If you’re preparing to study abroad, we hope you’re looking into your scholarship opportunities. Despite what some people might think, or say, there are a lot of scholarships available to all students.
USAC offers scholarships for every program, and in addition to that there are countless third-party scholarships available to students no matter what organization they’re studying abroad through. For USAC scholarships the deadlines are the same every year:
- March 15 (Summer and Fall Programs)
- Oct. 15 (January and Spring Programs)
Seeing as the next round of scholarship applications are just around the corner, we thought we’d share four tips on how to get your scholarship application noticed and selected.
1. Don’t Write Too Much
We’re starting off our tips with the most tricky part of scholarship applications, the content. Nearly every tips and advice article you read will advise you to “tell your story” when you’re filling out an application. We agree! It’s important to make an emotional connection with your reader and get them invested in your story and yourself to the point that they want to help you continue on your journey by awarding you a scholarship.
With that said, there is definitely a point where an application can be too long. Keep in mind that the people who read applications are tasked with reading hundreds of them. When telling your story be precise and only include the details that help demonstrate your strengths and support why you deserve a scholarship. A general rule of thumb is less than three paragraphs. With that said, your answers can also be too short. So keep those answers long enough to get your point across but short enough so that you don’t lose your reader.
Say Why You Want to Study Abroad (Hint: Travel isn’t the answer)
We get it, a huge part of studying abroad is the opportunities it opens for travel. However, as a study abroad organization (emphasis on “study”), we believe that eduction always comes first. While we want you to enjoy your time abroad, and see the world, listing that as the only reason you’re studying abroad is not a convincing scholarship argument.
Instead, talk about how the classes you can take abroad will help you fulfill your major, or how participating in an internship to explore what you want to do in life. If you’re studying abroad because of family history or to learn a new culture or language, include that. Start and end with academics (and internships) for a solid scholarship essay.
Don’t Just List Your Accomplishments
It’s common to read a scholarship application where the student has simply listed out all of their accomplishments. While the reader wants to know all of the great organizations, volunteering, jobs, and honor societies you’ve been a member of, they’re more interested in hearing how you’ve taken all of those accomplishments and applied them to your future.
It’s also good to show how all of that ties to your future plans. If you’re a very active member of the community, having one strong story about a time that you took something you learned and applied it to the greater good of something else in life can be more powerful than a list of 15 organizations you’re a member of.
Get a Second Pair of Eyes on Your Application
It sounds like a given; if you’re asking someone to give you money to study abroad you should work hard to make sure your writing is on point, right? We’ve learned this is not always the case.
It’s easy to look over errors when you’ve read something multiple times. We recommend having a friend or family member read through your application — often more than once — before submitting it. While some small errors are overlooked, receiving an application with multiple spelling errors says that the student doesn’t pay great attention to detail or that scholarships aren’t that important to them. Proofreading is crucial and could be the decision maker between you and another application.