What is a statement of purpose (SOP)?
The statement of purpose is an application essay a student applying for a graduate program at a foreign university is required to write in order to be admitted to the program. It’s possibly the best way to express your goals and achievements impressively to the admission officers and faculty members of your discipline.
Importance of SOP in the Admission Process
The SOP is considered to be one of the most critical components of your application; perhaps the most important part of the entire admission process. The SOP portrays the most significant impression of yourself to the admission officers. Your SOP will say a lot of thing about you silently that a strong profile might never be able to speak out. The SOP tells your attitude, your ambition, your clarity of thought and your personality; and carries the potential of leveraging low GPA and/or average test scores (SAT, GRE or GMAT). While the GPA and test scores are essentially objective in nature, the SOP is the subjective aspect your application. The SOP gives you the real opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
What to include in an SOP? Here is an ideal checklist of an Effective SOP:
- What do you want to do (study or research?)
- Why this program?
- Why this university?
- Why did you choose to study in this particular country? What do you like about it?
- How much and what kind of experience you have in your field?
- Specific classes, special courses or projects you have taken, that are related to your field of interest.
- Any community service or leadership experience while in college.
- Why should you get admitted to this program?
- What values will you bring to the institute and to your peers?
- What do you understand about the student community and college culture? Why do you think you will fit in?
- What are your career goals?
- How will this program help you to achieve your career goals?
- Your extracurricular activities, hobbies, and interests
- What is that one unique aspect/characteristic about you that the admission officers should know? Why does it matter to the admission officers and/or to the fellow students of your class?
Tips for Writing a Good SOP for Graduate School
- Start early and spend good enough time on introspection and brainstorming ideas and life events.
- Put focus on self-motivation, passion, competence, and potential.
- Write in an active voice, and not passive voice.
- Use a formal, but conversational tone.
- Write persuasively.