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How to Write the Ohio State University Essay 2021-2022


If you’re interested in The Ohio State University, there are luckily no supplemental essays that apply to all applicants. There is an additional essay for the Morrill Scholarship Program, however. This is a competitive program for students who excel academically, have strong leadership skills, and are interested in fostering diversity and inclusion within their communities. 


Each year, only 300 students are named Morrill Scholars, which provides both in-state and out-of-state students free tuition scholarships. In this post, we’ll discuss this year’s essay prompt for the program, and how you can maximize your chances of acceptance by writing a great essay.


Want to know your chances at OSU? Calculate your chances for free right now.


The Ohio State University Morrill Scholarship Essay Prompt


Below is information about the Morrill Scholarship, as well as the essay prompt. Each applicant must respond to the prompt in 350-500 words. 


The Morrill Scholarship Program (MSP) is one of Ohio State’s premier scholarship opportunities offered through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). MSP seeks academically talented student leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing diversity, inclusion, service and social justice.


MSP scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to students admitted to the Columbus campus for the autumn semester following high school graduation. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States.


Morrill Scholarship Program Prompt

How have your life experiences and/or endeavors prepared you to be a Morrill Scholar? Please answer fully, and when possible, provide specific examples. (350–500 words)


Understanding the Prompt 


In a way, this prompt is asking you two distinct questions. First, the prompt is asking you to pick a life experience that you want to discuss. Next, you’ll have to discuss why this experience would make you a good candidate for a Morrill Scholarship. To help you brainstorm some ideas, below are some questions you’ll want to think about before you start writing.


  • What is one of your life experiences that has fundamentally questioned the way that you view life? 
  • Are there any social justice issues that you are particularly passionate about? Why?
  • Leadership takes many forms. How have you showed leadership in the past?
  • What type of traits do you think a Morrill Scholar has?


Once you have answers to these questions, be sure to do some research on the Morrill Scholarship and what it entails, as well as what types of students typically receive the scholarship. Try and determine why these students were good applicants, and look for any similarities or things you have in common with them.


Cliché Topics to Avoid


While you have the freedom to discuss an important life experience, there are still some topics that you’ll want to avoid. These include: 


  • Picking a topic such as sports injury, tragedy, or bad grade
  • Picking a topic that isn’t significant enough and not explaining how the experience impacted you
  • Using a privileged tone when discussing your perspective
  • Having a cliché ending, such as  “I learned that people can be happy with so little,” or “I learned the importance of giving back.

Writing the Essay 


Once you have an understanding of what the prompt and the program is looking for, you can start writing. Although there is no one perfect way to structure this essay, it might be helpful to follow this general format:


  1. Describe a memorable life experience that relates to a topic of diversity, inclusion, or social justice
  2. Demonstrate how this experience made you grow or highlighted an aspect of your personality
  3. Explain what you will bring to the program after going through this experience


Let’s look at each section in more detail now.


1. Describe a memorable life experience


The admissions officers want to know what you have been through. They know about issues like racial injustice or mass incarceration—what they don’t know about is you. Starting your essay off with an anecdote that clearly expresses what you have been through is a great way to show the admissions officers reading your essay that topics like diversity and social justice are important and relevant to you.


Maybe you grew up as a minority in a community and you talk about the time you were racially profiled at the mall with your friends. Or maybe you started a program at your school for kids who normally sat at lunch to sign up and get a buddy so they always had someone to eat with. Perhaps after researching a refugee crisis for your history class, you went to the local shelter in your town and spoke to the refugees about their experiences to understand them more.


Your experience with diversity and inclusion doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional topic of diversity like racial, religious, or socioeconomic. You could also discuss your diversity of interests: you love collecting stamps even though most of your friends think it’s old fashioned. Or maybe you want to discuss your diversity of perspective: you are really liberal among your conservative family.


The most important thing is that you choose a single experience to focus your anecdote on. So, a student who wants to write about her ethnicity shouldn’t give a general overview of how she feels discriminated against because of where her family is from. Instead, she should focus on a specific instance of discrimination that strongly affected her or gave her a chance to stand up and defend herself.



2. Demonstrate how this experience made you grow


This next part of your essay is super important to show why this experience is so impactful and has prepared you to be a Morrill Scholar.


After you have set up the anecdote, now you should give insight as to what your state of mind or emotions were in this situation. Answering questions like these could be helpful:


  • What did you feel in the moment?
  • What was your perspective before this experience? After?
  • Did a certain personality trait shine through? Were you brave, resilient, creative, determined?


However, be careful while you are writing. You want to convey the growth or traits that you expressed during or after this experience, but you don’t want to tell the admissions officers that planning a school walkout to protest the lack of diversity in the administration made you a more confident leader—they should learn that without ever being explicitly told so. By interjecting emotions or including your inner thoughts in the moment, you will be able to show your readers the impact this experience had on you.


3. Explain what you will bring to the program


The best way to conclude your essay is to bring it back to OSU and the Morrill Program. At the end of the day, there are hundreds of other students who likely have had similar experiences or takeaways as you. You need to show how what you have been through and learned will prepare you to contribute to the diverse and inclusive community on campus.


When talking about what you will bring—or what you hope to get out of—the Morrill Scholarship Program, you should mention both implicit and explicit aspects. 


Some implicit things you might contribute to the community are teaching your new friends your culture’s traditions, discussing difficult topics with peers who have different perspectives, or approaching new and intimidating situations with confidence and clarity. 


So an example of an implicit aspect of the community might be a student who talked about his experience volunteering with an immigration lawyer, where he learned how important it is for lawyers to be billingual to communicate with their clients, might write about how he wants to practice speaking Spanish with his friends. Whether they are having a debate in his Spanish class or just hanging out and eating dinner in the dining hall, he’s looking forward to surrounding himself with others who are dedicated to becoming billingual, and hopefully encouraging others to learn Spanish. 


For explicit things you hope to contribute or gain from the Morrill Scholars community you should research the opportunities afforded to you through the program. You might mention a club that aligns with your interests that you want to join, an event you started at your high school that you hope to bring to the OSU community, or a certain professor you are looking forward to working with.


An example of a student writing about an explicit aspect could be someone who had a tutor in high school that helped her feel better about herself since she struggled in her history class. Her tutor made her feel welcomed and included, and now she wants to give back to other students by becoming a Supplemental Instruction leader through the Morrill Scholarship Program. She feels she has learned a lot about what it takes to be an effective and encouraging tutor, and now she wants to give back to her future OSU students.


The best essays will combine implicit and explicit things you want to contribute or get out of the program, but as long as you can make the admissions officers feel like you belong in this program and on OSU’s campus, you will have done your job.


Where to Get Your OSU Morrill Scholarship Essay Edited for Free


Do you want feedback on your OSU Morrill Scholarship essay?If so, consider using our Peer Essay Review Tool, where you can input your essay and other students can provide constructive feedback on your writing. It can be hard to evaluate your own writing, which is why we created this helpful tool. You can even evaluate other student’s essays as well. Best of all, this tool is completely free! 



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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.