我的學經歷普通，三圍是 GPA 3.2 ; TOEFL 接近90 ; GRE 300
很多學生都有一樣的疑惑，每一年有這麼多的申請者，你有發過 paper 別人也有，甚至發的比你還更多篇，你有去做過社區服務，別人也有，而且人家還遠赴未開發國家去當志工……admissions committee 從哪裡區分你到底有沒有比其他人好？
依據我過去成功輔導學生申請上國外大學的經驗，摒除英文學術寫作程度、學術背景，申請者的成就不說，能讓你與其他的申請者條件一見高下的，取決你整篇文章的 tone of voice。
什麼是 Tone of voice?
Tone of voice is how your characters come through in your words, both written and spoken. It’s not about what you say, but rather the way that you say it, and the impression it makes on everyone who reads or hears you.
除了遵循sop, ps, cover letter正規寫作原則之外，如果想要讓admissions committee與你有更深的連結，在文章裡就必須要賦予自己一個獨特的voice。
It’s not about what you say, but rather the way that you say it!
在招生委員會看到你文章的第一刻，就已經開始從你的文字猜測並在心裡塑造出你是怎樣的人。而留學申請這類的寫作 (尤其是 personal statement)，不能只是光傳達這位申請人的學經歷，還必須塑造出自己的形象，讓人想與你一起共事。
＂I had a part-time job in the chemistry lab ……..”
這句話讀起來文法一百分，但是 tone of voice 零分。
外國人是很會 ” read between the lines” 的，把句子拆開來看，你透露出來的訊息是這樣的 :
had – 過去式，所以那是以前，現在已經沒去囉？
part-time – “part-time” ? 玩票性質的而已？
job – 有薪資的工作。所以是因為有錢拿才去實驗室的？如果沒有薪水的話，你會願意去嗎? 再來，你是去打雜的而已還是真的有參與到實驗？（在美國很多實驗室都有付錢請人來工作，但是多數都不是參與實驗，而是去當打雜工洗試管、洗燒杯的而已。談不上培養任何研究能力)
這就是 tone of voice.
你的申請文件，尤其是 personal statement，有沒有亮點，能不能被教授看中，與你的表達方式 tone of voice 息息相關。
寫作如此，演講也是一樣，我們來看看下面這個 Ted talk。
美國小姐候選人康納（Tara Conner）來自一個小鎮，在2006年川普 (Donald Trump)舉辦的選美比賽中成功獲得當年美國小姐頭銜。Tara很可能成為一位職業模特兒甚至代表美國奪得世界小姐冠軍，這個事情本來就可以這樣以一個人生勝利者的姿態圓滿結束了。
但 Tara 成功的在Ted talk 裡面，使用了 tone of voice 的技巧。
她運用了的 humorous 詼諧、empathy 同理 與 Approachable 平易近人的三個元素打動了很多聽眾。
我們看看Tara 的句子 :
“My life was the perfect storm for addiction to manifest…….”
Example 2 :
“I wasn’t a bad person, trying to act good; I was a sick person that needed to get well. And that was the fire that started my journey to advocacy….”
If you would have told me, back in 2006, that my boss would become the President of the United States, I probably would have told you, you were crazy.
(第一段先帶出一個吸引人的 hook，把美國總統 Donald Trump 扯進來當亮點…)
Most people came to know me in 2006 when I won “Miss USA,” and even more people got to know me later that year when I tested positive for cocaine. But what they didn’t know was that I had been silently suffering from a nasty addiction from the age of 14. And I want to share with you a bit about my journey with addiction.
(開始破題點出她要講的主題 my journey with addiction)
My life was the perfect storm for addiction to manifest. I survived incest at three, my parents had a rocky relationship, and alcoholism and mental health issues were very present in my family.
I grew up in a really small town in Kentucky with a church on every corner, like the type of town where you could throw a Bible, and probably hit a pastor on the head. And what was impressed upon me was that if I drank, smoked, or had premarital sex, I was going straight to hell. And I remember thinking how unfair that seemed, because my uncle didn’t give me a choice in the matter.
So, fast forward to 14, my parents are going through a nasty divorce, my papa, my protector, and the only person that ever showed me unconditional love, dies. And the pain and loneliness that I experienced were truly unbearable. So, when I am on a cheer leading trip — it’s an away trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee — and the juniors and seniors score a gallon of vodka from some nearby college boys, I was elated when they offered me some because I desperately needed to feel a part of something.
So, I mixed my first drink. And it was 75% vodka, 25% orange juice, and I chugged it like I’d seen my family do. And then I went back to the counter and I mixed 75% vodka, 25% orange juice, and I chugged that because I wanted to seem like, “I’ve done this before.” Right?
My next memory is of me coming too, making a deposit to the porcelain gods, and I’m in the middle of this room and the room looked like this: There were two girls fighting in the corner, some sexual acts going on on the bed, and there was this poor girl in the bathroom and she was crying, and she was cutting herself, and I was just like, “Woah! I have found my people.” Because the chaos in that room looked just like the chaos in my mind.
Until the next day when I woke up with the worst hangover of my life, and I was sweating vodka from my pores. And I was a little nugget that they would throw up in the air that would do back-flips, and I was terrified that I was going to Exorcism-style spew all over the audience. And my cheer leading coach was the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, so God was there. And I was so afraid that I was going to get caught so I prayed to this God, that I truly believed wanted nothing to do with me, and I said, “Hey big guy. If you can get me out of this one, I swear, I will never do it again.”
And I meant it. I made a firm resolution that day to never touch another drop of alcohol. And by the end of that year. I was hooked on morphine.
See, I didn’t know that by me having my first drink at 14 was making me close to 40% more likely to become dependent. I didn’t know that my brain was going through rapid development, so when my parents would look at me and say, “What were you thinking?”
My brain wasn’t fully developed yet. Right? And they would bring officers into our school and try to scare us straight, with eggs on frying pans, and that wasn’t scary. That looked like a good time to me. The average age that kids are drinking these days is 11. They’re playing Russian Roulette with their lives and they don’t even know it. And there’s no effective government-funded prevention program nationwide.
So, now I want to paint a picture for you. If an old man is strung out on heroin, living on Skid Row, people assume that he made that choice. When Charlie Sheen is cracked out of his mind, “There goes an entitled celebrity!” Right? When Miss USA fails a drug test for cocaine, what a bad role model she is, right? But when a 14 year old dies of an overdose? Now, that’s a tragedy.
So, now I want to talk about how we stigmatize this disease. When I failed a drug test for cocaine and Donald Trump chucked me into rehab, I faced the stigma head on. And people were calling me, “Disgraced Miss USA.” TMZ coined “Mess USA” which is very witty, and I’m going to use that as the title of my first book. Thank you.
Side note: It is also my gamer tag for Call of Duty for all the gamers in the room. And when I left treatment, I had to do a media tour because that’s normal, and I had this man ask me, “Do you think you tarnish the crown?” And all I could see was that 14-year-old version of myself, who was molested by her uncle, whose parents were divorcing, who just lost the only example that she has of love, who sought refuge in drugs and alcohol, have a muzzle put on her mouth, because she just saw Miss USA be shamed on national television for being sick.
I wasn’t a bad person, trying to act good; I was a sick person that needed to get well. And that was the fire that started my journey to advocacy. I knew that there were so many people out there that were suffering just like me. And I suffered for most of my life because I had no idea what it was that I was suffering from. I was so excited to get out there and share my experience with what I had learned in treatment, because I really felt like I’d found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Right?
( 從下面這裡開始轉換進入正式的議題 : Addiction 的數據及嚴重性)
Addiction is one of the top healthcare issues in this country, and it kills more people than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. There’s an airplane full of people dropping from the sky every single day, and it’s the most under-funded healthcare issue. People are being incarcerated for being sick; 80% of inmates suffer from substance use disorders, and almost half of them have been locked up for drug-related offences. They don’t need to be held captive; they need long-term recovery.
In schools, where our children spend the majority of their time, there’s no government-funded effective prevention program out there. And addiction starts in adolescence. Science tells us that prevention and treatment work. It’s estimated that substance use costs our society around $442 billion a year. If more people had access to treatment, and if there were better prevention programs, mandatory, that were in place, we could take a chunk out of our national debt. We don’t need to lock people up or build a wall; the drugs are already here. I found mine in my parents’ medicine cabinets.
In November of last year, the US Surgeon General made an unprecedented report on drugs, alcohol, and health. And he issued a new call to action. There are currently 20 million Americans that are struggling with addiction, far more than those diagnosed with cancer, and only 10% of them will receive treatment.
We all have just sensationalized the problem. I’ve been guilty of it, right? But rarely do we hear that Miss USA just celebrated ten years of sobriety.
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy said that how we respond to the addiction crisis is a moral test for America. There are over 20 million people in long-term recovery. That’s a lot. I mean, I will share my dirty laundry, to whoever will listen. But I challenge those who are in long-term recovery and all of the families whose lives have been recreated because of recovery to join together and recover out loud. Then maybe, we can take the shame away from those who are in the shadows, and encourage them to step into the light. I know I will.
(最後的結尾句, 用了類似 punch line 的比喻法 ….. shadows -> light…..強烈的對比 )
It’s not about what you say, but how you say it. 這就是 Tone of voice 厲害的地方 !
另一篇，Tone of Writing 的延伸閱讀 :
Essaycrafter英文諮詢工作室的創辦人Evon 大學主修理工，後續取得了生醫相關博士學位，也同時取得公衛的碩士 (MPH)。在期間發表了多篇的學術論文，共同著作一本英文百科全書其一章節，受邀擔任國際會議的演講者及數份科學期刊的 Reviewer，修過經濟學以及財經管理、統計課程。至今累積了超過十年在大學以英文授課與在外國企業工作的經驗。多年來已成功地輔導許多研究生及外商求職者量身打造具有說服力的申請文件並克服英文面試關卡，錄取心目中理想的企業或學校。 <<留學求職申請成功經驗分享>>