Maybe it’s just human nature, but it does seem like most scholarships end up going to those students who, whether through school, a job, or work outside the classroom, spend time helping other people. Sure, it’s still possible to win plenty of scholarships if you don’t volunteer, but just take a look at the scholarship winners and biographies that you see posted all over the Web. How many of them specifically mention community service and other feel-good, help-people activities? Quite a few.
If you’re already helping others, find a way to talk about it in your essay. If you’re not, find a cause that interests you and spend a couple of hours per week doing some work. Not only will it improve the judges’ perception of you, it’ll also make you feel good.