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Major: International Business
Status: Light Keeper

A person with strange ideas in my head and strange feelings in my heart...

Application process: statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, transcripts.
Andy Neo

Statement of Interest/Autobiographical Statement/Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement/Letter of Intent/Personal Narrative
Most applications ask for a statement of interest. This is sometimes called an "autobiographical statement." The request for an autobiographical statement is often misunderstood by student applicants. Students who take the request literally harm their application by appearing to be unsophisticated and naive. It is sadly not uncommon to see such statement begin with "I was born in a small town in the midwest...." This document is your chance to talk directly to the admissions committee. To make yourself stand out from among a multitude of similarly qualified candidates. To convince the committee that you have the spark, the thirst for knowledge that could add value to your class.
Many students (particularly foreign students) think that the statement of purpose is about character or that the statement of purpose should be an autobiographical sketch.
What is being requested is:
1) a statement of your interests in the subject and how you came to have those interests
2) what your goals and ambitions in this field are
3) how the program to which you are applying can help you to achieve those goals.
Who will read this statement? It will be read by academic psychologists who have dedicated their career to scholarly endeavours. Scholars rightly distrust too much personal motivation entering into science because it can lead to a distortion of the scientific process. They are looking for the kind of motivation they themselves either have or wish they would have--an intrinsic and serious interest in the substance of the issues dealt with. Try to share experiences that reflect on that part of your reasons for seeking graduate level training. If you cannot find such reasons, perhaps now is a good time to think about whether a career in science is for you.
As for your goals and ambitions, you should try to be as specific as possible. When candidates are asked: why do you want to go to graduate school or what are you interested in doing in this program? A common reply is "I just want to learn--I'm open minded--I want to study a bit of everything--and then I'll decide on my career." This can be taken to mean that you don't know why you want to go to graduate school and that you have no idea what you are interested in studying. You should try to be more specific, while at the same time showing openness to learning new things. Too much specification suggests that you do not plan to benefit from what you may learn in graduate school about the discipline and carious career choices. Position yourself between these poles. You can, for example, state your current interests in the field. You will not be held to these interests. It is assumed that your interest will be shaped in graduate school. On the other hand, keep in mind that ill-defined goals suggest that you haven't thought much about the future. It can suggest that you don't care much about the future, or that you aren't very ambitious.
Other things that may go in your statement of interests are research, applied and professional experiences and relevant skills such as computing skills.
Words to avoid (Department of Psychology, San Jose State University):
Significant, invaluable, appealing to me, interesting, exciting, excited, appealing aspect, challenging, enjoyable, enjoy, I like it, satisfying, satisfaction, I can contribute, itís important, rewarding, valuable, fascinating, gratifying, helpful, appreciate, meaningful, useful, helping people, meant a lot to me, feel good, I like to help, stimulating, remarkable, people, incredible.


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