How have you demonstrated leadership ability in your school, work, or community?
Core to my leadership philosophy is the belief that great leaders are made, not born. See, I never was picked to head a group of kids growing up. Perhaps this was because I came across as a shy and introverted kid, but today I have surprised myself by taking on demanding leadership roles, not to mention applying to B.A. in leadership. Therefore, I do not consider myself born a leader, but I have acquired and honed leadership qualities over the years. My primary goal in pursuing a degree in leadership is to expand my organizational leadership skills beyond an organization-specific setting to a global arena.
Being the firstborn in a family of four children is not a walk in the park. It doesn’t help when you are the only girl and your siblings are looking up to you for leadership. This is the story of my life. Although leading my siblings is not explicitly demanded of me, I have always felt that it is my responsibility to provide leadership. Perhaps the knowledge that my siblings looked up to me made me take up leadership roles at the university. I was nominated the class representative for one of the courses on my first day in class at Manchester Metropolitan University. As a class representative, I was tasked with relaying information between students and the lecturer, including setting up makeup classes, collecting assignments, and organizing class trips. Until then, I hadn’t seen myself as the leading type, but the nomination gave me a different perspective of my capabilities. I mean, if a stranger deemed it best to nominate me to lead them then I had to have a huge potential.
The biggest test to my potential came when I caught wind of a vacancy in the Student Ambassador position. I second-guessed myself, but I was not deterred when our faculty head announced that they normally receive over 300 applications. I submitted my application, and three weeks later, I was among the ten potential candidates shortlisted for an interview with the dean. I hadn’t grasped the responsibilities of the position by the time I was sworn in to defend the honor of MMU.
I would spend the next two years as the face of MMU. It was my responsibility to welcome new students and coordinate a range of student affairs such as career week, open days, and symposiums. Student Ambassadorship exposed me to a range of challenges and opportunities. For instance, it was not easy communicating with international students who did not speak English, yet thoroughness was expected of me. The role, however, sharpened my communication skills and taught how to harness team dynamics as a leader. Of all the lessons I learned as a leader, the greatest takeaway is that good leadership is not about imposing ideas on people, but providing information so they can make informed decisions. My goal is to complete a B.A. in leadership, and a scholarship will allow me to focus all my time and effort on this goal.
Feedback on this essay.
- The applicant answers the prompt.
- She uses nice transitions between each paragraph.
- She touches on her leadership abilities within her family and school and provides a great example about her student ambassador role. This showcases her leadership abilities and role. In other words, she just doesn’t say she’s a leader, but proves it.
Opportunities for improvement.
- Other than the introductory sentence, which opens awkwardly with a quote, the remainder of the opening paragraph is fine. In fact, we can eliminate the first sentence altogether and reword the new opening sentence to “I was never picked to lead a group of kids growing up…”
- Change passive verbs to active verbs when possible. For example, where it says, “your siblings are looking up to you for leadership,” we can change that to “your siblings look up to you for leadership.”
- Remove unnecessary (filler) words. For instance, change “Although leading my siblings is not explicitly demanded of me, I have always felt that it is my responsibility to provide leadership” to “Although I was not expected to lead my siblings, I felt responsible to provide leadership.”
- Remove words like “always,” “never” and other extremes or absolutes.
- We can break up the last paragraph, starting with, “Of all the lessons I learned as a leader, the greatest takeaway is that good leadership…” and move it and the remaining sentence to the next paragraph, so it’s the closing paragraph.
- Reword the sentence, “Of all the lessons I learned as a leader, the greatest takeaway is that good leadership is not about imposing ideas on people, but providing information so they can make informed decisions.” Instead say, “My greatest takeaway is that good leadership is not about imposing your ideas on people, but providing information they can use to make informed decisions.”
What’s the verdict? Scholarship or not?
I love the examples within the essay, which solidify the student’s leadership abilities. She appears to have a can-do attitude, which is a plus. She doesn’t beg for a scholarship, but says how a scholarship will help. Although she used a lot of passive tense, all in all, this essay is a winner.
Examples are key. Add them whenever you can. Active verbs make your essay impactful. Use them.
Most quotes make your essay look like everyone else’s. It’s best not to open your essay with a quote. In the applicant’s case, the quote works. Still, I’d suggest leaving it off. If you must include a quote, research the source and be sure it ties in with your overall essay.