B.S. Degree Annotated Rationale Essay
I completed my associate degree three years ago, and as I am getting closer to the completion of my bachelors degree, my outlook now is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The process has been very long, and at times I became frustrated with myself, but I’ve prevailed. Completing college is essential if I want to be successful and competitive in today’s economic environment, but most importantly, I have a 20 and a 15 year old, that I need to continue to set an example for — that is essentially what drives me to complete my degree. [s1]
My goal is to complete a bachelor degree in Business, Management, and Economics with a concentration in Marketing, especially concentrating in markets for the multicultural segments in the United States. [s2] Additionally, I want to focus generally on the cultures of segmented groups and how to market to those specific cultures from a knowledgeable perspective. As such, I have designed a concentration that interweaves those broader elements of culture (how humans understand their worlds and the contexts in which they understand them) with a study of different groups that represent major ethnic groups within the United States — after all this is the direction that this country is headed for. Although I have changed my degree plan several times I seem to always come back to marketing, coupled with a focus on multicultural marketing. This country will continue to develop into a diverse society; it will be essential for companies that want to market their products to the diverse consumer to understand the various multicultural consumers in the U.S.
According to The University of San Francisco School of Business, business leaders need a sophisticated understanding of their target audiences – often multiple audiences with significant differences of race, culture, and, of course, gender. The University of San Francisco Multicultural Marketing curriculum is designed to give the student the skills needed to market successfully to many demanding, though sometimes very subtly different cultural groups. Their multicultural marketing curriculum adds Marketing Research, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Management, and three courses dealing with culture to the standard expectations for a business degree. Blending these with ESC guidelines, I have marketing Research, Consumer Behavior, and multiple courses that provide insight into different cultures (e.g., American Ethnic History, Sex and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Caribbean History and Culture).
I have introductory marketing from Colorado Technical University, and will take the Marketing Communications, Marketing Research, and Consumer Behavior courses at ESC.
The ESC Area of Study Guidelines for a concentration in Marketing also state that students who work in Marketing need to develop skills in “critical reading, interpretation, and writing. Students should have an understanding of ethics, globalization, diversity and cross-cultural differences, and organizations.” Students pursuing upper-level work in Marketing should acquire conceptual vocabularies, knowledge of sources, and critical skills appropriate to their areas of focus or lines of inquiry.” I will gain the critical reading, interpretation, and writing skills in all of my upper-level courses, and especially my upper-level courses in marketing, which require analysis and advanced-level writing skills. I address the ethics guideline in my course in Marketing Communication, which has a strong “focus on ethical issues confronting marketers.” I address the globalization guideline with courses such as E-Business and Marketing and the Virtual Marketplace. I have addressed the organizations guideline through my course in Organizational Behavior Principles. And I have addressed the guideline about diversity through my many courses dealing with culture.
I want to combine the more specific focus on marketing with a more general focus on ethnic groups and culture, or the context in which marketers operate. Although the courses that provide these ethnic and cultural perspectives are not in my concentration, they do provide important background for my concentration, given my goals to focus on marketing to diverse populations. [s5] To provide a broad sociological perspective, I have included a course in American Social Problems, which provides an introduction to sociological concepts. To provide historical, artistic, sociological, philosophical, and cross-cultural perspectives, I have included American Ethnic History, Sex and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Television and Culture, American Ethnic History, Artistic Expression in a Multicultural America, and Cultural Anthropology. All of these courses provide a broad investigation of the concept of “social and cultural norms and belief systems,” and create a good understanding of social, creative, philosophical, and historical contexts in which I am applying the concepts of marketing. These courses will help fulfill my general goals of completing a bachelor degree in marketing, and gaining a focus to better understand ethnic groups within the U.S. The classes in Cultural Studies will give me an in-depth insight into the concept of culture and a better understanding of being in someone else’s shoes — so to speak.
Lastly, I have addressed the ESC General Business guidelines in my degree. These guidelines state that students need to show knowledge in the following: [s6]
- Communication skills – I have courses in Communications for Professionals and Interpersonal and Small Group Communications.
- Information management – I have a course in Information Design and I have extensive knowledge utilizing an information system designed to disseminate information at my workplace.
- Economics – I have a course in Principles of Economics 2.
- Ethical and social responsibility – My course in Marketing Communications has a strong focus on ethics in marketing.
- Quantitative skills – I have courses in Statistics: An Activity Based Approach and Marketing Research.
- Understanding people in an organizational context – I have courses in Organizational Behavior Principles and Managing Human Resources. Additional courses such as Sex and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective provide deeper understanding of people in an organizational context.
- Understanding organizations within broader contexts – I have courses in Marketing and the Virtual Marketplace and E-Business. My extensive experience working in a large non-profit organization, along with my courses dealing with various cultures, creates a good understanding of organizations within a broader context.
I have also addressed the SUNY General Education guidelines in my overall degree plan. [s8] My range of courses includes Television and Culture (humanities), Statistics (math), Human Nutrition (natural science), American Social Problems (social science), College Reading and Composition (basic communication), American Ethnic History (American history), Ballet & Artistic Expression in a Multicultural America (the arts), Cultural Patterns in Western Civilization (western civilization), and Caribbean History and Culture and Cultural Anthropology (other world civilizations). Many of my general education courses helped to create my liberal arts associate degree. I have covered nine of the ten general education areas with over 50 credits of general education. I have addressed the ESC guidelines for a degree in Business, Management & Economics with a concentration in Marketing as well as the SUNY General Education requirements in my degree plan.
These careers will require my expertise in marketing, communication, and knowledge of the world’s cultures and how to interact within diverse communities. Additionally, I have numerous work experiences in the Music & Film Industries, and the nation’s largest non-profit organization that allows me to work with a diverse group of people, coupled with my academic learning which will add to my repertoire of communication, creativity, and inclusion. The ability to effectively communicate with my colleagues through written communication, and to use computer application programs to heighten my presentations, the understanding of the specific demographics that we need to reach, and knowing the proper marketing plan to implement will all collectively aid in my ability to develop a successful professional career in marketing.
The decision to attend SUNY/Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning may not perhaps be the most traditional method, but was by-far the best decision to complete my education. In certainty, having the knowledge and fortitude to successfully move up the ladder to a career that I will enjoy for many years to come was my motivation. If I decide to pursue a master’s degree it will more than likely be after by 15-year-old son finishes high school and is on his way to college — to begin just what I have successfully completed. Currently, at my job there will be tremendous opportunities for growth in the multi-cultural communities in the California regions; this coupled with an Empire State College Business Degree with a concentration in Marketing will enable me to be more competitive as I strive to climb the ladder of success. [s10]
Comment [s1]: The student provides personal reasons that motivated her to complete a degree.
Comment [s2]: The student clearly states her Area of Study and Concentration. Additionally, she indicates briefly how she has individualized her concentration by focusing on multicultural marketing. The rest of this paragraph deals with her educational goals.
Comment [s3]: The student offers her research, providing evidence that the concentration she designed is academically valid. Because ESC guidelines deal with marketing concentrations in general, and do not specifically include information about multicultural marketing concentrations, the student researched another college that did offer that focus. She used the information she found to help understand and realize her goals; she knew that she did NOT have to mimic the other college’s program exactly. The rest of this section presents her research and conclusions based on that research.
Comment [s4]: The student clearly refers to the ESC Area of Study Guidelines and shows in this section how she has addressed those expectations in her concentration.
Comment [s5]: The student explains her individualized focus here, and talks about how courses in her general learning support and integrate with her concentration courses.
Comment [s6]: The student explains how she has addressed the general business guidelines as well as the specific concentration guidelines. Both general and specific guidelines are important, as each one identifies somewhat different areas of skills and knowledge that are expected in this type of degree.
Comment [s7]: Here the student reflects briefly on the importance of certain liberal arts courses to marketing professionals.
Comment [s8]: The student explains briefly how she is fulfilling the SUNY General Education Requirement.
Comment [s9]: The student briefly explains her research into potential career paths, conducted through interviews with professionals at her current place of employment. She reflects on how she has developed important skills related to these career paths.
Comment [s10]: A nice way to close, as this last paragraph parallels the thoughts in the introduction.
The student provides personal reasons that motivated her to complete a degree.
The student clearly states her Area of Study and Concentration. Additionally, she indicates briefly how she has individualized her concentration by focusing on multicultural marketing. The rest of this paragraph deals with her educational goals.
The student offers her research, providing evidence that the concentration she designed is academically valid. Because ESC guidelines deal with marketing concentrations in general, and do not specifically include information about multicultural marketing concentrations, the student researched another college that did offer that focus. She used the information she found to help understand and realize her goals; she knew that she did NOT have to mimic the other college’s program exactly. The rest of this section presents her research and conclusions based on that research.
The student clearly refers to the ESC Area of Study Guidelines and shows in this section how she has addressed those expectations in her concentration.
The student explains her individualized focus here, and talks about how courses in her general learning support and integrate with her concentration courses.
The student explains how she has addressed the general business guidelines as well as the specific concentration guidelines. Both general and specific guidelines are important, as each one identifies somewhat different areas of skills and knowledge that are expected in this type of degree.
Here the student reflects briefly on the importance of certain liberal arts courses to marketing professionals.
The student explains briefly how she is fulfilling the SUNY General Education Requirement.
The student briefly explains her research into potential career paths, conducted through interviews with professionals at her current place of employment. She reflects on how she has developed important skills related to these career paths.
A nice way to close, as this last paragraph parallels the thoughts in the introduction.
The standard essay format that you’re introduced to in middle school and high school has a three part structure: there’s an introductory section, a main body and a conclusion.
There are conventional rules for what to include and not include in each of these sections, and if you want to improve your academic essay writing there’s no doubt that you need to understand these rules.
But I think anyone who teaches essay writing, and anyone who wants to improve their essay writing, should acknowledge that not all essays are written this way, and that the conventional rules for academic essays can be quite restrictive — there is, for lack of a better term, an expressivecost to following the rules.
In this video I want to talk about the rationale for the conventional rules, and more specifically how and when the benefits of following them outweigh the costs.
The Standard Three-Part Structure
The most striking feature of the conventional academic essay format is how introductions and conclusions are written.
(1) Introductory Section
The introductory section of an academic essay is supposed to do three things:
First, we use it to introduce the subject of the essay, and more specifically, the issue with respect to the subject. The subject might be, say, the ethics of sport hunting. The issue might be whether hunting with bow and arrow is more or less humane than rifle hunting.
If the issue is somewhat complex or unfamiliar you may need to spend a bit of time on this introductory section, providing enough background and context for the reader to understand, in rough outline, what the issue is.
Second, we state the thesis of the essay. The thesis is the position or stance that the essay is going to take, on the issue in question.
And third, it’s often recommended that the author say something about how the rest of the essay is going to be organized, so the reader has some idea of what to expect and how the argument is going to unfold. This becomes increasingly important as essays become longer and more complicated.
(2) Main Body
Moving on to the main body of the essay, the structure of the main body will differ depending on the kind of essay you’re writing. Here I’ll just review the features of a standard argumentative essay.
The primary goal of the main body is to present the central argument of the essay. There are many ways of doing this, but an essential part of any argumentative essay is to consider natural objections to the main argument, and then present replies that defend the argument against those objections.
(3) Concluding Section
Now, in the concluding section of the standard academic essay, you’re expected to restate the main thesis, review and summarize the key argumentative moves you made in the essay, and if you want you can offer some final commentary on the topic. These elements of the concluding section become more important and more prominent as essays become longer and more professional. If you look at articles written for academic journals you’ll find that these elements are standard.
"Do I Have to Write Like This?"
So these are the conventional rules for organizing an academic essay.
I don’t want to generalize, but I think we have to admit that the style of essay writing I just described isn’t one we normally associate with engaging literary style. It can be dry and stiff and predictable.
I’ve had students ask me, in all seriousness, whether they have to write like this, like there’s something obviously unappealing about these writing conventions.
I think these questions have a point, I think they deserve to be answered. So let’s push the question further.
Many non-academic essay writing styles will try to invite or entice the reader to continue reading, but they won’t disclose the main point of the essay up front — they’ll save the “punchline”, as it were, until the end, for obvious reasons.
Telegraphing your punchline in the setup of your joke would ruin the joke.
Similarly, telegraphing the main point of your essay in the introduction makes it difficult to build a narrative with the potential to surprise the reader. If every essayist felt pressured to show all their cards in the opening paragraphs of their essay, they would rightly find that a burdensome restriction.
All of this is to say that there’s nothing in the nature of essay writing per se that requires this kind of style.
But then if it’s standard in academic writing then there must be some reason for it, some benefit that outweighs the costs.
So let’s talk about what these benefits are.
The Function of the Standard Three-Part Essay Structure
The standard conventions of academic writing only make sense under the assumption that you’re writing for a certain kind of audience whose interests are served by this format.
All of this makes more sense if you realize that at the highest levels, academia is a profession, and the primary currency that this profession trades in, is peer recognition and approval.
Whether I’m a physicist or a philosopher or an English literature expert, to participate in the profession you need to produce research, and in most cases this takes the form of written research articles that are published in professional academic journals, or it takes the form of longer, book-length monographs.
In either case, your work is subject to a process of PEER REVIEW, before it can get into the hands of the broader research community or the general public.
At the first level of the peer review process, your immediate audience is an editor of some kind. The job of a journal editor is to facilitate the process of academic gate-keeping and quality control.
The journal editor receives many submissions, more than they can publish. They have to quickly assess the the relevance of the submission for their audience, which is other professional academics in their field.
If it passes this first stage of assessment then the editor has to identify qualified reviewers within the field who will conduct a more thorough review of the submission.
Their reports are sent back to the editor, who then makes a decision about whether the submission should be published, accepted for publication conditional on making certain minor changes, sent back to the author with a recommendation to revise and resubmit, or reject the submission outright.
That’s your "level 1" audience. Ultimately what you want is that your academic peers get access to your work through publication in the standard peer-reviewed venues.
Your professional peers are your level 2 audience. But they face the same predicament as journal editors, in the sense that even if your submission finds its way into a journal that they regularly read, no one has the time or energy to read everything.
So everyone needs a strategy for deciding whether a given article is relevant to your interest and worth the time and energy to read all the way through.
And if you were in that situation, it would be very much in your interest that articles are written in a standard form and in such a way that in the first few paragraphs you can quickly judge whether the article is relevant to your own research.
This gets us closer to understanding why the standard academic essay format is what it is.
It’s a form of writing that makes it easy for a person who has limited time and energy, and who has a specific interest in certain topics, to identify whether the essay is relevant to those topics. Everyone in academia, from working professionals to editors to graduate students, benefits from the standardization that is built in to the conventional three-part essay format.
So, are there good reasons why the conventions are what they are? The answer is yes, there are good reasons. There are costs, in terms of predictability and a certain utilitarian dryness, but from the perspective of working academics, the benefits clearly outweigh these costs.
But Why Impose This Convention on Students?
Now, there’s an obvious question that this analysis raises.
If the justification for these academic essay writing conventions is that they’re important for professional academic writing, why are they so often taught as though they were basic to essay writing in general?
In writing instruction guides aimed at high school students, you often see some version of this three-part structure presented without any context, like it was part of a definition of what a “proper” essay should look like.
This is nonsense, there is no such definition. There are plenty of different models for successful essay writing.
So why is it so often taught as though it was the only model?
Well, if you ask high school teachers they’ll probably tell you that it’s a good model to teach students because
- it’s a model that students are expected to be familiar with when they enter college,
- it’s a model that can get you a good score on the essay-writing portion of college admission tests, and
- it’s a model that signalscompetency in essay writing — in other words, in many places it’s used as a standard for judging competency in writing skills.
And in their more cynical moods they’ll tell you that it’s challenging enough to teach justone model for essay writing, when so few students are good at even this one model.
There's obviously a lot of truth to these observations. But let’s at least acknowledge that these reasons have more to do with the practical realities of education than with good writing per se.
Good writers need to understand the rules of a conventional style and the reasons behind the rules, so that they can use them when doing so serves their communicative goals and break them when they don’t.
In the next video we’ll take a closer look at the concept of writing style, and how writing structure emerges out of a deliberate choice of style.