Many people have asked me why I applied to grad school, what I'm going for and what I plan to do with my education. I think my entrance essay answers all of those questions...
Dear Education & Human Development Program Faculty,
When you’re 17 and every career assessment you’ve taken tells you to be a teacher, you do the natural teenager thing. You escape to the heat of the desert, where you learn to burn with an intensity that you cultivate on 60-hour workweeks while earning a degree in the inferno of growing up.
You spend roughly the next decade in the publishing industry and in online marketing. You discover how to convert visitors to clicks, clicks to clients and clients to dollar signs with just the power of your words. You spend your days making other companies money, crafting someone else’s dream, selling someone else’s idea. You are good at it. And you hate it.
So you garden to feel the joy of working with your hands; you volunteer to find your gratitude, and you write – furiously, fervently, freely – to exercise your bored marketing mind. You read every book you can get your hands on. All the while, you dream of a rewarding career, a passionate pursuit worth trading years of your life for. For several years, you talk to career counselors and mentors about how you could include your love of learning and drive to reduce illiteracy in a career that impacts thousands.
One day, during the 100th conversation about making a career change, your husband asks you pointedly, “If money didn’t matter, what would you do?” The word is out before you think about it.
“Then teach,” he says, solving it with a shrug.
You think of a million reasons you can’t. You picture the downtrodden teachers you’ve spoken to, up against the standardized test and unsupportive parents and checked out kids. You hear the refrains of elected and would-be politicians about a broken system. You know there are real challenges impacting the learning environment, and you recognize you probably only know about a fraction of them.
You realize you have to go beyond teaching. You have to be a part of creating an education system that works. You immediately begin searching for a program through which you could gain the awareness to understand the current education system, the knowledge to give educators better tools and the data to improve the outcomes for those being educated.
That is the story of how I found the Educational Psychology program at University of Colorado Denver and why I believe it is the perfect foundation for my career as an Educational Consultant. Below, I discuss why I am an excellent fit for the program.
I am a fast-paced learner.
As a professional writer for businesses, I have researched countless new industries and produced content with subject matter expertise in mere days, industries such as personal injury, mass tort and family law, mortgage, higher education, financial aid, acupuncture and holistic healing and many more. I have not stopped at superficial knowledge but gained the in-depth understanding required to translate complex topics into marketing content for the average person. I frequently speak on behalf of experts within a week of being introduced to their industries. Research and the ability to learn quickly and thoroughly are skills formed by habit, and I have honed them over the years.
I am curious.
The School of Education and Human Development likely attracts many applicants with years of teaching experience. In some settings during my graduate school career, I may be the least experienced person in the room. I prefer it that way. That provides me the greatest opportunity to learn, to ask questions and to exercise curiosity, while I may provide the room with a fresh perspective. I am committed to learning, to uncovering what is already known about education in America and to exploring what we don’t yet know. I believe you cannot educate until you first learn to listen and observe with an open, inquisitive mind.
I produce results.
When I say something is going to get done, I am not a victim to circumstances that prevent completion. I am a leader who completes client projects ahead of time. As the owner of a content marketing company, my success is directly correlated to clarity of the objective, a high standard for deliverables, and measured, tangible results. In a small business, the bottom line depends on follow-through. Keeping my word is critical. I will be successful in your program, and I will successfully use what I learn to directly and positively impact students’ lives.
I am realistic.
I understand that my graduate studies in the School of Education & Human Development might be the first of many steps that qualify me to effect noticeable and lasting changes in the education system. I am seeking to begin this respected educational psychology program in an effort to equip myself with research skills, industry-specific knowledge, connections and awareness. During my education, I will take every opportunity to learn.
The many educators I've known have all taught me that there are many challenges and tough decisions in the career of an educator, but that the value transcends the trials. I’m ready to work tirelessly to ensure the value is also there for every student, teacher, district or organization I work with.
I am passionate.
I was a lucky student. Learning and test-taking came easily to me in most subjects. But I saw the struggles all around me. I graduated from a small high school in southwestern Colorado with a boy who could not read beyond a first grade level. I mentored fellow students who struggled with reading comprehension and grammar. I saw the price of one-size-fits-all teaching and also witnessed the illumination in a classmate’s face when a teacher used a different approach and the student finally got it. In my teaching experience, I was the most requested swimming instructor every year. Why? Because I taught the student, not the material.
I don’t claim to know everything about learning or teaching, but I am ready to join this program and learn everything I can to effectively guide educators to greater success with their students.
I take action.
Every year, I pick small ways to give back – “adopting” a family during the holidays, volunteering time to read to children at UMOM, running a marathon to raise funds for Team in Training – but my greatest contributions are to organizations that strive to bring about a cultural shift, like Basketball in the Barrio, PSI Seminars and Barretstown.
The School of Education & Human Development also believes in positively influencing the local, state, national and global communities. I appreciate and respect the opportunity to improve and increase my “give-back” through real-world experience in education both during the graduate school program and beyond in my career.
After a lifetime giving back only in small ways, I am ready to dedicate my career to the pursuit of a better education system for everyone involved. The first step in that is acceptance into the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development’s Educational Psychology program. In this program, I hope to cultivate the skills to understand human development as it relates to people of all ages, to develop my ability to make data-driven decisions and changes, and to learn to critically analyze educational programs and create solutions to improve student outcomes. The second step is to embark on a career as an education consultant whose success is marked by positive influence on educators, administration, policy makers and students and better learning outcomes in every program I touch.
Thank you for considering me for the Educational Psychology program with an emphasis in Human Development.
Jenna Lee Dillon