Study Abroad Competitive Scholarship applications

I serve as one of the School of Music's Study Abroad liaisons and also serve on the Study Abroad Competitive Scholarship Selection committee. I cannot vote on the candidacies of my own specific students, but I can (a) certainly advise them about their application materials and (b) provide insight about the priorities by which the Committee makes selections.

General Suggestion: start working on the Statement of Financial Need and the Statement of Purpose EARLY--treat them as tasks demanding careful and effective writing and meticulous editing. Imagine that there was a major grade riding on these pieces of writing and work at them accordingly.

Also, it is worth visiting the TTU Study Abroad website, and reviewing the form of the online application, first.

Statement of Need:

Start by listing all of your expenses for the semester in question: tuition, housing, books, car, phone, food, etc, using the specific numbers. Then describe how all those expenses are met: who pays what, what part is loans, what part is scholarships or other support from TTU. Then describe and discuss the specific additional costs that the trip represents—using specific numbers. THEN break down the cost for the trip, and explain how you, family, friends, or other supporters may be contributing. THEN say that, while you are very grateful for all those kinds of support, you feel a responsibility to try to contribute as much toward the total cost as you can, so as not to be an additional or unexpected burden.

Statement of Purpose:

Take your time, speak at length, give concrete details, tell the truth about your financial situation. It is a "merit" scholarship--so it's not about who is most broke. But rather, it is about people who are able to articulate specific reasons why the specific trip destination is especially valuable or important for them personally. I would certainly include a statement about your involvement in any prior Study Abroad or cultural activities, related or unrelated to the particular place to which you are interested in traveling. Talk about that those prior experiences have meant to you, and how you think this trip might further enrich you.

Discussion of family connections to the target location is very good, but be specific: say where your relatives came from, or where they still live, and how meeting them, and “seeing the place that your people came from” will enrich your ability to relate to your own students of diverse backgrounds. Make sure you describe in detail the range of ways that this “enriching experience” will enhance your ability to enrich the experience of your future students.

Be sure that you go through both documents and check all grammar and spelling; get a friend to read in detail for grammatical errors. If you are a performing artist or educator in the performing arts, it can be a good start to talk about how the specific Study Abroad experience for which you are requesting support will benefit you as an artist or educator. Talk about the degree of cultural diversity you will encounter in your job.

Remember: you are making a case here. Now is no time for brevity, careless or hasty construction, or false modesty. Tell the truth, give concrete details, articulate just how important the Study Abroad experience can be in your future career, and get that on paper.


Select these people carefully! You want recommenders who:

(a) know your professional and academic career: professors, advisers, supervisors, etc. It is not a good idea to select those who know you primarily on a personal basis (relatives, religious professionals, friends, fraternity/sorority members);

(b) know your recent accomplishments--ideally people from Texas Tech. A recommendation from someone who knew you prior to Texas Tech may be valid, but it does not convey the same sense of currency as one from someone who works with you now.

(c) know you well. You want someone who can speak positively and in detail about your suitability for this program. This is why it's a good idea to make sure your recommender knows the nature--or at least the location!--of your Study Abroad experience.

(d) are conscientious. You want someone who will write a detailed, considered, positive, recommendation and get it in on time. Do not select someone who will write a cursory recommendation, or one that is late, or one that never gets completed.

Remember it is your responsibility to make smart choices in selecting your recommenders; do this early, and think about it hard.

Good luck!