Title: How to write a statement of purpose
Published in The HINDU Opportunities on April 4, 2012
Online Link to the source article:
Are you done with your GRE/GMAT tests? Are you currently getting ready to put together your application packet to send to various universities? A statement of purpose (SOP) is your launch pad towards securing that desirable admission into the university of your choice. A well-thought out and personalized SOP that illustrates your academic accomplishments, conveys your zeal for the course and also explains why you have chosen that particular university for your graduate education will sway the admission committee in making a decision in your favour. The main idea behind this exercise is to give the admissions committee an idea of what to expect from a prospective student apart from his/her scores, GPA and letters of recommendation.
Here are some pointers that can help you write a winning SOP:
Purposeful writing: Understand that the purpose of writing a SOP is to convince the university's admission committee to grant you admission. This is best done when you write about yourself, your academic credentials, research interests and how your background fits in with the university's graduate program and how your personality matches what they are looking for in a graduate student. Don't expect your first draft to be your final version, be prepared to rewrite several times and put it away for a few days and revisit it again to give it a fresh perspective.
Framework and body: Many universities require an applicant to answer one big question or a question with many sections as part of the essay. Do your research about the university, its program and be prepared to elaborate on why this course is of special interest to you. Do not hesitate in divulging aspects of your personality, the experiences that shaped you and allow glimpses into your character that are relevant to the questions and talk about your future goals, as well.
Language and presentation: Make sure that your English usage is correct; avoid grammatical errors, abbreviations, spelling and typographical mistakes to make your SOP a clean essay. Follow a logical thought process or use a chronological sequence when describing yourself so that your readers will be motivated to read your story. After all, you are writing about yourself to an audience who has never met you. Stick to the word limit specified and be succinct in your presentation. Give yourself enough time to put together an essay that would do due diligence to you and the admissions committee.
Avoiding the obvious: When writing your SOP, stay away from trying to sound impressive and avoid over-using the “I” approach to your statements, this is because the admissions committee already knows that it is your SOP. Refrain from informal writing and repetitive sentences where you dwell on what program you are applying for, the name of the university etc. as this is all information that is already part of your application before the admissions committee.
American Universities receive several applications from students throughout the world whose credentials and academic background may all be somewhat similar. Further, when granting admission to students, these universities also look for geographical diversity along with other preferred qualifications. A well-written SOP that can stand out and make a mark with the admissions committee is what will make or break your admission into the University of your choice. Also, remember that a convincing SOP is what will cover your bases for any minor glitches in your credentials and is your only chance to sway the admissions committee to make a favourable decision.