Personal statement of interest in and commitment to the field of psychology

Spring, 1997

I am applying to the Psychology Department because the requirements of the program closely fit my goals for myself. Specifically, I want to design and implement interventions to increase the amount of time people enjoy being alive. I have been developing hypotheses about the best way to do this and I want to further refine and test these hypotheses and communicate the results. The methods and accumulated knowledge of psychology help me do this.

The interventions I intend to develop are new components of middle school and high school education. I believe that students will benefit from spending a significant amount of time working with some of the most basic human questions, such as, 'is there meaning to life?' 'what should I do with myself?' and 'how can I live the best life?' Students would work on questions on their own and among themselves before being formally introduced to well-known work related to their questions. I believe that this active, open, and deep questioning process will encourage the development of people who consider their actions in relation to the lives of all other people and that both the community and the individual will benefit as a result.

I would also like to make psychology and psychological research methods a significant component of middle school and secondary education. Currently students are required to spend most of their time studying mathematics, sciences (but not psychology), history, and literature. However, people spend much of their lifetimes concerned with immediate and personal issues-like how to have a more fulfilling life, or how to form good relationships with others-yet we do very little to prepare our students for these situations. I have been encouraged to find that a great amount of research has been done on human development and how it can be optimized, but it is unfortunate that very few people are aware of the results of this investigation. To change this situation, improved technology transfer from the psychological researchers to the general public is necessary. I think the best way to do this is to make psychology a significant part of the middle and secondary school curriculum.

Taking more advanced courses in psychology and learning the methods of psychological research will help me refine and test these proposed interventions. For this reason, I plan to complete the psychology honors program because of its emphasis on research, and I have already begun undergraduate research work with the Re-connecting At-risk Youth project in the Psychosocial and Community Health Department of the School of Nursing. I have also begun to study the educational system in order to learn how to implement a curriculum change. My future plans include either earning a Master's degree in education, and teaching for a while before beginning curriculum development research in earnest, or attending a university which has a laboratory school to do graduate research.

I want to do this work because I want more people to live their life in a certain way-the best way. I believe that individuals will find a better way to live by asking the questions and considering the data. Certainly all of the proposals I have made here need to be refined, tested, and if they are worthy, implemented. Psychology helps me do this.

I would like to talk about these issues with you further, if you are interested-please send me email at, or check the web page of the group I have started ( for meeting times, and come to a meeting.

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