Before applying for Scholarships

1.  Develop a strong statement of purpose.

Why is a strong statement of purpose essential?

  • Scholarships are competitive
  • Scholarship committees are inundated by applications
  • Committees get tired of reading boring personal statements
  • You need to WAKE UP your committee!  Make your statement of purpose  interesting, concise and powerful. 

Your statement of purpose is absolutely key; bring yours to life! One basic statement can be modified for each of the scholarships for which you apply.  Our  SDSU Writing Center offers assistance in writing statements of purpose; plan to utilize this wonderful SDSU resource!

2.  Obtain letters of recommendation.

Study abroad programs usually require at least one letter of recommendation, and scholarship applications typically ask for 3.  Ask 3-4 professors/supervisors who are hand and penfamiliar with your work, your character, your intelligence and your work ethic, to write you a  letter of recommendation for a scholarship.   Don’t wait until the last minute; professors get are bombarded with requests for letters.

Writing letters of support is not an easy task.  Visit professors during their office hours,  give them an early heads up, and acknowledge that you know they are busy.  Ask them if they’d like you to remind you of a few things before they write the letter.  If so, let them know you will email them a few points.   Later that same day, email them:

  • Your name.
  • The date you need the letter.
  • Resume if you have one.
  • How you know the professor.  In your class? If so what class, and when?  In your lab, when? TA/RA, when?  If you received an A in the class, remind them.  If you did not receive an A, no need to mention it.
  • If you did a strong, memorable project or presentation or assisted lab members,  remind them of what it was and when you did it.
  • Remind the professor of discussions that were memorable.
  • Remind them of your research interests.
  • Give examples that demonstrate your strengths that include academics, character and work ethic.
  • Note obstacles you have overcome.
  • Consider telling your professor something he/she said or did that had an impact on you.
  • Ask them to address it:  Dear Committee: 
  • Let the professor know that some of the scholarships for which you apply may not be specifically study abroad, so although that can be mentioned, it does not need to be the focus of the letter. 
  • Applications are often  done on line; if this is the case, let the instructor know that you will let him/her know the exact instructions on signing, sealing or uploading.  (You will likely not know all the scholarships, at this point, for which you are going to apply.)

And thank them again for being willing to write a letter on your behalf!