So, you’ve chosen your USAC program – congrats! Finding a study abroad location isn’t easy when there are so many options to choose from, but now that you’ve narrowed down your search and are ready to apply, it’s time to focus on the application. Every student must complete the USAC application, including a Personal Statement, in order to enroll in one of our programs. This Personal Statement is a series of short essay prompts to introduce yourself and share why you chose to study abroad. Wondering how you can dazzle us with your responses? Here are our top tips.
Follow the Instructions
It sounds silly, but many essays get returned to students because they don’t meet the required word count. Each Personal Statement essay consists of three questions, about 350 words each. Be sure to follow the instructions and stick to this requirement, as well as any other instructions, to ensure your Personal Statement is read and approved quickly by our enrollment team. Narrow your focus and stick to the prompt. Avoid longwinded, irrelevant side stories; less is more. Answering each prompt clearly and concisely will help get your points across and keep your application on track.
Write More Than One Draft
We know you have a lot going on, but don’t jot down one draft of your Personal Statement responses and call it a day. Study abroad is a big decision and an exciting undertaking, and we hope your essay is the first step in preparedness. Not to sound like your ENG 201 professor on the first day of class, but don’t wait until the night before the deadline to start your homework! Write a first draft, have a trusted source provide feedback, revise, and rewrite. Taking the time to produce a well-written, thoughtful Personal Statement well before the deadline will save you trouble and stress in the long run, trust us.
Go Beyond Travel
In your Personal Statement, you will be asked to discuss your study abroad goals and the reason for choosing to study abroad. We know that travel is an exciting and important part of international education but go beyond that. Study abroad offers students a chance to immerse in a new culture, study a foreign language, enhance their academics, boost their resumes, and grow into better versions of themselves, and you will too. Be sure to cover your goals for your time abroad and connect them to unique aspects of your program that spoke to you to highlight why you made your choice.
The reason we call this portion of the application a “Personal Statement” is because it is just that: a chance to get personal about your study abroad journey. Consider this your introduction to USAC and use the opportunity to reflect on your goals, personal background, and reasons for choosing to study abroad. Discuss your identity and how your history will help you adapt to life in a new culture and share the challenges you had to overcome when planning your study abroad journey. While you don’t have to tell us everything about yourself (remember tip #1!), we encourage applicants to dig deep to give us a greater understanding of who they are. If you plan on applying for scholarships, this is great practice for that application.
Students often battle with saying the “right” thing in a Personal Statement. The key to overcoming the fear of saying the wrong thing is to simply be honest. Don’t sugarcoat any self-proclaimed shortcomings or challenges and don’t overembellish your personal history and experiences. Stay true to yourself and your study abroad goals, keeping in mind that we love to hear from students with a unique perspective looking to venture away of the typical study abroad experience. Don’t worry about coming up with the perfectly crafted story to blow us away. Just be true to yourself and your ambitions, and you’ll be just fine.
Ready, set, write! Follow these tips and you’ll be enrolled in no time. The biggest tip is to take the Personal Statement seriously without losing sleep over it. Just be honest, be personal, and give yourself enough time to write a few drafts in order to get your thoughts out in a clear and brief way. Congrats, you’re one step closer to departure!