If you can’t find a job—go to graduate school
In one of my former lives I was the Associate Dean of the Graduate School at the largest university in the state of Alabama. Part of my job was to deal with all incoming correspondence. In the 15 years I was on the job, I received several thousand letters—actually a few over 100,000. From these I gleaned some helpful insights on how to write a truly riveting letter to the graduate school of your choice. When one realizes how intense the competition is to get into a prestigious graduate school, one will also realize that one cannot waste time writing unproductive letters.
I feel compelled to share these insights with recent graduates who have yet to find a job mainly because their parents want me to do this in the off chance that it might preclude the kids’ living at home for the next several years while looking for a real job. All of the examples in quotation marks are from actual letters that landed on my desk. They are actual, real letters. Really.
The initial contact sets the stage for later developments so try to establish the proper tone with the very first letter.
“I hope and pray that this letter finds you in sound health and happy moods.”
“Dear sir, I’m always a hopefull person, so I believe, my wish will earn a special meaning at your mature personality as a science man. Please accept my best wishes and respects.”
“With profound respect and humble submission…”
“I have been quite appealed by the outstanding reputation of your school.”
“I can hardly find any words to express how much I have looked forward to being one of students at ______ University, every single piece of talks that I have heard from friends makes me so exciting and dream for it all the time, like I already got the permission of your admission.”
“I will be very grateful if this my few lines of words is considered with utmost fitness.”
Having ingratiated yourself to the graduate admissions officer you should then describe the program in which you are interested and/or your qualifications for entering that program.
“Currently I am considering ensuing a graduate degree and want to do so at ________ University.”
“I am interested in data communication and computer networks and as these fields are still in its infantry in my country so I need the pool of knowledge abundant in your country.”
“I am a robust person to endure that strenuous exercises of studying abroad under different claimatic conditions.”
“I am very interested in your post graduate training program in Fishing, Hunting and Wild Life.”
“I am the reciprocal of a master’s degree.”
“I guess it is time that you screen my application, and I really want you can give me information about this application. Furthermore, I believe my capacity and hardworking firmly.”
If you have special needs or urges, mention them.
“I have the honor to introduce myselve to you, hoping to have a concession with or without work for a complementary studding in one of the branches mentioned…”
“I am looking forward to rear from you.”
If you are quiet, shy, or withdrawn…
“After completing my undergraduate study, I served in the army as a reserved officer…”
Mention any awards or honors.
“…presenting a science paper at an annual Science Project Conference in Raleigh, N.C. and finally was awarded several monetary certificates and plagues on a yearly honorary’s day.”
If you have perfected a cloning technique, mention it.
“Enclosed is a copy of Prof. Dunkelbeger.”
Explain your performance on recent admissions tests.
“My GRE score is poor because I had diarrhea just on the test day.”
“I could not appear for my Graduate Record Examination (GRE) on 13th June, 1982 for my admission at your university in the Dept. of Soil Science due to the reason that I was stabbed and wounded while working on gas station as a cashier on 6th June, 1982.”
“I got nervous at the TOEFL Exam so my score is very low.”
Explain any unfortunate grades you may have received.
“I am a student in Hong Kong. Since my spoken language are Cantonese and English, therefore, my poor Mandarin, inaddition to the frequent using of Chinese books, is more or less a burden to my study.”
“During the past three of studying, I was active in attending school functions and activities especially after I was elected to be the vice-chairman of the Overseas Student Association. Besides, I has got a part time job in helping my uncle since I was a freshman which was also time-consuming. Above all, I am not accustomed to the way of testing of several professors who only need recitations but not the true understanding and concepts testing. Moreover, I was suffered from a vertebrate hurt during a football match which causes me too much pain and somehow influences my study prolongly. Hence, I cannot get the deserved scores that really suit me indeed.”
Describe unique physical characteristics.
Sex “ human “
Unique family situations. . .
“I am married and 2 children, age 30.”
“…we will be very pleasant if you can send us all the requisitions and the description of the program at the graduate school.”
Clarify special requests…
“Please infirm me of my status.”
“I am hopping to hear from you at your earliest convenience.”
Inquire about or describe your need for financial aid.
“I would like to have a fellowship, scholarship, or assistantship. In other words and ship will do.”
“I should like to know if ___________ University awards scholarships for strangers.”
“Because of my wrecked financial condition it will be quite impossible for me to bear the expenses of study,”
After spending an entire letter explaining why you should be admitted to the graduate school in spite of low grades, low test scores, and no money to pay fees, conclude with a blanket request for special consideration and perhaps intense supplication.
“Honorable sir. I humbly request you to kindly waive any condition which I do not fulfill and give me admission as a special case. Honorable sir, this will be a great act of kindness on a poor, hardworking co-operative, right, needy and deserving man of human beings.”
If you are admitted and eventually complete your degree but cannot be present for commencement, make your wishes known to the dean…
“I wish to graduate in obscenity.”