Personal Marketing Essay

As you prepare to leave high school, one of the most important skills you will need is the ability to “sell” yourself by making yourself look like the best possible candidate for a school, a scholarship, or a job.  This can be difficult when you’re so often encouraged not to talk about yourself in writing, and never to talk yourself up or “brag” in any situation.

This assignment will require you to do the following:

  1. Determine which mode best applies to you: College Admissions Essay, Scholarship Essay, or Cover Letter.
  2. Find a prompt or a template for your mode (see links below)
  3. Complete several drafts–don’t stop until it’s perfect!
    1. These essays tend to be short. Choose every word carefully.
    2. Best essays reveal one or two aspects of the individual’s personality.
      1. Depth in one or two key areas
      2. Avoid “the list”!
      3. Showcase what makes you unique
    3. Analysis is important. Demonstrate the importance of those one or two key aspects.
      1. As the writer, what has that experience taught you about yourself, others, life lessons, etc?
      2. Analysis takes the topic and moves it to a deeper level. This will help the student shine.

The Modes

  1. A college admissions essay– for students working on applying to colleges and universities that require an essay as part of the application procedure.
    • Neither UM nor MSU currently requires an essay for admission, but those applying to out of state or private schools may nonetheless be required to write such an essay. The essay requirement and the prompt will vary depending on the school, so be sure to check the applications for anywhere you’re applying.
    • Carroll College does require an essay: See the last page of their application for prompts.
    • The Common Application, which is accepted by many (though not all) schools also requires an essay. You may need to create an account to see the prompts.
  2. A scholarship essay– for students who have already been offered a place at a college or university, or for those whose applications do not require any essays.
    • HHS Counseling Office has a Scholarship List that is updated frequently as scholarship information is released. Please note that not all scholarships require essays; you will need to find one that does for the purposes of this assignment (though you should apply to any of them for which you qualify!).
    • *Please note that you will need to register at this site in order to view scholarships
    • FastWeb *Please note that you will need to register at this site in order to view scholarships
      • YOU SHOULD NEVER PAY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS: Fastweb features many great scholarships from across the nation, but because it is a widely used site, there are some scams to be found there.  Please be cautious: evaluate any service you use carefully, never give anyone claiming to be a scholarship provider any money, and consider looking for the scholarships outside of Fastweb (via Google, for example).
    • MSU Resident Scholarship (open the scholarship application, and scroll to the bottom to find the essay prompts).
    • UM Scholarships
      • The Horatio Alger Scholarship (This one is difficult to find through the UM site, so I have linked to the application page. You will need to create an account/sign in to the application to see prompts).
      • Applications to the Davidson Honors College that are completed by December 1st, 2017 will be considered for the Presidential Leadership Scholarship. This application requires an essay: see the prompts about halfway down the page.
  3. A cover letter– for students who do not plan to go to college, or who have already completed both of the other two options at an earlier date.



The essay will be graded based on the 6 Traits of writing, which allows readers to evaluate any style of writing.

  • Ideas & Content: You MUST include the prompt so that readers may evaluate how well you do what is required. (You may not need to do this when submitting to scholarship providers or schools, though–read directions carefully).
  • Organization
  • Voice
  • Word Choice
  • Sentence Fluency
  • Conventions