Ten Helpful Hints When Applying for an Exchange Program

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Ten Helpful Hints When Applying for an Exchange Program

Followings are the ten helpful hints when applying for an Exchange Program or scholarship. Student exchange programs are once in a life opportunity. This is not only an opportunity to visit another country but it also gives the students opportunities to learn a foreign language, culture and enhance their leadership skills. Thousands of people all over the world apply for exchange programs but only few of them are selected. Majority of them lack planning before applying for the programs. Your first impression to the exchange program selection committee is your application.

When I was applying for the CCI Program I wrote my application in nineteen days. Then, for the next seven days I was editing and removing the mistakes.  I contacted Mr. Akhtar Gul who was an Alumnus of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (also known as the Global UGRAD Program). I went to his home to take feedback, revise, and proofread my application. My application was very logical. I wrote each word very carefully which is why I was selected for the Program. This blog post is about the preparation you need to do before apply. I didn’t get these techniques or helpful hints from a book or a website. These are the techniques tested by several exchange students and they were successful in their missions.

So, let me tell you what you need to do before applying for an exchange program. Write down each tip and follow:

1. Start writing application before the announcement

As I said I wrote my application in nineteen days when I was applying for the program. There were seven essays in my application. I wrote an essay each day. I was adding stuff to my essay when I was done with my essays. You need reference letters too. So, make sure you are ahead of time. By beginning your application early you will get ample time to complete the forms before deadline.

2. Choose Referees Wisely

You need to submit three or as asked reference letters in the selection criteria to support your applications. Every program requires reference letters because referees make your application credible. You need to carefully read the instructions given in announcement of the program to choose your referees. For example, in my case (CCI Program) I had to provide one from the recent employer, one from Professor and one from anyone professionally connected to me. So, don’t get late. Go and asked them to write letters for you. If you don’t know how to ask click here. The reason I said choose wisely is sometimes the referees don’t respond to the queries. They lack interest to write about you or simply they do not know what to write about you. You have to be very careful in selection. Choose those persons as referees who are interested to write about you and recommend you for the program.

3. Before typing in Ms-Word draw a sketch on plain white paper

This will work as a first draft for you. You need to save this page and update regularly, so your application will be streamlined. Remember this brainstorming will help you include all the materials you know about yourself. Just write random sentences and later connect one by one.

4. Clarify your fellowship goals up front

Just think for a minute that why you want to go to the United States for a semester or two semesters or a degree program? How this opportunity can ease your way to your destination. Then, start writing about your goal. When I was writing my application for CCI Program, I listed all the short term goals and wrote one by one. Remember your Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Express your passion like you can change the world with your actions. The more passionate you are, the more you have chances to win the competition.

5. Be Clear What you are writing about

If you are applying for more than one scholarship, then you should be very careful about your writing. The programs you selected should correlate to your goals. It’s very similar to the situation when you are applying for two jobs at the same time. You have to send two different resumes to organizations addressing the selection criteria for their jobs. Remember if you send the same application to both scholarships, it will make your chances 50% because you may lose to get one for sure.

6. Provide details about the proposed plan

Never ever copy text from Google or from internet. Write your own application and provide details that what brings you to this situation? How much potential you have to achieve your goals? How many people you can support? How you can represent your country in tough situations? You need to provide all these details with evidences.

7. Answer the question Why you should be selected?

Like what makes you different from others? Remember you are not the one and only person who is applying for the scholarship. Thousands and Hundreds of people also apply for the same opportunities. So, what you can do that others can’t? Why should they choose you for the scholarship? You should clearly answer this question and assure them that you are the best fit for this opportunity.

8. Go to the program website and take some words from the Alumni

Taking help from the alumni website is one of the best techniques. For example, if you are the Fulbright scholarship. So, go to the Fulbright Alumni website. Study the success stories of alumni and make them your own story. However, I repeat that DO NOT COPY. Just take help like what they did in the past, you will do in the future but better than the previous candidates. For example, if they (alumni) celebrated Independence Day in United States with few people. So, you can write in your application that you will bring stuff from your home country and try to better than them.

9. Provide evidences in application

If you have two years of professional experience and the program also required the professional experience. Then, don’t just mention the experience. Provide details and evidences that what you really did in the past? How you grown up? How you faced the difficult situations and what were the lessons learnt? This will make your application credible.

10. Proofread your application

Before you submit the final version of the application kindly consider a feedback from the expert. I prefer if you take feedback from Alumni Network. Try to approach someone who was also part of the same program in the past. They can help you better than your English professor. The reason is that they were part of the program. They know what exactly you need to put and remove from your application.

I shared these helpful hints to maximize your chances to win scholarships. If you follow above helpful hints, I can guarantee that you will not get any notice saying something is missing. Your documents will be in complete form and they will be very happy to review your application. Take advantage from my experience and share with your friends.

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Qasim is an accounting and auditing professional in Pakistan, where he graduated from University of Peshawar with a degree in Commerce, majoring in Accounting. Qasim came to Arizona at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State in their Community College Initiative Program. This program is funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by Northern Virginia Community College as a member of the Community College Consortium. Qasim has more than four years experience in the social sector, specifically, working in donor-funded projects with various international organizations and UN agencies like the World Food Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and National Education Foundation of Pakistan, among others. He independently began operations of a small business incubator. Qasim’s dream is to become a social entrepreneur and serve his country internationally and domestically.

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