Constructive Criticism

So! I’ve got my CV pretty much put together, and I’m happy with it. What I’m hoping for from you, Dear Readers, is some feedback on my cover letter. Mr. Chili thinks it’s just fine the way it is, but I’m hesitant; I’m not crazy about the third paragraph. What do you think?

Leisel Quinnley
Academic Director
Local Small College
Small Coastal City
New England, USA

Dear Ms. Quinnley:

It is with great excitement that I present you with my application for a position as an English instructor at Small Local College.

I believe that the purpose of education is to connect people; to allow us to think and speak and communicate in complex and meaningful ways. Throughout my education, internship, and professional experience, I have focused my attention on finding ways to make the study of English, particularly the study of literature, interesting and meaningful to students. All people, whether they believe it or not, have a wealth of experiences to bring to texts. I believe one of my primary responsibilities as a teacher is to encourage students to approach the study of English and literature with a belief that they have both something to learn and something to contribute. It is my hope that, when they leave my classroom, students will have a substantial and diverse foundation of literary experience that they can use to make meaningful connections to people and situations they encounter in their own lives.

Adult education presents a particularly rewarding challenge to me. I especially enjoy the thoughtfulness and wealth of life experiences that adults bring to the learning environment, and find that the experience is enhanced by the fact that most disciplinary issues that can arise in the high school classroom are nonexistent in adult-level classes. It has also been my experience that adults are generally more willing to take risks with their thinking – to stretch boundaries and consider ideas or points of view that they may not have considered before. This kind of intellectual freedom and playfulness benefits everyone in the classroom, and I’m always excited to be a part of that.

I am eager to continue to grow and learn in my chosen profession, and I hope to find a strong and supportive environment at Small Local College. It is my wish that I can become an important contributor to the school and community.

I very much appreciate your consideration of my application for employment. I am available at your convenience to answer any questions you may have.


Mrs. Chili



Filed under about writing, composition, concerns, frustrations, out in the real world, Questions, self-analysis, Teaching, The Job, writing, Yikes!

8 responses to “Constructive Criticism

  1. Everything looks good, Mrs. Chili. I’ll admit, maybe due to your concern about paragraph three, I found your use of the word “playfulness” in the last sentence out of place. I just wouldn’t want some uptight Crabapple scoff, “Education is not playful…”. or something like that.

    Maybe “intellectual freedom and inquiry”?

    “intellectual freedom and speculatation”?

    I’m sure it’s fine and only a result of subconsciously thinking “there’s something wrong with paragraph three…find it!” Shouldn’t be a big deal either way, I don’t think.

  2. You have a lot of qualifiers (“in my experience” for instance) that indicate a weak position. If you took the qualifiers out you’d still have a viable sentence and sentences without qualifiers come across as stronger.

    I understand why you’re trying to point out that you like a challenge in para 3 but it sounds like the job of teaching adults is an uphill battle and will they please give you a chance to practice and get better.

    SOP for acting cover letters is to say, “I will call you (fill in time). I look forward to speaking with you.” or something like that so that follow up is built in. “I am eager to lend my talents to the (insert description here) environment at your school.” would be stronger as well. In terms of descriptions, “strong community”? I think you can find a better descriptor.

    Its good, its almost there, but I think your next draft will make you seem less tentative and that will serve you better.

  3. Sooza

    I agree with the above comments, and would recommend only one thing. In paragraph 3, I would end the second sentence at “bring to the learning environment”. It says what you want it to say, without giving the impression that you find high school kids PITAs. They can be, but there’s no need to go there.

    Good luck! I’m rooting for you.

  4. Karen

    Hi! I’ve been reading you blog for a little while. I think I found it from a link in another blog. This is a minor correction, but there should not be a comma after experience in the third paragraph (you only use a comma before and if you are connecting two complete sentences). As for the rest, I agree with the above commenters. One last suggestion is that maybe give some specific reasons why you would be an asset. For example, thing that you did at your current position that are above and beyond. Good luck.

  5. Laurie B

    Wow! Your readers are smart! No, wait, they are brilliant.

    I was just going to say that “playfulness” third paragraph.. brings more of “you” to the table. If I were doing the hiring, I’d be curious.

    Otherwise listen to your smart readers.

    Oh, and this Dick and Jane type font? It makes my bifocalized eyes really hurt. Downsize, please.

    My library has some great new books in large font but I can’t read them. My new glasses are set at 12 point for reading.

  6. I was going to recommend replacing “playfulness” with “adventure”

    The only part that struck me as out of tune was ” and I hope to find a strong and supportive environment at Small Local College.” I’d change “hope to find” to “look forward to joining”

  7. Mary

    Paragraph one is great.

    The second paragraph sounds a little negative towards younger folks, I wonder why you would go there to make a point. It seems like you might have a hard time dealing with difficult situations, or get frustrated easily.

  8. Sounds great; I will say, why state this if it is already assumed: ” find that the experience is enhanced by the fact that most disciplinary issues that can arise in the high school classroom are nonexistent in adult-level classes.” I think it opens you up to questions. I agree with Mary here.

    Why not focus on the intellectual aspects adult learners contribute….I say keep it positive; you will do well. I am excited for you. Good luck!!!

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