Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

The scholarship cycle: explore in summer highlighted

Explore your strengths during the summer: revisit your academic and career goals so you have a focused scholarship application.

There are three questions you need to answer before you can complete a winning scholarship application:

  1. What is your career goal, and what is your plan to get there?
  2. What experiences in life have motivated you to reach your goal?
  3. How do you give back to your community?

This page is all about helping you answers these three questions.

1. Career goal

But I don't know!

If you are undecided about your career goal, you're not the only one - many people spend their whole lives figuring out what they want to be when they grow up! But for the purpose of your scholarship application, you need to decide on a career goal you might be interested in pursuing in order to show direction and ambition to the scholarship committee.

The people who review your application are going to want to know your career goal and your plan to reach that goal. So before you start your application, you need to have a clear idea of the direction you are headed. Your career goal should have two qualities:

  1. it should be something you will enjoy
  2. it should benefit the community
How to figure it out
  1. Use the MAP tool in the MyPCC My Courses tab:
    • First, match your skills and interests with careers and job titles. If you need help, use the Career Resource Center.
    • Next, find which degree will qualify you for your future career, and which schools offer this degree. An academic advisor can help you define how your education at PCC will lead to your overall education goal.
  2. Fill in your self-evaluation:
    • Write your future job title in your self-evaluation worksheet.
    • Brainstorm a list of reasons you will enjoy this job.
  3. You'll know you're done when:
    • You can clearly state your future job title and each step in your academic plan.

2. Life experiences

When donors read your scholarship essays, they are trying to see if you have the grit and determination to achieve your goals. So right now, start thinking about the experiences and factors in your life that have given you knowledge, experience, and education.

How to figure it out
  1. Fill in your self-evaluation:
    • Answer the questions in part 2 of the self-evaluation. Questions like: what are you proud of? What are some challenges you've faced? What are some ways you've been fortunate?
  2. Review your self-evaluation:
    • Look back over your answers and find some stories, experiences, strengths and skills that demonstrate how you have learned lessons or overcome challenges.
  3. You'll know you're done when:
    • You can think of a couple stories that explain why you are determined to reach your goals.

3. Giving back to the community

Scholarship committees want to give money to students who will eventually go on to improve our communities. Therefore, you need to demonstrate to them that you have a broader goal outside of your own school and career path; that you are thinking about the bigger picture. You show this by describing ways that you have contributed to your community in the past.

How to figure it out
  1. Fill in your self-evaluation:
    • Answer the questions in part 3 of the self-evaluation template. Questions like: have you taken care of a family member? Have you been a leader in a school group? Have you helped plan a community event?
  2. Review your self-evaluation:
    • Look back over your answers and find stories and examples that show your involvement in your community, family, and school.
  3. You'll know you're done when:
    • You have a couple stories that demonstrate how you contribute to improving the world around you.

Have you answered each of the three big questions? Great!  You're ready to start looking for scholarships!