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That Moment When You Realize...

A Cup of Tea

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Working anxiously on my applications, I thought I would begin my blog with a mistake I made in my past applications. It's been on my mind for a day now so I thought it'd be better for me to talk about it rather than just suppressing my anxiety.

So far I have sent 4 (due 12/1) and are currently working on another 8 or 9 (due 12/15 and 1/1). 

For a little background information on me, I am a History major that would like to pursue Psychology for a PhD. Many are confused by my decision to make such changes but my passion took a sharp turn in my last year of undergrad years (maybe this will be explained in another post). So as most of you can imagine, I have many doubts and even more worries about applying to a department that is so different than my original major. However, I took the leap and believed in myself to do the best I can. Because ultimately, if you don't believe in yourself, who will? 

So I made a commitment to push through these applications. I studied everyday for the GRE for couple of months to better my score (even though though I did not receive the score I wanted. But I must accept it now.) and made about 20 changes to my personal statement for each school. I had my friends proofread and edit them as well just to get a perspective on fresh eyes. Trust me, after reading the same thing over and over again, I think I was going crazy. Additionally, I quadruple checked each application to ensure that each school received the correct personal statement and information. Honestly, I think I have a problem at this point. Please feel free to tell me I am not alone in this anxiety-filled realm.

Anyhow, after I submitted four of the applications that were due 12/1, I took a couple of days off applying to schools to recalibrate my perspective and emotions. However, the troublesome person that I am, I researched even more about how to apply to graduate programs and how to make better essays. Then I ran into a problem. Reading these blogs and journals from third party graduate students who got accepted to their dream schools, I realized that I did not go into details of the research I wanted to do. 

Of course I explained the gist of it and clarified my passion for the topic to the best of my abilities. However, I realized that I did not go into minute details like many students suggested because there were other questions each application asked of me. Maybe I got too clouded on justifying why I wanted this PhD despite the fact that my background is history and not psychology. 

I will never know if this mistake will be the result of my future rejection (or acceptance). However, I'll learn from this lesson and do better on my applications that are due in less than two weeks. 

Did the rest of you go into meticulous details about your research interest on the personal statement or simply explain it and move onto other things? I'm curious! It might not be a mistake after all if schools indeed wanted an even mixture of narratives in the personal statement. 

Thanks for reading my rambling. I've been stressed out about this and the applications coming up, as I'm sure most of you are going through the same struggles. 

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The applications I completed asked for a 1-2 page Statement of Purpose, which is painfully short in my opinion. In my first round of applications (2 years ago), I think I was too vague about my research interests and future; the truth was that I was interested in MANY things, but in the end it came across sounding unfocused and a little desperate.


This year I put much more emphasis on what I wanted to do and why, and I think my SoP came out much better because of it. Since the page limit was rather small, I didn't go into meticulous detail; however, I did basically say: "I am very interested in Dr. X's research on ___ and ___, which overlaps with my interest in ___. If given the opportunity, I would love to do a research study the effect of ___ within this population. This study would build off Dr. X's research, such as her articles "ARTICLE 1" and "ARTICLE 2" which discussed ___. I believe my interests and passion for ___ would complement her research in this area..." 


Hopefully it turns out to be what they're looking for :x

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm applying to Counseling/Clincial Psych programs. I provided both an overview of research topics, and specific articles I want to expound on. I did not drone on and on about my research, but I did explain what I wanted to research with detail. I modeled my SOP after a great example I read. 2 pages, direct and to the point. I don't think you need to give every single detail of your research interests in Psych, partly due to the fact that flexibility is key. You may (definitely?) end up working on research different than what is in your SOP.

Since I am an application virgin I decided to read countless examples. I would guess that the admission panel will appreciate brevity. 

And if it makes you feel any better, I almost finished an application for a school when I was made aware that I lacked the prerequisites. I had to finish anyway(already paid the money,) but lesson learned.

Edited by barrettnumber5
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I gave general ideas of what I was interested in for research in my intro paragraph, and tried to tie my past work/research experience into what I was interested in. I didn't want to go too narrow in the SOP because then I might look like no PI would be a good fit for me, even if my interests match very closely with my own interests. My situation is a little different since my past experience generally had to do with what I want to do a PhD in. So, in my intro paragraph, I had a sentence like "I am very interested in (A), with especially high interest in (B) and (C)" where (B) and (C) are somewhat narrower subsets of the broad category (A). That is as much I chose to speak on saying exactly what I wanted to do, and mostly let the rest of my SOP tie into that sentence. Somewhere in the essay I also stated the professors I am interested in working with, tieing them again into the broad interest statement.

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