"Masters Essays Why I Want to Be a Therapist - DOC"
The Ohio State University 226 Younkin Success Center 1640 Neil Avenue, Columbus-OH 43201 (614) 688-3898 www.careerconnection.osu.edu Questions to ask yourself before writing your graduate school application essay What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story? What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants? When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained? How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field? If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth? What are your career goals? Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)? Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life? What personal characteristics (for example. integrity. compassion. persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics? What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess? Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants? What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you? http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/ The Ohio State University 226 Younkin Success Center 1640 Neil Avenue, Columbus-OH 43201 (614) 688-3898 www.careerconnection.osu.edu TIPS ON APPLICATION ESSAYS This handout offers some points to consider as you undertake the writing of an application essay. Start Early! Be Thorough! If you have begun your application process early, take the time to investigate thoroughly each institution to which you are applying. Go to the library and locate/browse-through/read texts or abstracts by the school's faculty members who work in your field or area of interest. Study and re-study the application materials sent to you very carefully; in particular, read through the school catalog and required course offerings. Find out if the school and program have web sites where you can learn more about them. Taking these steps will familiarize you with the department, and allow you to weigh its specific strengths and weaknesses in comparison to those of other schools. While conducting your inquiry, take notes so that you will have something to base your essay on. Additionally, if you happen to know anyone -- a friend, family member, colleague, or teacher -- who has graduated from a school that you are considering, ask her or him for information as well. Although such people may be very helpful, be careful not to let their advice sway you too much, unless you are quite sure that they are particularly familiar with the department in question, and that their knowledge of it is up to date. What to Include The piece of writing that each school requests may be very different from that of others; some programs may even ask for more than one essay. Before you begin to write, study very carefully the essay directions on the application materials sent to you by the school and by the specific department to which you are applying. While some programs leave the content of the essay fairly "open," others may place explicit content and length restrictions on it. Try to make sure that you have a good idea of what you are being asked to write about. Whatever the particular form of the essay asked of you, there are a number of basic areas committees are interested in. When evaluating your application, each reader will ultimately have this question in mind: "Why should we let you into our school?" In order to answer this question, try to do the following: Clearly state your short and long term goals; tell how university "X" can help you meet them. Describe your areas of research and professional interest. You might indicate how your proposed studies are located within a broad field. For example, someone applying to a composition and rhetoric program might say, "I hope to examine the relationship between rhetorical invention strategies and demonstrated ability to write for members of diverse discourse communities." Or, someone applying to an engineering program might say, "My particular interests are in optical communications, networks, and signal processing. As an undergraduate research assistant, I studied the principles of wavelet transforms, one of the most recent signal processing techniques, and I developed software models using Matlab to simulate the transform process. Currently I am investigating new applications of wavelet transforms. University X's program in electrical engineering provides the direction and environment in which I can pursue my work in optimal communications networks and signal processing." Give specific reasons why you are interested in a particular field, as well as why you have chosen this particular school to apply to. Refer to past experiences, both academic and "real world," that are relevant to graduate study. Articulate what is particularly valuable about the perspective that you will bring to the prospective field of study and the specific department. Demonstrate your ability to think and express ideas clearly and effectively. Show motivation and capacity to succeed in graduate education. Write concisely and try to keep your readers interested. Remember that they are reading many application essays and therefore, you need to be considerate of their needs. Offer other information that demonstrates your need and desire to be accepted by the program. Why this School? Once you have developed a sense of the faculty's interests and the department's special features, you can make it clear in your application exactly why you want to attend that particular school. What is it about the department's curriculum structure or general approach to the field that makes you interested in being a student there? Don't waste your valuable essay space, or your reader's valuable time, telling the reader how wonderful or prestigious their institution is; people on the admissions committee already know this. They want to know about you. Nonetheless, if there are special programs or institutes at the school that seem appealing to you, briefly mention that you are interested in becoming part of them. For example, state that you "want to be a member of the XYZ Group for Blank and Blank Studies because . . .” but don't tell them how great, well respected, and world-renowned this part of the school is. If, during your research on the department's faculty, a faculty member strikes you as someone whom you might be interested in working with, indicate this in your essay; be concise and specific about why you want to work with this person in particular. A word of caution here: Do not try to use this as a way to "butter up" the admissions committee, because if there is any reason to believe that you are not sincere, your application may be adversely affected. Again, mention the person and how their work relates to your interest, but don't load this statement with what might be interpreted as false or superfluous praise. Personal Information Some applications may ask you to give a personal history, telling about experiences that you have undergone which have led you to decide to pursue graduate education in a certain field of study. (If personal information of this sort is not required, then you are under no obligation to provide it.) The information that could be included in a personal-type statement is limited only by your own imagination and life history, but you should be highly selective about what you include. There are two things to watch out for: (1) saying too much and/or (2) not saying enough. Some applicants may ramble on about themselves in a manner that may appear self-indulgent and not very appealing to the committee. Remember, this is an application essay, not an autobiography. Conversely, some applicants tend to say too little, perhaps hesitating to promote themselves too explicitly or not knowing what about about themselves would be interesting to people whom they don't know. In such cases, perhaps focusing more on what you want to do than on what you have already done (let your record speak for itself), may help in getting beyond self-inhibition. Generally, keep in mind that the points about your life that you highlight should be somehow relevant to both your own interest in the field of study, as well as to the concerns of the admissions committee. In judging what information to include or exclude from your essay, try to balance academic, work-related, and personal information in a manner appropriate to your situation, goals, and the application requirements. Additional Considerations If you have additional, relevant information about yourself that does not easily fit into the essay, or into any other section of the university's application, you may want to include a condensed resume or curriculum vitae with your application package. This is especially applicable to those who have worked professionally since having graduated from school. Relevant items here might include work experience, publications, and presentations, as well as language and computer skills. Also, if you have experienced times of great hardship or extenuating circumstances that have negatively affected your academic performance at any time, provide a short explanatory statement. This is another one of those places where caution should be exercised: you want to explain the cause of your poor grades, etc. without alienating the reader by overdoing it. Once again, be specific and concise. (Re)Writing Although some people may be able to write an essay from start to finish in one sitting, most would probably not be particularly satisfied with the results of such an effort. Outlines, including a list of possible components to include in the essay, are often a good way to get started on your essay. Some writers prefer to start writing one paragraph at a time, re-arranging their ideas for orderly flow later on. Whatever method you use (only a few out of many have been mentioned here), make sure to allow time for revision -- don't start your essay the night before you have to send it out! Ask others to read your essay and give you honest feedback; tell them that it is important to know what areas they find unclear or unnecessary. Don't feel shy about asking for or receiving criticism; remember, the effectiveness of your essay depends on your being able to present yourself in a manner that is attractive to admissions committees. Comments such as "it's good" are not going to be very helpful to you because they will not help you to improve your essay. The Writing Center is available to offer suggestions on beginning, revising and finishing your application essay, so make use of this valuable resource. Also for ideas on form and style selected application essays that students have written in the past are on file for you to browse-through at the Writing center. After considering responses to your work, revise your essay until you are satisfied with it. (Remember to spell check the final draft). Also, make sure that your name and possibly the essay title -- for example: "Personal Statement" -- is included in a header on the first page, and that your last name is on a header or footer for each additional, numbered page (in case the first page gets misplaced). Note: By Christopher T. Hank, The Writing Center~ Rensselaer The Ohio State University Younkin Success Center 1640 Neil Avenue, 2nd Floor (614) 688-3898 http://careerconnection.osu.edu/ Personal Statement “Hooks”: Attention-Grabbing Openings “At first glance, the most remarkable thing about me might seem to be the fact that I have the temerity to apply to law school in the first place. I have a blemished academic record that includes withdrawals and failing grades, and by the time I receive my degree in May, I will have spent six years as an undergraduate. Looking beyond the statistics, however, to the circumstances of my life, it quickly becomes clear that what is more remarkable is the fact that I have survived at all.” “Several years ago I was accepted into an MBA program in my native New Zealand. However, I decided to postpone my graduate business education to a later date.” (Business School Applicant) “For the first 20 years of my life, my activities—and self-confidence—were circumscribed by the fact that I was a chronic, allergic, asthmatic.” (Medical School Applicant) “Two years ago, I filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) suit in response to repeated episodes of apparent racial discrimination.” (Law School Applicant) „For the past seven years I have spent my summers at a camp in California, first as a camper, then as a counselor and, finally, a division head.” (Medical School Applicant) “Why does the shortest boy in the class turn out to be one of the best athletes—or the one who goes on to work for a former attorney general? Though it may seem to be a cliché for a short man to overcompensate, I must confess to having fallen into this pattern of behavior.” (Law School Applicant) The Ohio State University 226 Younkin Success Center 1640 Neil Avenue, Columbus-OH 43201 (614) 688-3898 www.careerconnection.osu.edu GRADUATE SCHOOL SAMPLE APPLICATION ESSAYS SAMPLE ONE: Environmental Studies Student Two scenes stand out in my mind from my visit to Brazil‟s Wetland: Forests burning before seed planting and trees as hedgerows. Before the planting season, I could see the leafless remnants of burnt trees still standing. The burning of pristine forests destroys both the habitats and countless species, which depend on and thrive in these habitats. The few remaining bare, scarred trees silently convey the cost to our natural resources of pursuing our economic interests. Some forests are preserved by government edict issued in response to international pressure. But most of this preservation occurs alongside major roads — not to protect the ecosystem, but to prevent disturbance to ranches and farms along the highways. The clash between economic and environmental concerns that I witnessed in Brazil fascinates me and attracts me to the Environmental Studies Program. Two courses in my geography department increased my interest in the connection between the environment and economics: Conservation of Underdeveloped Countries and Environmental Impact Analysis. In the former, we studied the problems of natural resource management in developing countries. The balance is always tilted toward economics growth at the expense of environmental preservation. For example, because the Pantanal Wetland could become a highly productive agricultural system once it‟s drained, it is drained regardless of the destruction that drainage causes to the ecosystem. Only portions of the wetland are preserved for tourist purposes. The other course that piqued my interest is an interdisciplinary course called Environmental Impact Analysis in which we, as a group, created matrix and flow diagrams discussing the economic and environmental impact of logging and preservation of old growth forests. I was able to use tools that I acquired in my economics and environmental studies classes. In general, logging creates economic benefits at the local level. It increases employment in the timber industry and subsequently in related non- timber industries; it also benefits local government. Yet, it has great deleterious environmental effects: soil erosion, watershed destruction, and a decrease in specie diversity due to loss of habitat. The logging industry represents the classic clash between economic and environmental interests. I also took two sequential classes in the economics department that are related to Resource Management — Theories of Growth & Development and Policies for Economic Development. Because a professor who is concerned chiefly with economic growth taught the courses, I learned the standard economic rationalizations for development unrestrained by environmental concerns. In addition to my interest in resource management policies, I have a specific interest in Geographical Information System (GIS), a powerful tool for natural resource management. After taking several related classes in GIS, I began interning for the National Park Service (NPS). After I learn how to use ARC/INFO, a leading GIS package, I will assist the NPS in constructing projects. Some of my duties include spatial and non-spatial data analysis, digitizing themes such as fire locations, vegetation, wildlife habitats, etc., and tabular and graphical presentation of results. I hope to use the tools I acquire during this internship in my continuing study of our environment. I would like to study the social and economic factors that influence environmental policy formation. For example, because people worry more about pollution than endangered species, laws and regulations concerning environmental pollution are more numerous and stricter than for bio-diversity. Within the School of Environmental Studies, I have a particular interest in the emphasis: Economics, Policy, and Management. This emphasis deals with how economic factors can create negative externalities, such as pollution, and need to be regulated. This emphasis also tries to consider non-economic values, such as aesthetic pleasure and specie diversity. It also discusses tools like GIS and system analysis that apply to environmental management. Because of my interest in GIS, economics, and environmental studies, this emphasis suits me perfectly. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary approach of the School of Environmental Studies attracts me since it combines social science‟s strengths with knowledge of the natural sciences necessary to protect and preserve the environment. After completing my masters program, I would like to continue my education and obtain a Ph.D. in natural resource management. This degree would enable me to combine a teaching career with advising business and government on natural resource management issues. Teaching college students is more than a one-way channel; I would also learn from their questions like my professors have from mine. In advising business and government, I can help them strike a balance between economic and environmental concerns. GIS will be a useful tool in helping me give them crucial information. I have enjoyed an interdisciplinary approach in my environmental studies major and become fascinated by the clash between social interests, especially economics, and environmental needs. I pursued an additional major in economics to better understand this conflict. Furthermore, my work for the NPS will train me in the latest techniques in natural resource management. I would like to continue exploring this clash and resource management in the School of Environmental Studies. Ultimately, I would like to teach and work in natural resource management. Ideally, I would like to find ways for allowing development while preventing the burning of beautiful and valuable eco-systems like the Pantanal Wetland. SAMPLE TWO: Engineering Student A simple bridge truss was the first structure I ever analyzed. The simple combination of beams that could hold cars, trains, and trucks over long spans of water fascinated me. Having the tools to analyze the loads on the truss further increased my interest in structures. I encountered the bridge in a textbook for my first engineering class. Knowing that the professor, Mr. John Doe, was a tough teacher, I asked him for the textbook so I could study and get ready for the class over the summer. Just arrived from Belize, I was determined to succeed. In class we learned about forces on simple members and then we put the members together to form a simple truss. At this point I had almost decided that structural engineering was the career for me. From there the class just took off: We went on to frames, distributed loads, considered friction; basically we were incorporating real world considerations into structural members. I loved the practical, problem solving aspects of the field. At UC my classes were even more advanced. In my analysis and design classes, I especially enjoyed studying steel design because we not only learned the use of the load resistance factor design but also applied that knowledge — I designed a four-story building. The professor was a practicing engineer, and he always related the subject to real life steel structures he had engineered, for example, the SB Medical Center, an all steel building with a base isolated campus. This is the kind of project on which I would like to work, designing the structure and considering how the building will respond to ground motion. After two quarters of structural analysis, I had come as close as possible to analyzing real world structures. Looking back I realize, I had learned great tools for structural analysis, but my "tool box" was still inadequate. I lacked a very important tool: finite element analysis. According to my professor, finite element analysis has revolutionized structural analysis. Although I liked my classes, my internship experiences really confirmed my interest in structural engineering. While working at Caltrans as a student volunteer, I reviewed computer-grading output for streets under construction. The computer suggested numbers for the road grading, and I had to plot the numbers and make sure there were no abrupt grade changes so the water can drain off easily to the sides of the road. It was exciting to know that I was the last checkpoint before the whole project went for approval. It was enjoyable working on something real — Main Street — but I was somewhat disappointed I did not have the chance to work on any structures. At UC I volunteered through the Student Research Program to work in the geotechnical library. I worked directly with a doctoral student and helped him to develop a geotechnical database for the local area. I interpreted the data Caltrans had collected and recorded it in a form accessible to the computer and easy to read. It took hours to finish the job, but I enjoyed the precision involved so I did not mind putting in the time. My supervisor liked my work so much, he hired me to continue the project during the summer. Working on this project also showed me the importance of soils in determining buildings‟ responses to earthquakes and awakened my interest in the response of skyscrapers to seismic stress and movement. At First Choice U, I plan to enroll in the structural engineering and geomechanics program. In this program I hope to draw on my structural analysis and geotechnical research background as a foundation for studying more advanced concepts. I am particularly interested in researching the ties between the structural engineering, geomechanics, and applied mechanics. I believe research is necessary to acquire data and formulate theories, but it is just as important to know how to apply those theories and use that data in the real world. I hope to be involved in some structurally related research at First Choice U. I am particularly interested in two research facilities: The Structures and Composites Laboratory and the Earthquake Engineering Center. After completing my degree in engineering and working on engineering projects, I know I want to design structures. That is what has fascinated me since I took Mr. Doe‟s class. I also know, however, that designing structures of a complexity that appeals to me requires "more tools in my toolbox." Those I can acquire only by continuing my education. To be competent and competitive I will need a masters degree. After completing my degree, I would like to work for an American engineering consulting firm and engineer complex structures and tall buildings, perhaps focusing on the problems surrounding designing for earthquakes. My long-term goals are to return to Belize and found my own engineering consulting firm there. Structural engineering will allow me to pursue a career where I can be creatively involved in problem- solving and design functional structures, like the simple truss bridge that initially captivated me in Mr. Doe‟s class. My classes, work at Caltrans, and internship in geotechnical engineering have increased my knowledge of and interest in structural engineering since I first looked at the textbook shortly after my arrival in the U.S. A master‟s degree will give me the up-to-date tools and knowledge to be competitive and competent. SAMPLE THREE: Public Health Student What if people lived healthier lives, practiced preventive medicine, and took precautions against illness and disease? My days in the physical therapy department often made me think about the prevention of injuries as well as the injuries themselves. I already doubted my future career choice as a physical therapist. Although I loved the science of it and helping people, the lack of variety within the field and its limited options for growth bothered me. I needed a career that helped a large number of people, emphasized prevention and primary care rather than tertiary care, and would continually challenge and motivate me to improve. Knowing that I really did not want to pursue physical therapy as I had originally planned, my thoughts wandered to the area of public health, particularly health management. My first true introduction to the public health arena came in a class offered through the Big U School of Public Health. As I listened to experts speak about contemporary health issues, I was intrigued. The world of "capitation," "rationing of care," and Medicaid fascinated me as I saw the range of problems that public health professionals were trying to solve in innovative ways. This one semester class provided me with a basic but thorough understanding of the issues faced in health care today. In the last two years I have continued to learn about public health both through coursework and work in the field. Because field experience is such a valuable learning tool, I searched for a research assistant position that would allow me to view public health at a different level. I worked on a project at a county health clinic in Englewood, a low-income, minority community. The program attempted to increase treatment compliance rates for adolescents diagnosed with tuberculosis who must complete a six-month medical program. Working for the county exposed me to a different side of health care that I had previously seen. Service and organization were not assets of the county and yet its role in the public health "ecosystem" was and is critical. Its job of immunizing thousands and interacting with all members of the community is often forgotten, but is important for keeping an entire community healthy. My work at the county health clinic as well as my knowledge of some areas of public health led me to accept an internship in Washington D.C. this past summer. The internship provided me with a greater understanding of a federal public health agency‟s operations and allowed me to contribute in a variety of ways to the XYZ Department in which I worked. Most importantly I worked on "policy issues" which involved identifying and summarizing problems that were out of the ordinary as well as documenting resolved issues in order to establish protocols to increase the department‟s efficiency. In addition I served on a scientific review panel, which was responsible for editing a seventy-page proposed regulation before its submission. Along with my duties at XYZ, I attended seminars and met with public health leaders at different functions and events. All these activities confirmed my growing interest in preventive medicine, outcomes and effectiveness, and quality of care, particularly within the private/managed care sector. These are my strongest interests because I believe they are fundamental to our nation‟s health. We must achieve efficiency and access without sacrificing quality. The University of ____ would help me achieve my goals of furthering my public health education through the specialize coursework offered as part of its health administration program. [The client provides specifics here about the program‟s specific appeal and strengths] Since rejecting physical therapy as a career possibility my interest in public health has only grown. I welcome the challenge of serving a large community and participating in such a dynamic and challenging field. What if an aspirin a day could prevent heart attacks? What if abandoning unnecessary procedures saved thousands of dollars, which then allowed a hospital to treat other patients needing care? What if every person was guaranteed care and that care was good? I would like to find answers for these questions during my career as a public health graduate student and professional.