Application Tips & Technical Issues

Willamette Sponsored Programs Study Abroad Application - Office of International Education (OIE) - Jump to the topic by clicking:

About Recommendations

About Writing a Statement

Make the Deadline without Stress

Technical Issues - For Applicants

Technical Issues - For Recommenders

Make that Deadline!

  • SET A GOAL: Complete everything by 5:00 pm on deadline day. This gives you access to OIE staff if you need help.
  • Help available IN PERSON from 8:00 am  - 7:00 pm on the deadline day. Help via email is not guaranteed on deadline day.
  • TIME deadline: 11:59 pm on deadline day. You can access your application until you submit everything OR until 11:59 pm.
  • Plan for computer failure:
    • Store Statement drafts in a "cloud"-based document.
    • Email drafts to yourself frequently.
    • Know where 24-hour on-campus computer labs are located.

Plan ahead. You are solely responsible for ensuring the elements of your application are complete by the deadline.

  • Don't try to complete your application quickly. Mistakes and misunderstandings undermine the quality of your application and put you at risk of missing the deadline. Take time: Read everything, talk to recommenders, pick the correct program, compose your Statement, and collect your passport information.
  • Read and re-read Learning Content A. What is a Complete Application? in your application.
  • Waiting for recommendations? Applications are considered "complete" for the deadline when all your items have checkmarks AND your recommendations have specific people designated to complete them. Recommenders have the ability to submit late without hurting your application.

If you have ANY problems or questions for OIE, address them well BEFORE the deadline. We cannot guarantee that all problems are quickly resolvable.

Late and incomplete applications are not considered. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Access to applications closes after that time.

Technical Issues

As with many online systems, connectivity issues arise from time to time.

  • Portal home page for applicants. Use the LOGIN/REGISTER link to sign-in.
  • Device: Use a laptop/desktop for a smoother experience. This is due to the amount of reading and official nature of some documents.
  • Browsers: Inability to sign-in, loss of work, unexpected sign-offs. Try a different browser and check for other issues (see Sign-In Difficulty).
    • clear your browser cache
    • close the tab and open a new one
    • "refresh" your browser
  • Automatic timeout- at 59 minutes: This is an automatic signout after 59 minutes on the same page, even if you are working on it. If you are doing nothing, a pop-up screen counts down to a signoff. If you are actively typing, there is no popup. If you get signed off, nothing you have done will be saved (leave and return to see if you've lost anything).
  • Save Frequently: Applicants- Do this every 15 minutes. Questionnaires use "save" option for work-in-progress. 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.
  • Long Format answers: For Statements especially, we recommend that you compose in Word (or even better, a cloud-based document) then copy and paste it in.
  • "Submit" each item, individually, as you complete it. Each Questionnaire, for example, has a button called "Submit". In other cases you are asked to acknowledge the specific item. A checkmark with appear next to the item if you have successfully submitted/completed it. ALWAYS refresh and check that your item saved with a checkmark to verify you submitted it. Unsubmitted items at the deadline render your entire application incomplete/late.
  • Sign-In difficulty: Most often this is a temporary situation. Try again. Then try after 15-30 minutes. Try a different browser. Clear your cache/cookies. If you continue to have problems, please contact us via email.  If you get to a page that has a place to Request Log-in Assistance, use it so we know there is a problem to troubleshoot. We will see the notice when our office is open. 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.
ALL SCENARIOS:  If it is deadline day, come to our office.

ON DEADLINE DAY DEC 4, 2019

8:00 am - 7:00pm: In-Person assistance ONLY. We are located in the Global Learning Center.

On deadline day, email assistance is not plausible or guaranteed. In person, we can address all aspects without delay or misinterpretation.

RECOMMENDERS only can continue to use email to contact us, even on deadline day.

Technical issues between 7:00 pm - 11:59pm:

  • In most situations, access issues resolve without intervention.
  • Applicants should continue to check for functionality.
  • Use the tips above for initial troubleshooting. (Recommenders, see information below and please email us.)
  • If your own computer fails, use a computer lab on campus. This is not an accepted reason for a late application. (Use a "cloud"-based document for important drafts, like your Statement.)
  • ALSO, DOCUMENT your troubles, keep copies of items you are completing, take screenshots that show time/date, etc.

Unresolved technical issues after 7:00 pm:

For technical issues that do not resolve by using the tips above AND error indicate a universal system access issue or failure of a portal function to work:

  1. Send an email to <oieadvising@willamette.edu> through your WU email address with specific details about what happened. [Do this before the deadline if at all possible.] This will time-stamp your request and inform us of who and how many people are involved.
  2. Send a screen shot of any errors and a description of what you were doing, things you tried, and what you were trying to do. If possible, make sure there is a date/time stamp on the screenshot.
  3. Keep a log of the time the problem started.
  4. If your computer fails, use a computer lab on campus. Your own computer failure is not considered a reason to miss the deadline.

Confirmed issues that are determined by OIE to be system-wide (experienced by many people and with details describing the same problems) will be addressed on the day after the deadline. Depending on the situation, OIE will inform all applicants of resolutions and options available to correct things (if needed) as soon as possible.

Recommenders: The automatic email you get is triggered by the applicant when they put you in their application. You can use the link in the email or use your WU login credentials to SEE ALL YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS!

Contact OIE directly for help oieadvising@willamette.edu. Students can't access the Recommendations or the email links. Also try, Faculty help page.

USING THE RECOMMENDER EMAIL YOU RECEIVE:
  • The email contains a link and a unique-to-you access code to retrieve the specific recommendation form.
  • Find the recommender email:
    • SENDER is <oieadvising@willamette.edu>
    • Student may remember the time/date the email date based on when they put your name in.
    • SUBJECT: Look for, "Recommendation Request..." with the student's name.
    • Check your spam/junk folder for the email.
  • Please don't share that email with the student.

Security time-out feature- time limit 59 minutes: You can only be IN the recommendation form for 59 minutes at a time.

  • NO SAVE option: You cannot "save" work-in-progress on this form. (Hoping this changes in the future....)
  • To manage this:
    1. Access the form and review the questions. Decide how much you need to pre-compose before entering anything.
    2. Make note of free-form answers in a Word Document or Google doc.
    3. NEXT: Leave the form / logoff the site.
    4. Compose your answers in a separate document - cloud based is best.
    5. When you are ready to complete the form, log in/access again, answer the questions and copy/paste your longer answers in as appropriate.
    6. Click "Send". Then you are done.
    7. You will receive an immediate pop-up box acknowledgement of your submission.

Error or any other problems while completing a recommendation - (Another reason to compose answers off the site, to copy in.)

  • Reuse the link process to again enter the recommendation.
  • Green box appears that says, "The recommendation you entered has already been signed," you know that the recommendation is completed.
  • 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. 
  • Browsers can cause connectivity issues. Try another browser, clear your cache,etc.
  • You can view the responses that recorded by using the sign-in option (see above).
  • Occasionally, you get an error. Wait a bit and try later.
  • Recommenders only: It is ok if you don't meet the deadline. Email oieadvising@willamette.edu if you need help. We'll get to you as soon as we can.

Non-WU Student:

* Apply: Use the temporary password to enter the portal and set your permanent password.

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

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.
  • How to determine who is a good (or not so good) recommender for you.

Recommenders complete online forms. Give them plenty of time- 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?

1.Discuss your overall goals for a study abroad experience.
2. Identify how the program(s) you've applied for help you reach those goals.

About 500 words. We don't count words but stay 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! First drafts are usually longer than the limit. Keep working to make it more concise. 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.

Show characteristics listed on the Selection Criteria. It could be past experiences, language training, involvement, academic pursuit outside class. The Statement is your chance to talk about your goals in your own words. Let your transcript tell about your academic fitness and your recommendations provide 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 your specific programs ideas fit with your education?

4. Other motivations? Besides academics, 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.