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10 Tips for Writing an Essay About Yourself

Even though we know ourselves better than anyone else, writing about yourself is hard work! When applying for scholarships or college, questions that force us to analyze ourselves come up all the time in all different forms…and they often leave us stumped! Some common examples of personal essay prompts are:

Tell me about yourself.

Describe a challenge or event that made you who you are today.

What are your short- and long-term goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

Write about a time you failed at something. How did it affect you?

…and the list goes on and on!

We might find it so difficult to write about ourselves because we’re embarrassed, don’t want to brag, or simply don’t know what to include. But knowing how to approach these essays can make them much easier!

how to write an essay about yourself

Check out these 8 tips for writing an essay about yourself:

1. Create a List of Questions

After understanding the prompt, the first thing you should do when figuring out how to write an essay about yourself is to make a list of questions that you’d like to answer. The best way to do this is to think of smaller questions that relate to the big question.

To get you started, here are a few common examples:

What is your background?

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

What are your goals?

What are your interests?

2. Brainstorm and Outline

After deciding which questions you want to answer, it’s time to brainstorm your responses. Feel free to write down anything that comes to mind. Once you have all your thoughts out, focus on the most important parts and create a comprehensive outline to work from!

3. Be Vulnerable

Don’t be afraid to let both your weaknesses and strengths shine through in your essay! Scholarship and admissions committees love to see that you’re self-aware and conscious of how you can improve as a person so go ahead and talk about your mistakes and how you learned from them.

how to write an essay about yourself

4. Use Personal Examples

Since this essay is all about you, you should make it as specific as possible! Avoid using generalizations (e.g. I’m really good at music) and, instead, go for more personalized statements (e.g. My fourth-grade teacher really inspired me to pursue my interest in the clarinet). Your own personal examples are what will make you still out in the end.

5. Write in the First Person

Even though you likely had an English teacher at some point who told you to never write an essay in the first person, you can throw that advice out the window. When figuring out how to write an essay about yourself, you should absolutely write in the first person. Using the third person perspective for a personal essay is strange and awkward, so it’s best to avoid it.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Off…But Don’t Overdo It

Most students hate writing a personal essay because they don’t want to brag, but it’s more than okay to highlight your accomplishments and strengths. However, it’s a good idea to take a second look at your essay to make sure that you’re keeping the tone informative and realistic. Also, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed when writing your essay. The committee wants to hear all about you so there’s no shame in giving them what they want!

how to write an essay about yourself

7. Let Your Personality Shine Through

Just because it’s an essay doesn’t mean it has to be dry and boring. This essay is all about you, so let your personality shine through! Trying your best to express who you are as a person will have a huge effect on the admissions or scholarship committee!

8. Proofread and Edit!

The last step in writing your personal essay is to double check your work! One typo can bring your essay from amazing to just okay…and it doesn’t take long at all to avoid that. In addition to proofreading, it’s also a great idea to go back and change sentence structures or add/delete information to make your essay stronger.

how to write an essay about yourself

What are your best tips on how to write an essay about yourself? Let us know below!

13 Tips to Bring Your Scholarship Essay to the Next Level

Applying for scholarships would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for the essay, which often forces us to reflect on ourselves, who we are as people, and what we’ve accomplished so far in life. While it can be the most difficult part of the application, it’s also the most important part.

The scholarship essay is your chance to make a case for yourself and to show the committee why you deserve to win. It gives you the chance to show your personality and what you’re most proud of in life. Your scholarship application should inform, but your scholarship essay should persuade. Scholarship committees read hundreds, or even thousands, of essays, so making your application stand out from the rest is crucial.

But how?

Luckily, you don’t need perfect writing skills to make it happen. With a few scholarship essay tips and tricks in mind, you can easily bring your scholarship application to the next level.

Here are our 13 scholarship essay tips to help you succeed:

scholarship essay tips

The Planning Phase

1. Plan Far in Advance

If you wait until the last minute to write your scholarship essay, the quality will likely suffer. To make sure that you have enough time for the planning phase, create a calendar with the deadlines for all the scholarships you want to apply for. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for brainstorming and proofreading!

2. Know Your Audience

The best way to give the scholarship committee what they’re looking for is to actually know what they’re looking for. Figure out who their ideal candidate is and how you fit into that picture. But be careful not to cater to their expectations too much.

Don’t sacrifice your voice and personality to fit the bill. Rather, take a look at your strengths and then determine how you can spin them to become the ideal candidate.  

3. Follow the Instructions

It might seem like one of the more obvious scholarship essay tips, but many applicants make their first mistake before they even begin – they don’t read the directions. Exceeding (or not meeting) the word count can hurt your chances since it shows that you didn’t prepare your essay as well as other applicants. Also, double check to make sure you’re responding thoroughly to all parts of the prompt and that you’re following the correct scholarship essay format.

4. Choose a Topic That You’re Interested In and Passionate About

Your topic can have a heavy impact on how well your essay turns out. If you choose a topic that bores you, you’ll likely bore your reader too! Try and choose a topic that you’re passionate about or that interests you in some way rather than a topic that you feel you should write about – that way your personality and excitement can shine through in your writing!

scholarship essay tips

The Writing Phase

5. Create a Strong Introduction

Since the introduction is what draws the reader into your essay and convinces them to keep going, it should be one of the strongest parts of your essay. Instead of starting off with a general overview, why not hook your reader in with a surprising first line?

For example, which of these two opening lines pulls you into the story more? Which one makes you want to keep going?

My first time traveling abroad was during a family vacation to Mexico in 2010.

It was 2010; I had just crossed the border into Mexico and my life was about to change.

The second sentence gives the reader something to look for; it makes them curious about not only how your life changed during your trip but also why it changed. It gives the readers unanswered questions and they have to keep reading to find the answers.

Overall, you’ll want to give your reader a quick preview of what they can expect from your essay – think of it like the written version of a movie trailer. Why should they keep reading? 

6. Keep a Good Structure

After the introduction, it’s important to make sure that your reader can follow along with your essay without too much effort. Creating a basic outline is a great way to make sure this happens!

To create an outline, first organize your thoughts. Write down the main points that you definitely want to cover in your essay. Next, organize those thoughts into various sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Your ideas can either be in sentence form, short phrases, or simple words – whatever you prefer! Lastly, make sure your ideas flow in a logical order and, if necessary, add more detail under each point. Check out this source for more information.

Also, try to avoid going off on a tangent by trying to take the time to determine which information is relevant and which isn’t. If it makes it easier, try creating a basic scholarship essay outline before you start writing. 

scholarship essay tips

7. Show Emotions

Connecting with an audience through writing can be challenging but, when done right, it can create a very powerful connection between the reader and the author. Showing your emotions is a great way to do that and to get the reader personally invested in your essay. Showing emotion can help the reader see you as a person, rather than a faceless author. Even though it’s crucial, it’s one of the scholarship essay tips that people tend to ignore the most.

We all have vulnerabilities, so don’t be afraid to show them. Likewise, write about your passions and the forces that drive you to succeed in life. Scholarship committees don’t expect you to be perfect and want to see how you’ve grown as a person and handled the obstacles that life has thrown your way. In fact, opening up about times where you felt nervous or scared demonstrates maturity and self-awareness – two great qualities for a scholarship applicant to have.

8. Use Real Life Examples

Instead of telling your reader about your experiences, show them. Don’t be afraid to provide real-world examples of your experiences and/or how you’ve changed as a person. Nearly every applicant will have a somewhat similar response to the essay prompt and your personal examples are your chance to transform your essay from generic to unique.

9. Keep the Tone Inspirational & Positive

One of the most important scholarship essay tips is based entirely on your perspective and tone. Nobody wants to read a depressing and self-pitying story. Even if you’re writing about difficult or sad events in your life, try and keep the tone positive and inspirational. Rather than just writing about how you were negatively affected by an event, focus on how you grew from the experience and overcame the obstacle.

10. Stay Away from Dreary & Boring Conclusions

Most people use the conclusion to simply paraphrase their entire essay…but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Do something surprising and innovative. Make your essay interesting and attention-grabbing from the first letter until the last period.

One great way to bring your conclusion to the next level is to leave your readers with an interesting question for them to think about. For more ideas, check out these helpful tips.

scholarship essay tips

 

The Editing Phase

11. Proofread and Ask for Help!

As much as we like to believe that we’re perfect, we all make mistakes…which is why it’s so important to take the time to proofread your essay. One great way to find mistakes is to read your essay out loud. For more ideas, check out these helpful tips.

Once you’ve taken the time to proofread your own essay a few times, have someone else do it for you. Asking a family member or friend for help can provide you with a different perspective on your writing and a second set of eyes might catch a mistake that you didn’t.

12. Take Advantages of Resources

When it comes to writing, you don’t have to do it completely on your own. If you’re in college, most schools have a writing center that offers free feedback and guidance to students. They might even have some insightful scholarship essay tips that you (or we!) didn’t think about. Some high schools, communities, or libraries might also have similar services.

Other than that, the internet can be a great source of information. If you have a specific question, try doing a simple Google search. Also, one of the best writing resources out there for students of all ages is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). Check it out here.

scholarship essay tips

What else?

13. Reuse Essays When Possible!

While it might seem impossible to write a new essay for every scholarship application, you don’t necessarily have to. A lot of scholarships use very similar essay prompts – meaning you can either use the exact same essay or slightly change it rather than writing a new one altogether. Plus, reusing essays allows you to put more time into perfecting one or two essays. 

What are your best scholarship essay tips? Let us know below!

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