A female student works on her laptop inthe College of Business Engagement Center

Crafting strong answers to essay questions can make the difference in gaining a scholarship from the WSU Foundation. To make applying for scholarships easier, the application form now has 5 general essay questions that the committee will use to determine all sorts of scholarship awards.

Here are tips on how you can maximize the impact of your answers and make your application stand out.

Question 1: Describe your educational and professional goals, including life experiences which have offered you insight or motivation that lead you to choose your major and future career. 250-500 words.

It is important to be genuine with this question. The committee isn’t necessarily looking to pick the person with the most internships and leadership positions or the most “ambitious” goals. They do want to see genuine passion and dedication for your major and future career.

For example, going to museums as a child initially sparked your interest in art. Or maybe you had an influential teacher in high school and now you are an education major.


Question 2: Describe your financial need and how a scholarship will make a difference. 250-500 words.

Talking about money is always a hard subject, but be honest and specific with your financial situation. It could be something like this scholarship will cover your textbooks next semester or it will mean that you don’t need to take a student loan.


Question 3: Describe your involvement in WSU and/or community activities and any leadership roles you have held with these activities. 250-500 words.

Just like the last question, it’s quality over quantity. It’s better to be able to describe how you regularly engage and contribute to one club or organization, rather than being unable to say much about your involvement in a bunch of clubs.

Let’s say you are involved in UPAC. You could describe how you are a leader in UPAC and focus on how you contribute to the club’s success.


Question 4: Describe why you have chosen to attend Winona State University. 250-500 words.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being genuine and specific in all of your essay answers. Don’t just share something generic, try to make it personal!

A strategy I would go with is to turn it into a story of how I chose Winona State.

I first heard of Winona State when I was talking to my high school teacher about what I want in a college. I asked for her recommendation and she suggested Winona State. I was nervous about starting college, but Winona State sounded promising. I went to tour campus in the dead of winter, when it was snowing like crazy but breathtakingly beautiful. All the students seemed so friendly and passionate about what they were doing. I left that tour feeling like Winona State was for me and I was no longer nervous about starting college.


Question 5: Describe any special circumstances that you would like the committee to know that has not already been asked. 

This is your chance to share anything else that will help the committee understand your need and who you are. Perhaps you have kids who depend on you, or you have had a family member die recently and that’s why your grades aren’t as high as they could be.

It doesn’t always have to be such serious or tragic circumstances if you don’t have those things affecting your life or college career. Think about what makes you stand out as a person or what unique experiences you are going through right now.