PhD/PsyD SOP: personal statement or statement of purpose?

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bcliff

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I'm finally breaking out of my procrastination break and am starting to work on my SOP. I'm running into trouble finding the balance between coming off as an actual human being with interests outside of psychology and properly expressing my background and future goals.

How personal should an SOP be? It seems worth mentioning that it's not called a personal statement, but rather a statement of purpose, which makes me think it shouldn't be that personal (i.e. focused on non professional information) at all.

After googling 'sample clinical psychology SOP's' I found one that opens with the author's childhood affinity towards horses and another that opens with "When I came to college I wanted to be a doctor." < not my idea of strong openings, but I'm not on any admissions committees, so what do I know?

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How much stock people put into these is pretty variable, so you'll hear a lot of differing advice. I, personally wold rather see someone talk about a coherent path that they think they want to take through grad school into a career. If I started to read about affinity to horses I would tune out almost immediately.
 
I think the interview is more the opportunity to know you as a person and the letter is to state your goals/research/experiences etc. Good to have an interesting narrative of what brought you to be interested in clinical psychology, but not tell your whole life story. Writing the SOP can be nerve wracking, but if you just stick with how you were introduced to clinical psychology, what you've been doing to learn more about it, what got you interested in X research area or population, you should be good to go. Good luck with it! Get tons of people to read it, especially mentors or doctoral students that you might know, they can really help guide how personal you should be.

Oh one final note is: I think how "personal" you are *might* change depending on the orientation of the school. Psychodynamic places might like a more personal touch, whereas other programs might not… not sure how others feel about this?
 
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How long should an SOP be? I find that I'm giving a lot of background information about myself, and I feel like this is getting to be too long. I'm worried about rambling too much - I think I've done a good job so far of describing specific experiences, and then bringing it back to specific examples of how these experiences have prepared me for a career as a researcher/clinician.

I'm trying to bring up things that I don't think other applicants will be able to talk about in depth, like how my experience with insurance verification/preauthorization makes me more interested in work with a single-payer system like the VA rather than pursuing a career in private practice, but I'm worried that these types of statements may be too opinionated and could alienate reviewers.
 
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I think the unspoken rule is the SOP should be no longer than 2 single spaced pages size 12 font. Certain schools have other limits as well. IT's short, I know it's annoying to have to edit!

In my opinion, I would skip all that stuff about VA/private practice. Make one paragraph about you personally and how you became interested in clinical psychology, one paragraph about research experience, one about clinical experience, and one about why that particular school/future goals.
 
How long should an SOP be? I find that I'm giving a lot of background information about myself, and I feel like this is getting to be too long. I'm worried about rambling too much - I think I've done a good job so far of describing specific experiences, and then bringing it back to specific examples of how these experiences have prepared me for a career as a researcher/clinician.

I'm trying to bring up things that I don't think other applicants will be able to talk about in depth, like how my experience with insurance verification/preauthorization makes me more interested in work with a single-payer system like the VA rather than pursuing a career in private practice, but I'm worried that these types of statements may be too opinionated and could alienate reviewers.
Almost every school I applied to was very specific about length. At first, I did not think I could fit everything I wanted to say into the word limit(s). My approach was to write a long, wordy first draft and then edit down until I finally had a concise, well-written statement. My end result looked nothing like my first draft, but the whole process was helpful.

I agree with Freudian Slip about skipping the stuff about insurance verification. Even if you include it in your first draft, I think you will find as you rewrite that is not a useful part of the statement.

There are a ton of threads on here about SOPs and some helpful resources in books and online. In the end, I read as many as I could but also made sure that my SOP reflected who I am and how I write. Good luck! I am getting ready to move for school and last night I went through my files, including everything I amassed during the application cycle, and found myself reflecting fondly on the application/interview process.
 
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