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How to Use Your ACIS Travel Experience in Your College Essay

September 26, 2019 Sarah Bichsel 1 Comment

Choosing the right college essay topic has essentially become a rite of passage for senior year. Do you write about your hobbies? Your summer internship? Your childhood pets? With all of the overwhelming options, you may not realize it right away, but your ACIS travel experience has all of the potential to serve as the centerpiece of a strong application.

Use our recommendations below to create the foundation for your college essay. We hope they can be useful as you navigate the application process.

Talk Moments, Not Monuments

Tour Manager Lucy Ryan recently posted on the ACIS blog about the ways travel has opened her up to new perspectives, and how she values “moments over monuments” when thinking back on her touring experiences. Try to keep the same mentality when crafting your essay. Colleges will care so much less about whether or not you’ve seen a famous painting than how you navigated a culture different than your own. Talk about an interaction you had in a foreign language or describe the impact making a regional dish from scratch had on your perspective of global cuisine. And remember that moments come in all shapes and sizes: Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic to be impactful.

dinner in Taiwan

Leadership Opportunities Abound

So if you traveled on an ACIS leadership itinerary, the value of team work and strong leadership skills was obviously a central component to your time abroad and can make a great topic for your essay. If you went on a more traditional tour, though, you can still mine your trip for examples! Think back to the experience and consider, for example:

These are all things that have happened on ACIS tours and can be used as opportunities to showcase your skills.

  • Did you help anyone who wasn’t understanding a concept presented by the guide?
  • Was there any time you became lost and had to work to find your way back in time?
  • Did you practice a foreign language and forge a new understanding with someone?

Growing Pains to College Gains

Thus far, the topics discussed have largely focused on personal strengths. With competition for entry as stiff as it is, there is a prevailing fear amongst applicants about looking less than perfect, but showing vulnerability can actually be more compelling than highlighting skill after skill. Colleges want to see students ready to learn as much as they do the all-star.

Talk about a time on tour that your perceptions were challenged. Did you come into a new culture with any bias? How was that bias transformed over the course of your time?

Educational travel is meant to challenge you, to invite you to see the world anew, and chances are, the person you were when you left home is different, even subtly so, than the one returning stateside. Describing positive growth can be a strong way to introduce yourself.

Looking to the Future

Your trip was amazing (we’re just going to assume so), and you’re so glad you went (we’re assuming you are). Stop and ask yourself: Did this trip affect my plans for the future? If yes, let admissions officers know!

Tell them if travel has increased your interest in study abroad or if you are now inspired to pick up an additional French class to keep practicing. Your interest in continuing your global education can go a long way.

From college essays to career moves, our free ebook showcases how travel can have an amazing impact on the lives of students.

Sarah Bichsel

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