Studying abroad is arguably the best thing one can do while in college. Unfortunately, due to the financial cost of going to another country, many students let their overseas dreams die. Financial difficulty should never be the reason for anyone to not to travel abroad because we live in an age where communication is practically infinite and instantaneous. This means that there is virtually an unlimited amount of outlets to go fund your dream.
College provides a perfect window to explore. Not a lot of twenty-somethings would say that they’ve got their life figured out. No one really does. However, those who choose to study abroad while they’re young tend to have a better idea of what they want to do post graduation.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
- Know that you are valuable.
As a college kid, everybody wants to help you. You are young, attractive and getting educated —which are all traits that our culture loves. Accordingly, if you can prove that you have one or more of these traits, you will be rewarded. As opposed to going straight to work, where you are expected to be fiscally responsible, the choice to go to college opens doors. My parents, for example, are much more giving with their money when I’m doing well in my classes. Likewise, if you make positive impressions on others within your network, you can get a substantial amount of funding for your endeavors.
- Market yourself.
Now that you know your special worth as a young, ambitious and bright future-contributor to society, tell the world! How are you going to get funding if people don’t know that you need it? Or how much of a wonderful college student you really are? They have to know that you have a need for their financial assistance, and it is your job to communicate this need.
For instance, my freshman year, I was given the opportunity to travel China with the Vanguard University Singer’s and Band. As a broke college kid, I employed my network to fund the trip. I wrote about 70 letters to all my friends and family telling them what I was doing and that I needed their help. This alone funded my entire trip with some money to spare.
- Share the burden.
No one likes a freeloader, but most people understand when someone genuinely needs help. To avoid this negative stigma, you will have to do some work yourself. In other words, do not ask for financial help until you’ve made an effort to pay for it yourself.
First of all, it’s your moral obligation to personally contribute to your own cause. To fund your agenda on the backs of others alone is simply not ethical.
Secondly, by making your own effort to fund your trip, it removes the false notion from people’s minds that you are lazy or selfish. It tells people that you are passionate about what you do and are ready to do the work it takes to get there. As a bonus, it will also boost your persona to your contacts who may be on-the-fence about supporting you. Even the act of applying for jobs may be enough to win uncertain contacts to your side. While
If you are busy, there are still ways to contribute. If working a part-time job is too time consuming for your schedule, you can always sell merchandise. The newly married Vanguard alumni Zach and Dre Rodarmel paid for their move to Redding, CA, by selling bumper stickers saying, “It’s all good!”
- Employ all your unique options.
As I said before, you are valuable. There are so many scholarships for people just like you. Whether you’re artsy, athletic, comedic, academic, or any other thing, there’s a scholarship just for you. Over the past decade, the proliferation of the value of a college education has broadened the eligibility for financial aid. In other words, you don’t have to be a 4.0 student or a minority to get a scholarship.
The key is to recognize what makes you unique, and applying that to your search. Whether you’re writing scholarship essays, or writing your extended family, this will get you far.
- Take every shot.
Star hockey player Wayne Gretzky said that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This sounds simple (because it is) but our behavior normally doesn’t reflect that we really believe this truth. Sometimes we get nervous and afraid that we won’t be able to achieve our goals. Too many times, we let great opportunities pass us by while we are gripped by this fear.
To get over this false mentality, I advise to first accept the reality that you currently don’t have what ever it is you want (whether it’s a scholarship, position or what not). Once you accept this, you will realize that you have nothing to lose in applying for that thing, since you already don’t have it.
The worst thing that could happen, is you don’t get what you applied for. Which is really not a loss at all, since you are only left with how you began. Take the shot. You have nothing to lose but a missed opportunity.
Remember, you’re a college kid, which means its O.K. to be poor. You are not expected to be financially stable, or to have your life figured out (thank you God!) However, this does not mean you should not try to achieve these things —just know that the pressure is off for now. With that in mind, set up things today to achieve what you want in the future. The possibilities are endless.