Are you planning to Study Abroad? Have you shortlisted the colleges you wish to seek admission in? Then, it’s time to take the next important step: writing your Statement of Purpose or SOP. The SOP is an important piece of document accompanying your application that can influence the decision of the admission commission. According to the Business Dictionary, the SOP is “a personal statement about an individual, what influences him/her, professional interests and plan for the future as typically described as part of a college applicant’s admissions application.” However, it should be noted that the SOP is not a mere statement that runs into 2-3 lines. Rather, it is a personal essay that highlights the ambitions and achievements of the candidate in a picturesque and unique manner. With respect to the word count, a good rule of thumb is to write an SOP that comprises about 800-1000 words (1-2 pages long). Some universities will mention the word limit for the SOP in the admission procedure. In such cases, it is important to adhere to the word count and prepare an SOP that adheres to the guidelines.
Here are some tips to help you write an outstanding SOP that can guarantee admission to your dream university:
1. Craft A Unique Story: An SOP is much more than a compilation of statements. In order to create an excellent SOP, you need to weave a story that is reminiscent of your life experiences. Think of yourself as the storyteller who is spinning a wonderful story about a candidate with aspirations and dreams. Your story should revolve around the main reason for pursuing the given course. Put yourself in the shoes of the admissions committee member. Which SOP would grab your attention? The one with a brilliant story about a computer science wizard or the one with lists of facts about a computer science aspirant? The verdict is clear: the first candidate is sure to gain admission to the University of his choice.
2. Exploit the Power of Numbers: Add some credibility to your SOP by mentioning your achievements in figures. Just as you would quantify accomplishments in your resume, include numbers to highlight your achievements. You could provide examples of success stories at work, internship centers, etc.
3. Stick to the Point: Although it’s tempting to create a story with twists and turns, don’t go overboard. Remember to stick to the basics. After all, this isn’t a story about a fictitious character. This is a story of a real personality. This is your life story. So, be as specific as possible. Don’t use vague statements such as “I wish to eradicate poverty.” Instead, use practical and real-life examples with realistic goals.
4. Add Some Personality: Make sure that the SOP reflects your personality well. Use original ideas and anecdotes rather than copying someone else’s. Although you could look at different SOP templates, refrain from using them as the perfect standard. Every SOP is unique and you need to create one that is close to the real “you.’ Nevertheless, you could definitely use them as guides to help you gain a better understanding of the process. Also, tailor your SOPs for each university because each university is different and offers diverse experiences. Although it would be tedious to write down 5 different SOPs for 5 different universities, engage in this exercise and rest assured that your efforts will be rewarded in due course.
5. Adopt A Friendly and Conversational Tone: While drafting your SOP, make sure to draw a balance between a formal tone and a friendly tone. Be sure to steer away from the extremes—too friendly or too formal. Although an SOP is a formal document accompanying your application, you could stick to a conversational tone. Think of your SOP as a conversation between you and your college Dean or Head of Department. Modify the language accordingly.
6. Highlight Your Accomplishments: Ideally, your statement of purpose should reflect your character and spirit by conveying your passion, ability to withstand academic pressure, team building spirit and capacity to envision future projects. Use anecdotes and examples to support your points. You could also think of specific accomplishments at your workplace. In short, jot down all the experiences that will provide the required background.
7. Be Honest; don’t Fabricate Stories: Although it is essential to portray yourself in a good light, remember to portray an honest picture of yourself. Avoid fluff and unnecessary details. Don’t make up stuff, exaggerate details or pretend to be someone else. At all times, it’s best to be yourself. Each person is unique and you will definitely have something special to highlight.
8. Convert your Weaknesses into Strengths: Think of the times when you faced problems. It could be a major illness, an accident, issues at work, etc. You could make a note of these and focus on how you resolved the issue and emerged victoriously. This would be a nice way to demonstrate your resilience and ability to face challenging situations.
Last but not the least, do a lot of online as well as offline research about the institutions you are applying in. Talk to present and past students who’ve studied there. This will help you build a powerful and effective SOP that could determine your future.