Tips for Organizing a Winning Scholarship Essay

March 28th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

businessman wealth477168287Writing a scholarship essay is, perhaps, the most important—and often, most daunting—step for any student looking to win a scholarship. Judges must assess applicants quickly and will already know your basic information/details from the rest of the scholarship application. That being said, the essay is your chance to stand out as an applicant and tell the judge(s) exactly why you’re the ideal recipient for their award.

And, as any experienced essay writer will tell you, an outstanding essay begins with a well-formulated outline.

There aren’t specialized scholarship essay outlines per se, rather, scholarship essays are organized much like any other essay. However, there are a number of key features the scholarship essay must convey to the judge, and these features are important to keep in mind when planning.

Scholarship Essay Important Features to Remember

  • Don’t just reiterate the basic information in your profile (the judge(s) already have access to that), identify yourself as the ideal recipient of this particular scholarship
  • Give a personalized response, specifically tailored to each individual scholarship
  • Remember who the judges will be. Who offers the scholarship? What are they looking for in a candidate? Don’t just respond to the topic, write for your audience and highlight the desired qualities in yourself!

Outline Formats

As there aren’t specialized formats for scholarship-specific essays, any traditional outline format will do (Interchanging numerals and letters for major points and supporting details, for example).

  1. Idea 1
    1. Supporting statement
    2. Supporting statement
  2. Idea 2
    1. Supporting statement

The only particular thing to remember is you are planning more than a mere response to the provided prompt—you are planning a way to sell yourself as the ideal candidate for the scholarship while responding to the prompt.

An Example of a Better Response

When planning, it is important to remember that there are better and worse ways to respond to a scholarship provider’s prompt while simultaneously selling yourself as the ideal candidate to receive the award.

Outlining and planning your scholarship essay is the most valuable asset in crafting a formidable response—a response that needs to both answer the provider’s question while setting you apart from a group of similarly qualified applicants.

For example:

BAD: “I am a very hard worker.”

BETTER: “At my current job, there are often extended lulls in the workload. During those lulls I stay busy by finding things in the office that still need to be done and taking care of them. Rather than sitting around or waiting to be told what to do, I refill paper trays, tidy up areas that have become cluttered throughout the day, and otherwise take initiative to improve the workplace and assist my co-workers.”

Scholarship Essay Outline Recap:

  • The scholarship essay is the best means for a student to distinguish themselves from other applicants and procure a scholarship
  • Creating a detailed outline and planning your response is the best step a student can take to write an impeccable scholarship essay
  • When planning responses, students should write for their audience—highlight the qualities the scholarship provider is looking for!
  • Any traditional outline format will do (numerals, letters, etc) as there is no specialized scholarship essay outline format—it’s not important what style the outline is, only that there’s an outline!


Join Us This Wednesday: Budgeting for International Students

March 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

pumping dollar sign187897805Going off to college on your own isn’t easy – let alone off to college in a whole different country. It’s an exciting and scary time, a chance to be independent and do what you want, when you want. But then it is also a chance to deal with all of the responsibilities as well – including managing your money!

No matter where your studies take you, studying overseas is expensive when you consider that you will probably pay more in tuition, and that you’ll have to consider other costs such as your living expenses, travel, etc.

Join International Student Loan this Wednesday at 2:00pm EST where they will walk you through the many steps of budgeting as an international student.

You won’t want to miss this Google Hangout focused on Budgeting for International Students. In this Hangout, they will be sharing the ways that you can improve your budgeting skills so that you can do all the must-do’s while you are studying overseas!

How Do I Join?

This week’s Google Hangout is free for all students! Simply sign up, set a calendar reminder, and attend the hangout this Wednesday at 2:00 EST. Be sure to check your local time so that you don’t miss it!

How Can I Join the Conversation?

You will not only learn more about budgeting from a Financial Aid Representative, but you’ll also get a chance to join the conversation and get your questions answered. Here’s how:

Questions and Comments?

International Student Loan will be available after the Hangout to get all your questions answered in real-time. Be sure to stick around and join our social channels to get your questions answered – and see what other international students are saying!


Tips for Writing an Effective Scholarship Essay

March 18th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

While there are many sources of financial aid, scholarships are by far one of the best ways a student can offset some of the costs associated with pursuing a degree. That being said, most scholarships require students to write an essay in response to a provided prompt.

The scholarship essay is typically the biggest hurdle students face when applying for scholarships, so we will explain why the scholarship essay is actually the best opportunity for students to secure the scholarship, then we will provide some important tips to keep in mind when doing an effective scholarship essay all of your own.

The Essay is a Great Opportunity for Applicants

The essay is one of the most important components in a scholarship application because it helps the scholarship provider to narrow down their choices from a range of applicants that meet the application criteria (and, typically, most people applying will have similar academic standing, extra-curricular activities, interests and goals). That being said, the essay is also the best opportunity for students to differentiate themselves from the other applicants, and really catch the attention of the scholarship provider.

Essay Writing Tips

1. Tailor each response to the particular scholarship

It’s important that you not only directly respond to the prompt given by the award directions, but remember who the organization is: Who are they specifically looking to give the scholarship to? What qualities are they looking for in a recipient? Try to highlight those qualities in yourself while staying on topic.

Make the essay passionate enough to stand out, personal enough to distinguish yourself as the ideal recipient, and directly tailored to the provider—write (eloquently) for your audience!!

2. Have someone else edit/proofread

The last thing anyone wants to do after writing a personalized essay that can make or break their application is read it over again (and over again, and over again). Plus, it is just general good proofreading practice to get a second set of eyes to edit a document. So, edit the paper yourself, then have someone else proofread and suggest edits in addition. Better safe than sorry!

3. Remember all the standard essay qualities

In addition to distinguishing yourself as the ideal recipient of whichever scholarship it is you’re applying for, the scholarship essay also has to demonstrate your writing abilities. As important as the content, the ability to write effectively is a major criterion for providers. Remember to plan your response ahead of time, use proper grammar, and demonstrate your mastery of language (but not at the expense of being clear or concise!).

Check out our most recent Google Hangout where we gave you tips on writing your scholarship essay:

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8 Questions To Ask Yourself to Find An International Scholarship

February 3rd, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

103802381When it comes to finding an international scholarship, you’ll notice that there are a lot of options out there. You can find scholarships on merit or need. You can find scholarships based on where you are from or where you are going. You can find scholarships based on hobbies, the arts, sports, academics – the list goes on and on.

International scholarships are competitive, because many students are looking for ways to get funding that they don’t have to pay back. To stand out from the pool of applicants, we recommend focusing your efforts on applying to scholarships that are looking for someone just like you.

So how do we do that? The first step is to take an introspective look at yourself and find out what you like, what your good at, and what makes you – well – you!

Here are 8 questions to ask yourself to find an international scholarship:

  • What are your interests?
  • What are you good at?
  • What are your skills?
  • Where are you from?
  • Do you have economic hardship?
  • How are your academics?
  • What school are you going to attend?
  • What will you study?

Once you find out what makes you a unique candidate, then it is time to begin the hunt for scholarships. Use our scholarship search tool to find awards that matches your unique talents, skills, and interests. This also makes it much easier to apply for these awards because you’ve already demonstrated your passion whether it’s through previous awards or experiences.

Want to know about other tip and tricks for submitting a scholarship application? Check out our other relevant blogs to help you on your way!


Free Discussion on How You Can Get An International Scholarship

January 27th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

hold money180121360Our partner, International Student Loan, will be hosting a free discussion to help you can get an international scholarship. Mark your calendars for this Thursday, January 30th at 10:30 am EST for a free webinar – full, now closed! where you’ll learn:

  • Where to look for scholarships
  • How to make your application stand out
  • Best practices to keep organized

Not only will you get to learn about important scholarship topics, but you’ll also have the chance to hear from three financial aid experts. With their background, you’ll have the chance to see what award administrators are looking for and how to put together an application that sets you a part from the thousands of other applicants.

This 30-minute long discussion on how to get an international scholarship will also give you the opportunity to ask your questions live! Experts will be able to give you the insight you’ve been longing for!

Space is limited so be sure to register now before the webinar fills up. Register now – full now closed! before it’s too late.

International Student Loan will be providing free webinars throughout the year so be sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to be the first to register.


International Student Athletic Scholarships

January 25th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

sports balls183589940Did you know that a number of international students study in the US with a full athletic scholarship? Do you have what it takes to get a sports scholarship to study at a US college or university? If you excel at tennis, basketball, soccer (or football, depending on where you are from), American football, rugby, golf, or any other mainstream sport – then you might have what it takes!

Recruiting Services

There are a number of athletic recruiting services worldwide whose job it is to find athletes to study in the US. Depending on the recruiter, they may cover all sports and divisions – or just a few. Often times, these recruiting agencies are made up of former college players and coaches to assess your level of skill.

Why Get An International Student Athletic Scholarship?

A good number of international students get offered excellent financial aid packages for their outstanding performance. Not only will you get a chance to represent your school in competitions, but you’ll also have the chance to get financial help to fund your studies in the USA. After graduation, you may get recruited to play the sport you love professionally.

US Universities and Colleges and their Relationship with Sports

Most US universities and large colleges have an active on-campus presence, which in some schools center around sports. The institutions typically offer a wide range of sports and participate in a number of competitions. Depending on the division and school, often times the media covers college sports – and thus it is a way for the school to get their brand out there and attact new students to their school.

Minimum Requirements

Most athletic scholarships are awarded to those students completing their undergraduate degree, and the majority of students come right after completing high school. To increase your likelihood, be sure to start the application as early as one year prior to graduation. To be eligible to play for a US college or university team, you must be between the ages of 18 and 24 years old or no further than 6 semesters into your undergraduate degree.

Academics and Athletics Go Hand In Hand

To be awarded an athletic scholarship, you must be accepted into the university or college which means you’ll need to take the SAT/ACT and the TOEFL/IELTS. The coach will be the one to offer the scholarship, and he or she will evaluate not only your athletic ability, but also your academic abilities. Many schools require you to maintain a certain Grade Point Average to continue to play on the team – so it’s important to have excellent academics to go along with your athletics.

Interested in learning more about the various scholarships out there? Check out other scholarship blogs to help fund your education in the USA.


Make Your Resume Objective Statement Stand Out!

January 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

bulls eye164463322You’ve sifted through hundreds of scholarships and now is the time to apply! Mission #1: Your Resume. Resumes don’t seem so difficult at the onset, it’s basically an overview of what you’ve done that’s relevant to the scholarship you are applying to. It’s a time to brag, time to strut your stuff, and show them what you’re made of. The only question is, what should you do with this resume objective statement…

What Is An Objective Statement?

Many resumes include an objective statement to convey to the reader your primary focus, skills, and purpose. While the objective statement is optional, it is a chance to succinctly state your cover letter in a couple of sentences and give.

Where Does The Objective Statement Appear

Your objective statement is typically at the top of your resume right below your contact information. Since it’s at the top, think of it as making your first impression.

Writers Beware

While the objective statement on a resume can highlight your key qualities and purpose, it can also be an area of downfall if not done correctly. To prevent this, make sure you have:

  • Customized each objective statement to the award you are applying for
  • Read through the award purpose, criteria, and qualifications of the previous award recipients
  • Written your objective statement to be as specific as possible

What To Include

When writing your objective statement, you will want to be specific and clear. Tell them about the scholarship you are applying for, your background and experience, and what you have to offer. You can mention your major, career goals, and why you deserve the award.

How To Make It Stand Out

Your objective statement should not be what you will gain out of being the scholarship recipient. Instead, it should be about what you plan to do for them! In many cases they are giving you hundreds – or even thousands of dollars – so you want to let them know it’s in good hands. Tell them about your academic and professional goals, and how you plan to give back.

Objective Statement Example

  • Finance student at ABC University who earned honors in her field, completed an Investment Analyst internship in London,  and who seeks ABC award to continue to pursuing a career in investment banking.


5 Tips To Save Money on New Year’s Eve

December 30th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

new years78820594No matter which country you are in for New Year’s, chances are there are a number of event going on to celebrate. In the US, for example, bringing in the new year can cost a lot. According to the Mint.com’s New Year’s Analysis, 70% of Americans will celebrate in some way – and 13% of Americans will spend more than $200. This includes attending parties, throwing parties, going out for dinner, and a number of other activities. This doesn’t mean that you have to budget that much – after all, you are a student on a limited budget! Here are some key ways to save money on New Year’s Eve:

1. The Party. Sure, there are epic parties to bring in the new year with ticket prices costing upward of $50 depending on where you live. This is typically just the entrance fee, and may not include drinks or dinner. Think about how you want to celebrate and factor in the total costs:

  • Dinner
  • Transportation
  • Drinks
  • Ticket Price
  • Lodging

If you are going with a group of people, ask if you can get a group discount. If you want to get New Year’s gear beforehand, you can find cheap goodies at the Dollar Store – or the equivalent nearby.

2. Transportation. If you are going to be celebrating far from home, remember that you’ll need to get there and back. If you are going to use public transportation to get there, will it be running after midnight? If not, consider the cost of a taxi or another alternative as well. Remember, be safe during New Years and don’t drive if you’ve been drinking.

3. Attire. New Years parties are sometimes a formal affair requiring you to wear a tuxedo or dress. Buying a designer outfit can be expensive, but you can rent a tuxedo for a night, or you can find great discounts post-Christmas. Don’t forget, you might have some nice clothes stashed away in your closet already!

4. Drinks. In many places around the world, champagne is the way to bring in the new year. Look for bottles on sale, see if you can purchase them wholesale (if you are throwing the party), and you may even find better deals at liquor stores. If you aren’t sold on champagne, there are delicious cheaper alternatives such as Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, that you can find at half the price.

5. Food. You can save a lot of money by eating before and after your party, as opposed to purchasing a ticket with everything included. You can go to a mid-range restaurant, eat your heart out, and then go celebrate. After your party, you can find some good discounted food if you have the munchies. Don’t forget about online discount restaurant coupons that can knock a few extra dollars off your meal.


Get the Best Exchange Rate

December 29th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

money458058315Exchange rates can mean the difference of losing or making a few dollars with each transaction. When it comes to credit cards, cash, debit cards, wire transfers, and ATM fees, you should expect to pay more for the service of converting one currency to another. Be sure to understand how each of these methods work so that you have the lowest fee and the best exchange rate.

Know The Conversion Rate

With so many methods of payment, it’s important to contact your bank and credit card company to understand exactly how the charges work. Remember, exchange rates vary by the second, but that doesn’t mean that you will get that exact rate. You’ll want to ask:

  • What exchange rate do you use?
  • Where can I find this exchange rate?

Since the rates fluctuate so often, and in some cases dramatically, you’ll want to check the exchange rate regularly to know what rate you’ll get and when you should make large purchases.

Check For Any Fees

Credit Cards
Many credit cards charge an international transaction fee added on to each purchase. The good news is that there are some cards that waive this fee altogether. If you plan to go abroad for a lengthy period of time, consider looking into one of these credit cards and this can certainly save you money in the long-run.

Debit Cards
Not all banks are available worldwide and you may be charged a fee by your bank as well as the bank you use to withdraw money. Take some time to investigate the presence of your bank in your host country – do they have ATM’s in your destination country? If not, do they have a partnership with another bank in your destination country? Either way, it’s important to ask how your debit card will work overseas and what the fees are.

Exchanging Cash
Exchanging money is another way that you can get local currency, but try to avoid doing this at the airport, train stations, or over touristed areas since it is typically more expensive. Remember that the rates given by a bank or currency kiosk can vary, and thus you’ll need to evaluate your options. They all will include a fee to convert one currency into another. The best place is typically at a bank, although in some cases you can find favorable rates in hotels.

Overall, credit cards and debit cards are typically the best way to get local currency (that is, if ATM’s are available in your host country) and to make large purchases. Be sure to ask about security on your credit/debit card, however, to make sure you understand the policies in case your cards get lost or stolen.

Want to learn more about exchange rates? See how to make exchange rates work for you.


Search International Scholarships for Free Money

December 3rd, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

blackboardwithpiggybank159415722December is here! And before you head off for winter break, it’s important to also think about your finances. Set a few hours each day searching for awards and applying so that you’ll be in good shape in time for the new semester. Our Scholarship Search makes it easy to do, here’s how:

  1. Register
    Create an account to allow you to search, save and apply for the awards of your choice. Totally free, all you need to do is register here.

  2. Search awards
    Once you have registered, now you can search awards based on the name of the award, what you are studying, where you are studying, or where you are from. You will be able to narrow down the awards to those your are eligible for.

  3. Apply
    You will be able to get the information you need to apply for the scholarship. Fill out the appropriate forms and submit the information directly to the organization of your choice.

Not ready to apply? You can also bookmark the awards that you are interested in, and come back later to apply. Yes, it really is that simple!

Scholarships, grants, and fellowships are the perfect award as it is money given to you that is not required to pay back. Depending on the award, you may need to show that you need the money, or it may be based on merit.

If you still need additional help funding your education overseas, then an international student loan can cover the gap. Unlike scholarships, grants, and fellowships, loans require that you pay back the money with interest. Our Comparison Tool will allow you to select your school and citizenship, and find the available loans that will work for you.

Want more information on scholarships? Check out our scholarship blog posts.