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3 Tips for Your Study Abroad Scholarship Application

UC Merced Study Abroad Stories of Interest

The odds of landing a competitive scholarship for study abroad are less than 50% for the average student, but you can improve your own odds by making adjustments to your statement of purpose. Almost any scholarship will want to know why you chose a program academically and why you need funding from the scholarship. The trick is articulating these in a compelling manner.

Here are some tips for improving your statement of purpose:

  1. Use spelling and grammar check: This is an indication of so many selection criteria: your seriousness, your academic preparation, your efforts, and your likelihood of academic success abroad. A scholarship reviewer's time is valuable and a poorly written statement of purpose wastes his/her time.
  2. Focus on the academics: Study abroad is an academic endeavor; you need to defend your decision to study abroad in academic terms. Be ready to articulate why you chose your study abroad program over others in academic terms. Are there special classes you sought out? Did you find associated internship or research opportunities compelling? Does language study impact your career goals? Are you fulfilling either specific academic requirements or academic personal enrichment goals? What do you hope to gain—or accomplish—through your program? Reviewers will be interested in your academic preparation.
  3. How will this scholarship help? This is the "why me" component of your statement where you have to humbly promote yourself, perhaps highlighting your past successes in the face of obstacles and the obstacles you face in studying abroad. Here are things to include in your statement in context of how they impact your decision or ability to study abroad:
    1. What academic obstacles do you face?
      1. Are you a science or engineering student? How does that impact your decision to study abroad?
      2. Did you select a program based on how it helps you make academic progress? How?
      3. Are you/were you a transfer student?
    2. What financial obstacles do you face?
      1. What financial burdens do you and your family face in order to study abroad?
      2. Do you normally need to work in order to support yourself or your family while in college?
      3. Do you have limited financial aid as a DACA student?
    3. Are there other obstacles you face?
      1. Are you a first-generation student? Is your family supportive?
      2. Are you a military veteran? What challenges might veterans face?
      3. Do you struggle with a disability? What challenges might you face? How are you preparing?
      4. Do you identify with underrepresented groups within study abroad (e.g. African-American, Latino, etc.)? How supportive is your family?

Put your best foot forward to improve your chances of landing an award. Good luck!

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