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Help me pick which intro to use!


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Intro #1 is my original intro but my friend (who is finishing up his phd) says the story isn't pertinent. I'm kinda attached to it but if it doesn't strengthen my sop then I will definitely trash it. Instead of what I have he suggested that I write about why I'm interested in journalism. So I jotted a few sentences down to help me decide whether or not to change intros.

INTRO #1:

During my first year out of college, I worked in a physical therapy clinic. I became friends with a patient who had seizures regularly; he shared his life story and regrets. I received heartwarming and philosophical advice from him and other patients who made me rethink my life journey to date. Going forward I have decided to treasure those who are close to me and to pursue my passions of writing and journalism.

INTRO #2

My dream is to become a journalist because it gives me a voice, the ability to connect and enlighten readers. This field is appealing to me because there are many different areas to work within journalism: Print, broadcast, new media. I am interested in editorial writing and desire to learn more about new media.

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Intro #2

In intro #2 you provide more about your motivation to pursue your field of study than I did in my entire SoP (which is fine).

On the other hand, I have no idea how Intro #1 is even related to graduate school.

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Is it possible to start out really strong and clear, like "I aim to pursue an academic career in X with a research focus in Y. My education and research experience, which includes A and B solidified my interest in these areas of X and prepared me for graduate school. The research-intensive environment of University of S is an ideal place to build on my strong research background and become a valuable contributor to the graduate program and the field as a whole." And then maybe incorporate the specifics of how you made your career choice in the beginning of your second paragraph. Not sure if you're applying to research-intensive programs, but you get the idea.

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Thanks for the opinions so far!

@psychgurl, I have decided to add the 1st sentence you suggested to my intro #2 incase I choose it. I liked that idea. The other things you mentioned are also good ideas but I state those things further into my sop.

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I think there's something to be said about a more personal introduction...if it's very relevant. I know someone who started her statement out by sharing her experience about working at a nursing home and noticing that minor environmental changes produced big changes in behavior in the folks who lived there. What made this such a strong introduction is that it was personal, yes, but she went onto a program to study geriatric psychology. It was a great way to 1.) state how she came to that career choice; 2.) state the research interest; and 3.) stand out as interesting. If you can figure out a way to do that, I'd say go for it. I personally could not do that, though, so I took a more direct approach.

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I would prefer Intro 1 if it were more directly related to your desire to study journalism. The way it is right now, all it tells me is that you had a touching experience that convinced you to follow your passion -- which could be anything. Maybe you could hone intro 2 a bit more and then see how you like a more direct approach.

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Intro #2.

Actually, only the last sentence of intro #2, since the beginning feels a bit cliche.

Imagine a professor on an adcom that is meeting to choose the top X candidates to be admitted to some program. She read through 20X applications in a short time - she might have skimmed the apps in preparation for the meeting the night before, giving them rough scores based on first impressions. The process will continue at the meeting, where everyone compares notes on who they liked. Intro #1 had the prof waste time searching for something relevant that she can learn from the SOP. She is tired and cranky, has 10X more applications to read after yours, and you're making her work to find your interests, background and fit explanations. Of the 10X apps she's already read, 7X opened with funny anecdotes, childhood stories or cliches.

This is a very realistic description of how these things happen. Do you think the anecdotes are appreciated more than a straight to the point "this is who I am, this is what I do, this is why I should do it at your school"?

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Personal preference, I would not use the word "dream". I am of the straightforward school, and think that you should be very careful and remind yourself of that cranky adcom member that fuzzylogician wrote about.

In my first draft of my SoP, I actually had a pertinent story that connected to why I'm interested in my field. I ended up trashing it because it didn't show why I wanted to spend another 7 years getting a PhD in my field.

Good luck!

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Personal preference, I would not use the word "dream". I am of the straightforward school, and think that you should be very careful and remind yourself of that cranky adcom member that fuzzylogician wrote about.

In my first draft of my SoP, I actually had a pertinent story that connected to why I'm interested in my field. I ended up trashing it because it didn't show why I wanted to spend another 7 years getting a PhD in my field.

Good luck!

I agree. To the OP: consider using "goal" instead of "dream." Goals are much more obtainable. And I've never heard anybody say that grad school made their dreams come true (I hope this isn't your expectation).

Edited by R Deckard
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I agree. To the OP: consider using "goal" instead of "dream." Goals are much more obtainable. And I've never heard anybody say that grad school made their dreams come true (I hope this isn't your expectation).

Haha. Very good point! I already sent one of my SOP but in the next one I will alter that sentence. It sucks it's too late for one school but at least I get the chance to change it for the other 3 I have left.

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