Essay adds meaning to study abroad scholarship application

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    Numbers can only say so much about a person.

    With an essay now required for study abroad applications, this new approach gives The Center for International Studies a better look at the level of interest from students rather than just their qualifications. In the past, the only requirement was a grade point average and while it gives some insight into how focused students are on their grades, it doesn’t offer their personal perspective on the experiences that lie ahead.

    This new requirement won’t limit the pool of applicants because if students are motivated enough to get a passport and put down the money needed for the trip, they can have the determination to pick up a pen and write down what they hope to gain from the experience. That way the field of candidates can be limited to those who can back up their GPA and raw data with real interest in joining the program. The highest GPA won’t just be a rubber stamp for entry into the program anymore, which should motivate students more.

    Of course GPA will still have its rightful place, weighing heavily in the decision to accept a student, but an essay will supplement it in the long run and put a face on each applicant. The study abroad program has been important in immersing students in other cultures. Now the application process can better reflect the diversity of the program’s destinations and uniqueness of the experiences it offers.

    Features editor Chance Welch for the editorial board.