General Tips and Advice
Consider these general tips when thinking about applying or preparing your scholarship/fellowship application.
- If you lack the time or passion for such a strenuous process, let it go. Competitive applications come from people who make a commitment, make it a priority and START EARLY.
- I know it’s mentioned already but it’s worth saying again: start early! Between essay revisions, requesting recommendations etc. for many scholarships/fellowships, it takes a solid year to create a competitive application. Also, a lot of competition deadlines require you to know or at least have a good idea of your study abroad plans at least a year in advance.
- Talk to or research others who have won/applied for your fellowship and learn from their experiences. Click on ‘Past Recipients’ on this website to learn about some of RIT’s winners. Check the scholarship/fellowship websites for profiles of past winners. Check google or youtube for blogs and videos of past winners.
- Some application processes can be quite rigorous. To stay on track, break down the process into manageable milestones.
- Make sure you meet or are committed to all the scholarship/fellowship requirements. Some will require you to design and implement a project to promote international education or study abroad.
- Request your official transcripts EARLY from all of the colleges/universities you have received academic credit from.
- Take advantage of the resources on campus to help you whether it’s a librarian or the writing center.
The essay components of your application are your best chance of show casing your personality and character. The essays should not be taken lightly and should go through multiple drafts and revisions. Take the tips below into consideration, but also consider taking your drafts to the writing center in the Student Alumni Union for more personalized writing advice and guidance.
- Create an outline first. An outline will help you organize your thoughts to help you better communicate your ideas.
- Consider beginning your essay with a hook that engages the reader from the beginning and makes them want to read the rest. The best hooks are relevant, personal and illustrative.
- Be specific and concrete by using examples. Instead of saying that you are motivated, describe an instance that demonstrates your motivation. Be specific about your qualifications, plans and end goals.
- Keep your audience and purpose in mind. Address your essay to an educated non-specialist. Do not make your project proposal so field-specific that it will be difficult for readers from different disciplines to understand and care about your work.
- The tone should be neither too academic nor too personal. Be engaging, specific, and thoughtful. Eloquence is welcome, but not at the expense of substance or honesty.
- Keep strictly to word limits and all other guidelines.
- Proofread. Try different proofreading techniques such as reading the essay from the bottom up or reading it aloud. When you think it's perfect, ask someone else who edits well to read your essay.
- Consult several different readers whose comments you respect. Be prepared to take criticism and go through 10-20 drafts. Your program head, professors and fellowship advisor are great resources!
- Avoid clichés. Phrases such as “expand my horizons,” “step out of my comfort zone” and even words such as “sustainability” can be overused and lack insight. Think a bit more critically, be reflective and use specific examples to avoid sounding generic and immature.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation can be one of the most powerful components of a successful application. Read the tips listed here and get more in-depth information by clicking on the links.
- Effective Letters of Recommendation [pdf] [pptx] (copy over file)
- Handbook for Faculty – Writing Recommendation Letters by Joe Schall
- Choose an appropriate referee - one who meets the requirements of the application but can also attest to your abilities as relates to the application.
- Give your referee at least 4 weeks to write a letter and follow up with them.
- Give your referee a copy of your resume and provide them with information about the program so that your referee can tailor the letter.
- All letters of recommendation must be on official letterhead.
- All letters of recommendation should clearly state how long the referee has known you and in what capacity.
- Recommendation letters should be about one page long.
The interview is the one opportunity you get to truly demonstrate your passion and persuade your audience in person. If you do well at the interview, you’ve passed one of the first tests and your application will likely be forwarded on. This is also a great opportunity for you to consult your mentors and get good advice about your application from seasoned professionals. Read the tips listed here and get more in-depth information by clicking on the links.
- Yale Interview Reports: Learn things like who were the interviewees and what types of questions were asked
- General Interview Tips
- Exhibit professionalism:
- Dress in formal business attire
- Arrive at least 10 minutes early
- Make eye contact
- Have good posture
- Beware of nervous habits (chewing on lip, curling hair, cracking knuckles, etc.)
- Speak with good diction, tone and at an acceptable speed
- Catch up on current events and be prepared to answer questions about them. This is especially important to assess your ability to act as an ambassador.
- If you are caught off guard by a question, pause and think instead of launching into an ill-formed response.
- Be honest. If you do not know the answer to a particular question, admit that you do not know.
- Get a business card from each interview and send a hand-written thank you note a day after the interview.
- Anticipate what questions you might be asked and prepare cohesive, well organized responses to those questions.
- Prepare questions for you to ask the interviewing committee.
Unfortunately we can’t list every scholarship and fellowship on our website. Use these databases to search for other international funding opportunities.
Study in Japan Scholarship Database
Variety of scholarships for studying in Japan.
Study in Australia Scholarship Database
Variety of scholarships for studying in Australia.
Diversity Abroad Scholarships
Study Abroad 101