Once the decisions of where to go and what universities to apply are made, the next step is to understand their application process. While most universities keep it simple by asking your GMAT/GRE, TOEFL/IELTS scores, your transcripts, making you write two essays with a word limit, and asking you to produce letters of recommendation; others make it slightly more complex. They substitute the essay part with asking you to write an introduction about yourself in a statement that highlights amongst many things, your compatibility with what the university has to offer.
What is SOP?
SOP full form stands for Statement of Purpose. Students often have many questions about SOP, such as what is a Statement of Purpose? How to write a statement of purpose? How long should a statement of purpose be? How SOP format should be? How to write a statement of purpose for MBA? What is the difference between SOP for Canada and SOP for Australia? And so on. Here is some information about SOP writing that will help candidates while writing a Statement of Purpose for Masters, and other programs.
How long a statement of purpose should be?
Statement of purpose is typically about a 1000 words. Most universities ask statement of purpose to understand what clarity an individual has about what he wants to do. An SOP is the better option because it does not have to showcase any technical knowledge that one would have to borrow from anywhere, thereby obtaining some unfair edge over the others. An SOP should ideally contain details about oneself, one’s long-term and short-term goals, passions, how one thinks the university can help in achieving in any of them.
All it requires is a grip over the soft skills, which is an extremely important skill-set to possess. Because of this, an SOP sets a level playing ground for everyone applying. This also helps the team at the university to better understand the candidate as clarity in a good Statement of Purpose directly translates to clarity in what the student wants to achieve.
For the trained eye, an SOP can also help weed out troublemakers and those people that would not contribute anything productive to the university’s legacy. It would also help in understanding how far the individual is going to make an effort to better himself using the facilities at the colleges and whether he has done his research before applying or he is just applying to all of them, hoping to be lucky. A well-written SOP can also tell the admissions committee whether the university that is being applied to can have a symbiotic relationship with the candidate. All said and done, it is important to know how to write a good Statement of purpose. Mentioned underneath, are some of the statement of purpose tips.
Types of SOP by programs
SOP Writing Tips:
1) COLLATE THE IDEAS
An SOP should contain details about oneself. This, however, does not mean that you write all the unimportant details about yourself. Keep it concise and make sure all the important parts of your life so far have been highlighted. Most people think accomplishments in extracurricular activities should not be mentioned. On the contrary, applying to a university that boasts of diversity requires you to highlight those achievements because this just serves to tell the admissions committee that you are willing to venture out there and experiment. Mention your schooling in concise words, why you chose the stream you did in your high school/graduation (depending on what you are applying for) and where you hope to go from there. This is one of the important aspects of an SOP because they expect to see the clarity of thought.
Therefore, mention how your graduation/high school has helped you realize what field you want to go into, or whether you want to continue in the same field. Along the same lines, mention your long-term goals in the field because no admissions committee wants to see a casual student enrolling in the course. Do not forget to show in the SOP that you have done your research and this interest is not some windfall interest. Also, indicate that you have done your research about the university. While mentioning that, make sure you mention your short-term goals. These should primarily include what you hope to do in the university as a student- what skills you hope to develop and how they will translate to your long-term goals. There should not be mixed messages in the SOP. You cannot mention that you wish to pursue Finance in the Long Term and take up something as arbitrary as English Literature. It sends the wrong message. While you may mention that you wish to pursue them as a hobby, that message should be clear.
2) USE SIMPLE LANGUAGE
Most people assume that writing to prestigious universities requires you to use flowery language with high-frequency words and obscure idioms. This could not be further from the truth. The most important thing to remember in an SOP is the communication of ideas. An SOP, when read, is read for clarity of thought and appropriateness of vocabulary- not high-frequency words and idioms where other words could have been substituted. Do not make the mistake of compromising on quality for vocabulary. This, however, does not go to mean that you use casual words. Keep the SOP forma, use appropriate vocabulary. In case of doubt, feel free to refer to the dictionary. The SOP must give off the idea of being well researched and thought of, not something you would write to a school fair.
3) REVISE AND EDIT THE SOP
Always remember that SOP helps the admissions committee put a face to your resume. There are going to be countless resumes and scores. In the application process, the SOP is the only thing you can fully control. To make your application, resume and score count, you need to draft a good SOP, one that the admissions committee can understand and analyze with ease without having to spend too much time on it. So, take the time to go through your SOP, revise your strengths, weaknesses, the things you bring to the course, the things you hope to take away at the end of the course.
4) ENSURE THERE IS CONSTANCY OF FLOW
This is one of the important things in writing an SOP. One should focus on the way the writing should flow. Obviously, there are going to be many things one wants to say. However, it should be remembered that the writing should not feel dismembered. When re-reading the SOP, ensure that the flow is constant and legible.
Though SOP is not the determinant, make the lasting impression count.
Statement of Purpose Format:
Whether you are writing a statement of purpose for masters, statement of purpose for graduate school, or a statement of purpose for PhD, the format remains the same. Generally, there is no SOP word limit. A standard SOP is about two pages long. It would contain 800 to 1000 words if not asked specifically by the institute you are applying for. Before you begin, refer to some statement of purpose sample and statement of purpose examples available, if you are still confused in how to start a statement of purpose, the pointers below will help you with Statement of Purpose Structure:
Statement of Purpose Introduction and Goals:
There is no standardized statement of purpose template, but there should be a flow throughout your SOP. Start with your introduction. Your academic background, your interests and what are you looking for going ahead in your life. Academic background includes your schooling, the specialization stream that you have chosen, and how that is related to the college or University. Both short-term and long-term goals of yours give the clarity to the reader about what you want from the institution and curriculum that you are opting for.
While the first portion of the SOP was a general information about your academic background, this portion is a detailed elaboration of the same. Your schooling, extra curriculum activities, about the college you have studied in if you are a graduate. Any work experience related to the field that you want to include and the whole progression of the academic aspect of your life.
Reason to Apply:
This is the most important part of your SOP, if you are writing a statement of purpose for the university, tell the University what has lead you to their University, and why would you like to get the admission in their institution. Show how passionate and serious you are about it, without overdoing it. Do a thorough research on the courses and facilities the institute provides and state how that would help you progress in the future.
Statement of Purpose Conclusion:
This is the part where you will finally conclude your SOP; write down how you will achieve what you have planned for yourself. What is that you will be adding to the institution if you get the admission, and how you have planned all of it thoroughly, specifically around the course and the university you are applying for
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