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Sample Statement of Purpose - Psychology

Beginning college at age 17 while simultaneously moving alone 300 miles away from home is something that takes some adjustment. College is such a hectic time, requiring you to cope with many new challenges and general life things for the first time, away from your parents, while also trying to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life. There were several ways in which I found myself struggling to adjust, which through my studies I came to understand were normal symptoms of development and that I was just going through the growing pains of life as had so many before me.

In beginning to study psychology, my first class was Psychology of Adjustment. In many ways, this course is structured as a tutorial for young underclassmen, but it contained tools and truths that find relevancy for us all. This class helped teach how to engage in effective behavior change, using a sharp eye to recognize the habits, behaviors, and thoughts that are routine yet maladaptive, working to incorporate ways of coping and smartly structuring one’s life for success. Having experimented with several majors in my first few semesters, while experiencing the life of a strung-out over-stressed poor-diet college student, once the teachings explored in the course led to seeds of peace being sown in my personal life, and all signs seemed to indicate that I had found my home department. I’d spent a lifetime feeling different from others, and college gave me the room to grow and see that a lot of how I felt about myself wasn’t that weird at all, and even then, being different isn’t a bad thing! Knowledge is power.

In taking other classes, both in psychology and in other departments, I saw the connections that they all had to one another. My nutrition classes taught me the importance of a nutritious diet on mental health, and how our physical health is one in the same as our mental health. My sociology classes showed me how interconnected we all are, and how the well-being society is intimately connected to individual well-being.

I began having metaphysical realizations, I understood what made people want to work and what it meant to be alive, what motivates us to get through the day, to pursue bigger goals. While yes, we are here to succeed and build careers, but what does any of this matter if we are unhappy? If we aren’t working towards greater well-being for ourselves and others? One of our greatest tasks in life is to make sense of ourselves and the nuances that make us, pursuing studies in psychology has allowed me to make that pursuit and my life’s work one in the same.

What strikes me more than anything else about the field is how broadly applicable its studies are to so many areas of life, in some ways all areas, given that all we really have is our consciousness. In many ways, our well-being as individuals dictates our well-being as a group, both on the small-group and societal scale. As time has passed and my experience has deepened, it seems to me that there is no such thing as neurotypicality, and that all individuals seemingly experience some sort of excess or lack in a certain area of function. I believe that the brain is one of the last major frontiers of knowledge, with so much to be known about its ever-reaching capabilities and impacts, holding many keys to the mysteries behind maximizing human functioning.

I grew up in a place where mental health care is still in many ways not normalized, and access to quality care is not easy to come by. In beginning to be exposed to these concepts, I was astounded by all the answers I found to the questions I didn’t know I had. In many ways, the unspoken culture practiced by my hometown was ostracizing or criticism of those who differed from the norm, in any way, much less in the realm of mental health experience. Even my coming from a divorced household landed me with an identity stigma that I never shook until moving away. In so many ways, I believe that our society can benefit from using the knowledge learned through the science of psychology, in applying it to the betterment of ourselves and our condition as humankind.

Through my studies, I found inspiration and hope as I recognized symptoms of my own and of my loved ones, helping me to explain some of the confusion that comes with life and its’ dysfunction. As someone who has close family members that have experienced afflictions of mental illness specifically bipolar disorder, I have been drawn to educate myself not only to be able to understand them and maybe help them in some way, but I have also found it valuable for hopefully preventing the onset of such symptoms in myself, or if nothing else learning coping mechanisms that can be used to keep them at bay. Small strategic lifestyle changes can have a far-reaching impact in many areas of your life, but additionally can be pivotal in preventing genetic predispositions from flourishing into a full-blown manifestation.

As a bachelor of science, I was able to take a variety of science classes in various disciplines, which greatly deepened my understandings of scientific principles. As a neuroscience minor, I gained further knowledge of biological systems as applied to the human being. As psychology is such a varied field, as with any individual there were aspects that drew me in and aspects that didn’t pique my interest. As so many programs encourage their students to choose a major and sub-discipline within that department as expediently as possible, I would say that inevitably there are gaps in my psychological knowledge that I am wanting to fill, and I believe that a master’s program is an appropriate next step for me as I further narrow down my interests and skill set for whatever comes next.

I gained research experience in the laboratory setting under the supervision of a faculty member of the psychology department. I was able to get hands-on time with human participants, being trained to use physiological measures (EEG, EKG, blood draw), and learned to administer and score several psychological metrics (i.e. Stroop, Wisconsin Cart Sorting Task). This experience taught me the value of applied experience, and how the influence of a faculty member can be an invaluable guide to a young student. I strongly believe that my undergraduate experience has prepared me for the rigors of graduate study and that my mind is open for what is to come.

I found it incredible to learn that even at Harvard University, the psychology department didn’t begin to start seriously studying the brain until the 1980s, making it even more apparent to me what a burgeoning field it is today. Many people chase success at all costs, often forgoing their passions for a paycheck. My interest in studying psychology is very personal, my drive for knowledge is tied up in my drive for life. I believe that I would be an asset to your academic program, bringing out-of-the-box thinking and an enthusiastic thirst for learning.

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