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How to Write a Personal Statement


A Simple Start to Writing an Autobiographical

or Personal Essay for Scholarships


DOs & DON'Ts

The intent of the autobiographical or personal essay is to allow the scholarship committee to know you better. It is not easy to stare at a blank page and know, where to begin? What to include? What not to include? If you are feeling stuck, consider these three suggestions:

  • DO NOT start your essay with information that can be found elsewhere on your application or transcript. Try not to repeat information that the scholarship committee has already reviewed.
  • DO consider starting with a quotation that is meaningful to you, or a familiar saying that guides you. This will help focus your writing on what is important to you.
  • DO talk about your goals, past achievements, past failures and what you learned from them. You can also highlight volunteer or work experiences, campus involvement, and/or relationships that have guided your development as a student.



Begin drafting your personal essay with a simple outline. You can write paragraphs about each main point by adding examples and supporting statements. Here is a sample outline:

I. Who are you?

Personal Characteristics

  • Strengths & weaknesses
  • Obstacles overcome or currently confronting

Educational and Career Goals

  • Why have you selected your major?
  • What is your ultimate educational goal - A.A., B.A., M.A., or Ph.D.?
  • What are your career aspirations?
  • How will your education assist you in achieving your career goals?

Important Involvement/Activities

  • What are you involved with, and why are these activities important to you?
  • How are you involved?


  • Where do you show your leadership – on campus, at work, in an organization?
  • Include examples that highlight your leadership skills

II. Why should you be awarded this scholarship?

  • What do you have to offer the donor: Are they making an investment in a successful, contributing member of society? Will you be a good example or role model to others in your community?
  • ​How will you use the scholarship?  Rather than saying, "I need the money," tell the selection committee how it will help further your ​education. For example, you might write "This scholarship will be used to purchase the extra supplies needed especially for my major," or; "In addition to assisting with tuition and fees, I hope that being awarded this scholarship recognition could also enhance my application for an internship in my field of study."  

III. Write an opening paragraph, and a closing paragraph​​

  • ​​​Now that you have a draft of your essay, make sure you have an opening paragraph introducing your theme or thoughts, and a closing paragraph concluding that theme or thoughts. This will help your essay read like a well-framed message, and not a string of different items with no framework holding it together. ​  ​​
​ ​ IV. Proofread. Wait 24-hours -- then proofread again!

  • ​​​It is amazing how quickly you can catch a misspelling or typo the next day. Give yourself time to check your essay one last time. ​
​ ​ V. Submit your essay and application -- Good Luck!​