Scholarship Essay On Future Goals
When you were kid, I bet you were asked (and more than once), “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I’ll also bet that, by the time you were a junior or senior in high school, you were asked (and again, more than once), “What do you want to do when you graduate?”
If you answered these questions in any way that told people your plans for the future, you’re already used to talking about your career goals. The only difference this time is that you actually have to write them down.
Struggling to turn your standard answer of what you’ll do when you grow up into an essay? If so, this post can help. Here’s how to write a career goals essay that dreams big.
How to Write a Career Goals Essay That Dreams Big
Before you start writing, take a minute to think about why you’re actually writing a career goals essay.
- Is it an assignment for a class?
- Are you applying for a scholarship?
- Is it part of an admissions process, such as admission into the school of nursing or college of education?
No matter your purpose, before you begin to write, think about your audience.
If you’re writing for a class, pay attention to what your prof wants. If you know your prof is a stickler for following directions and you’ll lose mega points if you forget one small detail, then, by all means, make sure you’re diligent about reading assignment guidelines.
(Even if your prof isn’t such a stickler for every little detail, chances are she wrote those guidelines for a reason. So pay attention to them!)
If you’re writing your career goals essay to apply for a scholarship or as part of an admissions essay, remember, you’ll still need to follow content guidelines.
And though the guidelines might not explicitly state that you should use standard fonts and font sizes, rest assured that you’ll be expected to do so.
Need an essay format refresher? Check out this Essay Formatting Survival Guide (Infographic).
Okay, you’re thinking audience. You’re thinking format. Now you have to think content. So let’s talk about the content of a career goals essay.
Step 1: Livin’ the dream—What are your career goals?
The first step of writing a career goals essay is to prewrite. (Or if you’re more of a visual person, consider using a mind map to lay out your ideal career master plan to uncover specifics for your essay.)
For prewriting, start with a few basics like defining your dream job or writing about your ultimate career goal.
Next, move to more specific information. Think about the following as you write:
- Why do you want to do this type of work?
- What about the work appeals to you most?
- What do you want to accomplish in your career?
- Do you currently have any experience in this type of work?
Here’s a prewriting example for inspiration:
- My dream job and career goal: Children’s book illustrator
- Why do this job? I love to draw and love the creativity involved.
- What appeals to me? I’ve always enjoyed the illustrations in children’s books and have been inspired by the stories they tell. I like to create characters. I like to see how happy people are when viewing my work. Nothing beats the smile on children’s faces when they enjoy what I’ve created.
- What I want to accomplish: I’d ultimately like to draw for my own series of books.
- Current experience: I create my own work all the time. I’ve published in the school newspaper and won a local art contest.
With prewriting complete, next, think about the true focus of your essay.
Step 2: Your fight song—Focus your ideas
To focus your ideas, write a few concise sentences that explain your career goal and why you want to pursue the career. (These sentences are pretty much the thesis statement of your essay.)
If you’ve completed Step 1 (above), then you should already have an idea of what to write. You’ll just need to put the ideas into sentence form.
Here are three examples to illustrate what this step might look like:
- My dream job is to be an illustrator of children’s books. I have always been fascinated by the artwork in children’s books as it is often the images (more than the words) that tell the story. As an illustrator, I would love to share my illustrations with children and hopefully inspire their own creativity.
- My ultimate goal is to become a cardiologist. Though it will clearly be a long and demanding journey, I am prepared for the challenge. Receiving this scholarship will help me take that first step and enroll in pre-med courses.
- I have always dreamed of being an elementary teacher. I love working with young children and enjoy helping them unlock all that the world has to offer through developing creative and inspiring lessons.
Now that you have a clear focus, you’ll need to fill in the details to support your ideas. (See, this really is a lot like most other essays you’ve written, isn’t it?)
Step 3: Be the one that they want—Use details to support your statements
If you’re writing a career goals essay as part of a class assignment, your professor most likely wants to see how well you can articulate your ideas about your future career and how well you can support your ideas.
If you’re applying for a scholarship or to gain admission into a program or school, the committee not only wants to see how well you can articulate your ideas, but also wants you to convince them that you deserve the scholarship or a place in their program.
In either case, details are important.
Need a few ideas to get you thinking? Trying answering a few (or all) of these questions.
- Why are you a good fit for this career? What about your personality or your skill set makes you a good fit?
- What examples can you provide that can help demonstrate your skills? Have you volunteered in the field? Have you won awards? Do you currently work in a similar job?
- If you’re applying for a scholarship, consider discussing how the scholarship will help you achieve your goals.
- If you’re applying to a school or program, consider explaining why you’d be a good fit and how you might benefit the program.
In other words, sell yourself. Think of it as a first date. Your job is to put your best foot forward and convince the other person that you are indeed special.
Step 4: Give them something to think about—The strong conclusion
As with any essay, a strong conclusion is vital. The conclusion is the last thing your audience will read, so it makes sense that it’s what they’ll likely remember most.
In other words, make your conclusion count by leaving readers with a few memorable lines.
Here are two examples that leave the readers with a positive impression:
- Following in my mother’s footsteps and becoming a lawyer has always been my dream. Receiving this scholarship will be the first step in making my dreams a reality.
- Watching people enjoy my creations has always brought a smile to my face, and being able to one day own my own bakery will allow me to express my creativity and bring joy to my customers.
Remember, the conclusion isn’t quite the final step…
Play it Again—Reread and Revise Your Work
As you’ve probably heard at least a few times in your academic career, don’t submit an essay without revising.
Set your essay aside for a day or two. Then return to it to make sure it accurately captures your goals.
- Does your essay start strong by highlighting your career goals and making readers want to learn more about you?
- Do the details support your focus?
- Does the story make sense, and can you follow the logic of why you want to pursue your chosen career?
- Is the essay missing anything? Should you delete anything?
- Does it end with a strong, memorable statement?
Want to read a few career goals essays before writing your own? Check out these examples:
Even after you’ve revised your paper, it’s always a good idea to have someone else read your work and offer revision suggestions. Let a Kibin editor be that someone else! Send your paper our way for some useful feedback.
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Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay
Writing a scholarship essay can be very difficult – especially if you want to do it well. Your essay will need to wow the reader, and speak directly to the goals of that organization, as well as the objectives of that award. If done properly, you will very rarely be able to submit the same application to multiple awards – it is not a one-size-fits-all; most essays will need to be tweaked or completely altered to show the reader that you are deserving of the award above and beyond any of the other participant who also applied.
Read on to find eight steps to help you write a better scholarship essay so that you can get the money you need to fund your international education.
Step 1: Read the Essay Prompt Thoroughly
Many schools and other organizations that give out scholarships will give you a "prompt" or a question which the essay is supposed to address. Read the question or prompt carefully and try to "read between the lines." For example, the prompt you are to answer might be, "Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why?" Ask yourself, "Are they really interested in my literary preferences or is there something more to this question?" More than likely, they want to get a better idea of who you are—not only what types of books you like but also what motivates you and what sorts of stories or topics interest you. They may also be interested in getting a sense for how promising a student you are based on the type of book you choose and what you have to say about it.
Tip: Always keep in mind that any scholarship essay question, no matter the topic, should demonstrate your interests, your background, and most importantly, highlight the experiences you've had that fit with the goals and mission of the funding organization.
Instead of being given a prompt, you might be asked to write an essay on the topic of your choosing. Although challenging, this is also an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity. Finally, if anything about the directions aren't clear, don't be afraid to contact someone at the funding organization and ask for clarification.
Step 2: Make a List of Important Points and Keywords to Include
Looking for sample essays?
Check out our Sample Essay section where you can see scholarship essays, admissions essays, and more!
Regardless of the essay prompt, you will want to make sure to include the important and relevant information about your experiences and background that makes you an ideal candidate for the scholarship award. To complete this step, it can be helpful to first research the organization to which you're applying and try to find their mission statement on their website. Circle a few key words from the mission statement and make sure to include those buzzwords in your essay.
Scholarship committees are not only looking for good students, they are often looking for a person that fits their organizational goals. You should gather your other application materials such as transcripts and resumes so you can review your qualifications as well as make note of what is missing in these materials that needs to be included in the essay.
For example, if you're applying for a general academic scholarship, you might want to talk about a specific class you took that really piqued your interest or inspired your current academic and career goals. The committee will see the list of the classes that you took on your transcript but they won't know how a particular class inspired you unless you tell them. The essay is the best place to do this. Your list of important points to make might also include:
- Any academic awards or other honors you've won.
- Any AP or college-level courses you took in high school.
- Any outside courses, internships, or other academic experiences that won't necessarily appear on your transcript.
- Why your experience and the mission of the funding organization match.
- What you plan to major in during college and how you think that major will be useful to your future career goals.
- Any special training or knowledge you have, or a project you completed in school or as an extracurricular activity.
- An example of how you overcame a challenge.
- Your financial circumstances that makes it necessary for you to finance your studies through scholarship money.
The challenge now is to integrate those points that you want the committee to know with an essay that answers the prompt. You can see our example scholarship essays to get a better idea of how to do this.
Step 3: Write an Outline or a Rough Draft
Not everyone likes to make an outline before they begin writing, but in this case it can be very helpful. You can start with your list of important points to begin writing the outline. For many, telling a story is the easiest and most effective way to write a scholarship essay. You can tell the story of how you found your favorite book, and how it has changed and inspired you. Start with large headings in your outline that describes the basic storyline. For example:
- High school composition teacher recommended book
- Read it over one weekend
- Made me see the world around me differently
- Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
Now you can start filling in the subheadings with points from your previous list:
- High school composition teacher recommended book
- Favorite class in high school
- Class opened my eyes to new ways of thinking
- Teacher noticed my enthusiasm—recommended outside reading
- Read it over one weekend
- Was the first time I was so drawn in by a book, I read it very quickly
- I realized my academic potential beyond getting good grades
- Made me see the world around me differently
- Started to look for jobs in social justice
- Interned for a summer at a law firm doing pro bono work for the poor
- This was a big challenge because I realized you can't help everyone and resources are limited
- Overcame this challenge by knowing that small change can be big, and working hard in a field you are passionate about will inspire you everyday
- Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
- The book is a constant source of inspiration and will keep me motivated as I pursue my career
- The book will always remind me how people with limited financial resources can still make a huge difference in others' lives
Step 4: Write a Strong Statement that Summarizes Your Points
You will want to include one strong thesis statement that summarizes all the major points you will make in your essay. It is often easy to start writing with this simple statement. Your essay doesn't have to begin or end with the thesis statement, but it should appear somewhere in order to tie all the individual sections together.
For example, your thesis statement might be, "You will find that various experiences from both my academic career and my personal life align very well with your organization's mission: shaping community leaders who are working towards a more just and sustainable world." Starting with this sentence can help you organize your thoughts and main points, and provide you with a direction for your essay. When you've finished your essay, be sure to reflect back on your thesis statement and ask yourself, "Does this essay further explain and support my thesis statement?"
Step 5: Fill in the Missing Parts
Now that you have a thesis statement, an outline, and a list of important points to include, you can begin to fill in the missing parts of your story. The first sentence is particularly important: it should capture the attention of the reader, and motivate him or her to continue reading. We recommend starting your story by painting a vivid picture of an experience about which you will be talking in the essay.
For example: "It is 6 am on a hot day in July, I've already showered and I'm eating breakfast. My classmates are all sleeping in and the sun has yet to awaken, but I'm ready to seize the day, as I couldn't imagine spending my summer any other way but interning at a local law firm that specializes in representing the poor. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and nothing has made me happier. But I wouldn't be here if it weren't for one particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class."
Step 6: Rewrite, Revise, Rewrite
A good writer rewrites and revises his or her work many, many times. After getting a first draft on paper, take a day or two away from the essay and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Make appropriate edits for content, and pay attention to proper spelling and grammar. If need be, you might want to write an entirely new draft and then integrate the best of both into a final draft. Writing a new draft can inspire you to think of new ideas or a better way to tell your story. Some other tips to think about as you rewrite and revise:
- Make sure it sounds like your voice. You want the scholarship committee to feel like they are getting to know you. If you don't sound authentic, the committee will know. It is better to be yourself than to say what you think the committee wants to hear.
- Strike a balance between modesty and arrogance. You should be proud of your accomplishments, but you don't want to sound arrogant. Don't exaggerate a story; instead be clear about what you did and the impact it had and let that speak for itself.
- Check to make sure you are answering the prompt and fulfilling all other requirements of the essay as directed by the committee, such as font preference and word count limits.
- Don't just list your accomplishments; describe them in detail and also tell the reader how you felt during these experiences.
- A scholarship essay is not a dissertation. You don't need to impress the committee with big words, especially if you're not completely clear if you're using them correctly. Simplicity and clarity should be the goals.
- Make sure your essay will be read from the beginning to the end. Committee members won't dedicate much time to reading the essay, so you need to make sure they are given motivation to read the entire thing. If you are telling a story, don't reveal the end of the story until the end.
- Check to make sure the buzzwords from the mission statement appear. It is easy to forget the scholarship committee's goals as you write. Return to their mission statement and look for spots to place keywords from the statement. Be sure, however, that you're not copying the mission statement word-for-word.
Step 7: Have someone else read your essay
Ideally, you could give your essay to a teacher or college admissions counselor who is familiar with scholarship essays and the college admission process. If such a person is not available, virtually anyone with good reading and writing skills can help make your essay better. When your editor is done reading and you've looked over his or her notes, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Was the story interesting and did it hold your attention?
- Were there any parts that were confusing?
- Did you find any spelling or grammar errors?
- Does the essay sound like my voice?
- Does the essay respond appropriately to the prompt?
- Is there anything you would have done differently or something you thought was missing?
After having an editor (or two or three) look over your draft, it is time again to revise and rewrite.
Step 8: Refine the Final Draft
Once you feel satisfied with the draft, review it one more time and pay particular attention to structure, spelling, grammar, and whether you fulfilled all the required points dictated by the committee. If you are over the required word count, you will need to make edits so that you are within the limit. If you are significantly under the word count, consider adding a supporting paragraph.
Essay Writing Center
Misconception: No one actually reads your scholarship essay! – Wrong!
Fact: Your essay is the key to your scholarship application. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to the selection committee that you are a well-rounded individual, that you are more than your GPA, that you are a strong writer, and it gives you a chance to talk about your experiences and qualifications in greater detail than what appears on your resume or transcripts.