Copyright notice

All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Please don't linger on the quad, it's embarrassing

This is part two in a series I'd like to call, "How not to get into a graduate program."

I've looked all over the web for examples of SoIs that got people in, but they don't post those. If I can only help by way of a bad example, so be it: whatever you do, don't write something like the following!

Since I will be re-applying to the program I sent this gem to last year, their name and esteemed faculty member's name have been redacted in the hopes that it even remotely matters. Today, it reads as honest to me as it did months ago, if stilted and more business-y than my writing style usually is. I am (as of July) still completely lost on how to get this part of the packet right, if you have any ideas, please holler.

One sunny day in August, I walked into my reliable job of twelve years and was told my position as a senior business analyst had been eliminated. It was the stock market, the gas prices, the cost of tomatoes—they said it wasn't personal—but it began a most personal process of self evaluation. I looked through my life experiences for commonalities and moments of purposefulness, and I found years of writing and writing awards—even a bachelor's of fine arts thesis that was all prose: written on telephone poles, gallery walls, anywhere my hands could reach. Ultimately, that pink slip would be a windfall. Not many people get the chance to start over, and I intend to make the most of it by focusing my time and energy on writing and teaching. A degree from your program will be the next step toward my new career.

Prior to losing my job, my technical writing won two awards from the Society for Technical Communication. I have also published mini essays and tutorials in several volumes of the Stitch n Bitch craft book series by Debbie Stoller. In the last year I have had essays and a poem published by the Rio Review and and one of my short stories was first runner up for Austin Monthly's first annual short story contest. I continue to submit work regularly to both literary and trade magazines.

Science and travel are two of my passions. I enjoy combining writing with both, and I appreciate that the program at Your University encourages cross disciplinary electives. I also look forward to working with faculty members such as Your Esteemed Writer in Residence whose lyricism and candor as well as his commitment to public policy are of great interest to me as both a writer and reader.

In the first week of my layoff, I signed up for classes in several subjects that had always interested me: geology, Spanish, belly dance, and creative nonfiction. The writing class made the biggest impact and for the next two semesters I took classes in poetry, prose and publishing. I found that nonfiction specifically lends itself well to a combination of my programmer's logic, facts, and reasoning and my studio artist's attention to texture and tone. I also got some experience mentoring other students, first during a “blog writing” segment in one of my classes and next in the advanced seminar as we were publishing two concurrent issues of the college's literary magazine.

While I did not come directly to a career in creative writing, my winding route has given me invaluable skills and experiences. I possess the follow-through and organization of a certified project manager coupled with the drive that only a second chance can give. I am passionate about learning and feel that Your University is the best place for me to concentrate on both the craft and art of writing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You can't teach HERE

I will be re-writing this part of my application packet, so I don't mind posting this (now cringe-inducing) essay I wrote as part of last year's application. I love how I mention my attention to detail in a doc full of typos! (Granted, this was a draft, I can only HOPE I fixed the glaring errors before dispatching it.) I can still appreciate my earnestness, though. It's real, even if it sounds like bullshit.

Why I want to teach college

Many graduate students come to teaching without having a clear picture of ways in which it can improve the quality of their own education. As an aspiring writer, there are several aspects of teaching that will enrich not only my master's degree, but also my career. Teaching college level English and writing classes will give me the opportunity to be a part of a quality education for others while expanding my own skills as a writer. Additionally teaching will provide me with a viable career path, which will foster my own growth within my field while contributing in a larger sense to an evolving landscape of writers.

Students enroll in college for a number of reasons: to gain job skills, as a step toward further matriculation, some simply for personal fulfillment. Regardless the reason, they all expect to receive a quality education. My skills and aptitude lend themselves well to teaching and will make a strong member of your teaching staff. I learn quickly, which will be useful when confronted with each new semester's material. As well, through many years in project management and software training positions I have learned how to wrangle and direct complex discussions. My attention to detail and personable nature will help me to find and communicate areas of strength as well as opportunities for improvement in student work.