Funding Your Study Abroad

Study abroad. It’s a nice way that rich students do to pass the time before they graduate, right? No one else can do that thing.

Wrong, my friends. Not only are there a regular cornucopia of scholarships and opportunities out there, but now you also have this handy-dandy list to get you started!

1.) Visit the Office of Study Abroad
You have a wonderful resource nestled in Lippincott 105 – walk-in study abroad peer-advising. So aptly named because our small staff of superstars are regular experts in the field of study abroad. We’ve all studied abroad, many of us, like me, because of scholarships. We can give you the “down-low”, the metaphorical skinny, on what’s out there and who to talk to learn more. We even have a beautiful baby blue list of scholarships to help start you on your way to studying abroad. Huzzah!
2.) Make a Budget
After visiting with the peer advisors and your study abroad coordinator, you should have a fairly good idea of about how much your study abroad experience is going to cost. Time to ‘excel’-lerate the planning process and spreadsheet it out! Take stock of your current financial resources and see how much you need to turn your study abroad plan into a reality.
3.) Search
Ah, the World Wide Web. Little is lost from the depths of the web, which can unsurprisingly yield some interesting results in the study abroad scholarship category. Start out by checking out the Office of Study Abroad’s list of recommended scholarships online as well as the multitude of KU general scholarships, most of which can be used for studying abroad. Your specific department might also be offering scholarships so check with them too! Finally, a simple Google search can often lead to a multitude of results.
4.) Organize and Prioritize
You have the dream sheet, an ever growing stack of possible scholarships. Starting to get a little overwhelming, isn’t it? If you’re an over organized freak like me, starting a spreadsheet that lists the scholarships, their deadlines, and requirements helped me lay out what I needed to do and when.
5.) Contact References
If any of your scholarships need references or language evaluations, it’s best to start contacting people early. For letters of recommendation in particular, I would advise that you start talking to professors about a month in advance. While the last-minute ask for a recommendation is sometimes unavoidable, it’s far more respectful (and kinder) to give the recommender time to prepare and write your letter. If the recommenders are not as intimate with all of the awesome things you’ve been up to, ask if they would like to see your resume or make a time to chat with them.
6.) Make an “I Love Me” Sheet
So this sounds pretty silly at first but I actually picked up this idea while serving in the military and it has served me well ever since. Basically, take the time to brainstorm and write out all of the things you’ve been involved in, any volunteer work you’ve done, jobs you’ve held, awards and recognitions, and whatever else pops into your mind.
7.) Write those Essays
Using your “I Love Me” sheet as your muse, start writing those essays! Try to incorporate all of those wonderful things you’ve done into a cohesive picture who you are and why the study abroad program is essential to your future academic and career success.
8.) …and Polish
Don’t submit a rough draft! Go to the writing center, your parents, mentors… anyone who has a good eye for writing, a friendly listening ear, and has the time to go over your essays with your application materials with you. Don’t be modest, use your “I Love Me” sheet to work in all of the rest of the pertinent accomplishments that you haven’t been able to fit in yet. 75% of the hardest work is in the polish, so try not to get burned out by taking breaks and appreciating all the hard work that you’ve put into it up to this point.
9.) Submit!
Do it! Do it on time! You’ve put WAY too much work into it to not at least even try now!
10.) Thank you letters
Scholarship or no scholarship, make sure that you send timely thank you letters to those who have supported you so far. Not only is crafting a good thank you letter is a skill every future professional should develop, but it’s often one of the best ways to show respect and appreciation.