Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.
This post is for anyone who is thinking about studying abroad and wants to get a feeling for the application process, for anyone who is already entwined in a study abroad application, or for anyone who is just curious about the application process for studying abroad. Study abroad programs and vary, so not all applications are the same. I originally applied for a Japan Summer Abroad Program but switched to the Japan Semester Abroad Program, so my application was a little more intricate than a summer stay application.
- Get Information: Figure out the place you want to go to or visit. Why that place? Do you want to live there some day? Do you love the culture? What program do you want to go through? Look up and compare different study abroad programs and see which one is right for you. If a program interests you, request information from their website. As mentioned in my “Choosing My Destination” post, I moved from YFU to AFS because that program allowed a longer stay in Japan. Also, look at the requirements within the program you desire. For AFS, I had to have completed my first year of high school, and I had to be younger than 18.
- Personal: This is one of many steps within the application process where you submit a photo of yourself and give basic information. Full legal name, address, birthdate, nationality, etc. Depending on what program you go through, you may sign up for what country you wish to attend here as well as what program (summer, semester, year) you desire.
- Placement: This part has you answer question about your preferences such as religion, language proficiency, hobbies, likes and dislikes. This helps the program to find you a host family and get to know you better.
- Medical: This section is a health form that you have to submit. It requires information including medical history, shots taken, physicals, etc. If you have not, you might have to get a blood test for your blood type as well as a Tuberculosis (TB) Skin test. (If you are accepted into the program, you may have to receive immunization depending on your destination. Here are the required vaccines for Japan.)
- Self Intro: The self intro section is just like a sound, a self-introduction. For AFS, applicants were required to write a letter to their future host family telling them a little about his or her interests, families, goals, and weaknesses. Doing this helps the host family choose and get to know the different exchange students.
- Photo: This is a simple part in the application where you submit photos of yourself, preferably pictures that display you doing what you like to do. I had to submit about 8 to 10 photos. I was also required to put descriptions at the bottom of each picture I uploaded to indicate where I was and what I was doing in the photo. (Host families may see these too.)
- Parent Statement: This is a document that asks questions for the parents to answer about their child. It asks about the child’s habits, weaknesses, attributions, traits, etc.
- Academic Record: For this section, academic records must be uploaded. In collaboration with a counselor, teacher, or principle, a hand written copy of classes that have been taken throughout the applicant’s high school career must be submitted. This also requires a school seal or stamp. A transcript may be required as well.
- Participation Agreement: This form states the payment method, medical, and safety information plus acknowledgments for parents to look over, read, and sign.
- Parent Consent: This form is for parents to look over, sign, and agree for you, the applicant, to participate. If you are like me and had divorced parents, you might have to send in an extra form and other similar documents giving proof of divorce and consent from one parent if only one parent has custody. If both parents have custody, both parents will have to sign and consent.
- Letter of Recommendation: At least two letters of recommendations from non-relatives are required. One of those letters for me had to be written and stamped, or at least have the school logo, by my counselor.
- Passport: A passport is definitely required for traveling abroad. If you already have a passport, you may be asked to enter your basic passport information as well as passport ID and date issued. If your do not have one, however, you might still be able to submit your application before actually receiving you passport; though, you will have to send in proof that you are applying for a passport. AFS required this of me. I had to obtain my passport six months before departure, but I did so well before then. Once I got my passport, I simply emailed my missing passport information to AFS. (If you submit your application to AFS without having a passport, AFS will simply send an email stating what needs to be fixed within the application before they actually submit it overseas.)
Applying to go abroad takes time. It’s not something that can be – or at least shouldn’t be – done overnight. So, if you are someone studying abroad, be sure to take your time with the application process. It should not be a stressful experience (even though I made mine stressful, especially more than it needed to be -_- ). Also before submitting an application (for AFS), an in-house interview was required to see if I was eligible for studying abroad. Once my application was submitted, AFS sent me a list of things that needed to be corrected in order to make sure my application was flawless when it was sent to Japan. (Once you are accepted, you will most likely have other documents you need to fill out. For example, you will need to fill out documents in order to obtain a Visa.) After the application process is done, it’s time to relax, but at the same time, it’s time to begin fundraising. But, I’ll save that for the next post.