A few months ago a business associate reached out to me to share her frustration. She had decided to go back to school to pursue her masters but had been unsuccessful with several of the universities she had applied to. The response was that her academics were not strong enough. I found it an odd response as she had obtained her last degree almost fifteen years before and so a university judging her on the merit of old grades alone didn’t make sense to me.
She allowed me to see her CV and shared her personal statement and immediately their responses made sense.
Nothing about her application would have made any university excited to have her sit in one of their classrooms. At Masters and PhD level, universities want to see what contributions you are bringing to the discourse. Not only do they want to help you get a degree but you are to become a valued and respected member of their programmes. They want to know how does having you associated with their school enhance their work and knowledge base.
As I knew of the wonderful work she was doing through her organisation, the solution was simple. Tell your story. She had expounded on why she wanted to pursue the degree but she hadn’t shared the details of how her work was helping others. None of her work in the community, which aligned with her area of expertise was visible. All of the ways she had worked miracles with little or no funds were showcased on her CV or her personal statement.
I advised her how to tweak her CV and shift things around. Having her education at the top of the CV which was 15 years old wasn’t exciting and could be an immediate turn off. Instead we moved her achievements and skills to the top. It preceded even her employment history. I wanted her to showcase what she was doing that was interesting and would prove she had value to bring to a masters programme. While she had no high level degrees to fill in the 15-year gap, she had something better, lots of interesting and evidence-based projects to show she has used her knowledge and was coming back to share and acquire more.
Once she sent it off, the response from the university seemed almost immediate. They wanted her.
Don’t be shy about showing people what you have accomplished. Bosses want employees who can deliver. Universities want students who are already achieving and need that qualification to seal the deal.
Show what you’ve done. How has your knowledge been used to help others? What are you interested in exploring and why is their university the best place to foster your discoveries? Don’t be the student looking only to take, be the one ready to bring real value and make a contribution to academia. I wish you success in your educational pursuits. Go #tellyourstory.
Get step by step support on how to tell great stories with my Blogging Basics and Blogging for Business courses at NajiSchool on Teachable.
I love telling stories. I help my clients from the private and public sector to leverage traditional and digital media to increase their visibility and make more money. I am a mentor, business strategist, a certified Business Continuity Specialist and the author of seven books, including the Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more great tips and ideas to help you grow.