The Statement of Purpose is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and underrated aspects of graduate applications. Most students tend to pass it off as if it is just another common essay about themselves where they end up writing monotonous stuff that isn’t convincing. What these students don’t know is the heft weight that university admission committees put on SOP. They want to see if you take interest in letting them know how much you want to pursue your program at their university.
How Can Your SOP Stand Out From The Rest?
A Statement of Purpose that stands out from the rest is one that sounds original and gives the admission committee what they want. Essentially, an extinguished SOP has answers to some of the basic questions that the admission committee has outlined. Although they may not ask you openly, they expect the right answers. Some of these questions include:
- What program do you want to study at graduate school?
- Why do you want to pursue this specific program?
- Why do you want to study at this college or university? What do you like about us?
- Why did you choose to study in this country? What do you like about it?
- How much and what kind of experience do you have in your field?
- Is your experience related to your choice of the program?
- If you’re already experienced, what extra skills are you planning to gain from the program?
- What do you intend to do with your degree after graduation?
- Would you end up with a job or take up research?
- How can you contribute to our university and your program? What specific skills do you bring on the table?
- What is that exceptional aspect or characteristic about you that we should know? Why does it matter to them or fellow students in the program?
These are just some of the questions that you must answer in your SOP for it to be unique and stand out from the rest of the applicants. Writing down the answers separately for each question and building a good storyline from them that the admission committee would love to read and get convinced. Since there are no personal interviews for graduate programs, the only way you can impress the admission committee is by delivering a compelling Statement of Purpose. That is the only way to secure admission and perhaps get a decent scholarship.
What Are The Strategies For Writing A Powerful And Convincing Statement Of Purpose?
When it comes to writing an SOP, you must follow some strategies to make your SOP unique and persuasive. Most students write whatever that pops in their minds or whatever they get from the internet. You don’t have to follow this path, right? All you need are the following strategies so that you can write a Statement of Purpose that sounds excellent and unique.
- Write Stories instead of Statements
If you are to choose, would you prefer reading a newspaper or a novel? A novel, I suppose. Why? A Newspaper will give you just news in some attention-grabbing headlines while a Novel tells you a good story that you emotionally get connected. It brings out your human feelings and involves you in its storyline. You get yourself involved in every aspect of the story.
A powerful, convincing SOP captures the attention and emotions of the admission committee in a way that they get attached to your message. Instead of writing mere statements, write a great story about what makes you choose the program and why in this university. Craft a creative storyline that sounds convincing.
- Quantify Your Stories
As much as we ask you to write a story for a statement of purpose, bear in mind that your story shouldn’t read like a thesis. But it should serve as the best source of information about you. Not only should your story be qualitative but quantitative as well. Quantitative, in this case, means that it should have measurable quantities instead of being just a story. The admission committee should understand the deepness of it. Instead of writing how much experience you have in a particular skill or what qualifications you got, add numbers and say you have 2 years of experience or you attained 1st class or 2nd class in your field of study. Once you add numbers to your story, it becomes more realistic and convincing.
- Be Specific
When writing your statement of purpose, you need to be very specific. Anything you say should be backed with relevant evidence or with a deep explanation. For example, say why you love the program and what made you choose the program and this university. Don’t beat around the bush, because the admission doesn’t have all that time. Just go straight to the point in a good way that you don’t come out as arrogant.
- Personalize Your Essay
Most students prepare a basic template for their SOP, and if they are applying to more than one college or university, they only change the relevant names and details. The rest of the statement remains the same copy. This is not ideal since they might seem very similar to each other even when the universities are very different. Each college and university has a diverse set of features that define them in terms of methodologies, cultures, values, weaknesses, mottos, and strengths e.t.c vary extensively.
If you are applying to several universities, make sure you factor in all the qualities we have stated above in every university and customize your SOP accordingly. Just name and few details change won’t suffice. Tailor your SOP such that the admission committee thinks you perfectly fit in their university community. Therefore, before you start writing your SOP, try to research the general culture within which the university is based upon and learn a thing or two about it. By doing so, it will help you decide on your application. So if the culture doesn’t suit your interests, there is no need to waste your applications.
- Use a Formal Yet Conversational Tone
A Statement of Purpose is a formal document that needs to be written formally. Nonetheless, it doesn’t have to be super formal, or super friendly. It should be slightly formal language with a touch of fun and uniqueness. As such, a conversational tone will be the most ideal and safest way to go. Craft your statement of purpose like you are talking to the admission committee while you keep the use of casual language at bay.
- Don’t be Fictional. Be Yourself
We asked you to write a story instead of statements for your SOP. However, you don’t need to create stories out of anything – fiction. Creating fiction stories for your Sop will give you nothing but a rejection letter. It is understandable that not everyone has had a great story in their lives or has achieved anything outstanding. It is acceptable.
If you don’t have a great thing to write, keeping it normal it the surest way to go. It is better to be normal than fictitious. Don’t just say anything for the sake of it won’t convince the admission committee as much as you think. They will only look for relevant evidence in your stories and from your past. Therefore, be yourself as much as possible throughout your SOP.
- Address Your Problems
If you had any issues with your academic background or a gap in your career or work-related issues, the statement of purpose gives you a golden opportunity to address them. This way, you will reassure the admission committee of any discrepancies in your academic and career path. Most importantly, be honest and maturely address the issues.
Don’t try to defend yourself, but you can point out the real reasons that led to the problems, and how you overcame the situation and ‘what’ you have learned from the experience. Try to address your issues in a way that the committee empathizes with you, thereby enhancing your admission.
- Do Your Homework
Before you write your statement of purpose, you should first do thorough research on the universities or colleges you are applying to. List the things you like about each university so that when writing your SOP. This way, you will exactly know what to tell them what you like about them and why you want to join them. Being able to write in this manner shows that you are well-prepared and that you are eager to study at that university. Therefore, there is a need to do a background check on the universities you intend to apply to before you write your SOP.
- Proofread, Edit and Re-edit
Proofreading your SOP is the best way you can spot the simple spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Ask your friends to read your work and get their suggestions are about your SOP. Once they go through your document, you can consider their suggestions and the edit. Go through it once more and ensure that everything is perfect and that your SOP flows smoothly.
Now you know some of the strategies that you can use to write a powerful and convincing statement of purpose and impress the committee, thereby acing the admission process. When writing your upcoming SOP, considering some of these strategies will put you closer to joining the college of your dreams to pursue the program you have always wanted. Good Luck!