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Storytelling in the Graduate School Application Process

by Story2 Guest Author, on Jul 8, 2015 4:48:00 PM


At Story2, we provide online tools to empower individuals to understand themselves more authentically and achieve their goals of getting into college, improving in work, and building a better life by learning how to tell their story.

This May, Parul Purwar joined the Story2 team as part of an internship through the University of Michigan Masters of Entrepreneurship program. In this post, Parul shares her thoughts about her graduate school application process.

When I decided to apply for a master’s program in the U.S., I was both apprehensive and skeptical. Apprehensive because, as an international student, I was not familiar with the process. Skeptical because almost all the applications involved writing at least three short essays, and I thought that my English was not good enough to get the attention of the admission committees.

I started to explore the admission process in the U.S. There was so much information out there. I wanted to learn about the process in the shortest possible time. Sitting more than 3,000 miles away, filtering out the relevant information kept me up late into the night.

From my research, I found that unlike in Asia, the admission process in the U.S. involves networking with current students, admission ambassadors, and alumni to understand the key takeaways of the program at each university. This was nothing like the education system I grew up with.

“My written English is not so good and the whole process is so confusing,” I thought, “Why don’t I just hire an expert to manage the whole thing for me!” I reached out to a couple of consultants and then selected one based on its past success rate. I was so confident that I would make it to a top university that I started shopping for a new wardrobe!

In the middle of the night, I stared at my admissions results. Despite the application fees ($250 on average) and the consultant fees ($150 per university), I did not get a single interview call that year. I could not sleep for several nights. I had a strong academic record, good scores, and an amazing work record. And to top it off, I thought I had purchased the best essay writers. With all this, what could possibly go wrong? I was clueless (and sleepless)!

I went to my mom for advice. She asked me to read my essays aloud to her. As I read the essays, I realized my mistake. They just did not sound like me! If I couldn’t connect with my own essays, how could anybody else?

I applied again next year. This time, I categorized my essays into four main themes: goals, failures, successes, and difficult situations I had encountered. Then I sifted through my life to find specific moments that would fit these themes. I told all the stories to my best friend, who was extremely patient. Together we found the best moments for each theme, and then I wrote down my stories. I used my discussions with current students and alumni to make each essay a unique conversation. The result of months of hard work was an acceptance letter from the Masters of Entrepreneurship program at University of Michigan, the top rated program by The Princeton Review.

I am currently doing an internship at Story2, which unlocks human achievement through online storytelling, tools, and community. Based on my own experience, I think that storytelling is a must have life skill. I just wish I was aware of the Story2 EssayBuilder toolkit before I started the process … it could have saved me a year.

Parul is currently pursuing Masters of Entrepreneurship at University of Michigan. She is a summer intern at Story2. Prior to that, she was working at a mobile start-up in India. She is an engineer by education and is passionate about mobile systems and technology. Her fondness for storytelling stems from her love for classical dance, Kathak (which literally means ‘a storyteller’) and for reading, with keen interest in history, mythology and contemporary literature. 
Topics:college admission