How to write a winning SOP ?
February 1, 2012
February 1, 2012
You’d have heard that your GRE score and your undergraduate GPA are important determiners to the success of your application. True, they are important but would these two components alone give you admits to your desired schools ? No, they won’t!
Let’s do some math to understand why they won’t: Suppose 100 candidates take the GRE. Out of these, 10 candidates get stellar GRE scores while the rest 90 end up getting average or poor scores. Which type of schools do you think would these ten best scoring candidates will apply to ? Not suprisingly, these candidates with the best GRE scores and usually with good GPAs will apply to the top schools. So if you are planning to apply to the top schools, you are competing with these 10 candidates who, like you, have nothing much to worry about their GRE, GPA. As a result, it becomes all the more important for you to be able to distinguish yourself and one of the ways to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicants is by writing a powerful Statement of Purpose and by getting impressive Letters of Recommendations.
The Statement of Purpose(SOP) and the Letters of Recommendation(LORs) which you submit help the Admission committees decide whether they want to select a candidate for their program or not . In this article, we’ll focus on what exactly does the SOP of a successful applicant contain which gives him an edge over the other candidates. Apart from the many other things ,there are essentially four characteristics which a SOP MUST have to be labelled a winning SOP and in this article, you’ll get to understand how exactly to incorporate these qualities
1. Indicate your goals & how will the school help you achieve them: The admission committees are interested in knowing your short term goals-what do you plan to do immediately after graduation- and your long term goals-your vision for yourself. What is equally important is that they want to understand how your short term and long term goals can be accomplished at their school? In other words, you have to tell them what made you apply to their school among the vast number of schools you could have applied to . You also need to explain them why you is it important for you to achieve higher education and why you can’t achieve your short or long term goals with your current academic credentials. Remember, that the admission committees don’t want to play the part of an investigative agency; they just want to understand you and your motivation and thought process better.
2.Indicate how will you contribute to the school: You have to tell the Admission committee how do you plan to contribute to the school. You can contribute to a school in four ways
a. Inside the classroom
b. Outside the classroom academically
c. Outside the classroom in terms of extra curricular activities
d. As an alumnus
The school is interested in knowing what are you plans on one or more of these fronts. Write something which is meaningful but make sure that you do not go overboard and write something over the top
3. Show that you’ve done your homework : The admission committees know that you would be applying to a couple of schools . So the last thing they want to do is read a yet another generic SOP which the candidate would have submitted to all the schools because submitting “one size fits all” kind of SOPs gives the adcoms an impression that you didn’t bother to research about their school and culture well and that you might be equally happy getting into some school other than theirs. So do not use that “one size fits all” approach and customize your SOP for each school. Mention what you like about the school- it maybe any professor or some particular classes or even the school culture. The idea is to let them feel that you have researched about where you are likely to study.
4. Genuine and sincere tone :The Admission committee members are usually people with several years of experience under their belts. They evaluate tens of applicants ,and in some cases hundreds of applications, in a year and can see “see through” the application easily. They know when a candidate is being honest,and when he is not. For example, if you write in your SOP that “I have been an academically bright student throughout my life” (a phrase which most candidates love using), all they have to do to verify that is look at your GPA to determine how “bright” you have been, so be the person you actually are because as goes the saying “data speaks for you”. You need to also remember that the SOP is not something where you have to list all your accomplishments. Some applicants think that by writing all their achievements, they’ll be able to create an impression that they have been achievers. Nothing could be farther from truth. In fact, it may backfire because mentioning every insignificant event/achievement will make you look childish. The adcom member will most probably just read it fast enough to skip those so-called accomplishments. The bottomline is that they want to hear a story,so don’t make it a resume.
If you stick to the guidelines above, chances are good that the SOP you’ll submit will be powerful enough to convey your story effectively
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