Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program | Application Process | Essays


Weston HawkinsThere are two essays required as part of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship application; the Statement of Purpose Essay and the Follow-on Service Project Proposal. This page will provide specific guidelines for each required essay.

The most critical aspect of these and any other essays for a nationally competitive scholarship is to ensure that they are proofread prior to submission. Applicants that do not have their essays proofread compete poorly during the selection process and generally will not receive a scholarship award. Please compose your essays first in a word processing program. Then copy and paste your essays into the text boxes provided in the online application. This will allow you to save your essays and ensure that your information is not lost due to a session timeout (approximately 15 minutes of inactivity). Your essay should be composed in paragraph format (not as numbered responses to the questions).

Keep in mind that you are limited to 7,000 characters (including spaces) per essay. This limit is approximately 1.5 pages, single-spaced in a word processing program. When you are ready to transfer your essays to your application make sure to double check your essays for the possibility of being cut off due to exceeding character limit. Additionally, do not format (i.e. bold, underline, italics) your essays in the word processing program because your formatting will not be retained upon transferring. We have provided limited formatting to reconstruct your essays once you have pasted them into the text boxes in the online application.

Visit our Multimedia page that has informational videos, including a Composing Competitive Essays video, that will help you throughout the application process. The Composing Competitive Essays video will go in-depth with understanding how to compose competitive essays for your Gilman Scholarship application and the specific guidelines for each required essay.

Statement of Purpose Essay

The Statement of Purpose Essay is your chance to personalize your application. When composing the Statement of Purpose Essay it is important to address the impact that your study abroad program or internship will have on your academic, professional, and personal goals. You should also address the impact that receiving the Gilman Scholarship would have on your achievement of these goals. Some key points to keep in mind are:

  • Why do you wish to study or intern abroad and what factors led you to this decision? What do you hope to gain from and what do you anticipate will be the impact of your experience abroad?What impact will my choice of country have on my experience abroad? What initially inspired me to want to study abroad in this particular country or learn this language? What factors led to my choice of country of study?
  • Describe your study or intern abroad program. What factors led you to select this program and length of study?
  • Why have you chosen your country of study? What factors led you to select this country?
  • How will this study or intern abroad program and the coursework you take abroad impact your academic and future professional goals?
  • Are there any distinctive components to this program, beyond coursework, that will impact your overall learning experience abroad? (i.e. home-stays, internships, field research, volunteer activities, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
  • What challenges, if any, did you face in your decision to study or intern abroad? How did you meet these challenges and what impact do you foresee them having on your experience abroad? These could include, but are not limited to, being a parent, being a non-traditional student, having a learning or physical disability, being in a field of study for which it is difficult to incorporate study abroad, etc.

Follow-on Service Project Proposal

The Follow-on Service Project Proposal is your chance to explain how you will give back by inspiring others to pursue their own experiences abroad. To help expand the impact of the Gilman Scholarship Program, all Gilman Scholars are required to carry out a Follow-on Service Project upon their return from abroad that helps to promote international education and the Gilman International Scholarship. This project can be done on your home campus or in your local community and must be completed within six months of your return to the United States. All applicants must submit a project proposal within the online application and this proposal is closely reviewed during the selection process. Some key points to keep in mind are:

  • Briefly outline your proposed project to promote the Gilman Scholarship and international education. How will this project impact your home university or home community? What are your project goals?
  • What is your target population and how will your project impact this group?
  • How will you integrate the impact of your experiences abroad into your project?
  • What, if any, campus departments, student organizations, and/or community organizations will you collaborate with in promoting the Gilman Scholarship and international education? Have you already made contact with these groups?
  • Upon completion of your project you will be required to submit a two-page final report summarizing your experience abroad and the impact of your Follow-on project.

Examples of Follow-on Service Projects

Gilman Scholars have proposed and carried out a wide range of Follow-on Service Projects. Each year a wide range of Follow-on Service Project Proposals are submitted and there is no right or wrong proposal. We encourage all applicants to propose a unique Follow-on Service Project that highlights their individual background, experiences abroad, talents and skills. Listed below are some examples of the projects Gilman Scholars have carried out. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we look forward to continue to receive unique, individual proposals from all applicants. Some examples of Follow-on Service Projects include:

K-12 Outreach

Some projects Gilman Scholars have carried out include:

a) Conducting presentations on their country of study to local elementary classrooms.

b) Working with a local teacher to incorporate study of a specific country into the curriculum with photos, letters and emails from the Gilman Scholar while s/he was abroad, as well as items the student brings back with him/her from his/her host country (i.e. newspapers, menus, magazines, clothing, textbooks, toys, etc.).

c) Organizing a pen-pal program between a local classroom and a classroom in the student's host country.

d) Organizing and/or working with their university K-12 outreach program, bringing international students into local classrooms to present and share information on their home countries.

e) Participating in their local high school College Night to share information on study abroad opportunities and scholarships.

f) Working with/giving presentations on study abroad to high school language or area studies classes.

g) Working with/giving presentations on study abroad and scholarships to programs that mentor high school students such as the Upward Bound program.

Academic Department Outreach:

Students in fields of study traditionally under-represented in U.S. study abroad often choose to focus on their academic department when carrying out their project. Examples of these projects include:

a) Development of a study abroad information page for the department website that lists a suggested academic timeline encouraging students to incorporate study abroad into their degree

b) Organizing information on university-approved study abroad programs that offer coursework and academic credit in their field of study and links to scholarships and financial aid information that support these opportunities

c) Presentations on study abroad at academic club or honor society meetings

d) Development of a brochure or informational flyer specific to that field of study that is then posted in the study abroad office

e) Serving as a mentor/peer advisor to potential study abroad students in their field of study

f) Submitting an article to their academic department newsletter on their experiences abroad either while the student is still overseas or upon their return.

Campus Office Outreach:

Students often propose to work with a specific on-campus office including the Diversity/Minority Services offices, Disability Services offices, the Financial Aid office, Student-Leadership office, and other campus offices. Examples of these projects include:

a) Working with the university office to help promote and encourage study abroad opportunities through presentations to student clubs and organizations and through office organized events

b) Posting information on the Gilman Scholarship Program in specific campus offices

c) Adding a web page to the office website that highlights study abroad opportunities and information that would be of help/interest to students

d) Serving as an office representative at campus fairs and events by sharing information on study abroad and the Gilman Scholarship Program

Study Abroad Outreach:

This is the most common type of Follow-on Service Project students propose. Examples of these projects include:

a) Volunteering or working in the study abroad office as a Peer Mentor/Advisor to potential study abroad students

b) Representing the study abroad office at presentations/information sessions on study abroad

c) Ensuring the study abroad office website has a Scholarship Information page and that a link to the Gilman Scholarship Program's website is provided

d) Submitting an article on their experiences abroad to the Study Abroad office newsletter either while they are still abroad or upon their return

e) Developing an informational flyer/brochure on university-specific financial aid procedures for study abroad and available scholarships which is then housed in the study abroad office

f) Participating in/organizing a Study Abroad Alumni society which assists returned and potential study abroad students

g) Serving as a resource person for a specific country/program/field of study that would advise/assist potential study abroad students

Other Outreach:

There are a variety of other types of programs that students have proposed. Some examples include:

a) Submitting a weekly or monthly article on their experiences overseas to their campus or hometown newspaper while the students are abroad, thereby sharing information with a wide range of readers

b) Submitting an article on their experiences abroad to their campus or hometown paper upon their return to the U.S.

c) Participating in campus or local international events such as an International Fair, Chinese New Year or other celebrations

d) Working with another local organization to share information on study abroad and the country they studied in with their members

e) Presenting on study abroad opportunities and the Gilman Scholarship Program at Freshman Orientation or in First-Year Experiences courses thereby encouraging students to consider study abroad earlier rather than later.

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