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So you’ve got an essay due—and it’s not just any old paper. It’s a scholarship personal statement, and you want to make sure it’s the best one you can possibly write. So how do you start? That’s the purpose of this post. Let’s walk through some essentials of how to write a memorable scholarship introduction.

What Makes a Good Introduction?

But first, let’s talk generally about what makes a good introduction.

First and foremost, a good introduction makes a reader want to continue reading!

To achieve this, an introduction should be interesting, but also informative. You don’t want to hook your reader with some kind of entertaining anecdote that doesn’t really tell them anything about who you are or why they should read more about you.

Beyond that, it shouldn’t just be a list of facts about yourself (this is my name, these are my grades, this is my extracurricular profile, etc.)—that could get boring pretty fast! Instead, try to find a way to weave those facts into something engaging and memorable. And, of course, you should ensure that you answer the scholarship essay prompt.

Now let’s examine some more specific scholarship essay tips for a great introduction.

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It Should Relay One Point

When writing a scholarship introduction, one of the most important things you can do is remember that it’s not the place to cram in every piece of information you have about yourself.

Great introductions focus on relaying one main point—something that will interest readers and get them excited about what they’ll find in your essay. You should also make sure that your opening sentence is active and engaging; if it doesn’t grab the reader, then everything else you write is just wasted words. 

We’ll cover some examples below, but for now you should know that conveying one point is usually best done by considering the theme your application will highlight (the theme may be an answer to an essay prompt if one exists). For example, you may want to start with a story that highlights your work ethic, perseverance, or community service. After establishing this theme, the rest of your essay should be used to bolster this point. 

If you’re not sure where to start, ask this question: “What is the one thing I want the scholarship selection committee to know about me?” Craft your introduction around your answer. 

It Should Be Compelling

A scholarship essay is a story. You’re telling the story of who you are and what makes you special. But it’s not enough to just tell people your favorite colour or book series. You need to show them why these things are important to you, and why they make you different from everyone else. Your uniqueness is a big part of how to sell yourself for a college or university scholarship.

To do this, start by boiling down your application essay into something simple—something that can be distilled into one sentence. Then ask yourself: What do I value about that? How has it shaped my life? How does it help me stand out from other people?

For example: “My favourite colour is purple because it reminds me of the colour of my mother’s eyes.” Or: “My favourite book series is Harry Potter because it taught me how to overcome obstacles in life.”

Now you have a compelling starting point. 

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It Should Be Personal

You want to show that you’re not just another applicant—you’re a unique individual with your own story and experiences. And the best way to do that is by writing your essay with your own style and voice.

But how do you make sure your voice comes through in your essay?

Here are some tips to help you find your voice while writing scholarship applications:

1) Examine personal stories that you find interesting. How do they convey their feelings? What words do they use? Are there any patterns or themes that emerge? This will help you figure out what kind of language, tone, or mood you want to use throughout your essay.

2) Think about who might read your essay. Who would be interested in it, and why? How do you want them to react to your essay? Do you want to influence feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement? 

3) Use “I” in order to demonstrate that your words are personal to you. When reading a winning scholarship essay, it should make you feel like you know the student. Remember, a scholarship essay is about yourself. While things like famous quotes may work on some occasions, it’s usually most persuasive to introduce yourself as if you’re in a room with the scholarship committee members telling them why you deserve this prize

Let’s examine how a message that is deeply personal to the writer comes across to you. What do you think about these essay introductions? Do they make you believe in the student? Do you want to continue reading and know more about them? Above all else, do these essay introduction examples make you feel that the student is worthy of winning a scholarship? 

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Scholarship Essay Introduction Example 1

I’m not a stranger to hard work.

I’ve been working since I was 14 years old. I’ve done everything from babysitting to serving tables, and it’s taught me how to be responsible, focused, and resilient. It’s also made me realize that I want to do more than just work hard—I want to do good in the world. And that’s why I’m writing this essay.

Scholarship Essay Introduction Example 2

I’ve always been a big dreamer. I’ve dreamt about going to the moon, or being the first human to live on Mars, or even just getting that really cool job where I travel around the world and help people. But none of those dreams have ever been realistic—until now.

Final Word – You’re Ready to Apply for Scholarships

There you have it! With these tips, you’re well on your way to writing the perfect introduction and you’re ready to apply for scholarships. Remember, the goal is to use your introduction to grab the scholarship provider’s interest and intrigue them into reading the rest of your statement. Good luck!

Christopher Grafos, Ph.D., is the founder and chief scholarship mentor at BridgesEDU Scholarships.

He’s a first-generation university graduate whose life was transformed by education and winning scholarships. 

Scholarships help students financially, but they also help advance a student’s career. It’s his life’s work to champion this message and share the secrets to finding and winning scholarships. 

Read more about Christopher’s journey here