Free Sample Scholarship Application Essays

Sample Scholarship Essay

In the media, working class immigrant women are often depicted uneducated, conniving and inarticulate. My life, however, as an SFSU graduate student and as a working class immigrant Pilipina American who has supported herself since age 18—speak of a different experience. Watching both my parents slave over 12 hour working days, seven days a week in menial labor jobs just to make rent for a one bedroom apartment was my reality as a child. My parents’ work ethic and daily struggles continue to serve as an inspiration for me to strive for a relevant and meaningful education and profession—and to be the first in my family to receive a graduate degree.

Thanks to my parents’ encouragement, I was able to graduate cum laude at UCLA with a Psychology and Asian American Studies double major and an Education minor. In my four years at UCLA, I was a five time recipient of the Provost’s Honors List. My most rewarding experiences in college, however, were outside of the classroom walls. As a graduating senior I was also recognized with the UCLA Chancellor Service Award, the Pilipino Graduation Enlightenment Award and A. Magazine’s Top 10 Student Leader in the Nation for initiating my own community service tutorial project in South Central, Los Angeles – a poor, urban and underserved community. The project was called Project S.E.T. (South Central Evening Tutorial) and we mentored and tutored the children of immigrant parents who were attending evening adult school four nights a week.

My work with Project S.E.T. further catapulted me to work on issues of student and community empowerment. After graduation I worked as a full time director of a student retention project at UCLA’s Student Retention Center (SRC). At the SRC we served over 5,000 “at risk” and “historically under-served” students a year. We worked to retain students on academic difficulty and to readmit dismissed students through peer counseling, mentorship, academic workshops, and student initiated seminars. Because of my work at the Student Retention Center and the greater Los Angeles community, I was also invited to participate in the Committee for Pilipino American Studies Conference at UC Berkeley and the RAND Collaborative on Pilipino Health, Education and Development.

Last August I moved from Southern California to San Francisco to pursue a Master’s degree in Education in a concentration on Equity and Social Justice. I hope to use this degree to prepare me for a Ph.D. program and my professional goal of being a university professor in the field of Education and Ethnic Studies - two fields which have direct impact and relevancy to underserved, immigrant youth. Being a full time student and simultaneously working 20 hours a week at the College of Education’s Cahill Learning Resources and Media Lab (or Cahill) and has been both challenging and rewarding.

At SFSU, I have been able to coordinate programming and curriculum displays for the staff, students and faculty of the College of Education. I am also a part of the committee for the Asian Diaspora Pre-conference for the upcoming national Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) at SFSU in early June. My work at Cahill and my involvement in the College of Education serves to educate the SFSU community about social issues usually neglected in the schools – issues such as community and individual empowerment; community development; race, class and gender identity; and immigrant/migrant labor.

My work on and off campus as a graduate student continues SFSU’s legacy of having a community based education. This academic year, my work at Cahill enabled me to coordinate multicultural education materials and children’s activities for 100+ youth in the Pilipino Unity Day cultural program in the South of Market area. I have also been invited to facilitate workshops on multicultural education and community development for a class in the College of Education and with a visiting Pilipino student organization from Los Angeles. I have a social responsibility to share with the community what SFSU has contributed to my learning and my personal development.

Without any source of income for the academic year, however, will make it difficult to continue my graduate work while being in great financial difficulty. Receiving the scholarship will provide me with the peace of mind and security to manage my rent, utilities, transportation and book expenses. The scholarship will allow me the time to focus on maintaining my 4.0 GPA, take up full load of classes while simultaneously preparing for my research and my thesis – my culminating experience. My parents’ legacy and experiences continue to motivate me to persist and to use my education to better the conditions within immigrant, working class communities. I trust the scholarship selection committee will provide me the support I need to continue my studies here at SFSU and to actualize my professional goal to be an educator.

If you're planning to apply for a college scholarship, you will probably need to submit an essay along with a resume, transcript and other background information. Looking at a few sample essays before you start writing can help you get inspired to craft a winning essay of your own.

Two Original Essays to Review

There are many different types of scholarship programs, each with its own criteria. Two of the most common types are academic scholarships and professional association scholarships.

Academic Need-Based Scholarship

Colleges and other types of organizations often award scholarships to students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and also have financial need. Letters written for this type of program should emphasize outstanding academic accomplishment in terms of grades and financial need, as well as extracurricular activities and community involvement.

Applicant Name
Address
City, State, Zip

Date

Scholarship Committee:

The value of education is something that I have understood since a very young age. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to attend college, and faced many struggles in their personal and professional lives because of this. They made a commitment early in my life to do everything within their power to instill in me a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work and dedication.

Because of their love and sacrifice over the years, I have been able to devote the time and energy necessary to academic accomplishment even though money has always been tight. In my senior year at XYZ High School, I have a 3.9 grade-point average and have been named Salutatorian of my graduating class. In addition to focusing on my own studies, I also worked as a math and science tutor throughout my years in high school as a way of contributing to my family's budget.

Additionally, I have also been active in my school and community outside of the classroom, serving on the student council as Secretary Treasurer for two years, serving as an officer in the Future Engineers of America chapter at my school, and volunteering at a local Boys & Girls Clubs of America chapter during school breaks.

My family has made many sacrifices to allow me to focus on education throughout primary and secondary school. I now have an opportunity to become the first person in my family to attend college, though I'm in need of financial assistance to realize what has been a long-term goal for me and a dream for my parents.

If selected for this scholarship, I will continue to apply the same diligence to my collegiate studies as I have to this point, making education and service to others my top priority. I will represent your organization well during my years in college and beyond. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Bill Achiever

Professional Association Scholarship

Professional associations frequently set up scholarship funds to provide educational expense assistance to people preparing for careers in the field they represent. Letters written for this type of program should emphasize a commitment to success in the profession with examples to illustrate, as well as information on how the funds will benefit the applicant.

Applicant Name
Address
City, State, Zip

Date

Scholarship Committee:

As a sophomore at XYZ University, I am honored to have an opportunity to apply for the Society for Professional Widget Makers Scholarship program. I am committed to pursuing a career as a professional widget maker and, as you can see from my transcript, am making progress toward earning a degree in this field with an excellent grade point average.

In addition to focusing on my studies full-time, I am also involved in a number of campus and community activities. I am involved in the ______________ and ______________ organizations at my school, and have also volunteered with ________________ during school breaks. I also hold down a part-time job as a ________________, where I have an opportunity to learn valuable skills that will help me in my Widget Making career while earning money to fund my education.

As you know, a college education is quite expensive, but it is an investment that is certainly worthwhile. I received a partial scholarship from XYZ University as an incoming freshman, and am paying for the rest of my educational expenses with student loans and the money that I earn from my job. Receiving this scholarship will enable me to continue to make progress toward my degree in preparation for a career as a widget maker.

I greatly appreciate your consideration. Please know that this scholarship will make a significant positive impact on my ability to continue in school and will be greatly appreciated. I look forward to becoming an active member of the Society for Professional Widget Makers once I graduate from college and begin working in the field. I can assure you that I will be a dedicated professional that you will be proud to count among your ranks.

Regards,

Suzy Student

Four More Resources for Sample Essays

The above documents are simply two examples of letters that may be appropriate for scholarship programs. There are many other ways to approach writing these types of documents. If you'd lie to review additional samples, see:

  • San Diego State University lists the full text of several winning application essays based on different situations ranging from samples for incoming freshmen through a graduate students.
  • University of Michigan - Flint offers an example essay written from the perspective of a nursing student seeking funds to continue her studies.
  • CollegeScholarships.com offers a selection of topic-based essays, including documents focused on describing obstacles the applicant has overcome as well as people who have been major life influences and more

Considerations for Using Sample Essays

One of the most important things to remember when reading through a sample essay is that it's meant to be a guide and an example only. You should never plagiarize sample essays, no matter where you found them, and you should never copy specific details from these samples or attempt to imitate their styles.

Showcase Your Personality

A significant strength of your scholarship application is the fact that it comes from you. Your individuality and personality will help you write the best essay you can, and it's an asset to draw upon your past experiences and unique thought processes when you prepare your work.

Use Your Voice

Rather than trying to use a preset style or tone in your work, give your writing a genuine voice that is professional yet compelling. Many winning essays reflect this combination of characteristics, but you shouldn't force your essay to sound a certain way or write it to cater to a specific type of reader.

Use Sample Essays

Use available sample essays as you brainstorm topics and ideas for your own work. Try to think of a list of concepts to fit the scholarship theme, and write those concepts down. If you get stuck or you need something to stimulate your thought process,try using persuasive writing prompts to generate a new set of ideas.

Still Thinking You Need Another Sample?

If you have no idea where to start when trying to win a scholarship, you may feel reassured after looking at a few sample essays. They can spur good ideas that might help you outline your work, choose which of your topics is most fitting, and find a writing style that makes you feel comfortable. No matter what approach you take, get at least one other person you trust to review your essay before sending it in. Make revisions as needed and proofread carefully before submitting your scholarship application packet.

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