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Finances &
for Study Abroad

Your Personal Statement

A personal statement is your introduction to a selection committee. It may be the most important element of your program or scholarship application. You may be invited to interview, selected as a finalist, and ultimately given an award largely based upon your personal statement. There is no one preferred format or style because a statement of purpose is personal in nature, but you should still follow basic writing guidelines.

The following list of steps and suggestions can assist you in composing a strong and convincing personal statement for your study abroad or scholarship application.

graphic: whyIdentify why you have chosen to study abroad

This is an opportunity for you to establish goals for experience overseas, academically, professionally, and personally. What do you wish to accomplish from this experience? What motivates you to embark on this adventure? How will this endeavor give you a "competitive edge" and distinguish you from other candidates? Think beyond generalities such as, "Travel will make me a better person." Get more ideas!

graphic: researchResearch your chosen destination

Research your destination and program thoroughly. You should be able to demonstrate knowledge (geography, history, culture, current events) of your chosen destination(s). Can you find the country or city on a map? What is attractive about living and studying there? You can always acquire a better picture for any place by reading travel narratives and asking for resources (suggested reading and viewing material). Talk to faculty, advisors and international students to get their insights.

graphic: considerConsider your personal characteristics and background

Let your personal statement give a snapshot of you, past, present, and future. What makes you unique and differentiates you from the "average" student? How will you express your individuality and personality? How have you prepared yourself to participate in this program, both academically and personally? Have you studied a foreign language and/or participated in any extracurricular activities? Keep in mind any “preference factors” for program or scholarship selection.

graphic: createCreate an outline for your essay

What will you cover in the introduction, supporting paragraphs and conclusion? A well-organized essay will allow the reader to better follow your reasoning.  All essays should have a thesis statement in the introduction. Consider beginning with a brief anecdote or quote, which may resonate with you and grab the reader´s attention.  Remember that all paragraphs normally begin with one topic sentence, followed by supporting content and specific examples. Observe the essay length requirement (commonly 500 to 1000 words).

graphic:proofProofread and Edit your essay

Read your essay out load to recognize inconsistencies and any awkward or colloquial (informal) language. Request your family, friends, and faculty advisors read your essay to provide you their opinions and suggestions.

  • Use active and direct phrasing.
  • Use transition words.
  • Read your composition aloud to others, and get feedback from listeners.
  • Edit for grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Use a dictionary and/or thesaurus when needed.

Getting help

    Logo: the writing center
  • Attend a Scholarship Writing Workshop at the beginning of each fall and spring semester to learn more about how to write a competitive study abroad scholarship essay or statement of purpose. It is recommended that students bring their rough draft essay for editing assistance. See Study Abroad Events calendarfor more information.
  • The SDSU Writing Center offers free tutoring sessions which are an opportunity for you to receive feedback and guidance from an experienced writer. We encourage you to see a tutor for assistance with grammar, sentence structure, and other writing elements.
  • The Division of Undergraduate Studies website also provides helpful information on writing a personal statement.
  • Consult faculty and academic advisors for input and feedback!
sdsu study abroad. explore. discover.

Address the impact that your study abroad program will have on your academic, professional, and personal goals as well as how you intend to engage the community.


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