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The Study Abroad Essay – Some Tips

March 10, 2015 - Posted to Writing tips

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If you are a high school or college student who wants to study abroad, there is an application process, no matter what program accepts you.

Part of that application process will include the study abroad essay, in which you will need to sell yourself to the decision makers. If you really intend to be a winner, then you will need to learn how to write a study abroad essay right away, and my role is to help you do this!

Take a look at the following study abroad essay tips – they can guide you in the right direction:

  • Make a list of the reasons why you want to study abroad. Of course, you are looking for excitement, fun, and perhaps greater independence, but please knock those off your list! A reasons to study abroad essay cannot include such selfish content! Now, focus on more unselfish reasons. Can you be an ambassador for your home country? Can you use your experience to help establish a more global perspective in others when you return home? How will you do that? Answer these questions before you ever begin to write. Instead of fun, think personal enrichment; instead of excitement, think absorption of cultures and languages that may spawn a future career; instead of independence, think “re-defining” yourself.
  • Read what others have written or talk to others who have studied abroad. Reading a study abroad experience essay that someone else has written can inspire you – you can find many with a simple Google search.
  • What was your inspiration for wanting to study abroad? Have you had a relationship with a foreign student at home; did you read a book as a child or see a movie that had a huge impact on your desire to visit foreign lands? Such an experience will provide excellent anecdotal material for your introduction.
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One of the big draws of studying abroad is that they often come with scholarships or grants that significantly reduce costs while you still earn credits.

Again, study abroad scholarship essays need not be much different than those that are written for non-scholarship purposes. The important thing for either type of essay is this: you must make it exciting; you must be sincere; and you must make yourself memorable. A tall order, yes, but not impossible.

So…are you ready to learn how to write a unique study abroad essay – one that will not read like any of the others? Here we go!

  • You will certainly have an essay prompt. Read it 2-3 times (most don’t do this, but you will, because it will give you your thesis and your body paragraph topics). You will be asked to explain your goals and reasons for studying abroad, and perhaps specifically how that study will impact your educational and career goals. Okay. You have your thesis – goals and reasons; you have your paragraphs – educational goals and career goals.
  • Remember the basic structure of an essay
  1. Introduction – catchy first sentences; thesis statement at end of paragraph. Again, use a short anecdote that makes you unique!!
  2. Body Paragraphs – 3 points at most – each point in a paragraph
  3. Conclusion – sum up thesis and perhaps refer back to the “catchy” part of introduction
  • Look smart – no grammar mistakes and no slang. Your writing should be formal but not stilted. This is not a dissertation!
  • Have your essay read by someone totally uninvolved – ask them to summarize what they read. If they can, you have made your points well. If they cannot, fix the parts they did not “get.”

You are unique. In your history there is a story that has inspired you; your goals are driven by who you are. Make sure the decision makers see this!


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