Monday, 1 June 2015

ISEP Application

If you're new, please read this post first: Initial Steps to Studying Abroad and/or watch this video: How to Study Abroad: Introduction and Options

The following post is relevant to those wishing to become ISEP students only. For the Bilateral Application click here and for the University of Chester Application, click here.

3, 2, 1 - LET'S GO!

To apply to any ISEP institutions, you must first create a log in address on the ISEP website itself. You will then have 5 categories to fill out: Participant Profile, Host Request List, Course Request List, Documentation and Coordinator References - which already shows you roughly what information you need to be able to compile your application.

The Participant Profile consists of 5 other subheadings. 'Biographical Information' asks for things such as your name, your home institution (University of Chester) and place of birth, as well as a few other easily filled out details. 'Dependents' asks basically if you would be going on your own or with a partner/child. 'Emergency Contact' asks for just that - someone who you would want to be contacted first, if something unfortunate happened to you whilst abroad. 'Academic Information' asks for your current course details along with a statement of intent, as in, if you want to study abroad for the full year or if you would like to partake in a split semester programme. Lastly, 'Terms & Conditions' gives you a list of things that you should read carefully before ticking the box stating that you agree. Some terms to highlight and to take seriously are:

  • I will take part in all aspects of the program, including orientation and evaluation.
  • I will purchase ISEP health insurance for the full period of my program.
  • My placement may be terminated by ISEP or by my host institution if I fail to remain enrolled full time at my host institution, fail to maintain minimum academic standards as defined by my home or host institution, or am found by ISEP or the host institution to be in violation of laws or regulations of my host country or institution.
  • If I withdraw from the program anytime after accepting the placement, or if my placement is terminated after I arrive at my host institution:
    a) I may still be obligated to pay the full program fee at the discretion of my home institution in collaboration and agreement with ISEP and my host institution.
    b) I will forfeit my right to receive benefits as an ISEP participant and must reimburse my host institution for any money advanced to me to cover benefits after the date of my withdrawal or termination.
    c) I will still be obligated to pay the application fee

Not reading T&C's can result in sudden "oh-maaaaan" realisations.

Once you have ticked the box, you will be taken to the next stage: Host Site Request List. This page has a handy little 'Instructions' tab at the top to help you but basically, you find the host institutions you have researched and put them in order. As well as a list in preferential order (with number 1 being your most preferred choice) you are asked to fill out a description of how the 'site matches your goals', this should be done academically, geographically and personally! So, for example, for Northern Arizona University, my first choice (and placed institution), I wrote the following:

"NAU was one of the first Universities on my list and has remained there since due to its brilliant range of interesting and relevant academic courses. Not only can I continue my studies of the general tourism industry but I can also broaden my studies further into other fields. On a personal level, NAU offers a great array of sports, especially in American Football, which I am interested in from an Events Management point of view. NAU is located in a great geographical place (Grand Canyon)."

You only have a certain word count and you should hit the three general topics so my advice is to write one sentence on each. It it advised to show that you have researched each university properly in this paragraph as well. To give you a second example, here is what I wrote for the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (my 5th and final choice):

"UoNC, Greensboro offers many of the courses that I am interested in for furthering my studies both for Tourism and Events Management and for my other interests in life, such as Broadcasting/Cinema & Theatre. UoNC, G also has a large Basketball following present. Geographically, Greensboro has been rated by a national survey as the nation's second most attractive place to live, based on climate, health, transportation, crime rate and prosperity."

In the end, I only chose 5 different host institutions that I wished to go to, this is a reasonably low number, however my first choice and several others on my list had an "excellent chance" of acceptance, so this was generally okay. When choosing yours, try to have some variation on the chance of placement scale but always remember that you could end up at ANY ONE of those on your list, so DO NOT apply to one that you are not 100% happy with. It might be important to note, that there are only 10 spaces on the application form, so you have the ability to choose 10 different universities around the world that you could attend, but no more (this might help aid you in reducing the amount of universities you research in the preparation phases). If you are applying for a split semester, then you can apply to 10 universities for each semester, leaving you with 20 in total.

Yeaaahhh - Math!
Once you have submitted your preference list, the Course Request List will be made available to you. Here, each university that you have previously submitted appears with several boxes underneath. The boxes are there for you to enter the 'Course Number', 'Course Name' and 'Other Information' so yes, you are expected to have researched down to the individual course code of the modules you wish to partake on, at each university to which you apply!

For me, the problem was that I wanted to study almost everything available. This meant that my 'Other Information' was full of other course codes that were similar to the submitted ones. It is important to note that you are not applying to study these modules, you are only giving ISEP an indication of what you would like to study (remember that they choose your host institution by the best academic fit for you, so this part is especially important to them!). Below is one example of the course codes I submitted for Northern Arizona University:

ENV 377Global SustainabilityAlso: ANT 102, ANT 301, ENV 495, FOR 222, FOR 255,GSP 240, GSP 241, GSP 371, PRM 300, HA 284

Can I study... ALL of the modules?

Once you have completed this list, you can move onto the Documentation section of the application. This is where you will have to complete 6 sections and where most of the stuff you compiled in your first few steps of applying to the Study Abroad Experience come in handy. First, a 'Language Proficiency' test will need to be taken if your first language is not the same as the language spoken at the host institution, luckily, I did not need to do this. I am told however that, this changes from institution to institution so ask before applying I guess.

Second, a 'Personal Statement', much like when you applied through UCAS for the University of Chester, will need to be submitted. At the top of this page, there is a handy little 'Instructions' tab again, but basically here is the exact advise I was given when I was applying:

1)      Personal Statement
a.       ATBQ – Answer The Bloody Question
This is a mnemonic my geography teacher used to use, and it works.
The Personal Statement question is as follows:
ISEP is unique because it offers the opportunity for full immersion in the host culture. However, it is your responsibility to make the most of this experience. Introduce yourself and explain your academic goals for studying abroad and for integrating into the host culture. What specific situations from your past (i.e., coursework, job experience, travel, intercultural experience) have helped you prepare to accomplish these goals?  
This can be broken down into 4 broad areas for you to deal with in turn. You have 300-500 words to aim for, ergo ca. 100 words for each area (roughly). These areas are as follows:
                                                               i.      Introduce yourself – who are you, where are you from, what background, what kind of personality are you etc.
                                                             ii.      What are your academic goals for studying abroad – are you hoping to do specific courses, can these not be done at Chester, are you looking to diversify your portfolio of subjects studied at degree level etc.
                                                            iii.      What are your goals for integrating into the host culture – do you intend to get involved with extra-curricular activities / sports teams / student groups, do you plan to live with / near locals as locals do, do you have any specific intentions in mind e.g. make friends with a local bar owner (that genuinely was one of mine, and I succeeded J ), do you hope to leave your mark somehow (not arson if at all possible…) etc.
                                                           iv.      What experiences from your past have helped to prepare you for these goals – do / have you ever lived overseas, have you ever travelled for an extended period, have you ever had dealings with someone in a similar situation to what you will be, have you been mentally and/or emotionally challenged / pushed to your limits etc.
You can apportion the word count to each of these areas as you see fit, but it is often a good idea to get as much down for each point as you can before then culling what you feel is either superfluous or not as illustrative as other things.
The key message you want to get across here is abundantly apparent willingness to immerse yourself in the experience.

Hello my name is Lucy,
and I've been interested in travel since I was
thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big!

Third, your 'Academic References' must be submitted by your Personal Academic Tutor (PAT). This is done by submitted your PAT's email address into the system and them filling out a form about you. You can tick a box here, which basically means that you wont read the information given about you before it is given. This results in some indication for ISEP that the information is correct and not biased, giving you a better chance of acceptance. However, there is also the option to send the email yourself and therefore for you to read the reference before it is sent. Handy for those of you with curious minds.

The fourth step is simple, 'Passport', requires you simply to submit a scanned in copy of your current Indication Page of your passport. Luckily, this step can be skipped if you are still applying to get your passport by simply ticking the box that states "Passport application is in progress"- you will however obviously have to submit this later.

At the 'Transcript' stage, you are required to submit your official transcript from first year (as in, the results you got). This can be acquired by going into the front office where you might change your course on campus and asking politely for a print out. It's advised here, to state that you only wish to see already-released results so that they don't think you're trying to get your marks ahead of schedule. I believe it is possible to also hold this stage until further notice, please contact the Study Abroad Office if you are having issues with this step.

Lastly, the 'Additional Information' page can be used for bulking out your application to one particular site or if you have anything else that you wish for ISEP to know about you. It is basically a page for you to state anything that you didn't know where else it should be put. I didn't have any use for this page, so I can't really help you out more than that! But it can be left blank, so if you can't think of anything, there probably isn't anything that you need to submit!

I would also like to state: dear ISEP,
Did you know that I am awesome at inflatable guitar?

You are now through to the last step of your ISEP application! The Coordinator Reference page and luckily for you, this page requires you to do nothing but prompt the Study Abroad Office to take a look at your completed application.

Your ISEP coordinator will submit a reference for you. When the reference has been completed, it will update your progress meter.

At some stage here, your application will suddenly have an extra button. This button allows you to take your application out of the draft setting and submit it to ISEP. I personally wouldn't do this until you are told to, by the ISEP coordinator here in Chester, but when you do, I wish you the very best of luck and I hope you are placed at a great host institution (though of course, if you've done it right, none of those on your list are bad choices).


Lucy xxo


  1. This is so helpful!!!! I'm an American student and actually hoping to study at Chester, so this was actually the perfect blog to come across. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Erin, let me know if you have any specific questions. I am hoping to update my blog soon. Email me at

    2. Hi, I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to ask you what was your cgpa when you applied for the isep exchange, cause I am applying too and I am afraid I'd have to compete against people with extremely high gpas to get my exchange semester.

    3. Hello, we don't have GPA's here in England. But using the English system, in my second year I got a 2.1 if that helps. It's always worth applying however, no matter your grades!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am currently applying with ISEP to study abroad next year in the Netherlands. I'll be posting about my study abroad at if you'd like to check it out!

  4. this is so so helpful - do you pay the application fee straight away or when you send the application off with you isep coordinater?

    1. You should speak to your ISEP Coordinator about this, Love Lucy xxo