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Study Abroad: How to write your Statement of Purpose

July 28, 2015 13:57 IST
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It is important to provide relevant, authentic information and be persuasive in your Statement of Purpose.

Here's a quick guide to help you draft the perfect SOP.

How to write your statement of purpose

The Statement of Purpose, as the name suggests, requires you to state your 'purpose'; in other words your 'motivation' behind attending a particular graduate programme.

The Statement of Purpose is by far the most important document you will write for your application.

It's absolutely necessary for you to come up with an original and exciting story which the committee hasn’t heard before.

Your 'task' is to write an essay which is not just an engaging read but also includes interesting facts that makes you come across as someone unique and exclusive.

Usually, it takes approximately one to two months to write your SOP with an ideal length of 750 to 1000 words.

What should your SOP comprise and what exactly is the admissions committee looking for?

• Inclination to pursue Masters in the chosen discipline
• Aptitude for the course
• Academically equipped for the course
• What have you done so far that is in resonance with the course applied for?
• Why do you want to pursue MS?
• Clearly laid out career plan -- at least the short term goals
• Not just academic and technical capabilities but also mental preparedness for the rigours of the graduate programme. 
• Why this university?
• Why you? How will you enrich and positively impact the student bodies at the university with your talent and skill sets?
• How you fit into the university’s expectation and that you will go on to become a good brand ambassador for the university

So, what should be the structure of an SOP?

1. Introduction

Here are a few suggestions for writing appealing introductions:

• Start with a global issue or ecological concern, which everyone can relate to and immediately connect with.
• Begin your essay with a pressing social issue that has affected you personally and how you are determined to use your expertise to work for the realization of a social cause.
• You can start with recent breakthroughs in the field you wish to pursue your graduate studies in and how those innovations have taken the world by storm.
• You can also begin your intro by writing an interesting anecdote as an introduction to your passion and motivation for your choosing a particular field of study.

2. Academic overview

Apart from being short and crisp, your academic information should convince the committee of your relevant academic background.

This paragraph should demonstrate that your undergrad education has effectively laid a firm foundation for your Masters and is in sync with your intended Masters.

You must also talk about the specific subjects that are in tune with the academic requirements of your proposed Masters programme.

If you have fared exceptionally well in any subject or course, it is worth mentioning too.

If you're seeking an IT or technology related course, highlight your proficiency in coding and programming.

3. Projects and paper overview

Your projects internships and work experience together have to demonstrate your preparedness for the program and establish your long-term interest in the intended field of study.

This makes it imperative to highlight all skill-sets and experience, which qualify you for the proposed field of study.

When describing your project, please try and include aspects which enhance your qualities, without making it sound overly technical.

4. Work experience overview

When describing your internship and work experience you must talk about your roles and responsibilities, skills applied, skill-sets acquired, hands-on experience gained, experience in specific areas, accolades and recognition received, and key learnings.

5. Extracurriculars overview

While speaking about your extracurricular participations you must highlight your proactive engagement in the University committees, project competitions, robotics, orchestra/band/ choir, sports, dramatics and debates, music/literature/arts, community service initiatives, leadership initiatives.

6. University-specific overview

Curriculum, infrastructure, faculty, student bodies, international community, location, research opportunities and USP of the college are the factors you must focus on while writing your college specific paragraph.

7. Conclusion

It is important to convince the committee that you have carefully considered all aspects and done an extensive research before choosing this school over hundreds of choices available.

Please note that plagiarism is a serious concern and make sure that you do not indulge in this practice at any cost.

Every college has plagiarism software, and you will get caught easily.

Academic integrity is a vital part of US education system and plagiarism is strictly prohibited in all the US universities.

Indulging in plagiarism while editing SOPs/writing introduction for students can adversely affect their chances of getting into any US university.

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Collegepond is a career guidance company whose aim is to help students achieve their potential, crack the competitive exams and guide them in the application process for various courses across the globe.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Credit: Lucas/Creative Commons

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