The hardest part of studying in the United States can be how to fund it.
The price of tuition that students pay at many American schools depends on their residency. If you are a resident of the state you study in, you pay in-state tuition. But if you are not a resident, you pay out-of-state tuition, which can be several times more expensive.
At many public colleges and universities, that is the price international students have to pay. But don't be discouraged! There are ways that international students can alleviate the drain on their pocket, and one of them is applying for scholarships.
Scholarships allow students to get money for their education, and are typically awarded by businesses, organizations or schools to students for academic or other achievements.
[Learn which schools offer international students the most aid.]
Scholarships have a variety of criteria such as your country of residence, age and academic major. You just need to find a scholarship that you are eligible for.
The scholarship process typically requires that you fill out an application form that asks for your personal and academic information. The application process will also probably require you to write an essay that tells something about yourself and your professional and academic goals.
While you're seeking scholarships either as a prospective or current student, try the following tips to enhance your chances of becoming a scholarship recipient.
1. Apply for scholarships: Many international students don't apply for scholarships, because they don't want to spend the time to work on the application process, they don't know there are scholarships available to them or because they simply believe they won't have a chance. Don't take this route!
It may sound obvious, but if you don't apply for a scholarship you won't have a chance of ever being awarded one.
[Get tips on how international students can save for college.]
2. Be a leader: Many scholarship foundations love individuals who invest in leadership skills. Americans like to lead and universities strongly encourage leadership among their students.
International students might not be used to the American focus on leadership, and may have to seek out ways to develop and demonstrate leadership skills. The American job market tends to value individuals who have the characteristics of a leader, such as being a great communicator, a good listener and an effective team player.
American universities understand that having leadership skills are as important as academics to the success of a future professional. U.S. schools usually offer campus workshops, leadership programs and activities that help students discover their leadership style and practice being leaders.
Look for opportunities to volunteer for a leadership position in organizations or clubs on your campus.
[Check out scholarships for international students.]
3. Brush up writing skills: A good scholarship essay is a very important factor in the decision of the scholarship committee.
Writing styles may differ from country to country. For example, in Brazil, subjectivity, creativity and the use of words to embellish are valued highly.
However, in the U.S., committees expect objective, structured essays that get straight to the point. Make sure that you stick to the essay topic, have correct grammar and edit the essay well. Try to have a well-organized essay with an attention-getting introduction, well-supported points and a creative and powerful conclusion.
All of that takes time and many revisions, so don't wait until the last minute, as that will negatively affect the quality of your essay.
Having your American friends read your essay is a smart move. They will be able to point out if your essay makes as much sense to them as it does to you. Your university may have workshops that help you write a good scholarship essay. You can also search online for tips on writing good scholarship essays.
Scholarships are competitive, especially for international students, as most are directed at American students. However, there are scholarships for international students as well, so be prepared – and good luck.
Paula Maia Fernandes, from Brazil, is a senior at Kennesaw State University, where she studies public relations with a minor in Italian studies.