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Psychology Admissions Essay Samples

Welcome!

Take a look at my “Statement of Purpose” for the University of San Francisco Masters in Counseling Psychology, concentration in School Counseling, program. This short essay outlines my reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from USF along with my experience and skill set as it relates to the program. Although slightly intimidating to start this essay and admissions process as a whole, it wasn't difficult to speak on something that comes from my heart. So in saying that, staying true to myself made the admissions process that much easier.

“Living in a childhood without a sense of home, I found a place of sanctuary in ‘theorizing’, in making sense out of what was happening… I learned from this experience that theory could be a healing place.”
–Bell Hooks

I truly believe that before we can even begin to work with youth, we need to take a look at our own starting point and where we are coming from. I am not referring to our background or our histories, although these are definitely key in our work with youth, however, I am suggesting that we take a deeper and honest look at the question, ‘Why do you work with youth?’ Asking ourselves this question before we begin to work with youth is essential because without reflecting on the “why”, how can we even begin to engage with youth in an honest regard? When I ask myself this question, I find my answer to be rooted in “love” and “compassion”. Without a doubt, I work with youth because I genuinely care about their overall well-being. Whether it is regarding self-awareness, self-development, identity safety, academic support, or meeting basic needs, my work with youth always has and always will come from a place of love. For me, love and compassion are two key values that guide my practice because in every moment, program, or situation that I engage in with youth, I always strive to come from a place of love in order to best support them. In the same respect, the University of San Francisco’s School Counseling Program also embodies these two values, which is one reason why I became so interested in the program and believe it to be a great fit for me. Through this program, I hope to learn the skills needed to build an overall school culture that starts with love and compassion. There are several schools that perpetuate systems of disempowerment and control that only enforce a power struggle between youth and adults as well as the idea that “youth need fixing”. If we can root our schools in love and compassion, then we can send youth a new and welcoming message where students are validated, empowered, loved, and connected.

In order to build an effective, positive school culture, which fully supports our youth, not only do we need to come from a place of love but we also need to build trusting relationships with our students and their communities. Through its focus on community empowerment and respect for diversity, the School Counseling Program demonstrates this approach, which I completely support as being a vital step in effective engagement with youth. As an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, my Community Studies field study took place with a multi-racial, youth led organization called Youth Together. Through this experience, I learned how to build trusting relationships with youth and their communities, who were different from my own social location and community. Although a difficult process to be considered an “outsider” and strive to work for justice within a community I was not initially welcomed in, I learned to become an ally and someone the organization could hold accountable. First, I had to meet the students, community, and organization where they were at before even beginning to join in on their struggle, which proved to be the most effective approach. In always staying true to my heart, learning when to step up and when to step back, proving I could be trusted through consistency and making myself available, I then was considered part of the organization and struggle. Not only did I conclude my field study as “part of” the organization but I also continue to communicate with several of the youth and adults I worked with, which I believe to be a true testament of my ability to build trusting relationships with others. Through the School Counseling program, I hope to learn tangible skills to work cross culturally with under-served youth and families, acting as a trusted bridge between the school and community by developing culturally centered, empowerment programs to make this a reality. In addition, I hope to further develop my skills as an ally, trusted adult, and advocate for youth so that I can provide the proper supports, referrals, and interventions according to their needs and reflective of their comfort with me.

Love, compassion, and trust are all values that are important to me when working with youth and are what guide my practice overall. However, I would not be truly invested in this work if I did not include equity and community as well. A historically disenfranchised community, youth are constantly facing systems that disempower them. To move even further from this, is the fact that our youth from underserved communities face additional barriers. My prior experience working with high school students involved coordinating multiple youth development programs to not only provide students with the space to voice their opinions regarding these school-community issues but to also build the skills necessary to overcome them. Through my programs, students developed a sense of self awareness, community with one another as well as their school-community, and knowledge regarding injustices, which empowered them to develop their vision, practice decision-making, exercise judgment and grow in leadership. In addition, I consistently connected my students to community programs, resources, and family events with the overarching idea of supporting our students in multiple ways. With the School Counseling Program focused on problem-solving and equity for all students, I strive to develop the skills and experience needed to become an effective, critical school counselor that uses a multi-faceted approach in working with students to receive the equity they, their families, and community deserves. By providing counseling, mentoring, social emotional support, referrals to community and school based programs or resources, and overall being an advocate for them in the various institutions that may disempower them, I hope to be an effective change agent at schools for our underserved youth. With the theoretical knowledge and experience I have gained thus far, coupled with my own unwavering drive to take my work with youth to the next level, I feel that I am a great candidate for the School Counseling Program. I would be honored to represent the University of San Francisco and continue the legacy of justice, respect for diversity, and community it embodies. Thank you for your consideration.

Shannon Smoot

Shannon Smoot was recently admitted into the University of San Francisco Masters in Counseling Psychology Program with a concentration in School Counseling. She will begin her graduate studies and internship fieldwork Fall 2014.She holds a BA Degree in Community Studies with concentrations in Youth Development, Youth Empowerment, & Youth organizing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.While an undergrad, Shannon interned with the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall and conducted her field study with a multi-racial youth led organization in the East Bay called Youth Together. After her studies at UC Santa Cruz, Shannon landed a job as the Youth Development Coordinator for Menlo-Atherton High School and coordinated a Peer Education Team, Youth Advisory Board, Freshman Compass Leadership class, among others. When her work as the Youth Development Coordinator for M-A High School came to a halt due to a loss in state funding, she was thankfully able to find employment with Youth Community Service as a 180 Degree Life skills Communication Class Facilitator and Youth-Leaders About Change Director, both at M-A. Shannon is extremely passionate about youth voice, youth-adult partnerships, and justice issues as they relate to youth. She is also especially interested in identity safety work and working to create safe schools for the LGBTQ community.

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Graduate School Psychology Application Essay Sample

Sample 1 – Graduate School Psychology Application
Sample 2 – Dental School Application
Sample 3 – MBA Application

The following three samples represent a synthesis of some of the elements of successful applications made by our clients in the past. Of course, client confidentiality is a hallmark of our service, and therefore particular information that may identify individual clients have been removed and/or altered in the applications below.

Each sample is followed by a brief analysis allowing you to understand the editorial choices made by our professional writers in designing each sample application, and which may serve as tips in crafting your own application . As the following samples illustrate, the selective and careful presentation of an applicant's life history and experiences is a strong element in many successful applications. This is a feature that our custom application writing service offers to our clients.

Sample 1 – Application for Graduate School (Psychology)

In applying for admittance to the Master of Arts in Counseling at the Adler School of Professional Psychology I am completing a professional career trajectory that began almost two decades ago in Lebanon. I believe that my demonstrated commitment to humanitarian causes and therapeutic care, leadership skills, and personal qualities of patience and empathy make me an excellent candidate for this program.

I acknowledge that my shift of professional focus from the medical to the psychological fields may appear unusual. However, one must understand the context in which my career path was shaped. Lebanon, and the Middle East in general, have tragically experienced more than their share of civil disturbance, war, and human suffering over their recent history. As long as I can remember, I have desired to help the sick and injured, and alleviate their suffering. In the context of Lebanon, the only professional opportunity to express this personal orientation was in the field of medicine. For this reason, I successfully pursued my medical degree leading to years of experience in hospital and clinical environments.

However, in the course of my career as a medical clinician I began to develop an awareness of how much of the human suffering I saw around me was psychological rather than physiological in origin. In a society torn apart by generations of war and civil strife, the wounds and scars that one cannot see are just as important, and often more important, than those that one can see.

This awareness crystallized upon my arrival in the West, and in my work as a volunteer with social service organizations caring for mentally and physically abused women and children. Although life in the United States may seem far removed from that in the Middle East, I have discovered - to my surprise - how many members of the American population live with psychological scars and mental illness as integral components of their lives. Given how my professional career has been shaped by my personal commitment to alleviating the suffering of other human beings, my shift in interests from medicine to psychology can therefore be seen as the logical fulfillment of a long career trajectory.

It is for this reason that I am applying to the Masters Program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. I believe that both my professional and life experiences render me a very suitable "fit" with your School. Furthermore I intend, upon completion of the M.A. Program, to go on to pursue the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) degree at the Adler School. The knowledge and experience that I would acquire in the course of my studies at the Adler School will give me the tools and opportunities to fulfill my career goals of working on alleviating adult mental health problems through counseling. In the process, I will be able to give back to communities in the United States something of what this generous and diverse land has given to my family and me. Finally, as the fulfillment of a personal "dream," becoming a certified professional in psychological counseling will allow me to address the inner sufferings of my fellow human beings as I once alleviated physical sufferings.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

ANALYSIS

  • The above sample illustrates the importance of the integration of personal history into a successful application. As applications will be accompanied by some form of grades transcript or CV, admissions officers will already be aware of an applicant's academic performance, awards etc. which are fixed and cannot be significantly improved at this stage. Thus, the attached admissions/application essay becomes an element of prime importance to an application, and often can make the difference between rejection and acceptance.

  • Note how the above essay differs from traditional academic essays or term papers in its paragraph structure. Admissions officers must review countless applications, and thus traditional long paragraphs frequently result in the “EGO” (eyes-glaze-over) effect, and quick rejection. At the same time, the use of “bullet points” and “negative space” as in business report writing would be seen as inappropriate in such a context. Thus, brief paragraphs – each dealing with a particular aspect of the applicant's history and reason for applying – are preferred.

  • In the above sample, note how weaknesses or problems in the application have been addressed. As admissions officers will usually have already read the applicant's transcripts/academic documentation, the successful applicant must make use of this opportunity to address any weaknesses that the reader will already have noted. In the above sample, the applicant's decision to move from an apparently successful career as a medical clinician to return to school to study psychology would have been “flagged” by the reader. In the above sample, this problem is addressed immediately after the introductory paragraph, and the explanation plays an important role in the presentation of personal history in the following paragraphs

Sample Graduate 1 – School Psychology Application
Sample 2 – Dental School Application
Sample 3 – MBA Application

 

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