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Statement of Purpose urgent review, please


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I need to submit my application by friday. I have been working and working on the SOP. Ive had one or two people look at it but it always seems to get more complicated. I beg someone to help me out. Give me some final tips, corrections so i can get this off my back until my next app in feb.

 

Thanks Yall

goalstatementgsu.docx

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18 minutes ago, confusedgradhopeful said:

I need to submit my application by friday. I have been working and working on the SOP. Ive had one or two people look at it but it always seems to get more complicated. I beg someone to help me out. Give me some final tips, corrections so i can get this off my back until my next app in feb.

 

Thanks Yall

goalstatementgsu.docx

The document does not open when I try to view it. Can u just copy n paste it?

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1. Why GSU?

2. What experiences have brought you to the field you are interested in?

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years in the field?

4. What knowledge/expertise/skills do you bring to the profession?

 

My interest in counseling grows out of my own experiences with emotional distress. I have suffered from anxiety and depression since childhood. The anxiety and depression have often made it difficult to even leave the house or engage with the world. It can be difficult sometimes to even go to the supermarket without the worry that something might happen to you or the feeling in the back of your mind that it isn’t even worth eating anymore. It is this constant struggle that has made realize how many people can suffer silently with their own mental struggle. We blame individuals for their lack of strength or their lack of resilience but forget that those who live with mental distress are some of the strongest people in our society. I have worked hard to learn how understanding someone before judging them trying to find a cause instead of just labeling someone. I find great satisfaction in knowing that I might be able to help someone when they are struggling instead of causing them more harm.

 

In 5 years I plan to have completed all of my counselor training and have started working in an NGO focused on helping those with few economic resources. I also plan to use my training to not only help the LGBT community but also to take my skills wherever I maybe needed. I especially hope to be able to work in South America with clients who feel left out or forgotten by the current medical system which often ignores people with mental distress. I plan to also use my experience and training to help guide public policy in the US and abroad.

 

I believe my own experience with mental health is something that strongly contributes to understanding of the counseling profession. My work with JustUs in Atlanta was based on peer counseling helping LGBT youth with their emotional issues and finding ways to advance activist causes. It was an environment I really enjoyed and it was a very productive way to help others find their emotional center while advancing our concerns for equality, healthcare and Trans* justice. I also worked in Ecuador in a similar function at the Ecuadorian Equality Foundation. I have found my work with people to be immensely satisfying. Additionally, I love researching and learning new skills. It brings me tremendous joy to see when someone finally get a new concept or when they have a realization about the nature of their own concerns.

Studying at GSU would provide me with a holistic view of the counseling profession based on academics and practical counseling skills. I had previously been enrolled in a master’s program at a different university with the hope that my work would positively influence society at large. Sadly, I found that I had taken a misstep as the university and the programs goals were not aligned to my interests. I had thought that a degree in communication studies especially would teach me how to work with students to understand their issues and use that knowledge to change lives. Unfortunately, the focus of the program was social justice at the academic level which is very limiting in my opinion. I want to take my knowledge to all levels of society regardless of education or economic means I know that GSU has proven itself to be a leader in working with the community and is regarded as a top university for its grass-roots work. GSU is known to be a competitive program with graduates that excel in the counseling profession. It would be a great honor to graduate from GSU and continue to spread its good name across the world.

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I have read that it is a huge red flag to admissions committees (kiss of death) to say that your interest in the field of psychology comes from your own psychological traumas. If you do choose to mention it be aware that it is a very tricky line to walk—mention it in passing but don't go into it in detail as you have here.  

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Something more like this: We blame mentally ill individuals for their lack of strength or their lack of resilience but forget that those who live with mental distress are some of the strongest people in our society. Through my [professional/scholarly/volunteer] work doing ____, _____, and _____ as well as my own personal mental health struggles I have learned to be less judgmental and more empathetic. My interest in counseling grows out of my desire to look for causes rather than labels and my belief that those who are struggling with mental disorders are often those with most to teach others. I find great satisfaction in knowing that I might be able to help someone when they are hurting and help them see their own strength and power. 

 

 

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Here are my suggestions:

1. Keep the tone positive throughout the statement. While there is nothing wrong with revealing you suffered hardships and that those hardships fuel your passion for studying/pursuing X, you are going into well into TMI (too much information) territory and not nearly enough (if anything) on how you overcame those struggles. In fact, since your first sentence starts with: "I have suffered from anxiety and depression since childhood," that strongly implies that you still struggle with those psychological issues. That's a red flag.

2. The flow/structure of your statement should be improved. From what I'm seeing, your first paragraph is your intro, then your second paragraph is about 5 years from now, and then your third paragraph discusses your experiences, and your fourth and concluding paragraph still meanders on about your MA degree. A more logical flow would be to go from intro -> your past experiences/motivations -> five years from now / why GSU. And even within the individual paragraphs, it feels like there are random sentences thrown in to augment the length of the statement. That's not a good thing.

3. Too many empty and vague sentences (and not enough of the opposite). For example, you spend four sentences in your final paragraph talking about how your enrollment in a different MA program was a mistake. You should be able to briefly acknowledge that much in one sentence; two at the absolute most. Meanwhile, your reasons for wanting to apply to GSU are very vague throughout and could fit the description of just about any program. At the very least you should have more specific things to mention, like naming professors.

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thanks everyone for the review. On my previous statement i had been much more brief about my own personal struggles which quite honestly i still struggle with. Someone on reddit had suggested to go more in depth about my own struggles. I always have a hard time with actual concrete examples, there just isnt anything very concrete i can talk about. I will follow everyones tips and try to post a new updated version later today. thanks

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New version here. 

1. Why GSU? 

2. What experiences have brought you to the field you are interested in? 

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years in the field? 

4. What knowledge/expertise/skills do you bring to the profession? 

 

Many times in my life I have found myself lost and confused, suffering alone with two unwelcome friends depression and anxiety. It is this personal experience and my volunteer work that have shown me that I am not alone and that far too many people struggle with their mental health in silence without anyone to turn to. Often times this silent struggle is outwardly seen as a lack of strength or a lack of resilience when in reality people are coping as best they can and showing great strength by the simple act of living. It is my goal to change this situation, to use my knowledge to help others and to give them a shoulder to lean on with no judgements or unnecessary labels. Knowing that I was able to help at least one person to better deal with their struggles and helped them find a better path in their lives would be my biggest reward.  

I believe my own experience with mental health and my volunteer work contribute greatly to my understanding and my abilites to work as a mental health counselor. My time at JustUs in Atlanta, a peer counseling organization with activist objectives, provided me with a great experience helping LGBT youth to find their way while also advancing our goals for a more just and inclusive society. The environment at JustUs was not only incredibly nurturing but also very productive many people left feeling better about themselves and with practical life skills to advance our struggle for healthcare, inclusion and Trans * justice. My other great experience was in Ecuador at the Ecuadorian Equality Foundation where people faced similar issues as in Atlanta but within a different social environment. I found that although society was different the struggles were similar and we could work together to achieve our goals of inclusion and equality within the wider Ecuadorian society. The experiences at JustUs and in Ecuador have shown me that our personal struggles can actually be used to help others and to create a more just society. I think I can use these experiences as a way to grow in a counseling program. 

In 5 years I plan to have completed all of my counselor training and have started working with NGOs focused on helping those with few economic resources. I also plan to use my training to not only help the LGBT community but also within society at large. I especially hope to be able to work in South America with clients who feel left out or forgotten by the current medical system which often ignores people with mental distress. I hope this work can be used to guide public policy in the States and aboard furthering attention to mental health issues.  

Studying at GSU would provide me with a holistic view of the counseling profession based on academics and practical counseling skills.I know that GSU has proven itself to be a leader in working with the community especially with the work done by Dr. Joseph Hill with his writing on merging theory and practice in counseling which speaks to me wanting to take my skills into the community and streets. In a previous master’s program at a different university I had hoped that my work would positively influence society at large. Sadly, I found that the programs focus was social justice in theory and in the academic with less in practical skills. My goal is to take my skills to the community meeting people wherever they may be in society regardless of education or economic class. Knowing all of these important factors it is no wonder GSU is a top rated and competitive program; a program which I hope to be a part of soon. 

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20 hours ago, PersonPeople said:

I have read that it is a huge red flag to admissions committees (kiss of death) to say that your interest in the field of psychology comes from your own psychological traumas. If you do choose to mention it be aware that it is a very tricky line to walk—mention it in passing but don't go into it in detail as you have here.  

I've heard this as well. In my careers for psych majors undergraduate class. It was mentioned multiple times when talking about grad school apps.

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Have you read this article I posted on your previous version of this statement yet? http://psychology.unl.edu/psichi/Graduate_School_Application_Kisses_of_Death.pdf 

As PersonPeople and queerpsych referenced, some of the things you are doing are well-known "kisses of death" for your field.*  Do you know what that idiom, "kiss of death," means? It means that "if you do this thing [that is a kiss of death], you choose to destroy your own chances of acceptance." Maybe, if you're lucky, the "kiss of death" only cuts your chances of acceptance in half. If you are unlucky, according to these people, choosing to include one of those kisses of death will lead to your automatic rejection.

Now, on my part, I don't like that these people say that talking about your own mental illness is a kiss of death. I don't think it's fair to require that people hide mental illnesses, nor does a close reading of that text suggest, in fact, that you canNOT disclose a mental illness. I think you can, briefly and with care, mention your personal connection to the subject, and I think that's probably not what that article is objecting to.

What you must not do, however, is LEAD WITH THAT. There is no graduate school that works as therapy FOR YOU. What you do, instead, is (in counseling) receive the training to provide this service for OTHERS or (in psychology) to do research about a subject of intellectual inquiry. So mentioning your own work on your mind at the beginning of your essay comes across as self-centered, in the very literal sense—this essay is being framed about you, not about the counseling you want the training to provide or the research you want the training to do. So while I as a human being think that it's totally fair to discuss a personal connection with mental illness as part of your motivation in the middle of your essay, that information should NOT be the subject of your FIRST SENTENCE.

*I can't tell whether you're applying to a counseling program or a psychology program. In your last essay, you mentioned a psychology PhD, like the article writes about, and which I have synthesized here. This essay sounds more counseling-focused, without research. I should guess that counseling is not SO strict on the "don't mention that you've ever personally, rather than professionally, encountered mental illness" than a psychology research PhD, but I'm guessing that "do NOT bring up a personal mental illness in your FIRST SENTENCE" is still the right advice.

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I'm definitely not condemning you for having personal experience with mental illness or feeling comfortable bringing it up in your essay. I hope that's not how it came across.

I was just told that, like knp said, you don't want it to seem like you're getting into the program to learn about yourself. And it can seem as if "you're interested in this now because it's directly affecting your life right now but what about 15 years down the line when it's possibly not so relevant?" (I'm not meaning to imply mental illness always gets better with time, I'm aware it doesn't. Just setting up a hypothetical). 

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Oh yes! I didn't mean to be negative or to imply that anyone else was, if perhaps the caps and italics etc. suggested that. I just get shouty, on the internet, when I feel like I am repeating myself. OP's experience sounds great and like a very interesting background that will hopefully one day make them an awesome counselor! I just strongly disagree with that one framing decision—mentioning your own mental illness in your very first sentence—for the reasons queerpsych and the linked article mention. I could suggest a prose edit—have you tried reading it out loud to see if all the sentences sound natural? I am always recommending that to everybody, since it works well for me—but otherwise no particular suggestions. 

Anyway: while I think some of the "kiss of death" talk as it exists in the article (rather than in this thread, I should have clarified!) is pretty hot garbage, given that the imperative to pretend to be neurotypical is 1) flaming terribleness and 2) bad for mental health, it's still one of those topics that you should present carefully. Some ways of discussing it will come across much better than others.

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Man I wish I had the link handy, but I read some advise that stated to AVOID mental health disclosures in an SOP simply because your job will be researched, not to get counseled. They want someone who is mentally fit, not just pursuing because they've had issues. I would revise that first paragraph.

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