Grad School: Getting All My Ducks In A Line pt. 2

Alright, so here’s the continuing adventures of my thought processes while prepping my mind for this graduate school madness.  I’ve gone over the application, the general requirements, and the curriculum vitae.  Ok, so now what do we have left?  We have the personal statement, the two writing sources, and the three letters of recommendation.

The personal statement, to me, feels like the most serious part of the application process.  Here you need to convince the Graduate Committee that you are the right candidate for the program, that you are qualified for the rigors of an intellectual existence, and that you have worthwhile ideas and experience to bring to the table.  All that aside this is, in their words, what they want for this part:

“The Graduate Committee wants to know: Why do you want to pursue this degree at MSU? What interests, qualifications, and, most importantly, professional goals of yours will be served by completion of this degree? How do you see the program at MSU specifically helping you to meet those goals?”

I want to pursue this degree at MSU because Michigan State is my alma mater.  I would be incredibly comfortable doing anything that was asked of me in the area.  I know where everything is located, the rules for campus, and Special Collections is bar none the best place for comics research around.  Not only that but we have faculty that are published comics authors such as Ryan Claytor and we host an intellectual forum on comics every year, The MSU Comics Forum, where fans, intellectuals, and creators mingle and talk about comics, the industry, and trade ideas and insight.

What interests, qualifications, and professional goals will be served by the completion of this degree?  Where do I start?  For two years I will be steeped in intellectual comic literature and I’ll be learning all I can about editing, publishing, internet publishing, professional writing, and what have you.  It’s my dream to edit comics, to work directly with artists and writers to help them create the best stories possible.

Hopefully, once I graduate with a Masters in Professional Writing employers will see how dedicated I am to editing.  I think a masters in pro writing will speak volumes and add to that the outside experience I’ll get from my projects, papers, and the comics I’ll be editing should help me stand head and shoulders above the crowd.  A masters in pro writing and digital rhetoric will open up doors that I’m sure I can’t even imagine now, especially since I’ll be well versed in internet writing as well.  I’ll be a quadruple threat, a great editor, a great writer, I’ll know all about digital writing, and I’ll know about publishing!  This is my dream and this degree will absolutely help me get there.

With the help of my professors, my friends, and the environment, I don’t see how I can lose.  Specifically, MSU will give me a comfortable and familiar environment where I’ll be able to work to the best of my abilities.  The Special Collections library will assure that I’ll never be at a loss for research material, the close proximity to creators and like-minded students will help to refresh and motivate me, and hopefully with the support of my professors I’ll be able to focus my course work around my interests and really get the most out of the program.

Whew *wipes forehead* so I have some of that out of the way for my actual paper…  Good.  Then comes the 2 writing selections.

“At least two writing samples showing two different styles or genres of writing. For both MA programs, at least one sample should be a single-authored academic paper showing your ability to do a sustained critical analysis, research, review, or evaluation (ideally, from an upper-division course). For the MA in DR&PW, the other sample could demonstrate your abilities as a professional/technical writer, as an editor, as a page designer, or as a developer of digital information.”

So I have one paper that I’ve already started and have been developing since the summer.  Now that I’m back at MSU I’ll be able to actually get cracking on the research.  Unfortunately I don’t really have any of my old university papers and I don’t really think any of them would quite fit here.  However, I do want to include some of the professional writing I’ve done for Marvel.  That’s two writing sources.  Hopefully Ethan will be able to give me a little more insight into what it is I need here.

Finally comes the three letters of recommendation.  Basically it seems like they want letters from people who are aware of your intellectual aptitude, can accurately assess your work ethic and passion for the program, and

“One letter, ideally two, should come from former faculty members (or instructors) who can address your qualifications for academic course work at the graduate level and also your skills as a professional writer.”

After nearly a year and a half I’m only close to one of my former professors, but he was the one that really turned me on to this so obviously I’m hoping to have him write me a letter of recommendation.  He knows my writing, has seen my professional writing for Marvel, and is well aware of my abilities to do research and graduate level work.

Of my other two letters I was hoping to get at least one from my old bosses at Marvel who give me my professional writing assignments as well as edit them, and possibly one from Kelly Roman, my boss for The Art of War internship.  I actually got to teach him some things about comics, comic theory, and other stuff that actually got translated into edits for his comic!  I feel like he would have some great insight into my abilities and my knowledge and hopefully have something to say about my work ethic and such.

So I guess that’s it.  This was a quick little roadmap for my mind.  It helps to break things down into visible, manageable pieces, and write blurbs about them.  Ok, that’s it for tonight.



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