Application Tips

Willamette Sponsored Programs Study Abroad Application

About those Recommendations...

How To Ask For and Get The Best Letters of Recommendation    (PDF)

How to approach potential recommenders, how to help make it easy for them to do this for you, and how to determine who will make a good (or not so good) recommender for you. They will be using an online form and not creating a letter but the essential needs are the same. Give your references plenty of time. Give them AT LEAST 3 weeks. Remember that professors are asked to do many recommendations.

Writing Your Statement

Statement question: Why do I want to study abroad?

About 500 words. We don't count words but your answer should be within a few sentences of that limit. Overly long Statements reflect negatively on your application.

The rest:

500 words is a challenge because the question is wide open! Your first draft will likely be longer than the limit. Keep working to make it more concise so it meets the length parameter. Don't wait until the day before the deadline to start your Statement.

1. Statement Writing Worksheet   Use this worksheet to generate content ideas and organize your Statement.

2. Off Campus Studies Committee (OCSC) Selection Criteria - Know your audience: The OCSC is composed of faculty and past study abroad students. Read the Selection Criteria.

How do you show the characteristics listed on the Selection Criteria? Past experiences? Language training? Involvement? Academic pursuits outside class? The Statement is your chance to talk about your goals in your own words. Your transcript will tell about your academic fitness and recommendations will give insight into your academic and general preparedness.

3. Academic Fit - How does studying abroad fit into your academic plans? What about with your career or post graduation plans? How do the specific programs you are considering fit with your education?

4. 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?

5.  Ask yourself, "Why?" and ask yourself, "Why?" again...   Articulate your specific desire to study abroad.

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 academic environment and teaching? Why have you always wanted to study abroad?

Finally- Proofread!

Have someone else - Writing Center, a trusted friend, a professor- proofread your statement for content and grammatical integrity before submitting it. This makes a difference! In order to maximize our ability to advise students on program choice and mechanics of the application process, the OIE is generally unable to review Statements before the deadline.

Make that Deadline!

Plan ahead in order to successfully complete your application on time. You are solely responsible for ensuring the elements of your application are complete by the deadline.

  • Don't try to complete your application in one sitting. Examples of things that take time: talking to recommenders, composing and proofreading your Statement, and getting your passport information.
  • In your application, there is a Submit Application button that you may use at any time. This triggers a review of your Received column to check for any incomplete/unsubmitted items. You are not required to use it to "send" your application to OIE. We will review all Complete applications (complete = all individual items are "received") regardless of whether the applicant used the "Submit Application" feature.
  • Waiting for recommendations?  Your application is considered "complete" for the deadline when all your items have checkmarks AND your recommendations have specific people designated to complete them.  It is ok that your recommenders don't make the deadline (although we want them to), they have the ability to submit late without hurting your application. The Submit Application feature will help you determine if you have done everything you need to for a "complete" application.

If you have ANY problems or questions for OIE, address them well BEFORE the deadline. This is why it is important to start early. 

Late and incomplete applications are not considered. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. and the online application system closes after that time.

Technical Issues

As with many systems, this portal has its own quirks and compatability issues.  Here are the top things to be aware of. 

  1. SAFARI seems to have the most access problems with this software (MAC). Most frequently this causes inability to sign-in and unexpected sign-offs. If you have difficulty, after checking the more usual issues (see below), try a different browser.
  2. SAVE FREQUENTLY. All the items the applicant is completing have a "save" option.  You can then return to it.  We recommend that you save anything you are working on every 15 minutes. This is due to unpredictable connectivity issues. Often you will not know there is a problem until you try to move to a different page. NOTE: Recommenders do not have a "save" option, only a submit option.
  3. LONG FORMAT RESPONSES: For responses that include lots of text (like the Statement), we recommend that you compose in Word then copy and paste it into the correct space.
  4. SUBMIT each item as you complete it. Each item must be submitted individually. In some cases this is an actual "Submit" button for that item. In other cases you are asked to acknowledge the specific item. Once Submitted, you cannot revise or "unsubmit" without intervention from the OIE. Any unsubmitted items at the deadline will be considered incomplete/late and you won't get credit for them.
  5. AUTOMATIC TIMEOUT: This system has a security feature that automatically signs you out after 59 minutes on the same page. SAVE FREQUENTLY. If you are doing nothing, you will likely see a pop-up screen counting down your inactivity.  However, if you are actively working, this popup does not appear.
  6. SIGN IN DIFFICULTY: Most often this is a very temporary situation. Try again. Then try after 15-30 minutes. If you continue to have problems, please contact us via email.  Tell us what screen you were on before you had a problem, what the text of the error was, and when/how often it happened.

NON-WU users: 

For initial access look for an email from <>. Check your spam/junk folder for this email.

Recommenders: The email you receive is triggered automatically by the entry of your name and email in the application by the student. The student can tell you what date they entered your name if you need help finding the email. The subject contains the words "Recommendation Request..." with the student's name.  It has information in it that is unique to you as a recommender for a specific individual. You are NOT required to sign-in to the site. "ONE-STEP" Recommendation Form: You will be given a link and a code to access the specific recommendation you need to complete. You also have the option to create a sign-in if you prefer.

* You can only be IN the recommendation form for 59 minutes at a time.  This is a security feature. An annoying but important feature. You also cannot "save" work-in-progress on this form. This is something the software designers are working on. The best way to handle this is to look at the recommendation form to see what the questions are.  For any free form questions/items, make note of them in a Word Document or something.  Then, logoff the site.  Compose your answers while OFF THE SITE.  When you are ready to complete the form, log in again, answer the questions and copy/paste your longer answers in as appropriate. Click "Send". Then you are done.

* If you receive an error or experience any other problems while completing a recommendation, your first step is to use the one-step process to again enter the recommendation. If a green box appears that says, "The recommendation you entered has already been signed," you know that the recommendation is completed. If the recommendation opens again but is empty (none of your previous responses), you know the information you entered did not record. There is no way for us to get that information back. In this circumstance, the recommendation must be redone. You can view the responses that recorded by using the sign-in option using instructions from your original email.

Non-WU Student:

* You will receive a temporary password to enter the portal and reset the password to one that you choose.

* The password in the email is only good for 21 days. 

* Use the Forgot Password tool if you need help with your password.