In general, expect to be asked to provide the following types of information about yourself on your study abroad program application form(s): your academic performance (Grade Point Average, scholarships, etc...), your selling points/talents (what you think about yourself), letters of recommendation (what others think about you), your hobbies and interests, your knowledge of current events in Japan, your resume and official college transcript to date, etc...
1. The Personal Statement/ Essay
Your Personal Statement/Essay is like a written handshake; it's the first impression you give to administrators. Your personal statement is your opportunity to emphasize your best qualities and to show off your writing and communication skills. Also, if your transcript isn't the greatest, you can use your personal statement to explain why, or to go into detail about your other talents away from school. While your GPA does factor into the equation, other extracurricular activities count as well, so be sure to list them. Even if there is a minimum GPA requirement that you don't meet, you may still be able to participate in a program if you write a strong Personal Statement/Essay and have good letters of recommendation. You will probably write and re–write more than one draft of your personal statement before turning in your application. You may even want a professor to look it over before you write the final draft. This is especially true if you are asked to write your Personal Statement/Essay
in Japanese. Remember to show maturity and to tell your audience what you are hoping to learn and get out of your study abroad program. Briefly explain your personal and academic goals. Most study abroad program administrators particularly want to know why you desire to study abroad in Japan.
2. The Interview
If your Personal Statement/Essay is like a written handshake, then your Interview is your actual - in person - handshake
If your Personal Statement/Essay is like a written handshake, then your Interview is your actual—in person—handshake. The Interview process lets a program selection committee match your face with your name. It allows them to see you on a more personal and human level, rather than just on paper. Since first impressions can leave lasting impressions, it is important to present yourself as best as possible. You may want to dress professionally for your interview, and get a good night's sleep beforehand. As you may be asked about the current events of Japan, it's helpful to read Japanese and U.S. news in preparation for your interview. Remember your manners and be polite; give others your full attention and listen to everything being asked of you. Since group interviews are common, make sure to listen to other students as well. However, remember that a group interview is not a competition between you and the other students; you do not need to talk longer or louder than the others. If a question catches you off guard, or you don't know the answer, ask the person to repeat the question. Take your time when answering, and be honest if you don't know something.
3. Relevant Questions
- Does your personal statement/essay sound like a "written handshake" and make a good first impression?
- What are some of your best qualities and talents you can emphasize in your personal statement/essay?
- Have you made sure to include in your personal statement/essay why you want to study abroad in the country of your choice?
- If your GPA isn't the greatest, can you explain why, or include other activities you've been involved in instead?
- Have you written, re–written and asked someone to look over your personal statement for you (especially if you have to write it in the local language)?
- How many letters of recommendation do you need, and have you given your contacts plenty of time to write their letters of recommendation?
- Did you get a good night sleep, dress professionally and read about the country of your choice's current events before your interview?
- Were you polite and well–mannered when answering all your interview questions thoroughly and specifically?
- My personal statement/essay well reflects my talents and interests.
- In addition to my GPA, I have included in my application other activities, clubs, teams, student government in which I have participated.
- I have sent out and/or received all of the required letters of recommendation.
- I have had someone look over my personal statement/essay one last time.
- I have made sure to include in my personal statement essay the reasons why I want to study abroad in the country of your choice.
- I will get a good night sleep, dress professionally and read the current events of the country of your choice before I have my interview.
- I will try my best to be polite and well–mannered when answering the interview questions thoroughly and specifically.