An SOP or statement of purpose goes by various names in various institutions. Some admission committees call it an admission essay, while others might call it an applicant statement. It is meant to be a written statement by a prospective student applying to university, college or any graduate school.
A statement of purpose is a personal essay that you, as a student candidate, need to write. It is an important document that is required by the university admission committee to understand better who you are, your learnings and work experiences, and your future career aspirations. It is in your statement of purpose that you will highlight the reasons you have chosen to study at a particular university and a specific course. The statement of purpose should showcase how you will not only benefit from studying this program but also how you plan on using the knowledge you learn in your future career.
How long should a statement of purpose be?
The ideal length of your statement of purpose, whether you are a graduate or undergraduate student, should not be more than an A4 sheet. That means somewhere between 500 to 1000 words approximately! Remember, it's essential that your statement of purpose be easy to read by the admissions team. Use a reasonable font size of 11 or 12pt and a font that is traditional and not too out there!
While these are the general rules to follow, some universities might have pre-set guidelines on spacing and a defined word limit! For example, in the case of the common portal, UCAS, for undergraduate students, the statement of purpose can only be 4000 characters, including spacing! So keep an eye on out before you apply!
What goes into a standout statement of purpose?
Your statement of purpose is unique to you. It is a one-page essay that explains to the university who you are, why you're applying, why you're the right candidate, and what you want to do with the degree in the future. It is your only opportunity to convince the admission committee that you have what it takes to be successful in your graduate studies! There are key elements that you need to include in the essay that will make your application stand apart!
Your statement of purpose needs to demonstrate and emphasize that as a student candidate that you are competent, self-motivated, and are persistent! This means not just writing statements but showcasing through your writing, your learnings inside and outside the classroom! You need to emphasize the positives in an active tone rather than a passive one! You can show your perseverance by writing about how you overcame obstacles and your experiences that have driven you to go more indepth into the subject of your choice!
A good statement of purpose talks about your strengths and how you believe that the course you are applying to will help you in the future! Do your homework and research on modules that you will benefit from. There might be some you already know and some that have driven you to the course your applying! University too! Each institution has its own motto, vision, culture, and methodologies. Your statement of purpose should mention what about the university appeals to you! If the admission team can see you identify with their student community, the higher your chances of being shortlisted!
Writing your statement of purpose – What to put in and what not to.
Before you start writing your statement of purpose, you must gather your thoughts and think about how you want to portray yourself to the admissions committee of the university. This written statement will give them a first glimpse into who you are as a person, your attitude towards learning, and your focus! You must project your true self and be original!
The opening of your written work should be short and sweet. It should introduce who you are, your interests, and your motivations. Use antidotes from your life to connect your passions. This will make you more relatable as well!
The next paragraph should be a summary of all your academic achievements—high school through till your last degree. Include facts like your research and project titles and how you went about them. This will show your research capabilities as well as how comprehensive you can be with your assignments.
Your academics are not the only factor that they look at. The admission committee also looks for what you have done outside the classroom. Be it sports, literary achievements or social work. Everything you have done showcases who you are and what matters most to you. Make sure you mention your learnings and not just your achievements.
Next comes your experiences in the professional domain. Whether it was an internship or a full-time job, summarize your understanding and your learnings. Write about your responsibilities and exposure and what it has taught you. What you need to be careful of is not to write your resume in prose!
The next part is important, and take your time writing it as this is when you tie in the course you want to study with all your experiences combined. Here you should talk about why you have chosen to study this subject and how you believe it will help you in the future. Make sure you mention it’s relevance and impact. Research enough about the program, so you can write about modules, professors, and elements that you think will give you the competitive edge you need!
Your university selection is important too! You need to mention what about them has drawn you to apply and how you can and will make them proud on graduating!
Ending your statement of purpose is just as important as the start of it. It should show your readiness and eagerness to learn and to take on any challenges you might face head-on! You are unique to find your own way to sign off without being too corny!
Top tips to remember when writing your statement of purpose
- Be Yourself! Think Borderless!
- Write your own Statement of Purpose – No one knows you better than you do!
- Be Clear and Concise – Avoid complicated language and long statements
- Be Specific
- Make it Readable – font , font size, and space formatting
- Avoid Repetition
- Demonstrate your abilities through valid examples
- Emphasize your positive outlook and want to learn
- Ensure there is focus and connection in everything you want to say
- Don’t Plagiarize
- Proof Read before sending
No one is prefect and your first draft will be longer than you think! Give yourself enough time to write out your statement of purpose as you will reword, edit, add and subtract a lot before you end up with your final piece of work! Your statement of purpose is a representation of you – take your time and be borderless!