HOW TO WRITE A RATIONALE
These guidelines were created to help students who have difficulty understanding how to write a rationale. Some students who are creative writers often are successful deviating from the following format and are encouraged to do so as long as the basic ideas are included.
The rationale is typically 1- 1 ˝ pages (font size 10 or 12) double spaced. Papers
over 3 pages and under 1 page are usually unacceptable. Papers with misspelled words,
sentence fragments, and incorrect grammar will be returned to the student for
correction. Seek help from the Writing Center if necessary.
Start with a title: Your name
Section II: This portion of your rationale begins with a specific statement of your goals. It should build on the points in your introduction. For example, "I realized that I needed a college degree to advance with my present employer" might become "I would like to work toward a management position in the area of human resources." "After working with children in a daycare position, I realized that I want to make a difference in the lives of children in a meaningful way " may become " I would like to work in a mental health setting helping abused children." This statement of your goals helps the reader know whether your graduation plan is consistent with your goals and whether the disciplines that you have selected will be helpful. Statements such as "This is the fastest way to earn a degree" and "I can use all my previously earned credits" may be contributing factors, but do not constitute an adequate reason for earning your degree through AIS and are probably better left unsaid.
After you have clarified your goals, state your field of study title and your 3 or 4 disciplines. If you have an emphasis, it should be mentioned here. The purpose of this portion of the rationale is to explain to the reader how the field of study and disciplines relate to your goals.
Each subsequent paragraph should discuss the contribution of each discipline to your field of study and each discipline's relationship to the other disciplines in the field of study. In other words, your degree is interdisciplinary, is made up of three (or four) related disciplines, and you must show the reader how they will work together to build a successful field of study. Some students find it helpful to include specific course titles that have made a significant contribution to the students’ learning in a subject area. Be sure to describe how the courses are useful. Avoid giving a list of course titles. I would dedicate one paragraph to each discipline. This approach will emphasize the importance of a thorough discussion of each discipline. A mistake students often make is to write one or two vague sentences about a discipline, i.e. "psychology helps me understand human nature" or "sociology teaches us about group processes." These examples illustrate a lack of thought about how these disciplines are really useful to one's specific field of study.
Sometimes students have diverse interests that they try to incorporate into a field of study. This can only be done successfully if the student can establish a legitimate relationship to the disciplines as they relate to a specific goal. For example, a student may be interested in art as a hobby and may want to take art courses. In a addition, someone may want to take business courses to improve job skills in his or her present job. These can be disciplines in a field of study, not just because they are interests of the person, but because the person can relate them in a field of study. Having a goal of owning an art gallery where artistic ability and business skills might be required could successfully do this.
Section III: Your ending paragraph makes some concluding or summarizing statement. It may include a brief restatement of your short- term goals and can be an opportunity for you to state possible future goals. Sometimes students briefly express their excitement about embarking on a new career. Students sometimes mention a plan B should plan A not work out.