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Categorizing a competent social policy student - Analysis of motivation letters to Comparative Social Policy and Welfare programme



People face different transitions during their life. One particularly significant transition that young people face during their life is when they are applying to education. The thesis investigates how young people reflect transitions and life-course in their motivation letters at the moment they are applying to a university. The thesis examines how applicants are categorizing a competent social policy student, how they are representing it in their motivation letters, what kind of an image they create in their motivation letters, and how do they take up a position in that model they have created. This research is a case study. It is based on a data collected from 16 motivation letters from 2008 and 2010 from young applicants applying for the Comparative Social Policy and Welfare – programme, both to the University of Tampere and Johannes Kepler Universität.  Categorical analysis is the method for the analysis. The main findings were that applicants categorize a competent social policy student to be someone who has social ideas and ideals. In addition, a competent student is someone whose personal trajectories, such as life course or individual choices, will affect the competent social policy student.  Furthermore, they are creating an image of a competent social policy student, who has good language skills and a lot of international experience. In addition, they are creating an image of an active student.  Finally, they create an image of a competent student who is interested about other cultures and societies. Motivation letters are one way to test the motivation of a student to study in a certain programme. Although, as the competition between students is brutal and they might exaggerate themselves in their letters. In addition, after getting accepted to the programme, they might realize how expensive it is to study abroad and decide not to take the position.  Furthermore, the motivation letter only tests the motivation while applying, as when the studies start the motivation might be something very different. Keywords: Life course, transition, individualism, competent student, imag

Topics: Sosiaalipolitiikka - Social Policy
Year: 2013
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