Rationale Essay Sample

Rationale Worksheet

This worksheet is adapted from the Genesee Valley Center’s Rationale Worksheet, the Center for Distance Learning’s Web resources and previous versions of the Empire State College Student Degree Planning Guide.

Ra-tion-ale (noun)
1. Fundamental reasons; the basis
2. An exposition of principles or reasons

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. 2003.

  1. Background Information about You and Your Goals
  2. Research
  3. Overall Degree Program Design
  4. Concentration
  5. General Learning
  6. Breadth, Progression and Integration
  7. SUNY and Empire State College Degree Requirements
  8. Advanced Standing Studies
  9. Empire State College Studies
  10. Special Considerations

Using the Worksheet

The following worksheet can help you to understand better what is expected in a rationale essay. It will also help you to incorporate your personal and professional information in a meaningful way. When completed, the worksheet can serve as an outline for your rationale.

However, please be aware that this is a worksheet only; it cannot serve as a substitute for your rationale.

There are a couple of different ways you can use this worksheet:

  • Write brief answers and then expand on these when you actually write your rationale.
  • Use the worksheet as an outline and develop more extensive answers directly in a word processing program. These entries can then serve as a first draft of your rationale.

Do your best to carefully reflect on the questions posed in the worksheet and answer them as best as you can. If you do, you should have the foundation for a very good rationale.

I. Background Information about You and Your Goals

The essay discussion of goals is usually the first portion of the essay, so readers can get a sense of the context in which you're pursuing your degree. Use these questions to help you think and write about goals:

  1. What are your personal, professional, and educational goals?
  2. How might a college degree help you to meet those goals?
    • Why do you want to pursue your degree? Provide enough background so that readers can understand the reasons that led you to pursue a degree and the results you expect to achieve by pursuing your degree. How do you intend to use your degree?
    • What knowledge, qualities, or characteristics do you hope to develop through your studies?
    • What do you want to learn through this degree? How will you combine your previous learning with new learning to develop your academic area and become a more fully-educated person? Based on any self-assessments you have done, and any previous college coursework (at ESC or other colleges), do you need to strengthen certain academic skill areas or develop certain perspectives?
  3. What degree(s) are you seeking at Empire State College?
  4. What information about your employment background and life experience is important to your academic goals and to your degree program?
    • Where would you like to be professionally in five or ten years?
    • How will your degree help you to reach your professional goals?

II. Research

  1. Which Empire State College area of study guidelines are relevant to your concentration? Explain what you learned from reviewing them.
  2. Did you review catalogs or online degree program and/or course descriptions from other colleges and universities? Be specific. Name the institutions and the programs you consulted. What did you learn from these catalogs? What courses are common to each program you reviewed?
  3. Did you consult professionals or academics who are experienced in the area of your degree program concentration? Who were they? What did you learn? Did you incorporate their advice into your degree program by adding specific studies?
  4. Did you consult a graduate program advisor or a graduate catalog if you plan to continue your studies beyond the bachelor’s level? What institution? What did you learn? How did this knowledge affect your choice of studies?
  5. Did you review journal articles, books, or chapters of books? What did you read? What did you learn? How did this knowledge affect your choice of studies?
  6. Did you investigate employment or career opportunities? How? What did you learn? How did this knowledge affect your choice of studies?

III. Overall Degree Program Design

  1. What is the framework or organization of your degree?
  2. Why did you choose this framework or organization? How does it best meet your goals?
  3. What is your area of study? Why did you chose that area? How does it best meet your goals?

IV. Concentration

  1. What is your concentration? Are you using an established concentration with guidelines or have your developed your own? If you have developed your own concentration, how have you organized it?
  2. How does your concentration best meet your goals? How does it represent the learning that you have acquired?
  3. How does your concentration meet the area of study guidelines? If you have developed your own concentration, how have you designed it to meet the area of study guidelines?
  4. Are all the studies listed in the concentration column consistent with the concentration’s title? If so, can you explain why?
  5. How do your concentration studies work together to form a coherent degree program?
  6. How do your advanced standing (transcript and prior learning) courses fit into your concentration?
    • How do they provide a foundation for advanced studies?
    • How do they support a progression of your learning?
    • How do they support an integration of your learning?
    • How do they provide breadth so that your concentration isn’t too narrowly focused on one subject?
    • How do they fulfill academic expectations uncovered during your research?
    • How do they help your degree program meet expectations for advanced-level credits (bachelor’s only)?
  7. How do your Empire State College studies fit into your concentration?
    • How do they provide a foundation for advanced studies?
    • How do they support a progression of your learning?
    • How do they support an integration of your learning?
    • How do they provide breadth so that your concentration isn’t too narrowly focused on one subject?
    • How do they fulfill academic expectations uncovered during your research?
    • How do they help your degree program meet expectations for advanced-level credits (bachelor’s only)?

V. General Learning

  1. How do your advanced standing (transcript and prior learning) courses fit into General Learning?
    • How do they provide a foundation for advanced studies?
    • How do they support a progression of your learning?
    • How do they support an integration of your learning?
    • How do they provide overall breadth to your degree program?
    • How do they help your degree program meet expectations for advanced-level credits (bachelor’s only)?
    • Do any of them fulfill a SUNY General Education requirement? How?
    • How do any of your general learning studies complement your concentration? How?
  2. How do your Empire State College components fit into General Learning?
    • How do they provide a foundation for advanced studies?
    • How do they support a progression of your learning?
    • How do they support an integration of your learning?
    • How do they provide overall breadth to your degree program?
    • How do they help your degree program meet expectations for advanced-level credits (bachelor’s only)?
    • Do any of them fulfill a SUNY General Education requirement? How?
    • How do any of your general learning studies complement your concentration? How?

VI. Breadth, Progression and Integration

Note: You may have already explained breadth, progression and integration of your studies in earlier sections, especially in the sections on your concentration and general learning. If you want to make some additional points on how some of your learning especially provides your degree with breadth, progression and integration, you can elaborate more.

  1. How do your advanced standing and Empire State College studies provide breadth, progression and integration in your degree?

VII. SUNY and Empire State College Degree Requirements

Note: You may have already explained how your studies have met the SUNY and Empire State College requirements in earlier sections. You may, however, want to elaborate more if you have only mentioned the requirements and not explained how you have met them.

  1. How have you met the SUNY general education requirements? In what ways are they meeting these requirements? How have you infused the critical thinking and information management competencies into your degree?
  2. How does your degree program meet the requirements for liberal arts and science credits? How do you define “liberal arts and science” studies? How do your designated studies fit your definition?
  3. Does your bachelor’s degree program include sufficient advanced-level credits overall (45 are required)? Within your concentration (24 are required)? Advanced-level credits can be included in an associate degree, but they aren’t required. How do these studies support the progression of your degree?

VIII. Advanced Standing Studies

Note: You may have already explained why you are using some of your advanced standing studies in earlier sections. You may, however, want to elaborate more if you have only mentioned them and not explained why you have decided to use them in your degree.

Don’t list individual courses, but describe them in general or group them together in ways that you see that they are related and were of greatest interest or importance to you. Give the readers some sense of the learning the you bring to your degree.

  1. Why have you chosen to use the advanced standing studies that you have in your degree?
  2. How have the transcript or prior learning studies augmented your knowledge in your degree?
  3. How have they helped you meet your goals?
  4. How have they shaped what studies you decided to take at Empire State College?

IX. Empire State College Studies

Note: You may have already explained why you have chosen certain Empire State College studies in earlier sections. You may, however, want to elaborate more if you have only mentioned them and not explained why you have decided to use them in your degree.

Don’t list individual courses, but describe them in general or group them together in ways that you see that they are related and were of greatest interest or importance to you. Give the readers some sense of the learning the you bring to your degree.

  1. Why have you chosen the Empire State College studies that you have in your degree?
  2. How do your Empire State College studies build on your prior learning?
  3. How have the Empire State College studies helped you meet your goals?
  4. How have you shaped these studies to complete your knowledge for your degree?

X. Special Considerations

Note: You may have already explained any special considerations in earlier sections, but you may want to elaborate on some to make sure that the readers understand why you have made the decisions that you have.

  1. If there are any important points you want to make about your choices in your degree, you should take the time to explain them. Make sure that you have explained why you have made the choices that you have in the design of your degree.
  2. Explain why if you have deviated from any of the academic or professional expectations. If expected learning is missing or not readily apparent on the degree program itself, your rationale should explain its absence.
  3. If your concentration is unique or fairly nontraditional, explain why you chose the studies that make up your concentration and how they work together to form a sound college degree.
  4. If some of your learning may appear to have potential redundancy by their titles, explain the differences in your learning.
  5. If you plan to pursue a career in education or in accounting, you need to address that you recognize that your degree will not meet all of the state licensing requirements and sign a Teacher Certification Disclaimer or Accounting Certification Disclaimer.

B.S. Degree Annotated Rationale Essay

SAMPLE

Introduction

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]

Academic Expectations

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.

Professional Expectations

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.

Conclusion

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]

NOTES:

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.

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