Academic Strengths Essay

Though writing an essay for a scholarship application can be a daunting task, think of it as an opportunity to showcase your abilities and talents to the scholarship committee. By accentuating your strengths through your writing, you will be able to effectively communicate that you are a deserving candidate for their award.

Strive to illustrate your strengths and experience when writing essays for a scholarship application. Throughout your life, you continually discover your talents and abilities. As you develop these talents, they become your strengths in life. Try to demonstrate multiple strengths in your essays. Possible topics that you could illustrate in a scholarship essay include service, leadership, academics, arts, athletics, entrepreneurship, creative talent, leadership, diversity, challenges overcome, and community involvement. Decision-makers for the scholarship program will see your strengths and abilities as reasons why you are worthy of a scholarship.  

Add Variety to Your Strengths

Convince selection committees that your talents and experiences are expansive. Demonstrate the variety of your strengths by dividing them into categories and highlighting each one. Below are examples of how you can emphasize the following strengths:

  • Service by describing service projects you performed for your church, community, and school or work
  • Leadership by outlining leadership positions in your church, community, and school or work
  • Athletics by highlighting the top three sports that you excel in: football, soccer, tennis, cheerleading, track, field, or other
  • Academics by specifying your top three academic subjects in school: math, science, history, civics, economics, English, or other
  • Creative talent by explaining your talents: visual arts, music, dance, poetry, or other
  • Any other talent or ability by identifying three ways you have demonstrated that strength in your life

Give Your Strengths Magnitude

In addition, you should show selection committees that you have developed each of your strengths extensively. Tell them how your accomplishments set you apart from others. Demonstrate the magnitude of your strengths by sharing at least three accomplishments within each category. We call this method of presenting your skills and accomplishments “powerstatements.”

Two important concepts govern the preparation of power statements:

  • Highlight the skill you are presenting by using “power words,” such as motivated, organized, responsible, problem-solver, and other words that describe your particular strengths.
  • Describe something you accomplished with the skill you are presenting. You may include a challenge you faced, actions you performed to overcome the challenge, and the results of your actions. Try to quantify the results of your accomplishments to show your value to a scholarship committee.

Some Examples of Power Statements:

Service

I can achieve results. For example, I planned, organized, and led a charity project that packaged over 5,000 boxes of humanitarian supplies for victims of Hurricane Irene. The whole project was completed and shipped in one day.

Leadership

I have organization management skills. For example, I reorganized my company’s manufacturing department, increasing yield by 15 percent.

Academics

I am an over-achiever. For example, I maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout college while working full-time, taking honors courses, and serving as the president of the Education Society on campus.

Athletics

I am dedicated. For example, I won the city and regional championship in the 5K by training four hours daily to improve my running time by 45%.

Creative Talents

I am creative. For example, I designed a new product line that increased my company’s revenue by $25,000.

By expressing the variety of your strengths, you will show that you are a skilled and well-rounded individual. By expressing the magnitude of your strengths, you will prove that you are accomplished in those areas of your life. Using power statements to deliver these messages will communicate your value with greater impact to selection committees. These applied techniques will create an essay that is more impressive and persuasive of your qualifications.

For more information about scholarships, see the following:

Letters of Recommendation

Scholarship Master Application

Scholarship Sources

Topics for Scholarship Essays 

How to Strengthen a Scholarship Essay

Finding Financial Aid on LDSjobs.org

Continuing Education 

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During class, we took Gallup’s strengths finder assessment to help us better understand ourselves, develop a language to be able to talk about our strengths, and work better with others who have the same or different strengths. My top strength was Restorative, which essentially means that I strive to always be improving.  I work hard to fix problems and inefficiencies in myself and in others and try my best to find solutions to problems I encounter.  My next strength was Analytical, which means that I am very good at breaking complex topics or situations down in a methodical way, prioritizing important information over less important things, and thinking problems through to come up with a good solution.  My third strength was Consistency, which means that I try to treat everyone and everything equally, and I approach problems by taking them apart into simpler pieces.  My fourth strength was Relator, which usually has to do with forming and seeking relationships with others, but in my case is more about seeing patterns and connections in data and ideas, consequences of different actions, and cause and effect relationships.  My final strength was Input, which means that I am constantly gathering information and learning, taking ideas apart to understand and appreciate them and weighing facts to make decisions.  Many of these strengths have similar concepts or work together very closely; for example, most of my strengths have to do with solving problems and fixing things by simplifying them and breaking them into smaller parts and dealing with them in a methodical way.  My strengths did not really come as a surprise to me; I knew that these were things I excel at naturally and usually do well in, but taking the test helped me to see them in a new way and really highlighted how they play into my everyday life.

     My strengths play a big role in my everyday life.  They have a very large influence on the way I think and approach problems.  For example, I am a huge list-maker.  To Do lists, Homework lists, and other types of lists help me stay organized and on top of everything I have to get done.  Academically, I tend to do best in subjects that are concept-based because breaking complex topics down to simple terms is one of my strengths.  This also allows me to be very effective at helping other people understand these subjects better.  Another area in which my strengths show is in my cooking and baking.  I love looking through books and finding new recipes, and following the step-by-step methods for cooking is really relaxing for me.  Though I have been doing things and thinking this way my whole life, before learning about these strengths I never really thought about them as anything more significant than facets of my personality.  But now that I can pick out these examples and see the ways that they help me currently, I have started thinking more about my strengths in relation to my future.

     I am going to be a doctor.  I am not sure what my specialization will be, and I am not sure in what setting I want to work, but I am completely certain I want to practice medicine.  In the strengths report, in the application section for 3 of my 5 top strengths, medicine or medical research were recommended careers.  This affirmation that I am well-suited for my chosen profession was a really good thing to be able to hear now, as a first-year undergraduate, when I am so far away from my goals.  While my career goals are very much long term goals, my academic goals which include acceptance to my first choices of medical schools, maintenance of good grades, performing research in a lab, and fulfilling volunteer work are more short term.  My personal goals are much simpler.  I want to be the kind of person who lives by my values, the kind of doctor who knows what she is talking about, and I want to make the world a better place.  Knowing my strengths will help me achieve these goals more easily because building a successful future is much easier if I know the tools I have to work with.

     With this knowledge of my top strengths, I can plan for the future more strategically and achieve my goals.  For example, I know my one of my strengths is the ability to plan and prioritize, so I am starting to work on a lot of the research I will need to choose a medical school now, to be more prepared when the time comes to actually apply.  Another of my strengths is prioritizing, and this helps me a lot in my day-to-day life as a student with managing my busy schedule.  Good decision-making after I weigh all of the facts is another one of my strengths, and it will help me in a lot of areas, from making personal life choices to knowing the best way to treat a patient.  I know that my strength of treating others with fairness and equality will help me in all areas my life, because making everyone feel equal and respected is important to being a good doctor and those are some of the values I believe in very strongly.

     Knowing about my strengths and being able to use appropriate language to talk about them already is helping, and in the future will continue to help me reach my goals.  Tools like the Strengths Finder test are very useful because they make people more aware of all of their talents that have developed into strengths that they may not have been conscious of previously.  They make people more effective in their daily lives and in their work.  Knowledge of diverse strengths and talents is also very useful for building effective teams and helping those teams work well together.  The Strengths Finder test and the knowledge of my strengths was a really helpful tool that is going to help make my goals more achievable and me be more effective as a person.

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