Well Rounded Student Essay Contest

The essay: It’s the most important part of your scholarship application, and it can be the hardest.

But, the essay shouldn’t keep you from applying. Take a look at some commonly asked essay questions and use them to prepare for your scholarship applications. Brainstorm ideas, do some research or create your own “stock” of scholarship essays.

Your Field of Specialization and Academic Plans

Some scholarship applications will ask you to write about your major or field of study.

These questions are used to determine how well you know your area of specialization and why you’re interested in it.


• How will your study of _______ contribute to your immediate or long range career plans?
• Why do you want to be a _______?
• Explain the importance of (your major) in today’s society.
• What do you think the industry of _______ will be like in the next 10 years?
• What are the most important issues your field is facing today?

Current Events and Social Issues

To test your skills at problem-solving and check how up to date you are on current issues, many scholarship applications include questions about problems and issues facing society.


• What do you consider to be the single most important societal problem? Why?
• If you had the authority to change your school in a positive way, what specific changes would you make?
• Pick a controversial problem on college campuses and suggest a solution.
• What do you see as the greatest threat to the environment today?

Personal Achievements

Scholarships exist to reward and encourage achievement. So you shouldn’t be surprised to find essay topics that ask you to brag a little.


• Describe how you have demonstrated leadership ability both in and out of school.
• Discuss a special attribute or accomplishment that sets you apart.
• Describe your most meaningful achievements and how they relate to your field of study and your future goals.
• Why are you a good candidate to receive this award?

Background and Influences

Who you are is closely tied to where you’ve been and who you’ve known. To learn more about you, some scholarship committees will ask you to write about your background and major influences.


• Pick an experience from your own life and explain how it has influenced your development.
• Who in your life has been your biggest influence and why?
• How has your family background affected the way you see the world?
• How has your education contributed to who you are today?

Future Plans and Goals

Scholarship sponsors look for applicants with vision and motivation, so they might ask about your goals and aspirations.


• Briefly describe your long- and short-term goals.
• Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
• Why do you want to get a college education?

Financial Need

Many scholarship providers have a charitable goal: They want to provide money for students who are going to have trouble paying for college. In addition to asking for information about your financial situation, these committees may want a more detailed and personal account of your financial need.


• From a financial standpoint, what impact would this scholarship have on your education?
• State any special personal or family circumstances affecting your need for financial assistance.
• How have you been financing your college education?

Random Topics

Some essay questions don’t seem directly related to your education, but committees use them to test your creativity and get a more well-rounded sense of your personality.


• Choose a person or persons you admire and explain why.
• Choose a book or books and that have affected you deeply and explain why.

While you can’t predict every essay question, knowing some of the most common ones can give you a leg up on applications. Start brainstorming now, and you may find yourself a winner!

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Win a scholarship for college!

Are you a high school junior, senior, or a community college student from Utah? Then you’re eligible to participate in a video essay contest hosted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and its Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee. As an association of nearly 16,000 members dedicated to helping students consider all their options after high school, NACAC’s annual contest showcases the talents of students in our conference city and help ease students’ financial transition to higher education.

This year, $20,000 in scholarships will be awarded, with $5,000 for the first-place submission. The winners will be recognized at NACAC’s 74th National Conference, Sept.  27-29, at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The deadline to submit your video has been extended to March 23!

You only need a camera phone (or camera) and your creativity to enter!

How to Enter

1.    Create a video in response to the following prompt: Why is continuing your education after high school important to you?

2.    Video entries must include the following at some point: "My name is ___________ and I'm ______________ (junior or senior) from _____________ (high school) in ___________ (town).”
"My name is ___________ and I'm a student at_____________ (community college) in ___________ (town).”

3.    Video entries should be no more than 2 minutes in length.

4.    Video entries must be created by an individual student. No joint entries (video created by two or more students) will be considered.

5.    Submissions are limited to one video per student.

6.    All videos must be uploaded to YouTube on or before March 23 at 11:59 p.m. Mountain time.

Students from all backgrounds and academic preparation are encouraged to apply. Your submission should be well-thought out and prepared—similar to the preparation that would go into writing a school paper—with the freedom to showcase your voice and talents. Be yourself, show your creative side!

You must complete this form in order to be eligible for the contest.

Additional Tips

  • If you use your cell phone, be sure to film in landscape.

  • Speak slowly, clearly, and confidently. This is your time to shine. We need to understand your message. Engage us!

  • To avoid copyright infringement issues, if you plan to use music in your video feel free to utilize this website.

  • Have fun! Although this is a contest, it should be an enjoyable experience for you as well.

$20,000 in scholarships to be awarded, with $5,000 for the first-place submission.

Video Evaluation Criteria
Videos will be evaluated on the following criteria and given a mark on a scale of 0-5 (0 being absent and 5 being extraordinary).

Criteria (Total points possible = 25)

  1. Idea Development (5 points)
    Did you answer the question? Are your ideas well explained?

  2. Thoughtfulness (5 points)
    Do we get a sense of who you are, a window into your world? Do you demonstrate self-awareness and awareness of others?

  3. Clarity/Effectiveness (5 points)
    Can we see how your ideas are connected? Can we understand the thoughts you are trying to convey?

  4. Quality (5 points)
    Submission is well-thought out and prepared.

  5. Creativity (5 points)
    Are your ideas presented in an interesting, creative, or otherwise appropriate way?

For more information, email us.  

Who is the IAS Committee?

The Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee’s mission is to advance the association’s commitment to inclusion for underserved students and the educational professionals who guide them.

Ways to Utilize the Scholarship

There is more than one way to utilize scholarship money, but we have included some suggestions to help get you started.

High School Juniors: 

  • College Application Fees 
  • Standardized Testing Fees
  • College Savings Account
  • Summer Enrichment Program  

High School Seniors: 

  • College Tuition
  • Books/Supplies
  • Residence Hall Necessities
  • Admission/Housing Deposit

Community College

  • Tuition
  • Books/Supplies
  • Transfer Application Fees
  • Transportation/Commuting Costs
  • Academic Enrichment Program

Thank you to our sponsor:

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