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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
More Blows for the Legal Job Market
Law school graduates still aren't getting jobs, and they've moved past frustration. According to simplyhired.com, an employment search engine, the legal industry was one of a scant few that is still seeing a decline in job opportunities (down 1.9% for August 2011). The National Association of Law Placement--an organization that collects job placement data-reports that just 51% of 2010 law school graduates had jobs, including part-time and temporary positions. With essentially every 100 law school graduates vying for a single job, it is no wonder that these hopeful lawyers with five to six-figure law school debt are feeling a little desperate.

As I've written before, there has already been a huge push by legislators and law students alike for greater transparency regarding post-graduate job prospects. In response, the American Bar Association recently imposed stricter reporting standards upon its accredited law schools. But for many graduates, these developments are too little, too late. As such, disgruntled law school grads are beginning to coalesce into growing numbers of organized groups suing their respective alma maters. The cause of action? Essentially, false advertising. They claim that their schools promised them jobs and failed to deliver.

I see the reality as more subtle. The field of law is gilded with a pointed prestige equated with power and money. While disdain for lawyers is never in short supply, attorneys and judges do occupy the tiny but exalted hall in the top 1% of society's workforce. Law school and the practice of law are not for the faint of heart, or mind. So for those with the grades and commitment to tackle law school, the idea that there is no pay-off is a real slap in the face. It may not actually be anyone's fault, but that prospect is, perhaps, an even harder pill to swallow.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011
So you want to be a Doctor?
With the early decision deadlines having passed for many U.S. Medical Schools, and the remainder due within the next few months, it is scrambling time for medical school applicants. At this juncture, with test scores, academics and professional experiences already catalogued, the one component that still needs to be polished to a shine is the personal statement. Most students with the mettle to approach medical school aren't lacking in ambition or talent. What they sometimes lack is the ability to put it down eloquently on paper.

Having read admissions essays for more than a decade, I have seen personal statement cliches wear out their welcomes, and it is often nowhere truer than in the essays of aspiring medical students. Here is my advice for pitfalls to avoid:

- "I want to help people". Don't assume that your admissions board doesn't already know this. Helping is what doctors do. Skip past this sentiment to the why and how of it. Better yet, discuss how you've already started doing this.

- "I like science". Certainly helpful but a love of science alone won't likely get you through the rigors of study, residency and practice. Again, if you're seriously approaching medical school, you should have some research under your belt already. Talk about it with purpose, and avoid too much talk in the abstract about how you want to change the world.

- "I shadowed a doctor/volunteered in a hospital". With no disrespect intended to those who have started along this path-it is not enough. Your competition is miles ahead of you. If, in fact, this exposure to a small slice of real world medicine is what has inspired you-fantastic. Just make sure that you have more than that to go on. I'm not a medical practitioner, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it is more than just a job. And that's just it. The people who practice and advance medicine are vital to the health of our society. Your medical personal statement must cut through the wearied paths of bubbly promise to the heart of what it really means to become a doctor. It is in that interior world that the truly effective personal statement resides.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011
How to Make Social Media Work for You in the College Admissions Process
Much ado has been made, both in this blog and beyond, about the role that social media plays in college admission. Whatever your feeling about the social and moral benefits of Facebook and Twitter, the fact that the vast majority of universities are now using such sites as recruitment tools gives social media a new sort of credibility. Though some admissions officers admit to using Facebook pages to take a sneak-peak at the posted peccadilloes of their applicants, the overwhelming role of social media in the admission process is to create a virtual forum for the exchange of ideas and information. So while censoring your Spring Break photos may still be pragmatic, it is but one consideration.

With that in mind, what can you, the aspiring student, do to make social media work for you? Given that young people are generally the most closely in sync with changing technology, this should be an easy opportunity to use something you know to help your odds in the admission process. (If you fall into the not-so-young or technically challenged category, try using the application process as a chance to build your learning curve).

For a start, hopeful college or grad school applicants should consider 'following' Facebook and Twitter feeds for the universities and specialized programs they have applied to. See what the universities have to say about themselves. Learn more about the places you aspire to be part of. Make the most of sites like YouTube. If you are so inclined--make a video. Be creative (and appropriate). Think about starting a blog. Taking the time to construct and flesh out a blog over a period of time shows commitment. More importantly, it can give admissions officers a more intimate glance at you as a student and a thoughtful human being.

Grades and test scores will always be the baseline for college admission, but everyone-no matter where they fall in the academic scheme, needs to set themselves apart from the competition. With social media making all of us more visible, it seems a very apt place to start.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011
U.S. Graduate Schools See Influx of International Students
The global economy may have taken a hit over these past few years, but not everyone is feeling the pinch. Recent studies by several graduate school industry groups have shown an increase in both the number of graduate admissions applications from foreign students to American graduate schools and in the number of students accepted into graduate study programs in the United States. The reason, they say, is that some economies are flourishing, and as a result, able to produce students both willing and financially able to pay for a graduate school education.

Graduate business schools are showing the highest jump in admissions for international students. According to one study, business schools extended their offers of admissions to international students by 16% in 2011. Several prominent business schools are now boasting foreign student enrollment figures of 30%-40%. China and Saudi Arabia have become the two largest sources of international students in US Graduate Programs, perhaps due in large part to the fact that those economies are booming.

Larger numbers of international students make sense for American institutions looking to create the kind of culturally diverse environment that business students will find in the real world. The growth of the Chinese economy in particular means that cultural literacy is as important as ever in American business schools. For many Chinese business students, the goal is to utilize an American education back in the home market. Whatever the trajectory, the changing demographics of the student bodies in American business schools appears to be mapping the wave of the future.

For more details, see: Wall Street Journal

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