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Home > Schedule > Scholarship Writing Workshop

Scholarship Writing Workshop (Personal Statement)

C. Porscha dela Fuente will be taking students through the process of writing their essays for scholarships. This is very important to let the people responsible for approving the scholarships why you should be getting the award.

Opening date is after January 1, submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the federal processor. File electronically for faster processing and fewer errors. Processing time is approximately four weeks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Lama 118 (Library)
12:30 pm - 1:15 pm

How to Write a Personal Statement


What Will I Cover?

  • The Scholarship Process—Types & Overview
  • What is a Personal Statement?
  • Determining Purpose & Audience
  • 3 Questions to Consider
  • Key Elements of the Writing Style
  • Have a Plan
  • You Try—Workshop Time!

The Scholarship Process—Types & Overview

Types of Scholarships


  • Internal (with Kapi’olani CC)
  • Local (Alu Like, Kamehameha Trust, Hawaii Community Foundation)
  • National


  • Merit—Academic, grades
  • Financial Need—FAFSA
  • Qualifier—major, ethnicity, high school

The Scholarship Process

  • Scholarships are the ideal “gifts” in paying for college since they never have to be repaid.
  • Some are for 2 or 4 years of college while others are short-term (by semester). Others are just for supplies like books or media/technology.
  • Since scholarships are gifts they have requirements, no free lunch. They also have a review committee to select the best candidate.

Review Process

Submitt all of your paperwork - Including application, letters of recommendation, FAFSA, Personal Statement, and transcripts all postmarked by due date.

1st Phase - Screening

Committee checks to make sure paperwork is in order:
Complete App. (filled out, components)
Writing meets the criteria required

2nd Phase - Elimination

Committee reads through paperwork to ensure candidate is a good match.

Personal Statement becomes the marker of the individual. It is the one element of the application you have creative control over.

THUS, the Personal Statement is an important deciding factor in this process.

What is a Personal Statement?

A Picture…of yourself as a person, student, and potential scholarship recipient.

Who are you?
What do you want to be?
What kind of contribution can
you make and how?

An Invitation…

to get to know you. A bridge between the committee and you. Goal is to make the readers feel welcome.

What are important moments in your life?
What is your personal background?
Why are you the best candidate?

An Indicator…of your priorities and judgments.

What are your motivations?
What is your education and career goals?
What you say and how you say it is crucial.

A Story… more precisely, your story.

A place to tell your story descriptively, authentically and precisely.

A Personal Statement is NOT

An academic paper
A resume in narrative form
A journal entry
A plea or justification
To avoid these pitfalls, you need to understand:


of the scholarship you are applying for.

Determining Purpose & Audience

Purpose = determine the mode of writing

What is the prompt asking you to do?
Describe (#1)

Audience = determine the recipient of the writing

Who will be reading your response?
What are their values?
What do they need to know?
What are their expectations?

3 Questions to Consider

family, background, motivations, experiences

education & career goals, reasons for attending college, plans for after college, career choice

academic achievements, sports, clubs & organizations, employment, volunteer work, personal interest

Key Elements of the Writing Style

Types of Personal Statements:

1) Open-ended, conventional statement No formal prompt, looking for creative approach

2) Specific question/prompt
Scholarship or organization will devise a question for you to answer.

Things to Do/Consider

  • Narrow focus to one or two key themes, ideas or experiences
  • Hook the reader with an intriguing, personal introduction
  • Share with the reader something that no other applicant will be able to say
  • Acceptable to use “I” in your writing
  • Meets the guidelines—length & topic
  • Be yourself, not the “ideal” applicant
  • Focus on the affirmative
  • Use readable fonts, typeface, and conventional spacing and margins, clean copies
  • Visit the scholarship’s website for mission statement

Things NOT to do

  • Be careful with humor
  • Avoid cliché sayings, repetition/wordiness
  • Do not present questions you don’t answer
  • Do not complain or whine about the "system" or circumstances in your life
  • Do not preach to your reader. You can express opinions, but do not come across as fanatical or extreme
  • Do not talk about money as a motivator
  • Do not submit supplemental materials unless they are requestedOrganization Strategies

Organization Strategies

Personal Statements are not organized around a set model/style. This can be liberating OR maddening.

Therefore follow any of these organizing strategies:

  • Past--Present--Future
  • Short term, Long term goals
  • Tell a story that provides evidence
  • Share ideas around your personal, academic and career goals

Getting Started…Are You Ready?

List all of your qualifiers:

  • age,
  • ethnicity,
  • major,
  • high school,
  • community service

Visit KISC Financial Aid Office to find out about internal scholarships you are eligible for

Start shopping: seek out scholarships you match with

Chart requirements & due dates for scholarships

Develop Yourself (Personal Marketing)

  • Improve grades
  • Join clubs/organizations, volunteer
  • Make connections --> school, work, community

Have a Plan

Read up on your scholarship, what is it asking for? What do you need to provide?

Unsure about requirements, call/email & ask

Start planning & drafting your personal statement/essay as soon as possible

Chart due dates, materials required

Commit to a calendar or planner system to stay on track

If you need a letter of recommendation, consider who knows you & your work best.

Give time & notice to faculty/boss/coordinator

Provide them with your personal statement & scholarship requirements

Get feedback on your personal statement

draft, feedback, revise, draft, edit, copy (back-up)

Visit a tutor, ask an instructor for feedback, talk about it with a friend.

Let's Get Started!

Visit your scholarship’s requirements for the Personal Statement:

Know Your Deadlines

UH System Common Scholarship Application due:

March 1st

More information is located at : http://www.hawaii.edu/finaid/scholarships/system/

You Try!

Use your scholarship prompt or select a prompt & write for about 10 minutes (brainstorm):

  • What ideas, books, theories or movements have made a profound impact on you?
  • Under what conditions do you do your best, most creative work?
  • What errors or regrets have taught you something important about yourself?
  • What experience had a profound effect on your life or worldview?

Good Luck!

Success is the progressive, timely achievement of your stated goals.
~Charles J. Givens

Question and Answers

Presentation PowerPoint: --- SOSscholarship.pptx (4.92MB)



University of Hawaii System Common Scholarship Application
The 2015-16 scholarship application will open on December 1, 2016
until March 1, 2017 (4:00 pm HST or Postmarked)

Kapi‘olani Community College Scholarship Funds

Angie Ocampo, Scholarships/VA Certifying Official
Kapi‘olani Community College
4303 Diamond Head Road Ilima 102
Honolulu, HI 96816-4421

Additional Scholarship Workshop Schedules run by the KCC Scholarship Office

Coming Spring 2017

UHSYS_SCHOLARSHIP_GUIDE_1314 - FYI, from the UH System Scholarship Office. PDF version of guide they distribute at informational workshops. Not yet posted on their webpage: http://www.hawaii.edu/finaid/scholarships/system/
Feel free to distribute to students.

Hawaii Community Foundation - Every funding decision made at the Hawaii Community Foundation benefits from the collective wisdom of people and organizations wanting to help Hawaii. At HCF, we keep our heads and our hearts on the pulse of the community—applying solid analytics to philanthropic passion to help our island home in meaningful and measurable ways.

My UH Portal - STAR - Scholarship Tab - Community College Students click on the Community College Common Scholarship Application.

National Science Foundation - The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…"


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