SOP is the most crucial document of the application submitted to an international institute. It is the summary of your educational portfolio, an essay that spells out your academic trajectory so far and the journey ahead. The statement of purpose is also called an admission essay or a personal statement. In almost all the cases, SOP decides the fate of your aspirations of studying in an international institute because it gives the admission committee a perspective of your thought process, maturity, career objective, decision- making ability, your future plans and how the course and the university you have selected fits in your scheme of things. Rather than flipping through all the pages of your portfolio, application evaluators prefer to go through the SOP as it gives them a summarised and to the point insight of the information mentioned in all other documents. Moreover, when an institute receives a large number of applications for a particular program, a well-written SOP gives a student edge over other students. Thus, a well-written statement can help you secure admission in the university of your choice (provided you satisfy their other admission requirements). Though several institutes also require you to clear an admission interview, it is only after the varsities are satisfied with your application especially the SOP. Please remember, no other document of your application can compensate or cover-up for a substandard SOP.
Having understood the importance of an SOP, now let us look at the points to be considered while preparing an SOP.
Contents and flow of the statement:
One of the best ways to give a proper structure and fluidity to your sop is to break it down it into several paragraphs as mentioned below:
- Introduction about your interest area and your selected course
- Important incident or event that trigged your choice
- Your scholastic journey till now, relevant projects, internships workshops, and courses undertaken, participation in extracurricular activities,
- Reasons for studying abroad
- Why have you selected this course
- Benefits of being in this university
- Advantages of studying in the USA
- Career plans after course completion
Before drafting the SOP Content consider the following points:
- Research about the course you are planning to do and its correlation with your current or last education and your professional aspirations.
- Ensure you quantify your accomplishments in the statement
- Highlight any of the major academic challenges you encountered, how did you face them and what did you learn from them.
- Highlight your strengths subtly, avoid stating failures and rejections unless highly important.
- Do not exaggerate; your statement should not sound like a boastful presentation.
- Justify only glaring gaps in your profile.
Customize your statement:
In order to have some other options to fall back upon, you will mostly apply for multiple institutes and hence would require multiple SOPs. However, please avoid preparing one generic statement for all the colleges. Customize your statement as per the course contents, the institute you are applying and the career opportunities the course will create. For instance, you may mention about the professors and their research specific to your course and how learning from them will be an enriching experience. You may write of specific modules of the course that caught your attention, course and university accreditation, scholarship availability (if any), events, and competitions pertinent to your interests. A personalized statement is important because if the reviewing committee feels that the SOP is of a kind that you may have submitted to all several institutes, your application will end up in the trash.
Your SOP sentences must be succinct and unambiguous. Ensure you know the meaning of each and every word of your statement. It should not have spelling and grammatical mistakes. Once you finish the SOP, proofread it thoroughly. Make sure every sentence of your SOP makes logical sense. Edit the SOP wherever required. The paragraphs must be in a sequence. Your SOP should flow like a story that keeps the audience engaged throughout. You may even take the feedback of your friend or relative to make your SOP more refined and accurate.
No reviewer would be interested in reading the same content in different statements. They already might be having a hectic schedule. In such a scenario reading duplicate content would make them lose interest in your application. Hence do not mention the information from your resume as it is in the SOP. Also, do not mention your scores for each and every semester and year separately as they would be already there in your transcripts. Similarly, avoid mentioning all your family details, all the projects you did during your education, and all the activities you participated in. Identify the information that is relevant to the statement. Even while filtering out relevant details be clear about the one that needs to be elaborated, one that needs to be precise and one that needs to be ignored.
Do not copy your statement from others or from the online sources. Remember what you wish to do with your life is something that only you can explain properly and not Google. A statement laden with clichéd sentences and hackneyed words will not make you stand from the crowd. Try to make a unique SOP ensuring clarity of thoughts and your aspirations. Once you finalize the SOP, do a plagiarism check to confirm the originality of the statement. You can find a lot of plagiarism checking tools online.
Length of the SOP:
There is no uniform length of a statement of purpose. An SOP of around 800-1200 words is preferred. However, before working on the SOP, check on the university website if there is any specific requirement with regards to the statement like the word limit, formatting (font type and size), spacing, or any other. If there are such conditions, please prepare the SOP considering them.
Now that you are well versed with the contents of SOP, start preparing, follow the guidelines suggested, and all the best for your application and future ahead.