Support Center to achieve Curricular Excellency
“THE CORRECT APPROACH”
Applying to a university or a high-ranked school abroad can be quite an odyssey. Recommendation letters, validation of titles, entrance examinations, interviews, endless forms… As one becomes familiarized with the course of action, the urge of going abroad begins to fade. But this does not end here, one fundamental part of this process, which always tends to be left until the end, will become key in determining the success of our endeavor: the essay.
The essay reveals which type of students we will be when integrating the school or university of our choice and can become, in many cases, the last word that gets us finally in or out. Depending on the school or university: one, two or a whole set of pieces of writing will be required. These generally respond to open ended questions, where the candidate is ultimately invited to present himself in the manner he sees fit, without any guidelines.
The first thing that comes into our minds when facing the blank page will likely be: “How can I present myself in order to seduce the admissions committee”. From that point on, a whole string of statements about leadership, team spirit and problem solving will begin to populate our heads. The battle will be from that point on, on how to relate those ideas with our past experiences and how to arrange them in the most credible and coherent fashion so our story becomes as appealing as possible. This is a mistake. Although these qualities should be present, our essay will run the risk of becoming unnoticed or quickly forgotten. This is true, when facing this type of essay the approach should not be “how can I dress up better to please the admissions committee?”, but instead: “what tools can they offer so that I can achieve my future goals. Why would I want to go here rather than somewhere else?”
We must remember that this process is a transaction, in which a service is being acquired, and in which two parties, on the one hand the university through multiple tests and on the other hand the student through information search, are trying to find out whether the exchange is mutually beneficial or not. This approach not only will help us to make the right decision, but also projects an image of maturity, honesty and structure. A person with a clear goal in life.
There are three questions that one should ask oneself prior to engaging in any writing, and which should become, once resolved, the base upon which all else builds up upon.
1. What are my long term’s goals/objectives?
We recommend our students to envision themselves 10 years ahead and describe where they are and what they are doing (if everything went as planned).
2. What academic path or system can give me the right tools to achieve my objectives successfully?
This is both at the school and university level. At this point it is fundamental to talk about the ethical principles that govern our decisions and their impact in the scenery that surround us.
3. Why this school (can help me obtain what I want)?
But pay attention! A simple: “because its No.3 in the FT Ranking” or “because I want to earn a high salary” will simply not do the job. This could be because: 1) there is an interesting teaching staff, for example, whose teaching methods are unique/ innovative, or in the case of a university, with training/experience in the subject that we wish to learn. For example: a professor who has been part of a state´s administration and in whose policies we identify ourselves with, or a team who has carried research in some fields that have led to unexpected results. 2) The achievements, projects, and awards of the institution. In case of a college, if they have obtained awards or outstanding performance in certain fields (sports/sciences/arts). For universities: research projects or publications related to what we want to do. 3) In the case of the USA, sports play an important role, for example: passion for a particular sport or a certain team who competes at the national level. 4) In specific cases: facilities (art, theater, laboratories, where it may be possible to conduct something that can’t be performed elsewhere).
Tackling the essay in this manner will not only help us tidy up what goes on in our heads (which will be fundamental when we are called for an interview), but give a very good impression to the admissions committee about ourselves.
Academic Programs Director, The Georgian Manor House