Hi, my name is Nana and I am applying to continue college in Taiwan. As I was going through the application process (buttloads of paperwork and so forth) I ran across something called a “Study Plan”. I have never even heard of it and have no idea where to start. I mean, what format, about how long is it usually, and what is usually included within the writing? I started the topic in this section because I have never heard of needing to write a study plan in US schools, but maybe I am wrong^_^;. Thank you very much for your time and patience and I hope to become a new friendly writer to this forum!
You can pretty much write anything. Something about how you want to use your time in Taiwan to learn Chinese really well, especially writing, so that you can return to your home country and get a good job in [name of industry]. Try for about 200 words or so…? Just a brief paragraph or two. You might mention how you became interested in Chinese language, how you love Chinese culture, and want to be able to better understand things like calligraphy, martial arts…whatever.
It’s another piece of paper that gets stashed in a file somewhere. Doesn’t really matter what you write as long as it’s vaguely acceptable-sounding.
What I would write is something like: “Study Plan? What on earth are you wiffling on about? My plan is to study Chinese. The study plan part is YOUR job. What the hell do you think I’m paying you for?”
I don’t see a problem with requesting a study plan. Anybody that has studied a foreign language seriously would appreciate being asked this. That way the teacher/school knows what your goals are and can incorporate them into the curriculum, especially for a one-on-one class. Whether the school actually does this is another story.
In the U.S. it’s usually called a “personal statement” or “statement of purpose” and is de rigeur for most graduate school applications and used in some undergrad programs. Committees that actually do look at these things tend to look for indicators of motivation, self-discipline, background knowledge, and clearly formulated goals (as in, I’ve done X, and to get to Z, I need Y – i.e. this program). Be sure it’s uniquely you and includes specific anecdotes. Generally a page will suffice, but some places expect a bit more. I have yet to see anyone rejected on the grounds of a statement of purpose alone, but I have seen it cited as a contributing factor by committees choosing between competing candidates.
That said, this has been floating around the intarweb forever:
[quote]ESSAY: IN ORDER FOR THE ADMISSIONS STAFF OF OUR COLLEGE TO GET TO KNOW YOU, THE APPLICANT, BETTER, WE ASK THAT YOU ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE HAD, OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS YOU HAVE REALIZED, THAT HAVE HELPED TO DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON?
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
Well all I can say is harrrrrumph! There was none of that palaver back in the 1970s (when people actually learned stuff at university, unlike now when all they do is run up massive loans in the student union and get drunk girls to take their clothes off on the Internet.)
A statement of purpose? I’m quite familiar with those!
I don’t like the term “study plan” because the schools want to know much more than your intended course of study.
Ideally, a statement of purpose (for undergraduate or graduate school) should be about two pages long, standard margins, 1.5-spaced, 12-point font, preferably Times New Roman. That translates to somewhere around 590 to 650 words. PhD candidates generally write longer and more detailed statements of purpose. But look at what each school specifically requires: many schools specify the required length in words or pages (some may require double spacing).
Generally you should write the following:
Motivation: How you became interested in the field you’re applying to, and why you want to continue studying it. There’s no need for detail about past studies or work; reserve those for the upcoming paragraphs. You could briefly mention interests or hobbies you had in high school if it’s related to your intended course of study. If applying to a music program, you could talk about your childhood musical training; if an MBA, maybe something about the business environment you grew up in if your parents run a business.
Academic background: Where you went to school, what you majored in, what you learned, other training you have undertaken, how it’s relevant to the field you are applying to, and how it inspired you to continue on to further education. (You may mention club activities and memberships here, too, if relevant. But don’t briefly mention your studies and then go into a long spiel about extracurricular activities, because it would look like you’re attaching more importance to fun than to study.)
Professional background: Your job experience (mention the names of companies or organizations you worked for, your position and job content), what you learned from it, how it’s relevant to your proposed field of study, and how it inspired you to continue your studies.
Future goals: Short-term, mid-term and long term. Talk about what you plan to study in school. Then talk about what you plan to do in the next few years after you graduate, and how you plan to apply your newly gained expertise. Then talk about your longer-term goals, such as ten or more years down the road. You can finish this paragraph off with a mention of some long-term contributions you may make (it doesn’t matter if it’s will come true or not; they just need to see some thought about your future directions).
Follow this by a conclusion that states why you specifically chose their school. Be sure to mention the name of the school you’re applying to so it doesn’t look like a form letter. A little ass-kissing doesn’t hurt here: “I am impressed by the high caliber of your distinguished faculty and your time-honored reputation for academic excellence”, for example!
Sandman – take it back to “Open”, please. This is “Learning Chinese”, and we actually give people coherent answers here.
It really doesn’t matter what you write in a study plan here or there – the school already has things pretty well set up, and especially in the case of a Chinese language school, they are not very open to suggestions that you might want something special or different. In the case of a Western grad school applicatin essay, it’s actually quite similar – the programs all have their particular slant or bias and the committee wants to make sure they are not taking students whose inclinations lie counter to what they are going to be doing or the faculty with whom they will be working.
Linguistics is a good example. Some programs believe “Language = Math” (except they are sometimes willing to admit that “Phonetics = Physics” ) and someone who liked touchy-feely non-prescriptive sociolinguistic stuff wouldn’t be very happy doing theoretical syntax in that kind of department. There are other schools that have departments of an equal caliber that would provide the kind of mentoring and the basic direction the student preferred.
Writing your Study Plan might be a good chance for YOU to think about precisely why you want to learn Chinese and how you might best go about doing it, though. You can assume that the school will not be terribly flexible in adapting anything for you specifically, but there are all sorts of opportunities outside class if you want to set up language exchanges, tutoring, and the like.
In the actual Study Plan you submit, though, I would advise being as conventional as humanly possible. Saying “I don’t want to learn to write and have no need to” might be the truth for many people, but it won’t win you points with the Ministry of Education or anyone associated with it in Taiwan…think “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
What language should the study plan be written in?
To start the answer to my own question, I guess it would depend on your Chinese ability. Personally, if I were to write a study plan in Chinese, it would need major editing by a third party, and the argument could be made that such a study plan wouldn’t represent my own writing.
well, I have to make a Study Plan for the scholarship and a Statement of Purpose to the school…are they the same thing? And I am actually not going to school for language, I mean I am going there for the language but I am going to school for International Business. The school teaches in English, it’s Ming Chuan University if anyone has heard of it^^