implies independence, organization and courage – all positive attributes for a scholarship candidate. In your writing you can provide examples of circumstances in which you have held leadership roles, including clubs, organizations, movements, conflict resolution, academics and athletics. For example, you may have been the captain of the basketball team or you may have organized and led a protest at your school. Explain what you learned from your leadership experiences, and why you are a good leader.
Show That You're Goal-Oriented
State your short-term and long-term goals and explain what you have done and what you plan to do to realize them. Writing about past goals you have achieved helps to communicate a track record of successful achievements, motivation and dedication. If you failed or faced obstacles at any point in these past experiences, you can use them as an opportunity to show your persistence and resilience. You should use this as an opportunity to convey to the scholarship panel how their funds will directly help you to accomplish your objectives. For example, you could write that you will use part of the scholarship funds to attend a model United Nations conference which will help you get into graduate school in the field of international relations.
A valuable quality that enriches your candidacy for a scholarship award is being socially conscious and community-driven. You can write about your volunteer work and other ways you have served your community, such as helping the elderly, doing beach clean-ups and providing free childcare. Emphasizing your service experiences highlights your compassion and commitment to others. You should show the scholarship committee if they invest in you they are investing in a person who contributes to the betterment of society.
Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.