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BeBeyond留学申请九步第八步:申请文书的威力 [复制链接]

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发表于 2007-10-17 18:49:14 |显示全部楼层
The 9-Step Guide to Successful Applications to US Schools
[size=large]8. The Power of Application Essays

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Application essays can do two things for you:

(1) They can kill your chance of getting an admission or financial aid, even though you have a "strong" application (such as high GRE scores, high GPA's, research papers, and/or solid working experience).

(2) Or, they can get you into a US school, with financial aid, despite an otherwise a "weak" application package!

This is how powerful application essays are. Pay attention to them!

Importance of Application Essays
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No matter how much information schools or professors ask from their applicants, they are trying to picture a person based on the information provided. After all, they are taking in a real person, not a bunch of test scores or research papers.

So how do schools figure out what kind of person you are? They carefully exam your scores, your awards or lack of them, your working experiences, your references, and your extracurricular activities. After reading all this information, admissions officers will have a general idea of who you are and what you have gone through in your life. They will also have questions and worries about you.

For instance: Why are your GPAs so low but your GRE incredibly high? Why did you switch jobs after only a half-year with your first job? Can you do academic research after you have been in international trade business for three years? Why is there a seven-month period in your life that is unaccounted for?

For some of the questions and concerns, admissions officers can guess the answers on their own. For others, they turn their attention to your essays.

Good essays should answer all the important questions in an admissions officer's mind, eliminate his or her concerns about you, and reinforce your qualifications evident in other application materials.

Badly written essays, on the other hand, not only are unable to answer the critical questions, but even create more worries on the part of the school. If an admissions officer is already questioning your research ability after your three years in international trade, your enthusiastic description of your trade experiences will only magnify his or her worry. (One of the right things to do in such a case would be to write how you can transfer the skills learned in trading business into your academic research capability.)


Plans, Personalities, and Communication Skills
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To be competitive, your essays should at least outline your general plans for what you want to do in school and afterwards. These plans should be specific and make sense given your background and abilities. Remember, every admissions officer want to know your future plans because your future will be part of the school's future if you are accepted. (If you don't have a plan, go back to Step 1 of BeBeyond 9-Step Guide!)

Good essays showcase the good side of your personality. You are driven but not overly aggressive, you are enthusiastic but not lightheaded, or you persevere but you are not extremely stubborn.

Poorly-conceived essays may give readers the impression that you are overly passive, negative, uninteresting, overly private, overly pessimistic, mean-spirited, arrogant, or egotistic. If you would have to spend the next 2-5 years with such a person, would you admit him or her? Some essays written by some Chinese students are depicting such a bad personal image that they fail in their application even with very high test scores.

One of the biggest worries that US schools have for their Chinese applicants is their communication skills. There are two kinds of communication skills: One is related to your language skills, especially writing and speaking. The other has nothing to do with language skills. Rather it is knowing how to communicate. Many Chinese essays show that the writer lacks both kinds of communication skills.


Typical Problems with Chinese Essays
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Most Chinese essays have two typical problems:

(1) They are pointless. Due to poor writing skills, many Chinese applicants are simply happy that they finally can make several paragraphs for their essays. In many cases, what they have written is a collection of random sentences. The essay has no point and none of the paragraphs has a subpoint either.

"I have nothing to say!" is the typical complaint of many people when they have to write essays. If this is your case, you should go back to Step 1 and Step 2 of this Guide.

(2) They have writing style problems. When it comes to communication, Americans are very specific, factual (or at least they appear to be factual), and moderate, citing little stories or examples. The Chinese, on the hand, like to use slogans and vague statements -- which, from an American's point of view, are often exaggerating and/or meaningless.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the Chinese communication style. But if you want to convince an American, don't you think using the American style will be more effective?


How to Write Powerful Essays
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Compare the number of hours that you have spent on preparing for TOEFL or GRE to the number of hours you have spent reading articles about America, writing in English, and thinking about application essays. What is the ratio? 1,000:1? You now know why it is hard for you to write good essays.

So, how to write powerful essays? Here are our suggestions:

(1) Spend a lot of time writing in English -- and most importantly, share your writing with others to see whether they understand your meaning, or whether you yourself can still understand what you mean a few days later.

(2) Read as many articles written by Americans as possible to learn about America in general and American communication style in particular.

(3) Write your essays in accordance to the guidelines presented above and plan to use at least 50 to 100 hours to write them. Read a lot of sample essays -- good ones and bad ones.

(4) Discuss your essays with others -- ideally including experts.

(Author: Jinbo Xie, BeBeyond.com)


Go to Step 9: Communicate: Presenting Yourself >>
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