Writing for your application (first part of two)

from: http://office.microsoft.com/es-es/images/results.aspx?qu=escritor&ex=2#ai:MC900338238|

This is the first of two parts: the second one will be published next week

Let’s talk again about the application process for prospective students. You have to submit in your application a statement of intent for each program you are applying for at KI and this year you will also need to write about your ambition and initiative. So, this time I am talking about writing.

Statement of intent and those other written short pieces you have to prepare are, maybe, the only thing you can actually change from all the documents you must submit. Your Bachelor grades, your bakcground and all your past activities are as they are and you cannot modify them. But you can do the best with your written duties and try to “sell” yourself as the right candidate to study at Karolinska Institute and KI as the best place for you.

This post has some advice on how to write. It is not specific for academic purposes. Maybe the tips I am gathering here will be useful also in other stages of your life or other activities. I used a Spanish book called “La cocina de la escritura” (The writing kitchen) by Daniel Cassany, as source of some of the tips. Some others come from my own experience.

First of all and before writing, use this exercise to identify your life plan: You can answer some very personal questions while you prepare your statement of intent: Is studying abroad what I actually want to do? Do I see myself working in that topic for the rest of my life? Is Sweden the right place to study this matter? Is KI the right place? Am I willing to live a student life for two years? You can maybe have the background, the experience and the skills to be accepted in a university but if this is not what you actually love and enjoy, studying in other country (whichever you choose) could be a nightmare. Think on it before spending time and resources.

Get advice: writing is very personal and intimate process. But planning and reviewing could be a collaborative one. Depending on your skills you would need more or less counseling or feedback. Hope this post help you to find where do you need or would like to have some assistance.

Take your time: even the most skilled writers prefer to have enough time to prepare and produce the texts. Writing is not only inspiration. It can involve a lot of preliminary work and some decisions need to be made: tone, length, structure…Take your time to think and on what you want to say and how, depending on the target.

Identify your audience: maybe you already know that you should communicate to each person or group of people in a specific way. Try to figure out who will be the decision maker who reads your work and what kind of information that person is expecting to find. You are trying to persuade a selection committee. Find the most powerful weapons to conquer this kingdom.

Scratch, notes: you can use a notebook, your computer, a phone or tablet app or any other option you feel comfortable with. It is advisable to take notes about the topic you are writing about, possible sources of information, the sequence of events or ideas you will include and many other things. This will help you to clarify goals and means about tour text. And make a work plan.

Do not expect to finish your text in one hour or one day: You can make drafts, delete words, sentences or paragraphs, include new things you had not thought about before, play with the words, etc. Somebody said “Write is rewrite”. And rewrite is usually a time consuming job.

Decide what kind of language you are going to use: you already have identified your audience. Now it is time to decide how you will address the subject. Use words that mean something for you and your reader, use a shared language. Take time to choose the tone of your text. It could be personal, professional, colloquial, scientific… Do you remember those TV or YouTube shows and speeches about science divulgation? They do not use the complex jargon of the scientist that made the research but everyday words. In the other hand, when you are talking about science with those researchers you should not use the familiar language used in TV.

Focus in the meaning of your text before that grammar: Build the concept before placing the decorate. Think this as a project so you need to use your Project Manager skills. Start from the idea and goals, finish in the details. As an architect or engineer do when working in a building or a road.

The next week I will continue listing some tips I consider are important during the writing process and can be useful for you when preparing your statement of intent.

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