Application Essay

Purpose of Assignment

The third program learning outcome (PLO) for the Communication Studies major at San Francisco State is that its majors can apply course content to personal, professional, and community contexts. This essay allows you to explain what “application” means in the context of the Communication Studies major and how you applied specific course content within the major. 

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Write a 4.5 to 5 page essay (typed, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-pt font) in which you adhere to the following content guidelines. 

1. Your first paragraph should make clear that the ability to apply course content is developed within the Communication Studies major at SFSU, explain what “application” means, and explain that you have engaged in different types of application within the major (e.g., writing an essay in which you analyze communication, creating a performance, developing and delivering a speech, conducting a research study).

2. Your second paragraph should explain that the ways in which you have applied course content within Communication Studies relate to communication in your personal, professional, and community life.

3. Your third paragraph should explain why the ability and opportunity to apply course content is important.

4. The remainder of your essay (3-4 pages) should identify and explain how a specific assignment you completed for the major exemplifies application of course content. You should be specific regarding the focus of the assignment you completed, what course content it applied, and how you applied that content.

5. Be clear in your essay how the application you are describing relates to personal, professional, and/or community communication contexts.

6. Provide closure to your essay.

** See the sample Application essay within this iLearn Assignment Book.

** Choose a different assignment and class than the ones you used to illustrate theory and ethics.

** You can draw upon the Freire reading to help you explain why being an active learner and applying knowledge is important, but use your own words, explanations, and examples as much as possible. If you paraphrase the source, be sure to make clear who Freire is (e.g., “Paolo Freire, a well-known and respected education scholar, describes…”).


You can earn up to 20 points for this assignment, based on the degree to which you clearly address and fully develop the required parts of the essay, and based on the quality of your writing. This essay will become part of the central focus of your ePortfolio. You want to represent yourself well; therefore, the quality of your writing is especially important. Edit and proofread carefully!!! Be clear and accurate.

Helpful Hints

1) Think about the different forms of application in which you have engaged and paint a dynamic picture for your readers. You may have created a performance using principles of embodiment and performativity. You may have analyzed a text using a set of communication principles. You may have created an informative website based on research regarding a specific topic. A performance, an analytic paper, and a website are just a few examples of forms of application. Think about what you have done with the knowledge you developed in your classes!

2) Think about the different contexts to which application relates (i.e., personal, professional, and/or community/political contexts). In Interpersonal Communication, you may have used a conceptual framework to analyze communication climate in a specific relationship. In Social Semiotics, you may have used a theoretical framework to analyze public texts that attempt to influence consumers. Although you are applying course content to analyze communication in both cases, you are applying course content to a personal and/or professional context in one case and applying course content to a personal and/or community context in the other case. Be clear that the applications in which you have engaged relate to diverse contexts!

3) Be specific regarding the nature of your application (e.g., paper, speech, performance, creation of a website, etc.) as well as what knowledge it is you were applying. For example, you may have applied course content regarding specific forms of communication that contribute to communication climate in a paper analyzing communication in a relationship. You would explain the course content (i.e., forms of communication impacting climate) and how you applied it. Or, maybe you worked with a team to create a webpage re: a specific health condition. You were applying knowledge regarding the health condition as well as principles of effective mediated communication. Explain those principles and how you applied them.

sample essay:

Applying course content threads throughout the Communication Studies major at San Francisco State. Application means doing something with what you are learning. It is one thing to develop understandings of communication theories, concepts, principles, and practices, but it is another to be able to do something with those understandings. All of my Communication Studies courses required me to apply what I was learning in some way. Throughout the major, I wrote papers, developed speeches, created performances, and even facilitated a public dialogue and created a blog. All of these assignments enabled me to apply the knowledge I was developing.

            Within Communication Studies, applying course content relates to personal, professional, and political contexts. For example, in my Discourse and Interaction class, we studied how people manage positive face in interaction and how face can be threatened; this enables me to be more mindful of how communication with important people in my life impacts the positive self-images we want to maintain. In my Advanced Pubic Speaking class, I developed and delivered a speech regarding Alzheimer’s disease. My ability to apply principles of public speaking relates to professional communication contexts, as I may need to clearly present complex information in the workplace. My application of public speaking principles also relates to political communication contexts as I have the skills and confidence to advocate for policies relevant to my community.

            The ability to apply course content is significant. By applying course content throughout the Communication Studies major, I have been an active learner. I have been a leader, not just a follower. I did not just passively received information; I engaged ideas and helped contribute to my and my peers’ understandings. I have demonstrated that I am capable and have the power to analyze and influence the world around me. In Communication Studies, theories, concepts, principles, and practices are all actively applied, allowing me to enhance my personal, professional, and political communication skills.

            In my Communication Studies major, I had the opportunity to apply course content in a Family Story Speech for my Family Communication course. After learning about different types of family stories, the purpose of the assignment was to give a speech that retells a particular family story to the class and analyze how that story is applied to our present perspective on life. With this assignment, I applied my knowledge of family story types and their functions to determine how my communication experience with a family story has influenced my current values and personal standards.

            In Family Communication, we discussed Narrative Theory, which describes humans as innate storytellers. According to this communication theory, implied rules are often the product of stories. In family stories, the family is the subject and communicating with each other through these narratives contributes to the creation of wholeness, roles, and behaviors within the family, as well as expectations and overall family history. There are three types of stories that were focused on in Family Communication: courtship stories, birth stories, and survival stories. Courtship stories are the parents’ attempt at telling the child how to behave in a romantic relationship. This story is told differently depending on age. A birth story is the child’s origin story that almost always matches their present-day personality. Lastly, a survival story tells stories of tragedy and hardship that promote behaviors for survival. These are stories that are meant to advise family members about what to do when bad things happen.

            The Family Story speech assignment in Family Communication required that we tell one of the three types of family stories and describe how it became relatable through Narrative Theory. In an effort to apply course content, I used a family survival story that my father has told me throughout my whole life as the focus of my speech. With knowledge of what family stories are capable of doing alongside the purpose of survival stories, in general, I evaluated my experience with my father’s survival story in order to determine why I still find it to be relevant today. After telling the story, I argued that this family narrative regarding education and work in America has influenced my personal and professional outlooks on life.

            Communicating messages of hardship, my father’s survival story details the experiences he faced as a Filipino immigrant in the United States. His story is mainly focused on the struggles of finding work in his field because of the discrimination he encountered as a person of color in an area that lacked diversity. Being the foreigner in his workplace, my father says that many people looked at him as not capable of doing the job. At the same time, those he worked with did not want to take the time to teach him what he needed to know. Despite having begun his engineering degree and acquiring relevant work experience in the Philippines, he learned that his coworkers were not going to take him seriously until he could truly prove himself, so he was advised to complete his degree. 

            Adding to the hardship my father was experiencing, he now had a family to care for. When I was born, that is when he decided to finish his degree. Being a working dad and student, he grew more frustrated because of how the extra school work was getting in the way of the job he needed to support his family. Struggling to balance work, school, and family, my father’s story explains how he wanted to give up and even considered dropping out of college with only one semester left. With regard to survival, he eventually ended up finishing his degree with encouragement from my mother and finally gained the respect in the workplace he deserved.

            Relative to Narrative Theory, there are values that have been produced by my communication experience with this survival story. By applying Narrative Theory to this family story, I can relate the communicated messages to my personal and professional life. In my family’s culture, this story is relevant because it is usually told to emphasize the importance of education. While I heard this story as a child, I hear it more often as a college student. When I talk about my own college struggles, this is usually the story that follows as it is a successful survival story that is used as encouragement while serving its function to promote endurance and hard work. To explain why I am pursuing a degree, my father’s survival story is also applicable to my professional life. In response to this story, it has become part of my nature to complete my education in order to avoid the kind of experiences my father faced before accomplishing his goals. Although our experiences greatly differ, the survival story communicates its functions: valuing education as a pathway to success in my professional endeavors.

            Every class I took for my Communication Studies major was focused on a topic and meant we were developing knowledge about that subject. In every class, I was able to go beyond learning about something to doing something with what I was learning. I had opportunities to apply theories, concepts, research, and ethical standards for communication to personal, professional, and political communication contexts. I am confident in my ability to apply what I have learned in my major to my personal, professional, and political life.

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