Scholarship "Essay" Questions - Fixed, Choose Your Own, Short, Long?

Hello fellow scholarship providers!

I work for the Pedrozzi Foundation and we provide undergraduate, community college, tech/vocational, and grad scholarships to students in Livermore, CA. We are merit based, but award higher dollar amounts to students with financial need.

We are always looking to improve our application, both for students and our teams of volunteer reviewers, as well as us administrators.

We have a few Q&As in our application - some might call them essay questions, but we've shifted away from that language and are instead using them as "Getting to Know You" questions. We hope this makes it more welcoming to students.

We're finding that our reviewers tend to actually get the most information/feel compelled instead by our "Optional" section - an area where students can write freely about whatever they think is helpful to know about them.

We're considering:

1) Making the optional a required, 4th question, for a total of 4 "long answer" questions.

2) Making the optional a required question, and switching 2 to "short answer", and have 2 "long answer" questions.

3) Getting rid of the idea of fixed questions, and instead allow students to choose a few prompts to answer.

What we hear constantly is that reviewers want to know as much as possible about students, but I often feel adding another question, especially an essay one, may limit the pool of applicants even more. We really want our application to be welcoming to as many post-secondary students as possible.

I'm curious any thoughts on the above and/or if you have any experience with any of that.

Thanks all,

Danielle Fleer



  • We are trying to switch to "getting to know you" essays - a shift to short or long answer questions sounds intriguing. Would you mind sharing what your questions are? Do you use different and/or fewer questions for tech/vocational students than those bound for 4-year colleges? We are being told by guidance counselors to ask very few "written" answers from tech/vocational students as they will be turned off from the application.

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