Home > Students > How to Write an Outstanding Study Abroad Application Essay
For some students who wish to study abroad, the statement of purpose can be one of the most daunting components of the program application. The good news: it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first! After all, you’ve come this far in the study abroad research process, so chances are you’ve already given thought to what the essay requires you to write about. As long as you don’t rush and take the time to create a solid outline, your study abroad application statement of purpose will truly shine.
Common statement of purpose requirements
Although each program application may have program-specific essay requirements to address, most will ask students to address the following two components:
- Goals for studying abroad (i.e. academic, career, and personal) – Most likely, you will have to briefly describe your goals, outlining specific ways in which studying abroad will help you achieve these goals.
- Reason you chose this program/location – This aspect of the statement of purpose is more specific to why, out of all the programs and locations on Earth to study, you’re applying to this one.
Creating an outline
Before rushing into writing out your statement of purpose, make sure you’ve carefully read the instructions and prompts for the essay. The worst way to sabotage an otherwise excellent essay is to miss a key requirement outlined in the instructions. To help keep essay requirements fresh in your mind, consider copying and pasting the requirements at the top of essay document so that they are there for quick reference.
After you fully understand what points you are required to touch on in your statement of purpose, drafting an outline will help keep your essay organized, clear, and succinct. Consider following the steps below to help make this process easy and straight-forward.
Open up a blank Word document, and get down the general essay components:
Now that you have the foundation laid out, you can complete your outline by creating a couple compelling sentences for each paragraph. Having these sentences drafted will help you quickly move forward after your outline is complete. Let’s take a look at each paragraph, and sample sentences for each.
Introduction – Create a strong thesis sentence that sums up your overall purpose for studying abroad.
- Example: Studying abroad at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid will be a monumental step in realizing my personal, academic, and career goals to my highest potential.
This thesis sentence portrays to the reader that you have identified personal, academic, and career goals in relation to studying abroad in a specific program, and will describe them below.
Paragraphs 1-3 – Draft a sentence that sums up your response to the each point, then a second sentence that provides a specific outcome that this study abroad program will provide.
Paragraph 1 (e.g. personal reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):
- Example: My grandfather migrated to the United States from Madrid, and since an early age I’ve wanted to see and experience the city and culture he grew up in. By the end of my study abroad program, I plan to have developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for my family heritage by becoming more fluent in Spanish and familiar with Spanish customs and cultural practices.
Paragraph 2 (e.g. academic reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):
- Example: As a history major, I plan to utilize my time in Spain to contribute to my overall academic success and focus within the history program at my home university. Throughout my time studying abroad, I will visit historical sites around Spain relevant to my intended topic for my graduate thesis topic: Moorish architectural and cultural influences in modern Spanish society.
Paragraph 3 (e.g. career reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):
- Example: I plan to one day teach Spanish history and culture at the college level, and this program will give me the first-hand experience I believe necessary to be qualified and successful in this position. By being completely immersed in the Spanish culture, and by having access to a large number of relevant historical sites and resources, I will enter this study abroad experience with my career development in mind.
For the conclusion, come up with a strong sentence to sum-up (again) why this program and location is the best choice.
- Example: After extensive research of all possible programs, I am convinced that studying history and Spanish culture at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid is an ideal match for my personal, academic, and career goals outlined above.
Now that you have a strong outline, filling in the rest should come easily and naturally. As would be normally expected in college-level essays, it’s important to make sure that each sentence you write relates directly to the main sentences in its respective paragraph you came up with in the outline.
After you’ve written your completed first draft of your study abroad application statement of purpose, save the document and take a break for a week. After you’ve had some time to clear your mind, you’ll likely come back to edit your essay with a fresh perspective and as a result more easily catch mistakes you may not have otherwise caught!
Finally, before you send it off, double (and triple) check to make sure that you haven’t overlooked any requirements for the statement of purpose. Also, consider having at least one other person look at your essay – your campus’s writing center is a great resource you might consider utilizing!
After you’ve sent in your essay, congratulate yourself! You are well on your way to one of the most exciting journeys of your life, and you certainly deserve to be proud of this accomplishment.
The Essay: A time consuming, often dreaded part of a scholarship application. However, the essay is a very crucial part of the application and a great way to stand out from the crowd of applicants and make your application shine. Diversity Abroad has a few simple tips that will help your scholarship applications essay stand above the others.
Why are essays a crucial part of a scholarship application? Because they are able to draw a picture of who you are as a person more so than just your transcripts, GPA, or test scores. So, show them your true self! Any attempt to fabricate or omit something about yourself will most likely not go unnoticed.
Stay on topic.
Address the prompt and don’t get side tracked. After each paragraph, go back and make sure that the information that you wrote in that paragraph is a necessary part of sharing your story. Any extra added details will only take away from your core message. Remember, a concise essay will be more impactful than one filled with“fluff”.
When writing about your accomplishments, experiences, or anything else about yourself, it’s important to illustrate a complete picture. This can achieved with the CAR method: First, provide the context of the situation. Next, describe the action you took. Finally, share the results of the situation. Follow this method and the impact of the situations you describe will be very clear to the people that read your essay.
As a college student, you probably already know that technological problems often strike at the least convenient times. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get your essay submitted early so you can avoid any last minute inconveniences that come in between you and submitting a quality application on time. You can stay on top of your goal of submitting your essay early by setting a deadline to wrap up the writing process about two weeks prior to the actual submission deadline. Creating weekly reminders in your phone or planner will help you stay on track of your goal to submit your essay early.
Also, finishing an essay early allows you the opportunity to…
Have someone peer edit your essay.
Typos and grammatical errors can escape even the most polished writer. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to have another pair of eyes read your paper to pick up anything you’ve missed. In addition to scouring your essay for errors, the person proofreading your essay will also bring a fresh, new perspective to your work. They can pick out parts of your essay that seem wordy or unnecessary, suggest stronger word choices, or find a way to make your transitions flow a little bit better.
If your family or peers are too busy to read your essay, check with your university to see if they provide a service where students can have a writing consultant look over your work for free!
Now that you have the tools to write an outstanding essay, check out the scholarship opportunities below!
Diversity Abroad Scholarships
Study Abroad Scholarship & Grant Search
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