Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I'm applying to counseling psychology PhD programs, MSW programs, MPH programs, and one combo MSW/PhD program. I'm interested in a lot of the things I do research on because of personal experiences but I'm not sure how much is too much to disclose in a SOP. Last year, I explicitly disclosed my disability and asked someone that sits on the adcomm for one of the programs I was applying to if he thought it hurt my app but he said it probably didn't (he's also very blunt and I don't think he'd lie even though we work together). He did say that my age WAS a big turnoff for a lot of people (I'm only 22, was 21 at time of last app). When I was in HS, I was told constantly by school administrators that I'd never graduate high school because of my disability and that I'd never get into college, but I'm a really stubborn person and once I set my mind to something, I don't stop until it's done. I graduated college with a 3.986 GPA and was on Dean's List at the summa cum laude level every semester I was enrolled; and I've been dead set on getting a PhD since my first semester of undergrad. I'm not super concerned about my chances of getting into just regular MSW programs because my grades are good and the places I'm applying to are my "safety" schools. But, with the other programs, I'm a little worried about how to craft an SOP. 

Right now, I work in two labs: one deals with mentoring relationships for adolescents and positive youth development, and the other focuses on LGBTQIA+ issues, typically surrounding mental and physical health with a focus on HIV risk/prevention. As an adolescent, I developed a disability that went untreated for a long time and my experiences within the medical community and my school system weren't exactly the greatest, which is what spurred my interest in health psychology and adolescence as a specific age group to focus on (chronic absenteeism is also why I'm terrible at math-- I had to teach myself!). I'm also bisexual and apparently have a very trustworthy air because everyone else that was closeted in my high school would come to me for advice about dealing with their identity, their parents, and what to do about safe sex (thanks public school for the lack of safe, same-sex sex ed!). A lot of them were suicidal which is what made me want to pursue counseling with a focus on LGBTQIA+ youth -- when I was a senior in high school, I just wanted to just go for a master's in counseling after undergrad. But, after enrolling in research methods I knew that I wanted to go for a PhD and do research as well. I was offered a job in a research lab during undergrad because I kept getting 100s on all of my exams in that professor's class, which is where I found my passion for research and studying youth mentoring, especially within niche hobbyist communities (because those were some of the only places where I felt accepted as an adolescent & still have a big impact on my life today). So through that experience, I learned that research is something that I want to continue to pursue because I can have a broader impact on people, and after doing a clinical internship, I'm still confident that counseling is something that I want to do because I like to help individuals directly. 

I know framing things this way is probably WAY too ancecdote-y for a lot of adcomms but I also want to be able to convey why I'm especially passionate and determined to pursue studying these topics... 

Edited by fancyduckie
hit submit too soon!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can disclose whatever you want to in a SOP. It is all about how you frame it. A great SOP should flow fluidly and shouldn't make any excuses for the past. It seems here that your interest came from your personal experiences and this can be addressed only in the opening paragraph. Once you do this, the rest of your SOP should discuss your research past/interest, why this particular program and then finally your plan for the future and how this program will help you achieve them. We can help. - www.selectiveadmissions.com  - selectiveadmissions.com 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the rule is to disclose only what is relevant to your future professional/academic plans, and to your intended project. People coming to you for advice - definitely relevant. You being bisexual - not sure (is you being bisexual connected with you having trustworthy air?.. it helped people open up, sure, but it wasn't a defining thing, right?).

I also wouldn't start with talking about this in SoP. In Personal Statement - maybe. See the difference here. Some schools (like UMich) ask for two separate essays.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi day_manderly, I really appreciate the input. My thinking with potentially disclosing my sexual orientation or at least hinting at it more vaguely (something along the lines of "giving back to the LGBTQ community") is that sometimes people find it easier to talk to people who share experiences with them (the appropriateness of doing so is often hotly debated, I know) and having an insider's perspective can sometimes be helpful when doing research, especially with qualitative stuff. A bunch of my schools have a weird combo SOP/Personal Statement, and some have vague instructions on the statement of purpose with the prompts asking why you're interested in x area of research. 

Edited by academicbirb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.