Writing About Your Career Goals in a Scholarship Essay (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 16, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Scholarship essays can provide great opportunities to share your personality, explain how the scholarship could help you and communicate your enthusiasm for your education. A common prompt you may see while composing your scholarship essay or essays is, "What are your career goals?" Learning to answer this question effectively can increase your chances of impressing administrators with your content and receiving a scholarship opportunity. In this article, we explain why essays ask you about your goals, list common prompts with example responses and provide additional tips that can help you maximize the strength of your writing.

Why do scholarship essays ask about career goals?

Scholarship essays ask about career goals for a few reasons. Here are some reasons you might see this prompt in your application:

To assess your enthusiasm for a specific program

Scholarship administrators might use this prompt to determine how passionate you are about pursuing your education. For many professions, a college education can be a crucial step in qualifying you for specific roles. When you're enthusiastic about a specific career, it can mean you're also devoted to fulfilling the requirements you need to get there. Scholarship administrators use applicant essays to determine who could most benefit from their help.

The applicant who writes about their dream to become a speech-language pathologist because they want to help kids the way their speech pathologist helped them might be a better candidate for assistance than the applicant who says they don't have any set career goals. The administration team might not consider the second essay because the writer couldn't communicate their reason for pursuing their education or their commitment to completing it.

To learn how the scholarship can help you

Another reason you might see this question is because the scholarship organization wants to know how their specific program could benefit you. If you have a passion and a dream and you need their help to realize your potential, try your best to communicate that in your essay. If appropriate, briefly mention how the scholarship can prepare you to accomplish your career goals. This can help you communicate the relevance of the scholarship to your individual needs.

To ensure you're thinking about your future

Goal setting is important for both your personal and your professional development. Those who regularly set goals show to others that they're actively considering their futures. Setting goals can help your motivation, determination and it can also help you grow as a person. In school, setting goals can help you perform better in your classes, prioritize your education and consider the impact of your decisions. Administrators want to know they're helping someone with clear vision and purpose. Your essay can help you communicate those qualities effectively.

Related: How To Write a Great Career Goals Essay

Example career goal prompts for scholarship essays

Here are some example prompts you might see while applying for scholarships, along with example answers to help guide your essay:

In 100 words, tell us about your career goals

100-word essays, while short, can take careful planning and thought. With so little space to communicate your ideas, it's important to ensure you maximize the strength of every sentence. Scholarship teams might give you this prompt to assess your future goals quickly or to supplement some of the other content in your application. In your answer, be as concise as possible. Consider focusing on a single goal so you have space to elaborate and relate it back to the scholarship.

Example: My name is Haylie Petrick, and I'm a sophomore engineering student at Bisbey Technical College. My goal is to become a civil engineer. Architecture and design have always fascinated me and I can't wait to use my degree to create innovative new structures and solutions in my community. Already my courses have done so much to prepare me for a future position by expanding my knowledge of civil engineering and encouraging my dedication to the profession. This scholarship could provide the resources I need to continue my education, learn valuable skills and qualify me for my dream role.

Related: How To Paraphrase and Why It's Important

In 250 words, tell us why you want to study your subject

Some essays might give you more space to explain your goals and the importance of the scholarship. Even though you have more words to communicate your ideas, still try to keep your essay concise and relevant. Support every point you make and remember to tie your points back to the prompt. Sometimes, prompts might not ask about your career goals specifically. Instead, they might ask you about your interest in a subject to learn if you're setting your own goals. Talking about a career when answering a question like this can show scholarship administrators you're thinking about your education's applications.

Example: I want to study nursing because I've always been passionate about helping others. When I was seven, my family and I were in a terrible car accident. At the hospital, scared and alone without my parents, I refused to let the doctor put stitches in my arm. The nurse in the room held my hand and told me stories and jokes until my fear went away. Even though the doctor was the one who fixed my arm, she gave me the bravery I needed to get better.

I left the hospital that night knowing with complete certainty that, when I grew up, I was going to be a nurse. As I enter my junior year in my program, I'm more committed than ever to being the source of comfort and concern that my nurse was for me 14 years ago. That's why this scholarship means more to me than just another year in the program.

It means that I can say thank you to that nurse and all the others like her who save their patients in more ways than one. It means that I can join a profession that meant as much to me then as it does today. And it means that, one day, maybe I can be the one telling jokes to a scared little girl in an emergency room, helping her know everything is going to be ok.

Related: How To Set and Achieve Career Goals (Plus 10 Examples)

Tips for writing about career goals in a scholarship essay

Here are some additional tips to help you write about your career goals in a scholarship essay successfully:

Be honest

You might apply for many scholarships and submit multiple scholarship essays. Still, it's important to write the best essay you can every time. Having an essay that accurately communicates your sincerity and authenticity depends on your ability to write honestly about your goals, personality and personal story. By putting your time and effort into every essay you write, you can drastically increase the chances of receiving a positive response for the scholarship administration team. Showing your true personality can help you leave a lasting impression on your reader and help your essay appear more genuine.

Remember your audience

While it's important to be honest, it's also important to consider your audience in your writing. Keep your tone professional and elevated. If you're applying for a specific scholarship, consider what answers your reader might look for. For example, if you're applying for a scholarship for a particular subject like medicine or business or technology, writing an essay about wanting to become a vet might not be the best choice.

Scholarship administrators want to award their scholarships to those who most need them and those who can get the most value from them. Use the description of your career goals to support your candidacy and to show your reader how you can fulfill those objectives.

Related: How Do Scholarships Work? (Plus Tips for Earning Them)

Make it personal

Your essay gives you a unique opportunity to tell scholarship administrators about yourself, your passions and your goals. Some scholarship essay reviewers read hundreds of essays, so making yours unique and personal can be a great way to attract their attention and persuade them to consider you for the scholarship. When you're impersonal or "safe" in your writing, you risk producing the same content as every other applicant. To overcome this, insert yourself and your emotions into your writing. When successful, your writing can leave a lasting impression on your readers and improve your chances of moving forward in the selection process.

Relate it back to the scholarship

Even if it's not labeled as one, any scholarship essay is a persuasive essay because you're essentially persuading your reader to grant you the scholarship. Imagine an invisible question at the end of your prompt that says, "and why does your answer make you the best candidate for this scholarship?" Prioritize answering this question along with every other aspect of the prompt. This can help keep your writing focused and your reader in mind.

Related: How To Earn an Impressive College Scholarship

Check your writing for errors

Before submitting your essay, review it to ensure it's clear, concise and error free. Consider having someone else read your work so you can ensure you're delivering the best possible version of your essay. Small grammatical mistakes can distract your reader and interfere with your content. Structure can be equally important. Review your writing for flow and make sure you include contextual details your reader might need to understand your points.

Also ensure you're following all the essay's rules. Read the instructions carefully to ensure you answered every aspect of the question, remained within the word count requirements and saved the essay in the correct format. Reading the prompt and the instructions fully can ensure you communicate your sincere interest in the scholarship. When you complete your essay, review it to make sure it includes all the information the scholarship team asked for, that you're submitting it correctly and before the deadline and that you meet all the scholarship's eligibility requirements.

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