Not sure how to approach the Morrill Scholarship essay? With tips from an Ivy League graduate, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the OSU Morrill Scholarship essay will show you exactly how to write an engaging OSU special scholarship essay to help boost your OSU Morrill Scholarship application. With a strong essay, you will maximize your chances in the OSU Morrill Scholarship Program admissions process.

For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on the college process, click here. Want help crafting your OSU essay? Create your free account or schedule your free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Morrill Scholarship (OSU) Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • The OSU acceptance rate is 68%—U.S. News ranks OSU as a competitive school.
  • We recommend answering the OSU Morrill Scholarship essay prompt comprehensively and thoughtfully.

Does Ohio State require essays?

No. Ohio State University does not require an additional OSU application essay unless you are applying to the Morrill Scholarship Program. If you choose to apply to the Morrill Scholarship Program, you must write a single OSU essay. This OSU application essay is 350-500 words—close to the length of the Common Application’s personal statement.

Remember, this OSU special scholarship essay is only required for Morrill Scholarship applicants. The general OSU application only requires a Common Application Personal Statement.

Need tips on writing your Common App essay? Check out our blog article.

What is the Morrill Scholarship Program?

According to OSU, “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.” If you are interested, be sure to visit the MSP website to learn more about the history of the scholarship, how MSP students get involved on OSU’s campus, as well as other scholarship opportunities only available to MSP students and Young Scholars Program participants.

Who is eligible?

According to the OSU Common Application, “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.”

Unlike many scholarships which simply grant funds without additional requirements, the Morrill Scholarship Program seeks academically exceptional high school seniors who will “serve as student ambassadors and champions of scholarship and diversity” and “actively engage in diversity-based leadership, service and social justice activities” at OSU. If you have done activities like this in the past, this may be the perfect program for you!

Additionally, The Morrill Scholarship Program has three award levels. These levels are as follows:

  • Distinction, which equals the value of the cost of attendance for both Ohio residents and nonresidents.
  • Prominence, which equals the value of in-state tuition plus the nonresident surcharge for nonresidents.
  • Excellence, which equals the value of in-state tuition for Ohio residents.

All three of these Scholarships are renewable for eight semesters. Additionally, the OSU website notes that “over 80 percent of Morrill Scholarship recipients are also University Honors and Scholars students.”

Learn more

Interested in learning more about these other programs? The University Honors Program offers honors courses to eligible students. It also gives these students the opportunity to live in Honors residential learning communities. The Ohio State Scholars Program, on the other hand, is a residential program that organizes students into 16 specialized communities. The students in each of the communities participate in community-specific learning experiences under the guidance of program mentors.

The most important takeaway is that participation in the University Honors Program or Ohio State Scholars Program does not disqualify you from the Morrill Scholars Program (MSP).

How competitive is the Morrill Scholarship?

While the Morrill Scholarship Program doesn’t publicly release information on the number of applicants, with a total undergraduate class size of 46,984 students at Ohio State University, Morrill Scholars comprise around three percent of the student body. That gives the MSP a lower acceptance rate than every Ivy League school!

In other words, The Morrill Scholarship Program is very competitive. Consequently, you should write a compelling response to the OSU special scholarship essay prompt to boost your admissions chances.

There are over 1,400 Morrill Scholars who “represent a wide array of cultures, backgrounds, and academic interests with a shared goal of infusing the campus with a celebration of an appreciation for diversity and inclusion.” The top tier of the program is the most competitive—OSU only selects 40 Distinction Scholars each year.

Note: if you are considered for the Distinction Scholarship, you’ll need to interview in addition to the essay you submit in your OSU application.

While the Morrill Scholarship Program doesn’t release average standardized test scores and GPAs for their Scholars, therefore you should assume that selected students are on the higher end of each. If you think these qualifications describe you, you should definitely consider applying to the Morrill Scholarship Program as part of your OSU application.

What do Morrill Scholars do?

Being a Morrill Scholar at Ohio State University is a prestigious honor. The Morrill Scholarship Program provides many exciting opportunities on the OSU campus. The OSU website details that Morrill Scholarship Program students are eligible to participate in activities such as:

  • Diversity and inclusion-themed workshops, lectures, and service projects.
  • Graduate and professional school preparation courses and guidance.
  • Mentoring and tutoring to support your academic success.
  • Morrill Scholars Early Arrival Program.
  • ODI outreach and engagement projects on campus and in the community.
  • ODI leadership and service courses for credit toward the Leadership Minor.
  • Optional housing in the MSP Learning Community in Blackburn House.
  • Service trips and travel abroad opportunities.

Additionally, according to the OSU website, “As social justice advocates, Morrill Scholars actively engage in civic engagement and advocacy through the MSP Learning Community, lead meaningful dialogue and discussions through the MSP Documentary Film Series, and share their innovative thoughts and ideas related to diversity and social justice activism and academic excellence through their topic-based MSP Teams.” This program is a great opportunity to be involved with social justice and advocacy during your time on OSU’s campus and to meet like-minded students.

Morrill Scholarship Essay Question

If you apply to the Morrill Scholarship Program this OSU essay prompt will appear in your Common Application:

You indicated interest in the Morrill Scholarship Program. To be considered for the Morrill Scholarship program, create a persuasive response to the following questions in 350-500 words. How have your life experiences and/or endeavors prepared you to be a Morrill Scholar? Please answer fully, and when possible, provide specific examples. (500 words maximum).

How do you write a Morrill Scholarship Essay?

To answer the OSU Morrill Scholarship essay, you must first pay specific attention to what qualities OSU looks for in their Morrill Scholars. Your response to this prompt should demonstrate that you would be an asset to the Morrill Scholarship Program. In other words, use this OSU application essay to prove that you fit the criteria used to evaluate OSU application essays for the Morrill Scholarship Program.

Pay attention to the language that OSU uses to describe the Morrill Scholarship Program. They specifically seek “advocates and champions” of four pillars: diversity, inclusion, social justice, and academic excellence. In your OSU special scholarship essay, you will should demonstrate how you have advocated for these values during your high school career.

Choosing a Topic

Unsure how to start? Begin with a structured freewriting session. Take approximately ten minutes and write on how you’ve interacted with each of the four pillars mentioned above. This OSU special scholarship essay asks you to describe specific “experiences and endeavors” that make you a strong candidate for the MSP. Therefore, you should choose an anecdote (or several) that directly reflects your experiences around diversity, inclusion, social justice, and academic excellence.

Notice that this OSU application essay prompt mentions both “life experiences” and “endeavors.” These are important terms to define. Endeavors specifically speak to actions that you’ve undertaken to accomplish a goal. In other words, if you’ve done anything to promote and work towards the goals of diversity, inclusion, social justice, and academic excellence, then these are things to write about. For example, you could write about starting an Indigenous American film club at your school or volunteering in a literacy program at your local elementary school.

Life experiences, on the other hand, are less about actions that you’ve undertaken and more about how your experiences interact with the four pillars. For instance, you can describe your experiences as a member of a marginalized community or your journey towards allyship. However, if you write about your life experiences in your OSU application essay, remember to focus on your experiences. In other words, you shouldn’t tell someone else’s story. Keep the focus on yourself—the things that you’ve learned, observed, and dealt with firsthand.

Drafting a Response

When drafting your OSU essay, remember that you do not have to address all four of the pillars. However, your OSU application essay should address at least two. You don’t want to write selectively about one and ignore the others; the Morrill Scholarship Program looks for students who embody all of their values.

Given the scope of this OSU application essay, you might discuss several different experiences. For example, you could discuss how you spearheaded a free breakfast program at your high school alongside your experience volunteering at your town’s food bank. You could then connect these experiences to your interest in resolving inequities in global food access. You should first describe your anecdote; then, discuss how you grew from the experience. Don’t mention a situation without detailing how it shifted your perspective. Those awarding the OSU special scholarships want to see how your experiences have changed your outlook!

This question asks for a “persuasive essay.” You should approach writing with the goal of convincing the readers that you belong in the Morrill Scholarship Program. Strong topic choices and anecdotes are important for this OSU essay, but you should also be sure to focus on the why and not just the what. How did your experiences/endeavors shape you into a strong candidate for the exclusive Morrill Scholarship? What did you learn about the importance of the four pillars of the program, and how will you implement this on OSU’s campus? Be sure to include your future plans in your OSU application essay. After all, OSU wants to know how you will contribute to the MSP!

Morrill Scholarship Program Essay Key Questions:

  • Do you engage with the four components (diversity, inclusion, social justice, and academic excellence) that are paramount to being a Morrill Scholar?
  • Does your essay draw on anecdotes and specific examples from your lived experience?
  • Do you use strong and descriptive language for active storytelling?

Additional tips for the Morrill Scholarship Essay

When responding to the OSU special scholarship essay prompt, you want to ensure that you have properly demonstrated why you would be a good fit for the Morrill Scholarship Program. Your essay should show that your interests align with the interests and goals of the program. You want to write a clear, detailed, descriptive essay with no spelling or grammar errors. Finally, you want to demonstrate your personality and passions to admissions officers, expanding on the rest of your Common Application to prove that you belong in the Morrill Scholarship Program.

You also want to make sure that your response to this OSU application essay falls within the desired parameters: between 350 and 500 words. You don’t want your OSU special scholarship essay to be either too short or too long. Since this length is just a bit shorter than the Common Application Personal essay, you should be prepared to spend a similar amount of time on this essay as on your Common App essay.

OSU Essay Guide — Final Thoughts

Completing the OSU Morrill Scholarship essay question can seem daunting. However, don’t let that discourage you from applying to the prestigious Morrill Scholarship Program. The OSU Morrill Scholarship essay is a great scholarship opportunity for well-rounded students looking to focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Your answer to the OSU Morrill Scholarship essay stands apart from your overall OSU application. This means that a weak Morrill Scholarship Program application essay isn’t likely to affect your overall chances of admission to OSU. However, if you are interested in the Morrill Scholarship Program, don’t take the chance that your stellar GPA and test scores will bolster a weak essay. In other words, this competitive scholarship program attracts students with higher-than-average GPAs and test scores. Start earlier than you think you should, and use this guide as a step-by-step aid when approaching the OSU special scholarship essay. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions from someone; it’s helpful to have another set of eyes checking your OSU special scholarship essay for grammatical errors, tone, and clarity. Good luck!


This 2021-2022 essay guide on OSU was written by Laura Frustaci, Harvard ‘21. This guide to the Morrill Scholarship OSU application essay shows you exactly how to write an engaging essay for your OSU Morrill Scholarship application and maximize your chances of admission into the Morrill Scholarship Program. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources, click here.

Want help crafting your OSU Morrill Scholarship essay? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.