I appreciate everyone's advice. I apologize for requesting so much help on my SOP, and recognize that I have used a lot of space in the forum for my own personal needs. I hope that this editing process can benefit another graduate school hopeful, typing aimlessly on his or her computer to create the essay that will wow admission committees. The suggestions everyone offered have been immensely helpful. It can be difficult to see so much criticism of my work, but I believe that it has helped me create a stronger essay. For my most recent draft, I reworked my introduction and tried to better market myself, writing more of my past research experience. I hope that this is the last draft that I will need to post before making my final alterations. I am concerned that I write too much about the topic of my senior thesis to the point of distracting from the skills I learned. I would appreciate any feedback, and hope that I am one step closer to a strong final product.
I am beckoned to the study of criminology and deviance. Who are the boys and girls titled deviants and delinquents, and what impact do school intervention programs have on their lives? There is no shortage of schools for deviant and delinquent youth, each which tout a particular philosophy of “treatment.” As a graduate student at Ohio State University, I would direct my interest in deviance and criminology to the study of such “prevention” and “rehabilitation” school programs.
School programs follow a variety of intervention models, each rooted in assumptions about deviancy. As a graduate student, I would research school intervention programs, identify the assumptions they use to determine “treatment” plans, and evaluate the effectiveness of these programs in addressing juvenile delinquency. Such research not only has practical implications for school and communities, but also has the potential to add to sociological theory. I believe that schools’ assumptions of deviancy will likely mimic contemporary social theories of crime. If such correlation were present, a school’s success rate would potentially indicate the effectiveness of a social theory to explain juvenile delinquency.
To undertake such research, I would select a sample of schools that self identify as addressing juvenile and adolescent delinquency. I would conduct a qualitative examination of school websites, program literature, and informal interviews to determine school philosophies on deviance. I would also engage in quantitative analysis from school and state records to evaluate program effectiveness, as measured by a set of parameters such as student recidivism rates. This data could then be examined to better understand the distinct approaches that education-based prevention programs use, their effectiveness, and the ability of contemporary social theory to explain juvenile and adolescent delinquency.
Although this is a large task, I know that I have the qualities needed to be a successful graduate student and skilled researcher. As a junior at The College of XXX, I demonstrated my quantitative knowledge skills as the teaching apprentice for an upper-level social statistics course. I was responsible for grading and correcting homework, holding weekly office hours, and providing general classroom support. I frequently met with students outside of my office hours to review the uses of SPSS, explain the difference between t-tests and ANOVA test, model hypothesis testing, and review how to calculate confidence intervals. Come exam time, I offered additional study sessions to interested students to assist with creating study guides, completing final projects, and answering general test questions.
In my senior year, I undertook a year-long independent research project culminating in a 100+ page thesis titled Examining the Cultural Transmission of Chinese Mythical Beings: A Lesson in Hermeneutics. To understand the ways in which Chinese mythical beings were transferred across cultures and languages for Western audiences, I worked closely with two advisors who guided me through the independent research process in tasks such as conducting literature reviews, submitting a research proposal to the Human Subjects Board, and determining proper sampling and interviewing techniques. I conducted a content analysis of numerous Chinese myths to examine the terminology used to identify and describe the mythical beings. To create a visual snapshot of my findings, I designed a taxonomy to compare Western and Chinese creatures. Additionally, I applied for and was granted university funding to allow for traveling to New York City’s Chinatown, where I interview 10+ Chinese and Chinese-Americans regarding their knowledge of Chinese mythical beings. Following my trip, I transcribed each interview and analyzed the data for common themes. I then turned to social theorists such as Hans-Georg Gadamer, for his theory of hermeneutics, and Max Weber, for his concept of Verstehen, to explain the trends I observed regarding the transmission of Chinese mythical beings across languages and cultures. After completing my analysis and submitting my written thesis, I then successfully defending my research to a panel of three sociology professors. Following the completion of this paper and its defense, I presented my research at a campus forum, explaining my findings to students, professors, and local residents. My work in the sociology department earned me membership to Alpha Kappa Delta in my senior year.
The department of sociology at Ohio State University is uniquely equipped to help me reach my academic and professional goals. OSU’s department of sociology places a strong focus on deviance and criminology while other schools gloss over this sociological subset. Access to the Criminal Justice Research Center allows for high-quality research in the field as a graduate student, and professors such as Douglas Downey, Dana Haynie, and Christopher Browning ensure professional mentors with interests intersecting my own. Additionally, I am eager to utilize the resources offered by the Sociology Teaching Resource Center, which I trust will help me develop the skills necessary to become an efficient teacher of sociology.
I believe that Ohio State University will help me to become a true student of sociology— a field researcher, a statistician, a social theorist, a writer, and a thinker. In turn, I promise to bring integrity, energy, and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I will stay late after class to discuss questions that had been brewing in my head throughout the day’s lecture and discussion. I will bond with my cohort while debating the merits of using the works of European social theorists to explain non-European social phenomena. I will utilize all the resources available and look to be a resource to others. I am ready to be the type of student that I hope to one day foster as a teacher.