The Study Abroad Application
While not every school will use the same study abroad application, I am willing to bet that most applications will have pretty similar components. Based on my own experience with the study abroad application process, I’ve compiled a few helpful hints to get you thinking on the right track, as well as provide guidance in case you run into some difficulties.
The study abroad application will look almost like a regular college application. Remember how much work you put into those? Put the same amount of effort into your study abroad application. Unlike the college selection process, there’s no back up or safety net… you only get one shot at this so you need to do it right.
More than likely, it will consist of the following: A personal statement, letters of recommendation, possible course selections, health clearance forms and a general information form.
General Information Forms
This will probably be just a generic form requiring the basics like personal information, emergency contacts, degree information, etc. Nothing complicated. Just fill in the blanks.
Study Abroad Health Clearance Forms
You’re going to need to get a complete physical, and the doctor will have to confirm that you’re fit enough to go abroad and that you’re up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. Understandably, no country wants a foreigner bringing in diseases. Your doctor will have to fill-out the forms after your physical and send them to the school study abroad office or wherever instructed, so don’t procrastinate on these! Doctors are always busy, and it could be a while before they get yours done.
Possible Study Abroad Course Selections
This may be called either a home approval form, or course approval form. Make sure you’ve looked at your progress toward graduation. Compare classes from your host school’s course catalogue with those classes you’ll need to complete your major/ minor and fulfill general requirements, and also identify classes that just generally seem interesting.
Letters of Recommendation for Study Abroad Applicants
Depending on how many are required, ask your favorite professors and mentors if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. If you don’t have a close relationship with any professors, it’s ok to choose a few that may have liked you, or in whose class you did particularly well. If they don’t really know you, don’t worry. Professors are used to writing recommendation letters, and will probably have a generic letter that they can use. In this case, if your personal statement is already done, give them a copy along with anything else you think might help them get a better picture of who you are and why you want to go abroad.
Personal Statement - Study Abroad Essay 101
This is the part of the study abroad application that some people dread, and some people love. Don’t worry; I’ll break it down step by step. You already know the reasons you want to go abroad, now you just have to put them on paper to try and convince your school that you should go. Here’s writing your study abroad essay 101:
First, in a nice intro paragraph, explain your reasons for studying abroad. If you're still deciding your best course of action, review some of our deciding to study abroad resources. Just give a general overview since you’ll be getting into the specifics later in the essay. Include why you want to go abroad, what originally interested you in going abroad, what school you plan on attending, along with anything else that seems relevant.
Academics are always going to be number one in the minds of your deans, advisors and faculty, so it’s not a bad idea to go there next. Explain how going to class in a different culture will expand your capacity to learn and interpret new information. Let them know if by going abroad, you’ll be able to complete certain requirements for your major or just make progress toward your degree in general. Be sure to mention if there are classes offered abroad that aren’t available at your home school.
Next, go into depth about why you chose the location and the school that you did. Does the school have a great reputation internationally? Do you have family roots in a particular country? Really get into the fact that you want to explore the specific culture of that country or region. The more sincere and direct you are about why you want to go where you’re going, the more likely the study abroad admissions staff will approve your application.
Don’t forget to include personal reasons and interests as well. You still need to be selective in what you write – the study abroad admissions office will need to see that you’re mature enough to live in another country, but don’t be afraid to go beyond academics. One of the biggest reasons I went to Scotland was because of golf, and I wrote that in my essay. I didn’t say I wanted to wake up and be lazy on the golf course every day. I explained that golf is a huge aspect of Scottish culture; it holds a different place over there than it does in the States, and it would greatly help me integrate into the local culture.
Writing Tips for Your Study Abroad Application Essay
Sentences like, “I am excited to learn about the culture of Scotland through golf,” are a good start, but something even better might be, “It would be the pinnacle of my golfing career to experience the game of golf in its finest form in its birthplace of Scotland. There, golf is not just considered a sport, but also a vital element of Scottish culture.” Make the effort to write with quality in mind and of course honesty.
End the essay with a strong closing paragraph. Express interest in learning about local culture, such as in Japan where you’ll enjoy both the historic artistry of the culture and the modern amenities of the country. Talk about getting an education, not only in terms of academics, but in life as well. Be specific and explain your desire to pursue those interests and hobbies that you’ve picked up in college, and earlier, in a foreign country.
This is just as important as any other admissions letter you’ve ever written. Use correct grammar and avoid spelling mistakes. Write multiple drafts and have someone competent edit it for you. Better yet, have two. And of course, get it in on time!
Be sincere, be honest, and be smart.
There you have it. Those are my suggested ins and outs of the study abroad application… not as scary as you may have thought.
10 Benefits to Studying Abroad
Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a college student. By studying abroad, students have the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land. Here is a list of the top 10 reasons to study abroad!
1. See the World
The biggest reason you should consider a study abroad program is the opportunity to see the world . By studying abroad, you will experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation.
In addition, when you’re abroad, you won’t be limited to traveling in just the nation in which you are studying – you can see neighboring countries as well! For example, if you study in France, you’ll have the option to travel through various parts of Europe including London , Barcelona , and Rome.
Another reason you might consider studying abroad is for the chance to experience different styles of education. By enrolling in a study abroad program, you’ll have the chance to see a side of your major that you may not have been exposed to at home.
You’ll find that completely immersing yourself in the education system of your host country is a great way to really experience and understand the people, its traditions, and its culture. Education is the centerpiece of any study abroad trip—it is, after all, a study abroad program—and choosing the right school is a very important factor.
3. Take in a New Culture
Many students who choose to study abroad are leaving their home for the first time. When they arrive in their new host country, they are fascinated by the distinct cultural perspectives. When you study abroad you will find incredible new foods, customs, traditions, and social atmospheres.
You will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history. You will have the opportunity to witness a completely new way of life.
4. Hone Your Language Skills
Chances are if you’re planning on studying abroad, one of the major draws is the opportunity to study a foreign language. Studying abroad grants you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new language, and there is no better way to learn than to dive right in.
In addition to the considerable language practice you will get just in day to day life, your host university will likely offer language courses to provide you with a more formal education. Immerse yourself in a new culture and go beyond a purely academic experience
5. Career Opportunities
When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Needless to say, all of these are very attractive to future employers.
Many students find that they love their host country so much that they decide to seek work there. If you can relate, you will find that a local education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.
6. Find New Interests
If you are still questioning why to study abroad, you should know that studying in a different country offers many new activities and interests that you may never have discovered if you’d stayed at home. You might find that you have an as-yet undiscovered talent for hiking, water sports, snow skiing, golf, or various other new sports you may never have tried back home.
You’ll also have the chance to discover other new and exciting forms of entertainment. Plays, movies, dancing, nightclubs, and concerts are just a few activities that you can enjoy.
7. Make Lifelong Friends
One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. While studying abroad, you will attend school and live with students from your host country. This gives you the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships with your fellow students.
After the study abroad program ends, make an effort stay in contact with your international friends. In addition to rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important networking tools later down the road.
8. Personal Development
There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. You might find that studying abroad really brings out your independent nature. Students who study abroad become explorers of their new nation and really discover the curiosity and excitement that they harbor.
A benefit to studying abroad is the opportunity to discover yourself while gaining an understanding of a different culture. Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve.
9. Graduate School Admissions
Like future employers, graduate school admissions boards look very highly on study abroad experiences. Students that study abroad display diversity and show that they aren’t afraid to seek out new challenges or put themselves in difficult situations.
Most importantly, students who have studied abroad show just how committed they are to their education. Graduate schools regularly look for candidates who will bring a unique aspect to their university. Students who have studied abroad have shown that they have the curiosity and educational acumen to be a leader in graduate school.
10. Life Experience
Why study abroad? For most students, this time may be the only opportunity they ever get to travel abroad for a long period of time. Eventually you will find a job and career, and the opportunity to study abroad may turn out to be a once in a life time opportunity.
Take this opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn about new cultures. Studying abroad is an experience unlike any other.
Study Abroad Guide