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How to Write Impactful Admission Essays for Study Abroad?

Updated on 12 October, 2023

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Applying abroad for education requires the fulfillment of certain criteria that make a candidate eligible for foreign universities. One such document that needs to be submitted is the admission essay. An admission essay can be of many types and usually depends on the university or course you are applying for. Let’s begin with a little introduction about admission essays for study abroad


Admission essays or commonly known as application essays are a mandatory part of your application process and are required by universities to get a clear understanding of your personality and interests. The application essay can be based on various topics that will be provided by the university. Admission essays are usually a part of the application process for those universities that do not require a statement of purpose. It is just another way of evaluating candidates for admissions. Universities that seek admission essays usually design their requirements depending on the program. A variety of essay topics are set across for UG and PG courses. 

From a student’s point of view, admission essays create opportunities for the students to set themselves apart from the rest of the candidates by exhibiting their writing skills and intellectual ability. This article provides an insightful understanding of Admission Essays for study abroad.

  • Importance of Admission Essays:

An admission essay is one of the most important documents in your application. It will provide the university with all they need to know about your (personal) background, abilities, experiences, and personality. Admission essays have the potential to make or break the deal when it comes to admissions and hence must be given high priority. To write an impactful essay, the applicant must have his/her thoughts well aligned and maintain a high standard of the English language. A good essay can ensure your admission into the college of your preference.

  • Different Kinds of Admission Essays:

Universities usually seek to understand the applicant’s profile, personality, and purpose through an admission essay. The impression it creates will determine your admission. When it comes to essays for study abroad, there are various types of essays to assess and understand the applicants’ capabilities. 

Mentioned below are the various types of admission essays for study abroad:

  • Admission essays for undergraduate programs.
  • Admission essays for MS programs in different universities.
  • Admission essays for MBA or master’s programs in Management and Business.
  • Admission essays for financial aid or also known as Scholarship essays.
  • In case you have taken a gap year, many universities ask for an essay explaining your gap year.
  • Backlog admission essays are required in case you failed in an exam. The essay will require you to state your reason for failure and your learning experience from the backlog.
  • Admission essays that are situation-specific require you to elucidate on incidents in your life.

Each essay may have a different word count. The word count requirement is usually provided by the university you are applying to. Make sure you stick to the instructions provided and do not write more than the word limit. Mentioned below are some ideal situations of word limits provided by foreign universities for admission essays:

  • An admission essay is usually around 350 to 500 words long.
  • The minimum word requirement is usually around 250 to 300 words.
  • The maximum word limit for most admission essays is around 600 to 650 words.

The three most important details you must keep in mind while writing an admission essay are:

  • The essay under no circumstances can be vague. A vague essay will reflect poorly on your admission application. 
  • Avoid making grammatical mistakes as it is an integral part of the criteria on which your essay will be judged. Punctuations are equally important.
  • Make sure that the essay is of a professional standard as it will aid in making your essay stand out.

Before we dive into the tips and guidelines for writing the admission essays for study abroad, let’s talk about some of the basic points that are worth mentioning in your essay:

Undergraduate program admission essay: 

  • Start by describing yourself and maybe delve a little into your (personal) background.
  • Candidly elucidate your interests in academia and talk a little about your academic achievements.
  • Mention your extracurricular achievements and interests.
  • You must discuss in brief your reason for selecting the college and the country for your education program.
  • You must include your prospects and how the course will help you attain your goals and ambitions.
  • Conclude on an inspirational note.

Admission Essays for MBA programs:

  • Start by providing a short introduction about yourself. Try to make your introduction as interesting as possible to grab the attention of the reader. You can probably include some inspiring quotes or anecdotes to help your cause.
  • It is important to talk about your academic background and professional experiences. 
  • You must talk about your prospect concerning the MBA program.
  • You must talk about your goals and ambitions. Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years? 
  • You must briefly discuss the topic of why you have selected the university and country for your further education.
  • It is important to leave an impact as you conclude your essay. This will help in creating a suitable impression.

Remember that the word count might be less than required to jot down so many points. Hence it is very important to be brief and informative at the same time.

Some essays are based on the applicant’s academic circumstances like scholarship essays and gap year essays. These essays are usually not required by the college unless you mention them in your application. 

Scholarship essay:

These essays are usually written by students looking to get financial aid for their education programs. Usually, only tier 1 students tend to get scholarships based on their academic records. Your scholarship essay plays an integral part in determining your position in getting financial aid. Even students who do not have an excellent academic record can get scholarships depending on their standardized exam scores, extracurricular involvement, and social work.  

  • You need to create an impactful title for your essay. This itself should grab the attention of the reader.
  • You must talk about your personal and family background. 
  • Mention your academic performance and achievements
  • Your involvement in extracurricular activities and social work. Remember that social work is kept in very high regard by foreign universities. 
  • You must elucidate on how the scholarship will help your cause and push you towards your career goals.
  • It is important to mention your reasons for selecting a particular university.
  • You should express yourself on why you deserve the scholarship.
  • Try and write an inspirational conclusion

Gap Year Essay:

Most universities don’t ask for a gap year essay. But in some cases, they might ask depending on how the university wants to assess you. Even though the basic structure of the gap year essay is the same as the above-mentioned essays it is important to mention why you took the gap year and how it has helped you in finding yourself. 

General Tips and Guidelines for Writing an Impressive Admission Essay:

  • Plan your essay – Before you start writing your essay, plan. Consider the essay question/topic and the response you wish to provide. Also, think about what the admissions committee could be looking for in your application essay. Before you start writing your essay try to make a detailed strategy, preferably with the aid of a flow chart. This will help you align your thoughts and avoid confusion.  Building a logical argument by going over each aspect will help maintain coherence and fluidity. Prepare a response that will highlight your abilities.
  • Establish your essay objectives – Establishing your essay objectives will help you create the right impression of yourself in the eyes of the admission committee. The opinion created about you through your essay will be in your hands by highlighting your achievements, skills and portraying a confident tone. 
  • Defining your X-factor – If your goal is to get admission into a top university you will have to set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates. The admission essay is a good opportunity to display your uniqueness and secure admission. 
  • A clear understanding of the essay topic – This point is essential for creating the right impact. A clear understanding of the essay topic will allow you to streamline your thoughts and pen down only relevant points. Being vague may diverge the attention of the reader and will reflect poorly on your application. 
  • Be Specific – This is an equally important point as the previous one. Admission essays require you to provide more with fewer words. You have a word limit of a maximum of 600 words and a lot to talk about. It is important that you remain concise and to the point. Beating around the bush will disinterest the reader and get you nowhere.
  • How will you contribute to the University – An application essay allows you to tell the admissions committee all you want them to know about yourself. One aspect you don’t want them to overlook is how you can contribute to the university. As an international student, you bring a variety of cultures to campus, as well as stories of fresh experiences and potential opportunities. Emphasize how your experience and knowledge may benefit the university and its culture.
  • Focus on Grammar and Language – You need to check and re-check for grammatical errors and punctuations. The university will be judging your language skills and grammar through this essay. Any mistake may hamper your chances of getting admission. 
  • Re-writing and Proofreading – The best way to ensure no mistakes is to write the essay and then re-write it again. This way you can weed out all the problems and ensure an impactful essay. While re-writing you will realize where to edit and omit. This way you can be concise, informative, and confident at the same time. After writing your final draft it is important to proofread the essay to ensure no errors. You can ask others to do this for you. In this way, you can take some constructive feedback as well as ensure no mistakes in grammar or language. 
  • Essay guideline provided by the university – The student must adhere to the guidelines provided by the university concerning the word limit, formatting, and font. 
  • Deadlines – Admission essays take time and effort. You will have to write, re-write, edit, omit and proofread your essay before you send it. You may tend to lose track of time while focusing on other aspects. You need to maintain deadlines. Any form of default may lead to disqualification. So make sure you have all the aspects planned out to maintain efficiency and punctuality.

In short, an admission essay for study abroad can be your ticket to a top-class educational institution abroad. As an international student, you must prove your excellence to get into a prestigious university. Avoid procrastinating over thoughts and take the initiative to formulate a plan of action that will help you create an inspiring essay.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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