Great Scholarship Essay Questions

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My dysregulation, stress, anxiety, instability—my obstacles—become music.

I work my tension into minor triads or uncomfortable intervals, possibly a tritone.

Stella Gitelman Willoughby, an incoming freshman at Berklee College of Music, received the Opp U Achievers Scholarship in May 2018. I stumble daily—literally from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and seizures, metaphorically from autism, dyslexia, and a mood disorder.

Every moment is unpredictable; I balance precariously.

I have received commissions from members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Canada and had my work played by members of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Since becoming a teen, my parents have instilled in me the need to develop self-advocacy skills, and work toward independence and financially supporting myself. I have already laid the foundation from which to build a career.

My pieces have been performed at renowned venues such as Old South Church in Boston and Lincoln Center in New York. For these reasons, I choose to pursue a degree in music composition.

They’ll look at tons of impressive candidates, but for them, what they want to find is someone who’s the right fit. Many scholarships are created with a particular population or cause in mind, so you might have everything going for you—straight As, extracurriculars, strong community service—but if your accomplishments aren’t the type of accomplishment they’re looking for, you’re not going to get the scholarship.

Think of it this way: A master painter won’t get a scholarship that’s intended for a photographer.

The essay questions can feel overwhelming, and there aren’t many resources to turn to for guidance.

But all of this is actually good news: Since writing an essay is tough for everyone, getting just a little bit better at it will put you that much further ahead of the competition. Below are three examples of real essays that won our scholarship.


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