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Home > Students > How to Write an Outstanding Study Abroad Application Essay

For some students who wish to study abroad, the statement of purpose can be one of the most daunting components of the program application. The good news: it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first! After all, you’ve come this far in the study abroad research process, so chances are you’ve already given thought to what the essay requires you to write about. As long as you don’t rush and take the time to create a solid outline, your study abroad application statement of purpose will truly shine.

Common statement of purpose requirements

Although each program application may have program-specific essay requirements to address, most will ask students to address the following two components:

  1. Goals for studying abroad (i.e. academic, career, and personal) – Most likely, you will have to briefly describe your goals, outlining specific ways in which studying abroad will help you achieve these goals.
  2. Reason you chose this program/location – This aspect of the statement of purpose is more specific to why, out of all the programs and locations on Earth to study, you’re applying to this one.

Creating an outline

Before rushing into writing out your statement of purpose, make sure you’ve carefully read the instructions and prompts for the essay. The worst way to sabotage an otherwise excellent essay is to miss a key requirement outlined in the instructions. To help keep essay requirements fresh in your mind, consider copying and pasting the requirements at the top of essay document so that they are there for quick reference.

After you fully understand what points you are required to touch on in your statement of purpose, drafting an outline will help keep your essay organized, clear, and succinct. Consider following the steps below to help make this process easy and straight-forward.

Open up a blank Word document, and get down the general essay components:


Paragraph 1

Paragraph 2

Paragraph 3


Now that you have the foundation laid out, you can complete your outline by creating a couple compelling sentences for each paragraph. Having these sentences drafted will help you quickly move forward after your outline is complete. Let’s take a look at each paragraph, and sample sentences for each.

Introduction – Create a strong thesis sentence that sums up your overall purpose for studying abroad.

  • Example: Studying abroad at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid will be a monumental step in realizing my personal, academic, and career goals to my highest potential.

This thesis sentence portrays to the reader that you have identified personal, academic, and career goals in relation to studying abroad in a specific program, and will describe them below.

Paragraphs 1-3 – Draft a sentence that sums up your response to the each point, then a second sentence that provides a specific outcome that this study abroad program will provide.

Paragraph 1 (e.g. personal reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):

  • Example: My grandfather migrated to the United States from Madrid, and since an early age I’ve wanted to see and experience the city and culture he grew up in. By the end of my study abroad program, I plan to have developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for my family heritage by becoming more fluent in Spanish and familiar with Spanish customs and cultural practices.

Paragraph 2 (e.g. academic reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):

  • Example: As a history major, I plan to utilize my time in Spain to contribute to my overall academic success and focus within the history program at my home university. Throughout my time studying abroad, I will visit historical sites around Spain relevant to my intended topic for my graduate thesis topic: Moorish architectural and cultural influences in modern Spanish society.

Paragraph 3 (e.g. career reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):

  • Example: I plan to one day teach Spanish history and culture at the college level, and this program will give me the first-hand experience I believe necessary to be qualified and successful in this position. By being completely immersed in the Spanish culture, and by having access to a large number of relevant historical sites and resources, I will enter this study abroad experience with my career development in mind.

For the conclusion, come up with a strong sentence to sum-up (again) why this program and location is the best choice.

  • Example: After extensive research of all possible programs, I am convinced that studying history and Spanish culture at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid is an ideal match for my personal, academic, and career goals outlined above.

Drafting suggestions

Now that you have a strong outline, filling in the rest should come easily and naturally. As would be normally expected in college-level essays, it’s important to make sure that each sentence you write relates directly to the main sentences in its respective paragraph you came up with in the outline.

After you’ve written your completed first draft of your study abroad application statement of purpose, save the document and take a break for a week. After you’ve had some time to clear your mind, you’ll likely come back to edit your essay with a fresh perspective and as a result more easily catch mistakes you may not have otherwise caught!

Finally, before you send it off, double (and triple) check to make sure that you haven’t overlooked any requirements for the statement of purpose. Also, consider having at least one other person look at your essay – your campus’s writing center is a great resource you might consider utilizing!

Congratulate yourself

After you’ve sent in your essay, congratulate yourself! You are well on your way to one of the most exciting journeys of your life, and you certainly deserve to be proud of this accomplishment.

Many students have problems with writing essays. However, the problem is usually not in that the task is very difficult but that a student approaches it in a wrong way. To compose a good academic paper, you should make particular preparations before you move on to the writing process. If you take all steps in the right order, you’re likely to create a paper that will be worthy of a high score.

  • Understand the nature of the assignment.
  • There are plenty of types of academic papers. You may be asked to write a persuasive, informative, or descriptive paper, for instance. Before you start writing, it’s important to look into your assignment guidelines and understand what exactly your teacher wants you to do in this task.

  • Pick a topic.
  • Once you understand the style you should stick to, it’s time to select a suitable topic . For instance, take a position on some social issue in a persuasive paper, describe a creature that exists only in your dreams in a descriptive paper, or elaborate on some important historical event in an informative paper.

  • Gather information.
  • Many topics will require you to collect particular data before you start writing. For example, to write a good argumentative paper, you should come up with, at least, three strong arguments that will defend your main idea. However, you’ll also need to find factual evidence that supports these arguments to make your statements in the text more persuasive.

  • Outline your paper.
  • Before you start working on a project, make a plan. The same applies to writing academic papers. Before you begin composing your actual paper, it’s advisable to make a short outline that will illustrate the structure of your text. Indicate what points you’ll include in the introduction, body, and conclusion. Follow this plan during the writing process and you won’t forget to mention any significant detail in your text.

  • Write your first draft.
  • Composing the first version of your paper, you shouldn’t pay much attention to grammar and punctuation. The main thing is to write maintaining the tone suggested by your assignment guidelines and make sure that the structure of your text looks similar to what you’ve planned.

  • Proofread and edit your draft.
  • After your draft has been completed, you should revise it several times eliminating mistakes. Make sure that grammar, spelling, and punctuation throughout the text is correct, every sentence is clear and relevant to your main idea, and the word count doesn’t exceed the indicated limit.

  • Compose a final title.
  • If you create a title before you start writing, the title might not coincide with your actual text. Crafting a title in the last instance, you’ll be able to make it clearly resemble the contents of your paper.

    As you can see, writing a school academic assignment becomes much easier if you know what steps you should take in order to succeed. The main thing that you should remember that it’s not advisable to postpone the work on your paper. If you try to compose it the night before the submission day, the result isn’t likely to be great. If you don't have enough time for writing process you can use this service to get professional custom essay writing assistance.

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