Statement of Purpose

Published On: 22 Jun 2009

 | Last Updated On: 19 Jul 2013

The Statement of Purpose is the single most important part of your application that will tell the admissions committee who you are, what has influenced your career path so far, your professional interests and where you plan to go from here. The SoP is your chance to talk directly to the admissions committee, to make yourself stand out from among a multitude of similarly qualified candidates, to convince the committee that you have the spark, the thirst for knowledge that could add value to your class.

Most of us work hard for the standard tests - the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and others. We attend classes or peruse study aids. We give practice tests and do everything within our power to aim for the highest possible score. Because we know that these test scores, while not a perfect tool, are crucial to our chances of gaining admission and even a scholarship or assistantship. A good SoP will certainly improve your chances of getting admission to the school of your choice, and even compensate for weaker portions of your application such as less-than-perfect grades.

A bad SoP, on the other hand, has the potential to drag down an otherwise strong application. Writing a reasonably good Statement of Purpose is not an impossible task. It requires care, attention and patience. And enough time for you to be able to write several drafts, show them to people and polish the essay till you get a version you are happy with. Here are some things to keep in mind when writing your Statement of Purpose. Usually the purpose is to persuade the admissions committee that you are an applicant who should be chosen. You may wish to show that you have the ability and motivation to succeed in your field or you may wish to show the committee that on the basis of your experience, you are the kind of candidate who will do well in the field.

Usually undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities are interested in the following matters:

  • You must explain the purpose for which you wish to study the course you have chosen.
  • The reasoning behind your particular chosen field of study. This question needs to be answered well and therefore the answer - both in person as well as in your SOP must be convincing and balanced.
  • You will have to explain what you intend to do once you finish your chosen course, how the course will help you attain your life's goals. This will include your career goals and plans for the future.
  • Your intended future use of your graduate study. This will include your career goals and plans for the future.
  • Pay attention to the purpose throughout the statement so that extraneous material is left out. Pay attention to the audience (committee) throughout the statement. Remember that your audience is made up of professionals in their field, and you are not going to tell them how they should act or what they should be. You are the amateur.
  • Then candidates must outline they are the 'right' student for the course and must state how they are prepared and fit for the course. This is the opportunity to correlate your academic background with your extracurricular experience to show how they unite to make you a special candidate.
  • Any problems or inconsistencies in your records or scores, such as a bad semester, should be explained in a positive manner and justify the explanation. Since this is a rebuttal argument, it should be followed by a positive statement of your abilities.
  • Any special conditions that are not revealed elsewhere in the application, such as a significant (35 hour per week) workload outside of school. This too should be followed with a positive statement about yourself and how these skills are applicable towards your course.
  • You may be asked, "Why do you wish to attend this school?". This requires that you have done your research about the school and know what its special appeal is to you.
  • Above all, this statement should contain information about you as a person. They know nothing about you unless you tell them. You are the subject of the statement.

Candidates must ensure that their SOP is well thought out and also presented in a balanced, positive manner. Candidates must try to make their SOP stand out amongst hundreds or even thousands of other SOP's. So do it the best way, Think about it, Draft it and proof read it and then polish it by considering opinions from people who have helped you along the way such as your parents, professors, employers etc. The reason why the university or college in UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Canada, United States etc wants applicants to write an SoP is that they want to know as much as they possibly can about all the applicants.

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