Did you go on an exhilarating and memorable study abroad as part of your college education? Do not let that experience go to waste once you are home. One of the best ways you can continue to reap the benefits is by integrating it in your application to graduate school. Not many people get to study in a foreign country, so take advantage of that fact to increase your odds of being accepted to your top-choice school. Showcase it in your application by following these tips.
Before you even begin working your study abroad experience into your application, you first need to reflect on it. Don’t assume that you know exactly what you want to share with grad schools. Write down all the activities you participated in, places you visited, and the knowledge you acquired.
Next, ponder what effect these had on you. Which moments were the most meaningful? How did your perspective or life goals change? What lessons can you take with you to future endeavors? It can help to read any journals, letters or emails you wrote during your time abroad.
Review events that occurred outside of formal learning, too, as they can help you discern other skills you gained and areas in which you grew. For example, maybe you had a difficult roommate you ended up becoming close to, or you connected with locals at the bar. These may not seem like significant events, but they reveal your ability to get along with anyone, even under unusual circumstances, which is a desirable trait.
List the Benefits
Once you have finished brainstorming, write out a list of skills and other benefits you obtained during the program. Examples include:
- Foreign languages you learned to speak fluently and/or conversationally
- Organizations you worked with
- Business connections you made
- Cultural customs you are now familiar with
- Character qualities you improved, such as adaptability and self-reliance
When your list is complete, you will have a lot you can use in various parts of your application. You do not need to include them all; just pick the most relevant ones.
Write Your Statement
Perhaps the best place to showcase your study abroad experience is in the personal statement. This essay gives you the chance to truly express who you are and make a positive first impression. It can make all the difference when other areas of your application, such as your test scores, are not as strong as you would like them to be.
Although you can choose to write about anything, going with your study abroad experience can set you apart from other applicants, especially in programs where international proficiency is much appreciated and in high demand. The challenge is to find a message you can focus on to avoid just writing a log of all your travels. Admissions committees are not as interested in where you went as they are in how those places became a part of you.
Remember, schools are looking for students who will be a good fit and leave the program better than they found it. They are interested in who you are right now, not just who you want to become. They want to know why they should accept you, so paint yourself in an appealing light.
One tip is to show instead of tell as you write your essay. Help the reader to see what you saw and feel what you felt. Make it personal so that the reader can connect with what you are saying and get to know you better than is possible through generic information on an online form.
Prepare for Interviews
The interview phase allows grad schools to put a face to your name and see how you act in person. It can be the final thing that puts you above another candidate, so make sure you are prepared. It is wise to find opportunities to use your study abroad experiences when answering the interviewer’s questions. The following are some questions you could link to your experience:
- Share your proudest accomplishment.
- How will you contribute to this field?
- What are your career goals and your plans to achieve them?
- Give an example of when you solved a problem.
- Do you have any hobbies?
- What was your most rewarding academic experience and why?
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- When was a time you had to work with a difficult person and how did you handle it?
- Name your strengths and weaknesses.
The possibilities are endless, but if the purpose of the question is to highlight your skills and qualities, then you can relate it to your time abroad.
Continue the Journey
Would you like to add more educational travels to your application or go for the first time? Then search the study abroad programs through International Business Seminars to find the right one to enroll in.