Thursday, January 26, 2017

Advice for an unsuccessful prospective student

This morning I received yet another desperate email from a student looking for placement (or a job).
He has been struggling for four years since matric to gain entrance to a university or to get a job.
I am dumbfounded by how bad his attempt was.  Do students get NO life skills advice at school?

Here follows his email (censored to protect innocent people involved) and my reply.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2017 22:43:51 +0200
Subject: Fwd: my file

to. whom it may concern

my name is Paul XXXXXX  and I would to be considered to study at cput for space in any faculty please resume my certificate.. i'm in desperate need for school

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 11:43:55 +0200
Subject: my file

please find attaches file of my certificate

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2016 19:08:10 +0200
Subject: My application for a job vacancy at webhelp sa

To whom it may concern

Please find here with attaced file of my resume for a job vacancy with webhelp SA

I would love if my application would be successful and expect a call or email from you soon..

Kind Regards

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2016 09:32:22 +0200
Subject: my cv...

Please here with attached file of my CV...


And my reply

Dear Paul

Thank you for your email requesting a place to study.  Unfortunately my Faculty cannot accommodate you at this stage and neither can we appoint you in a position.  However, since I sense your desperation and frustration, and since I care, may I offer you some "fatherly" advice - since my age allows it.

Always address an email seeking a position as a student or an employee to a specific person.  You know that I am Prof Cronje, so address me as such, and not as "to whom it may concern".  If you don’t show enough care to name the person you are addressing, then why should that person care to give you a position?

Always use appropriate capital letters.  You probably sent this email from your cell phone. That is no excuse for careless writing.  If your email is careless, how will the receiver know that the rest of your attitude is not also careless?

Use full stops after full sentences.  Once again - if you cannot even write a full sentence, how would I know you can write an essay?

If you apply to a university you need to apply to a specific course.  We cannot simply put you in any "space". We need to know what your interests and aptitudes are.  I suggest you visit a public library and use their public access computers to do a free online aptitude test to see what kind of area would suit you best. You can find one at this link:

Delete all previous emails in a chain. The receiver of a message should at least think that he or she is the only recipient.  Why would I want to give you a position if I can see that three other people would not?

Go back to night school and re-do Mathematics and Physical Sciences to obtain at least 50%. I know it is hard, but there are many NGOs out there who will help you get that result and with Maths and Science being such scarce skills even a 50% will be a way into a better life.

Learn to spell and to use the correct words:  "um" is not a word.  You mean "I'm", and you should write "I am".  Resume means "to start again" you mean "receive" or "review".

You can find some good advice about how to start seeking for a job here:

Finally, I include in this email Mr XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX an excellent doctoral student of mine.  If you need good advice about how to get to the top, contact him directly and if you are ever in Cape Town, buy him a coffee and talk to him about how to do it.

I wish you success in your future.

Best wishes