College Scholarships Essay Prompts Common

The way you handle scholarship essay questions will determine how successful your application is. There is no right or wrong answer to a question, but there is a right and wrong way to approach the process. In this guide, we will explore some common scholarship essay questions and learn a few tips for how to address them.

What Are Your Long and Short Term Goals?

These questions may be phrased in several ways: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” “How will your current education contribute to your overall career goals?” Your answers should show that you do in fact have a plan for your future that corresponds to your degree program. The scholarship committee wants to see that their money is going to a worthy cause, not someone just testing the waters in college. Create an answer that shows realistic goals that can be achieved through continued education.

What Are Some of the Most Important Issues in Your Field of Study?

Questions like this are designed to gauge your knowledge of current events in your field. A worthy scholarship applicant will be invested in his or her future career. More importantly, the education that leads to that career will ultimately be used to address current issues. At least, that’s how they will view it. Come up with solutions for each problem, or explain how your education would allow you to develop effective solutions.

What Are Your Biggest Weaknesses?

Since this is a scholarship application, you still want to create answers that will put you above other applicants. Turn your weaknesses into opportunities. “I currently have limited knowledge in this area, but with my degree, I will be able to…” you may be sensing a trend here – scholarship committees love solutions. Coming up with a solution shows that you are forward-thinking and intuitive, and both of those qualities are worthy of being rewarded.

Why Do You Need a Scholarship?

This is not an opportunity to tell the scholarship committee a long story about your troubled life. Every person has their own struggles. It’s how you overcome them that matters most. When a financial need question arises, the scholarship committee mostly wants to understand which students have little to no resources for additional funding. For instance, if you are 25+ years old, you could explain how your age limits the number of college scholarships you can apply for. If you’re enrolling in a specialized program, you may discuss the limited opportunities available in that degree field. You can highlight your low household income and limited family resources, but try to stay away from the “sob story” mentality.

Describe an Adult Who Had a Major Influence on Your Life

These are common scholarship essay questions because they give a glimpse into you past. While most people will say a parent, grandparent, or instructor, you could choose someone that is slightly less expected. This doesn’t take away from the value of a good parent, but think about how many scholarship applicants respond with those answers.

If you were raised by a single parent, you could discuss how the other parent was a strong influence because you had to learn how to live without him or her in your life. If you had a neighbor who had a positive work ethic, you could explain how that shaped the dedication you have to your degree. Take some time to look beyond the obvious choices, and you may be surprised by what you come up with.

What Are Your Greatest Personal Achievements?

You can choose any achievement you want for this answer as long as you relate it back to your education or career. For example, if you won a singing competition, you could explain how you learned the importance of practice and preparation. Those lessons could help you during your degree and your career. Take the opportunity to brag on yourself, but don’t forget the mission of the scholarship application.

When All Else Fails, Ask Yourself WHY

Why are they asking me this? What will my answers tell the scholarship committee about my life, my goals and my future? What can I say that will show how worthy I am to accept this award? No matter what scholarship essay questions you come across, try to identify the underlying reasons behind the prompts. This will help you create the best answers to earn their financial support.

Not all scholarships require an essay, but those that do often have similar questions or prompts to answer. Take a look at these common scholarship essay prompts and start thinking about how you would answer each one, because odds are you’ll have to soon enough.

Why do you deserve this scholarship?

Ooh, let’s start out with a tough one right off the bat. You’re going to have to look deep for a good answer to this prompt. Don’t just say “Because I’m a hard worker” or “Because it will help fund my college education.” Think hard. What do you offer that no one else does? Why exactly did you apply for that specific scholarship? Remember to keep the donor’s values in mind when answering.

Describe a time you demonstrated leadership.

Oftentimes people automatically equate “leadership” to “leadership position” and worry they may not have any leadership experience. But you don’t have to be student body president or captain of the football team to be a leader. Did you ever take point on a school project? That’s leadership. Act as a camp counselor one summer? That’s leadership. Take charge of a challenging situation? Textbook leadership. You likely have more experience than you think.

What person do you most admire? Why?

Some might specify that it should be a person in your life, some might leave it open to public figures both alive or dead. Either way, give this answer some thought and heart. There should be real reasons behind just who it is you admire. What qualities do they have? How do you hope to emulate them? What specific thing did they do that inspired you? Specificity is a great way to make any essay answer even stronger.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

This one has a lot of variations including what are your long-term goals, what do you hope to accomplish, or what is your dream job? The key theme here is the future. Obviously plans might change as you grow and encounter obstacles, but consider the question as you currently are. Do you have a career in mind? If so, great! If not, you can say you hope to discover a career path while studying in college—lead with what field you want to study.

Describe a challenge you have overcome.

Rare is the person who has never encountered a challenge. Adversity is something we all face, in one shape or another. Whether it’s discrimination based on who you are, financial struggles in the household, dealing with health issues, juggling a busy schedule, failing a class, making a hard decision, pick a specific struggle that you’ve gone through and write about it. What did you learn during the ordeal? How did it change or shape you? Does it impact your future plans?

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