Questions to Inspire Your Writing
• What's unusual, special, and distinctive about me? What events, people, or family history have shaped and influenced me? What would help the committee better understand me?
• When did I first become interested in my field of study? What have I learned since then? What have I learned about myself?
• What drives me, motivates me--in my field of study, my projected career, my life? What makes me tick?
Essay and Statement Tips
• Find a person to review your statement or essay, especially someone who has had experience reading or writing statements for scholarships/transfer.
• Employ clarity and structure in your essay/statement. Use paragraphs and transitions to signal a change in emphasis or ideas. Be judicious in your use of the words "I" and "you."
• Use proper punctuation and spelling.
• Be sure to answer the essay questions (i.e. the essay prompts)! Gear your essay to the audience who ultimately will be reading it. An exceptional essay that fails to address the main points of the question will not succeed.
• Avoid repetitious, trite, or meaningless phrases and avoid unnecessary jargon. Make every word count towards overall clarity and impact!
• Instead of talking about an experience, show it through example or detail. "I made a difference in people's lives" communicates much less than "I helped rebuild six homes, and through our teamwork, families moved back just three months after the hurricane."
• Be detailed and specific in your writing without getting bogged down. Proofread your essay. Then proofread it again. Go to the Writing Center if you need assistance.
Sections of the above are by Mary Hale Tolar, Associate Director for Educational Leadership at Kansas State University. Mary Tolar is a 1988 Truman Scholar and 1990 Rhodes Scholar; served as scholarships advisor at four institutions, including Willamette; was Deputy Executive Secretary for the Truman Scholarship Foundation, and has served on national selection committees for Truman and Rhodes Scholarships.