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SOP issue: Not enough space

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by 50MinuteHour, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. 50MinuteHour

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    I'm looking for some feedback. I've been working assiduously on my SOP and I feel it's really difficult to condense my experience, goals, and anecdotes into less than 3 double-spaced pages. Maybe 4-5 is ideal to me. Although it's not exactly a resume reiteration, I have a lot of experience and anecdotes, and I worry that glossing over or omitting information could be hurtful. How have other people with similar issues approached the SOP? I feel like I'm going to have to trim some stuff out.
     
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  3. futureapppsy2

    futureapppsy2 Assistant professor
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    You'll have to deal with these same issues for internship apps, grants, and manuscripts. Focus on what's really important in emphasis your fit for that particular program.
     
  4. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    The longest I will read is about 2 pages of single space, after that I'm just skimming and you just put way too much effort into it.
     
  5. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    Being concise and prioritizing content are important in writing going forward.
     
    CheetahGirl, 50MinuteHour and MamaPhD like this.
  6. PhDToBe

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    Try not to repeat stuff that is already elaborated upon in your CV.
     
  7. 50MinuteHour

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    This is where I think I'm getting stuck. When I read other people's SOPs, it seems that they develop a professional story from their CV. I don't simply reiterate my CV, but what I've done so far is strike a careful balance between telling a story of passion and promise, while telling a story of experience (which draws from my CV). Do you suggest something else? I certainly want to convey my experience and excitement for the field in an interesting way.
     
  8. 50MinuteHour

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    Interestingly, the programs I'm applying to did not say they wanted double-spaced SOPs on their website, but each department told me they wanted it double-spaced when I contacted them and asked. How often do you think admission committees look unfavorably at applicants whose SOPs are spaced in something other than what they wanted (even if this is not stated on the website)? I do hear some programs want single-spaced SOPs, but I'm yet to encounter one in my process.

    So far, I find most programs expect 2-3 double-spaced pages, so I'm going to keep it within that space. It's very tricky though, and I'm learning a lot from the process.
     
  9. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    Every process I've been involved at from grad to intern to postdoc to staff, has wanted single spaced. But, if they want double spaced, they can't fault you if you're just following directions.
     
  10. PsychPhDStudent

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    Welcome to academic writing. :) I'll bet a trusted prof or grad student would be able to suggest some things to cut if you're stumped.
     
  11. MCParent

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    I've read SOP from war refugees that were 500 words long, snowflake. ;)

    4 to 5 pages is way too long. So long that not only will it not help, it might hurt (e.g., might think you'd be a pain to teach to be concise).

    Pick the 3-4 points you want to convey and focus on those.
     
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  12. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    I hate it when I get former English students as trainees. I almost have to physically beat the verbosity out of them when trying to get them to write clinical reports.
     
  13. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    The advantage is that the reports are often very well-written, so you at least don't have to go over basic grammar and syntax concepts. The disadvantage, like you've said, is that reports are about twice as long as they could be; the habit of writing prose can be a tough one to break. Can't imagine what a psychoed report from Charles Dickens might've looked like...

    Although I'm no saint myself; I'm continually working on ways to make my reports more concise. Always room for improvement.
     
  14. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    3-4 pages, which includes a data summary table for most of mine.
     
  15. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    I once wrote an outpatient neuropsych that was 2 pages. Highlight of my professional career.

    Mine have started creeping up because of additional verbiage I've had to add, so I need to find a way to shrink them back down again.
     
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  16. smalltownpsych

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    My neuropsych practicum supervisor wanted all reports to be about 2 pages. She really emphasized just answering the referral question. I loved it.

    I had the opposite problem from the OP as I have always tended to be too concise throughout my academic career. In undergrad, I actually began learning how to pad things and go on and on with an elaborately complex sentence structure that at times made no sense in order to get better grades in my liberal arts classes. It actually worked and my grades started rising. :angelic:

    Getting help from someone who is good at writing concisely is probably the best advice at this point. After you get into grad school, then you can keep working on precision.
     
  17. PhDToBe

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    Maybe focus more on the passion/promise and a bit less on experience, which can be seen in your CV. Or maybe just refer to your experiences in your SOP, without going into detail about the specifics.
     
  18. 50MinuteHour

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    This is how I did it. I nailed it to 3 double spaced pages, creating a story of passion/promise that uses my CV, rather than my CV creating my SOP. I think it reads really well!
     

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