International Education

Application Tips

Willamette Sponsored Programs Study Abroad Application

Writing the Personal Statement

The facts:

Statement question: Why do I want to study abroad?

Two pages, double spaced (about 500 words). Save paper! We encourage you to print your Statement on both sides of a single sheet of paper.

Put your name at the top right-hand corner of each page for easy identification.

The rest:

Writing this personal statement can be challenging because the question is wide open! Students usually find it difficult to write everything in just two pages. Use the points below to generate ideas about the essay. 

It is likely that you will write more than two pages as a first draft. If you do, work on making it more concise so it meets the length parameter.

1. Off Campus Studies Committee (OCSC) Selection Criteria

Understand who is on the OCSC (this is your audience) and read the Selection Criteria.

Think about whether you have the characteristics listed on the Selection Criteria.  How do you show them? Past experiences? Language training? Involvement? Academic pursuits outside class?

The other parts of your application (transcript, letters of recommendation) will speak to these criteria, but the statement can help  augment any areas you feel are particularly strong.

2. Academic Fit

How does studying abroad fit into your academic plans? What about career or post graduation plans?

How do the specific programs you are considering fit with your education?

3. Other motivations?

Besides specifics related to your major field(s) of study, what other motivations drive you to study abroad? Skills in intercultural communication? Language acquisition? Service work?

4. Keep asking yourself, "Why?"

For all the points above ask yourself why? and so what? Why do you want to improve your language ability? So what if you want to see works of art in person? Why is immersing yourself in a culture important? So what if you take classes in another style of teaching or academic environment? Why have you always wanted to study abroad?

Continually asking yourself why will assist in articulating your specific reasons for wanting to study abroad.



Your study abroad advisor in the OIE is happy to review Study Abroad Personal statements for content. Visit the office to make an appointment.

Stay on top of all the pieces of your application. Find the date and time of the application deadline on the How to Apply page.

About a week before the deadline, check to make sure that all of the needed paperwork arrived in our office. YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSURING THAT YOUR PAPERWORK ARRIVES ON TIME.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Late applications will not be considered.  Please adhere to the posted deadline date and time.

Getting it all done on time

The WU Study Abroad Application completion is a process that requires you to plan ahead in order to successfully complete it on time.

Don't write your Personal Statement the day before the deadline.

Proofreading is essential to avoid mistakes that may affect whether your application is approved or not.

Give your references plenty of time to fill out forms and write letters for you.

Remember that professors are asked to write many recommendations, please give them ample notice.

One way to track when the references have been sent to OIE is to give your references a postcard to send to you, in campus mail, once they have sent their forms and letters to our office. THANK them for their time with a note.

Transcripts from ALL undergraduate schools you have attended are required BY THE DEADLINE.  If you are a transfer student or if you have taken any classes at other universities, include a copy of those transcripts in your application materials.

Submitting a Complete and On Time application reflects on your level of maturity and sense of responsibility.