Writing Your Essays

Writing Your Essays

There are two types of scholarship/fellowship essays:  The Personal Essay and the Program of Study or Project Essay.  Always remember that the individuals who serve on selection committees are reading 75-100 applications in a two- or three-day period. Your essay needs to stand out!

The Personal Essay:

You need to tell your story, and it needs to be interesting. The first paragraph is your “hook.” If the reader is confused or bored after the first paragraph, your application isn’t going to make it.  At the end of your personal essay, the reader should have a picture of you and should know why your personal experience has made you the perfect candidate for this fellowship or scholarship.

The Program of Study or Project Essay:

The guidelines for program/project essays are more prescribed by the individual scholarships and fellowships.  You must understand the goals and aims for each scholarship/fellowship, and your essay needs to demonstrate your compatibility with those goals, as well as the qualifications that will allow you to succeed in a specific program.   Some of the questions you should consider when writing your program/project essay are:

  • What do you propose to do?  Where will you do it?
  • Answer the questions What? Why? and How? – preferably in the first paragraph.
  • Are you qualified to complete your proposed project or program of study?  How?
  • What do you hope to accomplish?
  • Is your plan feasible within the time limit of the scholarship or fellowship?
  • How will this project/program relate to your planned career trajectory? How will it impact your field?  Who will benefit from your work, and how will they benefit?

Here are two other websites that you might find useful when writing: