The SOP or the Statement of Purpose is an essay required by the universities when you apply for their programs. The SOP is one of the most important aspects of your application. The statement of purpose is one of the most important tools that the college uses to understand you and hence, it attaches a lot of weight to it. The SOP is also known as the Letter of Intent or the Personal Statement.
What to include in your Statement of Purpose
The SOP is usually around 700 to 800 words long and must include the following aspects:
- Details about your life that have made the person you are
- Professional and academic backgrounds, including publications, etc., if any
- Your achievements and failures – academic, professional, and personal
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Your hobbies and extracurricular activities
- Your short-term and long-term goals
- How your past academic and professional experience is in sync with your goals
- The reason behind your pursuing this particular course (MS, MBA, etc.)
- How the course would help you achieve your goals
- What motivated you to choose this particular university
- How you can contribute positively to the university
Universities may ask for specific parts of or all of the above set of points. You should strictly follow any instructions mentioned regarding the format and/or which points to write the statement of purpose upon.
What not to include in your SOP
You should not include unnecessary information. For example, you should not mention unnecessary details about your family background. If necessary, you may write in brief about your family background and/or incidents and link it to how that influenced you. You should keep in mind that such details should suit the theme of your SOP.
Similarly, do not write about your trivial achievements. Identify your most important achievements and talk only about those. Also, you should include only those achievements for which you have proof (certificates, awards, etc.) and can substantiate the achievements if required.
Features of your SOP
You should keep in mind the following pointers while writing your statement of purpose.
First of all, your statement of purpose should be interesting and should have a flow. You should NOT merely present it as a collection of standalone sentences forced into a paragraph. Also, write in simple language using active voice, and make sure that the idea you want to portray is easy to comprehend.
Also, events you describe in the SOP should follow in chronological order, presenting a very clear picture of you in the minds of the college admission team members.
Since the admission team reads thousands of application essays, hence it is absolutely essential that you make the SOP very interesting to read. The SOP should have a personal touch and should feel like your life story.
Clarity of thought
The statement of purpose should very clearly explain your purpose convincingly – why you want to join the particular course from the particular university. The SOP should explain, how, through the course, you will be able to fulfill your career objective. Clarity of thought is the most important aspect of the SOP.
Make it amply clear in your SOP what makes you suited for the particular course. Explain why you think you would excel in it. Elaborate your professional and/or academic achievements to show that you are a perfect fit for the course.
You should make it clear in the SOP that you have read a lot about the college you are applying to. Using specific college related examples helps a lot. Also mention specific work done by professors of the college you are applying to in your field of interest. Show the admissions team your genuine interest in the college.
One final note! You should check and re-check your statement of purpose before the final submission. If required, have it analyzed by your professors or seniors or take professional help for the same. Also, never use the same SOP for all the colleges you apply to. Keeping the essence of the SOP the same, make sure that you change it according to the needs of the college you are applying to.