Critical Language Scholarship Program | Alumni Outreach

Alumni Outreach

CLS Alumni are instrumental in our outreach efforts to prospective applicants. There are many students at colleges and universities across the U.S. who are not aware of the CLS Program and many alumni located across the country and the world who can share their stories!

Your stories and experiences bring the program to life for others and help students who might not otherwise see themselves as CLS Program scholars until they see someone relatable in front of them (you!) telling them they did it. This can be especially true for students who have backgrounds and identities that are historically underrepresented and underserved in study abroad or who attend institutions where study abroad or applying for nationally competed fellowships and scholarships is not the norm.

Alumni outreach helps to give CLS a voice in many more communities than CLS staff can reach. Prospective students love to hear stories from and ask questions of program alumni! Hearing about your first-hand experience on the program can be far more impactful for a prospective applicant than reading about the program online, in a brochure, or hearing about it from a staff member.

Feel free to contact us at 202-833-7522 or via email if you have any questions!

Where to Start

Most outreach happens on college campuses since applicants for the program must be enrolled in a degree-granting program. This includes community colleges, public and private institutions, and minority-serving institutions. In addition to spreading the word about CLS at your own university, you can reach out to other schools in your area, especially those that may not have a study abroad or scholarships office, and those that do not have many recent CLS alumni.

There are likely several offices on any campus that would be interested in helping you share your experience on the CLS Program, and we recommend that you reach out to them to offer to conduct an information session, visit a class, or attend an upcoming study abroad or scholarships fair. It will make your planning easier and help you reach a wider audience. The first place to start when considering conducting campus outreach is to determine whether the institution has a CLS campus advisor. You can search for campus advisors by institution here.

Below is a suggested list of other offices you may want to collaborate with:

  • Office of Study Abroad, Education Abroad or International Programs;
  • Office of Scholarships, Fellowships, or Nationally Competitive Awards;
  • Undergraduate Honors Program;
  • On-campus Fulbright Program Advisor (search here for yours);
  • Language departments
  • Language Lab or Language Learning Center;
  • Office of Multicultural Affairs;
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion;
  • LGBTQ+ Resource Center;
  • Campus Writing Center or Tutoring Center;
  • Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs

For more ideas about offices and individuals to contact at higher education institutions, take a look at “Spreading the Word” our alumni outreach guide, in the links below.

Holding an Information Session

Holding an information session or visiting a classroom (virtually or in-person) can be a great way to tell students about the CLS Program. If you’re interested in doing this, we recommend you start with the CLS alumni PowerPoint template (available for download in the links below). The PowerPoint has notes attached to each slide to help guide your comments and focuses on providing a frame for you to share your experience on the program.

If using a PowerPoint presentation isn’t right for your event or presentation, we’d still recommend you take a look at the template to see the key ideas you might want to cover when talking about the CLS Program.

You do not need to be an expert on all aspects of the CLS Program in order to tell others about it. You are an expert on your experience on the program and that, coupled with sharing some basic information about the CLS Program, is impactful. If students ask you questions to which you don’t know the answer that’s not a problem; students can be easily directed to the CLS website and our informational YouTube videos for more detailed information. You can also direct students to contact CLS via email or phone if they have questions.

A good length for your presentation is 15 to 20 minutes, followed by ample time for questions.

Materials to Support Your Outreach

We have several resources to support you in your outreach efforts!

  • If you are interested in conducting an information session on your campus or in your community, read Spreading the Word (PDF), our guide to alumni-led information sessions.
  • You may also want to download and print the CLS informational one-pager (PDF).
  • If you're conducting a presentation, we invite you to use the PowerPoint template designed for alumni (PPTX).

Frequently Asked Questions about Alumni-led Outreach

Can I give an information session even if I’m planning to apply for the program again?

Yes! It’s a good sign if the presenter of an information session is someone who liked the program enough to want to apply again.

Can I give an information session if I didn’t participate in CLS very recently?

Yes, alumni from all years of the CLS Program are encouraged to give information sessions. We recommend that you spend some time on the CLS website to refamiliarize yourself with the program and any major changes that have occurred since you participated, and of course you can email us with questions.

Should I tell you about my outreach or information session?

Please do! Email us and let us know. You’re welcome to tell us about it in advance or afterward, and we love it if you happen to have photos from your event that you’re willing to share.

Can I co-host my information session?

Sure! You can check the CLS alumni database to see if there are other CLS alumni at your institution or nearby schools. You can also co-host with a faculty or staff member from a department or office at the institution. Another option is to speak at a study abroad fair or an information session for other study abroad or fellowship opportunities. Check with your study abroad and fellowship/scholarship offices for schedules of these events.

Can I give information sessions at other universities?

Yes! The CLS Program is interested in attracting applicants from the full range of American colleges and universities, so we encourage alumni to present at large public institutions, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, institutions with a technical or engineering focus, and minority-serving institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges, and others.

What do I do if someone asks a question I don’t know the answer to?

Don’t worry! It’s totally normal to have this happen, because we don’t expect you to become an expert on CLS before you give a presentation. If the question is something you have experience with, you’re welcome to share your story. This may not help answer the question fully, but it does give your listeners some personal perspective. For example, in answering a question about how often alternates for the scholarship are promoted to finalist status, you might share that you were an alternate who was promoted in mid-April, while also emphasizing that you don’t know that statistic offhand.

If you don’t have personal experience to share, a simple, “I’m not sure about that, and I don’t want to give you incorrect information” is fine. Tough questions can be redirected to the FAQ on the CLS website or to the CLS general email address.