It makes me nervous to post this here, but I had a hard time finding examples of essays to submit for Ph.D. applications, so maybe these will help folks. What helped me most was finding someone who had already been through a doctoral program to proof it and make suggestions. For privacy, both personal and professional, I have removed my name and school, replaced with * as place savers.
Educational Leadership Ph.D. Program Goal Statement
In July 2003, I found myself in a position I had not been in since my first day of kindergarten. I was at a new school, surrounded by people I had never met, with an opportunity to fully engage in this new academic experience. The Associate Dean of Students gave the instruction to take out a blank sheet of paper and write our name in the center of the page at the top. I anticipated a goal-writing session or a creative activity that allowed us to get to know the others in the room. Instead, she instructed us to write “Dr.” in front of our name. I still have that piece of paper and it has served to remind me of my potential during seemingly impossible experiences and a thrilling reminder of what I hope will be.
To gain practical experience while attending Grand Valley State University, I accepted a Graduate Hall Director position in Housing and Residence Life. I effectively applied the concepts of what I learned in the classroom to my responsibilities of supervising paraprofessional staff and educating students. I facilitated professional development programs for the paraprofessional staff and educational programs for the residential students. As part of my professional development, I participated in a program wide case study competition, placed third in a national case study competition, and presented at a variety of conferences. While attending Grand Valley I accepted a position to teach a section of First Year Seminar. This was my first time creating a traditional learning environment in a college setting and I took pride in encouraging these students who were exploring unchartered territory to take advantage of all that college had to offer both inside and outside the classroom. As an adjunct faculty member I was responsible for selecting and supervising an undergraduate teaching assistant and developing the curriculum. I really enjoyed manipulating various pieces of the curriculum to address the learning styles and cognitive development of the students.
Following graduation from Grand Valley State University I continued my experience in Residence Life at Olivet College as a Hall Director. Without a Director of Residence Life, as one of three new Hall Directors at Olivet, and the only one with past Housing experience, I organized the Hall Director training and compiled the Departmental Procedures Manual. My service on the RA Selection and Training Ancillary Committee at Grand Valley prepared me well to manage the RA process as well, and I began by writing an RA Policies, Procedures, and Training Manual, organized and facilitated a week-long training for incoming RAs, and designed the future RA Selection Process.
Fortunately, the majority of my professional experience has been positive, but it was not without challenges. My second position at Olivet College as the campus Judicial Officer challenged my identity, ethical values, and perception of self worth. These challenges culminated in a situation where I was asked to compromise my ethical standards by excusing two student athletes that had been sanctioned for possession of drugs. I was supported by the Dean of Students in my decision not to turn a blind eye to the situation however my employment was terminated by the President of the college as a result of my refusal. Although I am proud that I stood up for my beliefs, I was discouraged that acting ethically resulted in unemployment.
As the Housing Coordinator at Wayne State University, I was responsible for the recruitment and retention of residential students which was accomplished by promoting Housing and Residential Life in presentations both on and off campus and organizing a marketing effort for current residents. I created and managed the database of all campus residents, coordinated all contracts, and assigned students to their living spaces. As part of the student contract I worked closely with the Financial Aid Office to maximize a student’s opportunity to receive aid while living on campus. I was fascinated with the intricacies and complexities of financial aid and wanted to enhance my experience by enabling students to pursue a higher education.
My limited financial aid experience allowed me to be hired in a part-time, entry level position at Macomb Community College as a Financial Aid Technician where I began evaluating tax documents and student information for the verification process. My main area of responsibility was to communicate with students regarding the verification of their documents and the status of their aid. The training acquired at Macomb Community College provided enough experience to obtain my current position at Oakland University as a Financial Aid Advisor. I enjoy educating students about funding their college career as well as the analytical functions of evaluating information in order to provide students with financial aid. I have also discovered that working at an institution that is student focused and encourages growth in its employees has renewed my passion for my own education and career.
I wish to be accepted into the doctoral program for Educational Leadership to fulfill my personal, academic and career goals. Completing my Ph.D. would be the fulfillment of a personal goal set when I wrote “Dr. *” on that piece of paper in July 2003. Academically I would like to participate in research that could affect student development theory and a higher education environment. Obtaining my doctoral degree in Educational Leadership would enrich my professional career and allow me to work toward my professional goals which include becoming a faculty member, a Dean of Students, and working to create a Student Affairs concentration within a Master’s of Education program.
My resume reflects my responsibilities and skills, but it cannot convey the dedication and zeal I have for higher education. The people involved in my college and professional experiences have had a tremendous impact on my development, and I want to continue to participate in an environment where I can impact and motivate students to become intellectually and socially responsible. I am excited to have discovered that my education never has to end, and while I have learned not to rigidly plan my career or education, I hope both will take place at *.