Posted by  on October 5, 2011 in Preparation & PackingTravel TipsNo comments

Almost every student will have to write a study abroad essay for their study abroad application. Study abroad essay questions might include:

Why study abroad? Why this particular study abroad program? What do you hope to gain from studying abroad? What challenges do you expect to face and how will you overcome them?

Here are some tips on how to answer those tough study abroad essay questions.

1.       Keep it Personal & Professional.

Talk about yourself, your academics, and your personal and professional goals.

2.       Stay Positive.

You want the person reading your essay to walk away feeling good. If you really want to mention something negative, make sure you end in an uplifting way and emphasize personal growth over personal tragedy.

3.       Be Original. (Imagine having to read thousands of these!)

I know it’s hard but try to avoid overused phrases like “I want to try new things” and “I want to meet new people.” Everyone probably writes that stuff. = Borrringgg!

4.       Use Correct Grammar & Proofread.

Sloppy essays make you look sloppy or like you don’t care. Not the way you want to present yourself to the admissions committee.

5.       Focus on Quality. (Cut out the crap!)

Cut out all those sentences that don’t really mean anything like “I hope to have new experiences blah blah save the world someday blah blah” Again, everyone writes that and they’re not really learning anything about YOU.

6.       Demonstrate Your Maturity & Independence.

How can the admissions committee be sure you have the maturity to handle study abroad? They don’t want to throw an immature kid out into the wild who could put themselves in danger, embarrass the program, or have a breakdown. Consider talking about how you have handled other transition periods in your life or anything that speaks to your independence.

7.       Include Past Experiences.

Prior language training, related extracurricular involvement, etc.

8.       Be Specific.

What makes this study abroad program special? You can get “new experiences ” and “exposure to another culture” in any program. Does your program have a certain class, extracurricular opportunity, living arrangement (ex. homestay), that you are interested in? Say it.

9.       Don’t Sweat It.

Other factors go into application decisions such as GPA and recommendations. Don’t kill yourself over writing this study abroad essay. Just keep it clear, mature, and to the point and you’ll be fine.

10.     Get it Done on Time. (Actually, get it done early!)

If you wait until the last minute to write your study abroad essay you’ll be too busy putting the entire application together to make it good. Get it done early to avoid mistakes and make sure your study abroad essay isn’t just a bunch of fluff.