Statement of Purpose or SOP is a personal statement written by a student to state his/her identity, interests, achievements, goals and motivations. This personal account should answer all the questions that an admission committee wants to know about the student like why does he/she want to study at a particular school, reasons for his/her interest in a particular subject, reasons behind choosing a particular country to pursue studies, future plans, influences and other such questions. An SOP of a student determines how he/she is different from other students, is he/she eager enough to pursue a particular course and what qualities of his/her can add value to the class. It basically should tell about a student’s personality and characteristics that are not reflected in their academic qualification. A statement of purpose should impress the committee enough to compel them to take the SOP as a genuine interest of the applicant.
A statement of purpose is generally submitted by applicants at the time of applying for a particular college/university or after the submission of online application. Students might be asked to answer a single question which is mostly about the reason for their choice of college and course. The admission committee may ask students to submit their statement of purpose online with an application for admission or through email separately.
The content of an SOP varies as per the course of study a student decides to undertake such as SOP for MBA, SOP for Law, SOP for Graduate School and SOP for MS. Highlighted below are some tips to help you write a perfect statement of purpose for your application.
Some universities ask students to answer a specific question and the answer of that question forms their statement of purpose while some simply ask to submit SOP where students do not need to answer the question but draw the format of SOP on their own. However, in both the circumstances, the content remains the same more or less as we already know that SOP means a student’s achievements and future aspiration that can be fulfilled by joining the course and college, he/she has selected.
While applying for a course at a university/college, students submit their academic credentials. So, when the admission department asks for your SOP, it is already aware of what is written in your transcripts. Through the statement of purpose, it is asking you to give reasons for why you are fit for the course and how you can contribute to the college/university community. They are looking for the potential that you would be able to withstand the course pressure, your unique approach to solve a problem and your willingness to evolve as a team leader and teammate.
Most students apply to more than one university and send the same SOP to all after just changing the relevant names and basic details. In doing so, students seem to forget that each university has its own characteristics, methodologies, values, strengths and weaknesses. So, what you need to do is modify your statement of purpose as per the specific features of different universities. You need to show that you have done thorough research about the school and based on what you found, you came to the conclusion that this school is best suited to your requirements and you are going to just fit in right there.
The best approach to writing an SOP is to first start with a rough draft. This gives you a chance to assemble your thoughts. Write your first draft weeks before the submission deadlines. This gives you time to change and modify successive copies of SOP. In time, you will learn to polish your thoughts writing what exactly you want to convey to the admission commissions.
One thing an applicant needs to keep in mind is that he/she is not to write an essay but a story to keep the admission committee engaged. The narration should not be literary that demonstrates your artistic writing, rather the narration must convey the sentiments and inspiration behind the applicant’s decision to want to study a particular course. Your story should not sound artificial. It should connect with the committee. It should be the best source of information about you. Also, do not just focus on the qualitative aspect of your story but quantitative aspect as well. As in, if you can show your achievements through numbers, it will make the most impact on the committee.
An applicant needs to keep in mind is that he/she is not to write an essay but a story to keep the admission committee engaged
While writing the statement of purpose, you should be specific and clear. The meaning behind the statements should give clear details about what exactly you want to say to the committee. Explain the reasons behind your selection of the course clearly, talk about your inspirations, aspirations and skills that will help you in pursuing this course. The most important thing an admission committee looks for in an SOP is the answer to the ‘why’ questions. You have to keep that in mind when you write your statement of purpose. Also, the tone of your SOP should be conversational and slightly formal.
Now that your draft is complete, revise the statement of purpose to see if you need to change any the sentence structure, correct spellings and grammar. Reading your own work after finishing with the written part gives you time to understand your own statement of purpose. It gives a new perspective about the SOP and room to insert any more useful information that might enhance your statement of purpose.
After the review and modifications, your statement of purpose requires proofreading. Look at the details to see if everything is in order. It never hurts to double-check your copy for any error.
At last, you are at a stage where you must get someone to read for a second opinion. If the reader is someone who has been through this process himself, it is even better. He/she could tell you if you are missing something or if you need to remove something from your statement of purpose.