The short essay by a geography student applying to an internship program opens with the writer admitting that she previously had a limited view of geography, then describing how a course changed her way of thinking so that she came to understand geography as a “balance of physical, social, and cultural studies.” Despite her limited experience, she shows that she has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps or obtaining a law degree, and her final paragraph links her interests directly to the internship program to which she is applying.
The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so. She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.
As writers, Sam and I know that the expected way to conclude an essay about your friend who has awful cancer is with his death. But fulfilling expectations is often tedious, and Sam is not dead. In fact—marvelously, thrillingly—he’s now much better than he was when I saw him in January. He was, his doctor has since informed him, literally starving then. But it appears that the chemo is shrinking his tumor, because he can eat solid food again and was able to enjoy that slice of Domino’s cheese pizza he’d yearned for. In July, I returned to Los Angeles, and we ate at a restaurant that Sam, who knows I’m a frequent People magazine reader, had selected owing to its popularity with celebrities. He was more upset than I was that, when Al Pacino walked past our table, I saw him only from the back.
Written during a height of US involvement in Iraq, this essay manages the intriguing challenge of how a member of the military can make an effective case for on-line graduate study. The obvious need here, especially for an Air Force pilot of seven years, is to keep the focus on academic interests rather than, say, battle successes and the number of missions flown. An additional challenge is to use military experience and vocabulary in a way that is not obscure nor off-putting to academic selection committee members. To address these challenges, this writer intertwines his literacy in matters both military and academic, keeping focus on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), his chosen field of graduate study.