Three Lives For Mississippi Essay Scholarships

Sample Scholarship Essays


If you’re applying for a scholarship, chances are you are going to need to write an essay. Very few scholarship programs are based solely on an application form or transcript. The essay is often the most important part of your application; it gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and your dedication to your goals. You’ll want to make sure that your scholarship essay is the best it can possibly be.

Unless specified otherwise, scholarship essays should always use the following formatting:

  • Double spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 point font
  • One-inch top, bottom, and side margins

Other useful tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you completely understand them before you start writing.
  2. Think about what you are going to write and organize your thoughts into an outline.
  3. Write your essay by elaborating on each point you included in your outline.
  4. Use clear, concise, and simple language throughout your essay.
  5. When you are finished, read the question again and then read your essay to make sure that the essay addresses every point.

For more tips on writing a scholarship essay, check out our Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay .


The Book that Made Me a Journalist

Prompt: Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why.

It is 6 am on a hot day in July and I’ve already showered and eaten breakfast. I know that my classmates are all sleeping in and enjoying their summer break, but I don’t envy them; I’m excited to start my day interning with a local newspaper doing investigative journalism. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and despite the early mornings, nothing has made me happier. Although it wasn't clear to me then, looking back on my high school experiences and everything that led to me to this internship, I believe this path began with a particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class.

I was taking a composition class, and we were learning how to write persuasive essays. Up until that point, I had had average grades, but I was always a good writer and my teacher immediately recognized this. The first paper I wrote for the class was about my experience going to an Indian reservation located near my uncle's ranch in southwest Colorado. I wrote of the severe poverty experienced by the people on the reservation, and the lack of access to voting booths during the most recent election. After reading this short story, my teacher approached me and asked about my future plans. No one had ever asked me this, and I wasn't sure how to answer. I said I liked writing and I liked thinking about people who are different from myself. She gave me a book and told me that if I had time to read it, she thought it would be something I would enjoy. I was actually quite surprised that a high school teacher was giving me a book titled Lies My Teacher Told Me. It had never occurred to me that teachers would lie to students. The title intrigued me so much that on Friday night I found myself staying up almost all night reading, instead of going out with friends.

In short, the book discusses several instances in which typical American history classes do not tell the whole story. For example, the author addresses the way that American history classes do not usually address about the Vietnam War, even though it happened only a short time ago. This made me realize that we hadn't discussed the Vietnam War in my own history class! The book taught me that, like my story of the Indian reservation, there are always more stories beyond what we see on the surface and what we’re taught in school. I was inspired to continue to tell these stories and to make that my career.

For my next article for the class, I wrote about the practice of my own high school suspending students, sometimes indefinitely, for seemingly minor offenses such as tardiness and smoking. I found that the number of suspensions had increased by 200% at my school in just three years, and also discovered that students who are suspended after only one offense often drop out and some later end up in prison. The article caused quite a stir. The administration of my school dismissed it, but it caught the attention of my local newspaper. A local journalist worked with me to publish an updated and more thoroughly researched version of my article in the local newspaper. The article forced the school board to revisit their “zero tolerance” policy as well as reinstate some indefinitely suspended students.I won no favors with the administration and it was a difficult time for me, but it was also thrilling to see how one article can have such a direct effect on people’s lives. It reaffirmed my commitment to a career in journalism.

This is why I’m applying for this scholarship. Your organization has been providing young aspiring journalists with funds to further their skills and work to uncover the untold stories in our communities that need to be reported. I share your organization’s vision of working towards a more just and equitable world by uncovering stories of abuse of power. I have already demonstrated this commitment through my writing in high school and I look forward to pursuing a BA in this field at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. With your help, I will hone my natural instincts and inherent writing skills. I will become a better and more persuasive writer and I will learn the ethics of professional journalism.

I sincerely appreciate the committee’s time in evaluating my application and giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

Do:Follow the prompt and other instructions exactly. You might write a great essay but it may get your application rejected if you don’t follow the word count guidelines or other formatting requirements.
DON'T:Open your essay with a quote. This is a well-worn strategy that is mostly used ineffectively. Instead of using someone else’s words, use your own.
DON'T:Use perfunctory sentences such as, “In this essay, I will…”
DO:Be clear and concise. Make sure each paragraph discusses only one central thought or argument.
DON'T:Use words from a thesaurus that are new to you. You may end up using the word incorrectly and that will make your writing awkward. Keep it simple and straightforward. The point of the essay is to tell your story, not to demonstrate how many words you know.

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Planners and Searchers

Prompt: In 600 words or less, please tell us about yourself and why you are applying for this scholarship. Please be clear about how this scholarship will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Being African, I recognize Africa’s need for home- grown talent in the form of “planners” (assistants with possible solutions) and “searchers” (those with desperate need) working towards international development. I represent both. Coming from Zimbabwe my greatest challenge is in helping to improve the livelihoods of developing nations through sustainable development and good governance principles. The need for policy-makers capable of employing cross-jurisdictional, and cross- disciplinary strategies to solve complex challenges cannot be under-emphasized; hence my application to this scholarship program.

After graduating from Africa University with an Honors degree in Sociology and Psychology, I am now seeking scholarship support to study in the United States at the Master’s level. My interest in democracy, elections, constitutionalism and development stems from my lasting interest in public policy issues. Accordingly, my current research interests in democracy and ethnic diversity require a deeper understanding of legal processes of constitutionalism and governance. As a Master’s student in the US, I intend to write articles on these subjects from the perspective of someone born, raised, and educated in Africa. I will bring a unique and much-needed perspective to my graduate program in the United States, and I will take the technical and theoretical knowledge from my graduate program back with me to Africa to further my career goals as a practitioner of good governance and community development.

To augment my theoretical understanding of governance and democratic practices, I worked with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) as a Programs Assistant in the Monitoring and Observation department. This not only enhanced my project management skills, but also developed my skills in research and producing communication materials. ZESN is Zimbabwe’s biggest election observation organization, and I had the responsibility of monitoring the political environment and producing monthly publications on human rights issues and electoral processes. These publications were disseminated to various civil society organizations, donors and other stakeholders. Now I intend to develop my career in order to enhance Africa’s capacity to advocate, write and vote for representative constitutions.

I also participated in a fellowship program at Africa University, where I gained greater insight into social development by teaching courses on entrepreneurship, free market economics, and development in needy communities. I worked with women in rural areas of Zimbabwe to setup income-generating projects such as the jatropha soap-making project. Managing such a project gave me great insight into how many simple initiatives can transform lives.

Your organization has a history of awarding scholarships to promising young students from the developing world in order to bring knowledge, skills and leadership abilities to their home communities. I have already done some of this work but I want to continue, and with your assistance, I can. The multidisciplinary focus of the development programs I am applying to in the US will provide me with the necessary skills to creatively address the economic and social development challenges and develop sound public policies for Third World countries. I thank you for your time and consideration for this prestigious award.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

DO:Research the organization and make sure you understand their mission and values and incorporate them into your essay.
DO:Focus on your strengths and turn in any problems or weaknesses into a success story.
DO:Use actual, detailed examples from your own life to backup your claims and arguments as to why you should receive the scholarship.
DO:Proofread several times before finally submitting your essay.
DON'T:Rehash what is already stated on your resume. Choose additional, unique stories to tell sell yourself to the scholarship committee.
DON'T:Simply state that you need the money. Even if you have severe financial need, it won’t help to simply ask for the money and it may come off as tacky.

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Saving the Manatees

Prompt: Please give the committee an idea of who you are and why you are the perfect candidate for the scholarship.

It is a cliché to say that I’ve always known what I want to do with my life, but in my case it happens to be true. When I first visited Sea World as a young child, I fell in love with marine animals in general. Specifically, I felt drawn to manatees. I was compelled by their placid and friendly nature. I knew then and there that I wanted to dedicate my life to protecting these beautiful creatures.

Since that day in Orlando, I have spent much of my spare time learning everything there is to know about manatees. As a junior high and high school student, I attempted to read scholarly articles on manatees from scientific journals. I annoyed my friends and family with scientific facts about manatees-- such as that they are close relatives of elephants--at the dinner table. I watched documentaries, and even mapped their migration pattern on a wall map my sister gave me for my birthday.

When I was chosen from hundreds of applicants to take part in a summer internship with Sea World, I fell even more in love with these gentle giants. I also learned a very important and valuable lesson: prior to this internship, I had imagined becoming a marine biologist, working directly with the animals in their care both in captivity and in the wild. However, during the internship, I discovered that this is not where my strengths lie. Unfortunately, I am not a strong student in science or math, which are required skills to become a marine biologist. Although this was a disheartening realization, I found that I possess other strengths can still be of great value to manatees and other endangered marine mammals: my skills as a public relations manager and communicator. During the internship, I helped write new lessons and presentations for elementary school groups visiting the park and developed a series of fun activities for children to help them learn more about manatees as well as conservation of endangered species in general. I also worked directly with the park’s conservation and communication director, and helped develop a new local outreach program designed to educate Floridians on how to avoid hitting a manatee when boating. My supervisor recommended me to the Save the Manatee Foundation so in addition to my full-time internship at Sea World, I interned with the Save the Manatee Foundation part-time. It was there that I witnessed the manatee rescue and conservation effort first hand, and worked directly with the marine biologists in developing fund-raising and awareness-raising campaigns. I found that the foundation’s social media presence was lacking, and, using skills I learned from Sea World, I helped them raise over $5,000 through a Twitter challenge, which we linked to the various social media outlets of the World Wildlife Federation.

While I know that your organization typically awards scholarships to students planning to major in disciplines directly related to conservation such as environmental studies or zoology, I feel that the public relations side of conservation is just as important as the actual work done on the ground. Whether it is reducing one’s carbon footprint, or saving the manatees, these are efforts that, in order to be successful, must involve the larger public. In fact, the relative success of the environmental movement today is largely due to a massive global public relations campaign that turned environmentalism from something scientific and obscure into something that is both fashionable and accessible to just about anyone. However, that success is being challenged more than ever before--especially here in the US, where an equally strong anti-environmental public relations campaign has taken hold. Therefore, conservationists need to start getting more creative.

I want to be a part of this renewed effort and use my natural abilities as a communicator to push back against the rather formidable forces behind the anti-environmentalist movement. I sincerely hope you will consider supporting this non-traditional avenue towards global sustainability and conservation. I have already been accepted to one of the most prestigious communications undergraduate programs in the country and I plan to minor in environmental studies. In addition, I maintain a relationship with my former supervisors at Save the Manatee and Sea World, who will be invaluable resources for finding employment upon graduation. I thank the committee for thinking outside the box in considering my application.

Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts

DO:Tell a story. Discuss your personal history and why those experiences have led you to apply for these scholarships.
DO:Write an outline. If you’ve already started writing or have a first draft, make an outline based on what you’ve written so far. This will help you see whether your paragraphs flow and connect with one another.
DON'T:Write a generic essay for every application. Adapt your personal statement for each individual scholarship application.
DO:Run spellcheck and grammar check on your computer but also do your own personal check. Spellcheck isn’t perfect and you shouldn't rely on technology to make your essay perfect.

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Sample Essays

Related Content:

Mississippi College Grants

A large amount of money is left untouched each year, with many individuals unaware that it is available for their college tuition. In Mississippi, there are many students looking to go to some of the best universities in the state, but they are having difficulty finding funding.

If you are a prospective student in Mississippi, you may be currently searching for scholarships and grants. There are a variety of institutions that provide Mississippi students with grants. These institutions and organizations can be characterized as federal, state and private.

Grants differ from scholarships in many ways. While scholarships are usually awarded to students based on excellence in academics, many grants are awarded based on challenges students may face. There are also grants awarded to students based on nationality, hobbies or skills.

Grants are unique because the factors by which students are awarded are very different. A student can simply be awarded a grant because he or she lives in Mississippi.

Students may have a difficult time finding these grants initially. Many grant programs are not publicized. Interested students will have to go the extra step and find the grant program that will help them make their college dreams come true. Students looking for grants for college would usually refer to the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

Federal Grants Available to Mississippi Students

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is available to students that are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree. Students who are awarded this grant receive up to $4,000 per year.

However, the exact amount received depends on the college or university. For example, the University of Mississippi’s grant funds cannot be more than $800 per year.

Students are required to demonstrate exceptional financial need, in order to be eligible for this grant. Students can apply for this grant by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Federal Pell Grant

The Pell Grant is available to every student in Mississippi that fills out the FAFSA form. However, financial need must be demonstrated for the student to be eligible. Students are awarded up to $5,500 per year with the Pell grant.

Once a student and his or her parent fill out the FAFSA, the U.S. government will create the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). The EFC is a report for each student detailing how much the family can contribute to the student’s college education. Pell Grant award amounts are based on the EFC and the amount of hours that the student is enrolled in college. For example, a full-time student may get the maximum award amount.

Students who are pursuing their bachelor’s degree for the first time are eligible for this grant. The Federal Pell Grant is renewable and a FAFSA has to be completed every year to guarantee the award.

TEACH Grant

The TEACH Grant is a federal grant program that is available to Mississippi students that intend on pursuing a career in teaching. There are many eligibility requirements involved with the TEACH grant. To be awarded a TEACH grant, students must:

  • Be enrolled in a undergraduate or graduate degree program (Students enrolled at the University of Mississippi must qualify for Phase II of the Teacher Education Program)
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or an eligible non-citizen such as, a permanent resident
  • Be in the process of completing the necessary coursework to begin their career in teaching
  • Have a GPA of 3.25 for every award period

Undergraduate students can be awarded the maximum of $4,000 per year. Graduate students can also be awarded the maximum of $4,000. Students can apply for the TEACH grant by filling out the FAFSA and a Request for Federal TEACH Grant form.

Once awarded the grant, students will have to complete Entrance counseling. Within eight years of completing the program and graduating college, students are required to work within the teaching field.

State Educational Grants Awarded to Mississippi Students

Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant

The Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant was created by the Mississippi Legislature aimed at providing financial assistance to Mississippi students attending state-approved two-year and four-year colleges and universities. The grant is also aimed at providing opportunities for students to pursue post-secondary education in Mississippi.

The eligibility requirements for entering freshmen and sophomores are different than the eligibility requirements for college juniors and seniors. For entering freshman, the eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Students must be legal residents of the state of Mississippi for at least a year before applying for the grant
  • Entering freshman must a high school grade point average of at least 2.50 at the time of graduation
  • Students must a minimum score of 15 on their ACT exams
  • Students must be accepted to a postsecondary college or university in the state of Mississippi
  • Students must be receiving less than the maximum award the Pell grant program can give
  • Students must be pursuing their first bachelor’s degree

For Students already enrolled in college, the eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Students must be legal residents of the state of Mississippi for at least one year before applying to the grant program
  • Students are required to have at least a 2.50 college grade point average
  • Students must attend a postsecondary college or university in Mississippi
  • Students must be enrolled full-time at their respective college or university
  • Students must be pursuing their first bachelor’s degree
  • Students must be receiving less than the maximum amount that is awarded through the Pell grant program

In addition to these various requirements, entering freshmen and current college students are required to view and read the grant program’s rules and regulations. The Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant awards a maximum of $500 per year to entering freshmen and sophomores and $1,000 per year to juniors and seniors in college.

Students can apply to this grant program by filling out an online application, which can be found at www.ms.gov.

Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant

The Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant is awarded to entering freshmen who are designated as National Merit/Achievement Finalists or Semifinalists and students that have received a 29 or higher on their ACT examination.

In order to be eligible for this grant, entering freshmen should also have a 3.5 high school grade point average. Students must also be a resident of the state of Mississippi for at least one year and enroll into college full-time.

This grant is renewable and an application is required each year. Students have to maintain a 3.5 grade point average to keep the grant. Applications can be found at www.mississippi.edu.

Sumners Grant

The Sumners Grant is awarded to students who reside in one of Sumners counties in Mississippi. The Sumners counties include:

  • Attala
  • Carroll
  • Choctaw
  • Montgomery
  • And Webster County

Students who apply for this grant must be enrolled in a college or university and must have resided in one of the Sumners counties for 12 consecutive months. Students can be awarded a maximum of $5,000 per academic year. The amount of the award cannot exceed the cost of tuition, when it is combined with other sources of financial aid.

The Sumners grant is renewable and an application must be completed every year. Students can find the application for the Sumner grant at www.olemiss.edu.

Ole Miss Opportunity Program

The University of Mississippi has a grant program with a mission to provide education opportunities to students of all backgrounds. The Ole Miss Opportunity Program gives eligible residents of Mississippi the opportunity to obtain financial support for their college education.

The grant is primarily used to supplement any college tuition that is not covered by federal, state, or private grants and scholarships. To be eligible for the grant, students are required to be residents of the state of Mississippi, be an entering freshman at the University of Mississippi and be enrolled full-time. In addition, the student’s family’s income should not exceed $30,000 and the student should have a minimum grade point average of 2.5.

Students can apply for the Ole Miss Opportunity grant by completing the FAFSA.

Summer Developmental Program Grant

The Summer Developmental Program Grant is available to high school students in Mississippi that are involved in the Summer Developmental Program. This grant is different than the others because it helps students before they enroll in a college or university. This grant gives students the financial ability to enroll into the Summer Developmental Program.

In order to be eligible for the grants, students must be a legal resident of the state of Mississippi, be accepted into the Summer Developmental Program, demonstrate financial need and complete the FAFSA application. Students can find more information on the grant program at www.mississippi.edu.

Private Grants and Scholarships for Mississippi Students

Private grants can be used as a supplemental way of paying for college when the federal and state grants have been exhausted. Private grants and scholarships can come from private companies or organizations. Here are a few private grants and scholarships in Mississippi that can be beneficial to students.

Southern Regional Education Board Scholarship Program

The Southern Regional Education Board Scholarship Program is open to college students and college doctorate students. This program primarily focuses on students that pursuing a career in Optometry or Osteopathy. Students are required to be residents in the state of Mississippi in order to be eligible. The amount of the scholarship varies from year to year. Students can request an application by sending an email to seckels@ihl.state.ms.us.

Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers and Fireman Scholarship

This scholarship program caters to the family of Mississippi law enforcement and firemen. Scholarships are awarded to the children of full-time law enforcement officers and firemen who were killed in the line of duty.

This extraordinary scholarship program covers the student’s tuition for eight semesters. The scholarship is acceptable at all state-supported academic institutions in Mississippi. Students must be 23 years old and younger, to be eligible for the program.

The Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers and Fireman Scholarship is renewable, with the amount of the award varying every year. Applications and more information can be found at www.mississippiuniversities.com.

Graduate and Professional Degree Scholarship Program

The Graduate and Professional Degree Scholarship Program is a program that is available to Mississippi students who are pursuing a degree outside of the state. There are some degree programs that interest students that are not available in Mississippi. This program is open to graduate students and doctoral students. The maximum award for this scholarship is $7,000 and this award is renewable.

To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be a resident of Mississippi and be enrolled full-time in a graduate program in an out-of-state college or university. Students can look here at www.mississippiuniversities.com for more information on this scholarship program.

William Winter Teach Scholar Program

This scholarship program is ideal for students that are enrolled in a teaching certification program. The award is open to high school students who will be graduating and entering college and undergraduate students. Recipients of this award are required to be a resident of the state of Mississippi. Applicants must show proof of passing the Praxis 1 exam, in order to be eligible for the scholarship.

The William Winter Teach Scholar Program awards a maximum of $4,000 per year. Recipients of this scholarship are required to teach right after they have graduated college. This award is renewable. Students can find more information on this award and apply at www.mississippiuniversities.com.

Nissan Scholarship

Nissan North America, Inc. provides scholarships to Mississippi students who will attend 2-year or 4-year colleges or universities. Each Nissan scholarship pays for the full tuition, other fees and books. The scholarship is for the entire length of the student’s college education.

This scholarship is merit-based. The Nissan Scholarship Selection Committee determines the amount of scholarships that are available each year. In order to be eligible for the Nissan scholarship, students must:

  • Have at least a 2.5 high school grade point average
  • Have received a 20 on their ACT examination. The SAT I with a minimum score of 940 can be used in replaced of the ACT.
  • Be a legal resident of the state of the Mississippi
  • Be enrolled in a 2-year or 4-year college or university
  • Possess leadership abilities and demonstrate those qualities in extracurricular activities
  • Demonstrate a financial need
  • Write a 200-word essay on a topic that Nissan chooses

Nissan North America, Inc. has a rigorous selection process that consists of the following criteria:

  • Achievement in academics
  • Involvement in the community and leadership skills
  • The applicant’s essay
  • Financial need

Applicants can apply online at www.ms.gov. In addition to completing an online application, applicants are required to send in their supplemental forms, as well as their 200-word essay.

There are a variety of grants and scholarships Mississippi students can choose from. When applying for a grant or scholarship, it is best to ensure that you have completed the application and sent in any required documents.

3 Responses to “Mississippi College Grants”

  1. I’m a married student at Mississippi State university and I would like to know what type of grants and scholarships I’m eligible for.

  2. Presently my son is in his 2nd semester at Ole Miss. We looking for grants and scholarships are offer to minorities. Any feedback will be very much appreciate.

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