Monday, January 10, 2011

Letters of Intent

Hey everyone,

Since tonight seems to be the night that people get feedback on their stuff, I thought I'd join in! I have written to Letters of Intent for Utah State University with two different styles. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on both and tell me which is better.

As a student at Utah State University, I would most certainly excel. I am tenacious, disciplined, passionate, balanced, and driven. Having successfully completed my education at Brigham Young University so quickly while maintaining excellent grades and a healthy social life can certainly attest to that.
Ultimately, I hope to be a therapist at a university counseling center. As a therapist, I would hope to help students become just a little bit better so that they may achieve their goals. I would also enjoy being a part-time professor with a few classes. I would use my case notes to show my students what psychology looks like outside of the classroom.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and encounter new and exciting people. I believe it helped me broaden my horizons further than my friends who did not have that opportunity.
My parents often encouraged me to reach out beyond myself. This was put to the test when my brother became addicted to heroine. In my effort to reach out to him, I felt powerless to help. I did not want to see his talent and personality poisoned by his addiction.
Because of the experience I had with my brother, I began volunteering at places where I felt like I could make a difference. I volunteered at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center where I taught groups of teenagers the skills of teamwork. I was also lucky enough to explore a new area with my volunteering at a clinic for sex offenders. My volunteer work at a boarding school as well as at the Utah State Mental Hospital allowed me to become more acquainted with one individual and help them just by taking their mind off their current situation.
I currently work at a therapeutic boarding school for at-risk teens. Most of the residents that come into our program are from a wilderness program. For the most part, they have experimented with drugs, alcohol and sex and let it get the best of them. At the school, I oversee the dorms and make sure things run smoothly. I also act as a go-between for the residents and their therapists because often times the residents feel more comfortable coming to me before their therapist.
Before that I worked at Copper Hills Youth Center as a milieu staff. There I was more responsible for the resident’s safety because those kids were more prone to violence. It was there that I learned the most on how to manage crisis situations, as they tended to happen more often than at the boarding school. I also developed respect for the people that can work with that kind of population.
As a gay male that came out at BYU, I began to critically analyze my core values and beliefs. It was difficult to come out in an environment that at times was hostile to how I was feeling. Because of some of the pressure that I was under, my ability to analyze situations and research became much stronger. I was able to look at moral issues and see it from a more understanding viewpoint. I knew what it was like to be thrown into a general category with all of the other people like me. I vowed that I would do my best to get to know the person behind the issue, and not just how to fix the issue.
In my research experience at BYU, I focused on pornography, sex education, depression, gender roles, memory retention, and sexual orientation. My role in most of the research was to write up our findings, as well as create and give the presentation of our data. I found that collecting and presenting our data was both challenging and exciting.
I look forward to taking this next step in my life. I believe that the program at Utah State University will challenge me to be better, work harder, and achieve my professional goals.

Dr. Bristow seems to have a nice ring to it—sophisticated and invokes a sense of confidence. Not that a name is everything, but at least it’s a good start.
People have always fascinated me. I love taking a look around in public places to see how people interact with one another. I remember in particular one day seeing a young woman at the DMV who decided to flip out on the phone while standing in line. Why on earth she decided to do it in such a public setting is beyond me. But maybe with more formal education, I can catch a glimpse at what makes people tick.
Most people cannot wait to get out of school. I am one of the rare gems (maybe nerd is a better word) who cannot wait to go back to school. I love the challenge, the knowledge, the fun, the discipline, and just the essence that fills the air. It’s as if the air is filled with knowledge and all I have to do is breathe it in to become smarter. Obviously, it takes much more than that. Skills such as tenacity, discipline, drive, passion, and balance all play an important role. And since I feel like I am in possession of most of these skills (I am allowed to sell myself here right?), I will excel at Utah State University.
I am a local boy. I was born and raised in the little bubble they call Utah Valley. I loved it there. I got to experience a very different culture from what the rest of the world is used to. But since I have relatives around the globe, I have had the opportunity to explore other cultures and areas. My drive comes from wanting to see the unexplored. The Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song comes to mind—I want to go where no man has gone before—into the human mind.
Well, not literally of course. Ultimately, I would love to work in a university setting at a counseling center. I would enjoy not only being a therapist but also teaching a few classes to show students what psychology actually looks like outside the classroom. I would push my students to focus more on themselves, which may seem like a selfish goal. However, in my experience, it has only been when I have focused on myself and made myself truly happy, that I was able to lift others up to my level. I am in a constant quest to better myself and in turn, better those I come in contact with.
My research experience at BYU focused a lot on gender roles, depression, pornography, sexual orientation, and memory retention. As a gay man who came out at BYU, I was put in a situation where I needed to critically analyze the world around me. While most of my friends thought that this critical analyzing would include me deciding if they were crazy (Because that’s apparently all psychologists do), I included it in my school work. I knew how to have a balanced life and used it to stay on top of my work as well as to simply stay sane.
I currently work at a therapeutic boarding school in Oakley, Utah. There, I am an assistant house coach and oversee things in the dorm and make sure things run smoothly. At times, I feel as if I am a therapist. The residents will come up to me frequently and figuratively spill their guts. I, in turn, try my best to empathize and if it is in my power, I do my best to rectify the situation. For the most part, I encourage them to stay in close contact with their therapist and family as I do not have the necessary skills to actually give therapy.
I have done a lot of volunteer work in the past. It was very influential in helping me find my knack and passion for psychology. I volunteered at a “space center” where I pretended to be in the Star Trek universe. I also volunteered at a boarding school, the Utah State Mental Hospital, and a sex offender clinic. And just before my work at the boarding school, I worked at an RTC.
I am excited to begin this next part of my life. I believe being a therapist will help me make the world a little bit better. Oh, and I still want my title of doctor.

Thank you everyone!


  1. Use the formal one. It's more professional. I think it's well-written and shows off your attributes and qualifications well. Also, heroin, the drug, is spelled without an "e" at the end. "Heroine" is a female hero.

  2. Definitely the first one. I think the beginning could use some work. Consider starting with the coming out at BYU part and tie that to your research interests. You'll then look interesting and engaged with your research and current work.being unique from the first sentence is key. I'd be happy to work on this with you.

  3. These are great. The first one. If you'd like I could edit a few stuff. good luck

  4. I think your formal letter is stronger than your informal letter. Tying your coming out at BYU to your research interests as mentioned above would create more consistency and leverage in the piece. The descriptions of your work experiences seems a bit "travellogish" and could use a bit of application to what you studied in psychology at BYU. This would help distinguish to the readers that you know how to apply theory to real life; which is your stated goal as a future part-time professor and counselor.

  5. Another thought: invest some time in understanding the interests of the faculty at USU. Drawing connections with their achievements, research, and approaches to counseling, you stand a higher chance of being selected. Even if you have great test scores, recommendations, and statements, the committee reading your letters has to feel like you're a good fit. Make sure they know you offer the Department something valuable AND vice versa.

  6. I actually liked reading the informal one better. It was fresh and different. But then, I'm not really sure what they're looking for, so I wouldn't be surprised if my opinion is way off base.

  7. Excellent format, You made my morning. Thanks for sharing with me!
    Letter of Intent

  8. I really think the first one is best. The second one sounds too corny, which, I think, is the point. But definitely the first one.

  9. I TOTALLY lol'd at the informal letter, and I so do agree that Dr. Steven Bristow has a grand ring to it. However, The Formal letter has a much better projectile that I think the admissions counsel will like more so. I really think that you could incorporate the Oakley paragraphs from each into one super paragraph that stuns them + literally knocks them in the water.

    Oh, and I would TOTES finish the letter off with the Dr Bristow line. Seriously.