Planning to study abroad? Well get ready for a long drawn application process.
You’ve got to finalise a list of target schools, get your recommendations, give your standardized tests, and much more. But in the midst of this tedious work of documentation, there is one requirement that gives you the unique opportunity to make your case for getting an admission.
It’s called a Statement of Purpose of an SOP.
An SOP is an essay where you explain how your life experiences, your past achievements, and your acquired skills converge towards the goal of studying in their university. Safe to say, a well written SOP can single handedly increase your chances of getting an admission into your dream university.
So how do you master writing an SOP? How do you even get started? And how do you put your experiences and your goals into a format? Read on and find out!
What is an SOP?
A Statement of Purpose (SOP), also known as a research statement or a letter of intent, is written to the admissions committee. It discusses your career path, interests, and the motivation for pursuing a specific degree.
The SOP includes a variety of components, ranging from academic credentials to personal experiences. The format of the SOP, on the other hand, varies depending on the course, aims, institution, and nation.
The fundamentals, however, remain the same for all.
Why Is An SOP Important?
The SOP is regarded as one of the most crucial aspects of your application. It reveals your attitude, ambition, clarity of thought, and personality. With a good SOP you also have the potential to recontextualise the shortcomings of your application like a low GPA and/or average test scores (SAT, GRE, or GMAT).
While your GPA and exam results are objective, your SOP is a subjective component of your application.
The Process To Write An SOP?
First and foremost, consider what areas of your life should be mentioned in it. List down all your academic achievements, employment experience, volunteer experiences, and anything else that sets you apart from a conventional applicant.
Now interlink these instances in a cohesive narrative. This narrative should lead to a conclusion that can only be achieved through the knowledge and experience gained by getting enrolled as a student in their university.
Your SOP needs to take the selection committee through a journey that helps them perceive you as a capable, driven, and empathetic candidate whose vision is aligned with the one set by their university.
- Formulate the draft:
Needless to say, your draft should have impeccable grammar coupled with a good pace of storytelling. And most importantly it shouldn’t be self indulgent. Your tone of voice should be humble yet ambitious.
For example, whenever you’re mentioning a win, don’t exaggerate the significance of the win. Instead, describe the work you put in to achieve it and the lessons you took away from it.
Most candidates focus on making themselves sound more capable than they are and the admission committee can see right through it. Be real, be human, showcase your failures. But in the end, be someone who has a big vision and a roadmap to realise it.
- Revise and modify:
As they say, a good draft can always become better. Once you've written your SOP, the final step is to go over it carefully and make adjustments as needed. Take a look at the checklist we’ve made for you at the end of this article and you should be good to go!
How to structure your SOP
So finally, how exactly do you go about writing an SOP? Here are the basics of what an SOP needs to have.
Explain your future goals for this course. Once you've decided on a course, you'll be expected to learn a little bit about it. Express your interest in the chosen programme.
- Academic Background & Professional Experience:
Provide details about your school or college. If you lack work experience, attempt to highlight your published reports or accomplishments in any project or task.
- Why this course:
In this paragraph, explain why you want to take a course and which modules you plan to use during the course. It should also cover the abilities you will gain during this time, as well as the exposure that will aid in the development of the skills required to achieve your goals.
- Career Goals:
This is the most significant element, in which you should describe the job profile on which you will be working. Explain your long-term career objectives and plans.
- Why this university:
This is a special paragraph in which you can persuade a university that they are a good fit for your profile and that you are an exceptional prospect for their university. You should talk about the course curriculum, research projects, faculty names, and university-specific activities that will assist you to boost your profile.
In the concluding paragraph, you should appear determined and prepared for the problems that may arise while studying abroad. You should also demonstrate to the panel that you are confident in your ability to succeed in your field of interest and that you will make a significant influence in the industry on a worldwide scale.
Of course, this list is non-exhaustive and covering every part of an SOP is beyond the scope of any blog because the whole process is very personalised. However, we have compiled an extensive checklist that can help you gauge the strength of your draft.
The Ultimate Checklist for a good SOP
- Why this course and why this university?
- What made you choose this country to study in?
- What has been your experience in your field?
- Academic background and extracurriculars related to your field of interest.
- Published or submitted research papers, if any
- Any leadership or team-building experience
- Why should they choose you for the program?
- What values will you bring to the institute and to your classmates?
- How do you think you will fit into the student community and college culture?
- What are your career goals?
- How will this program help you to achieve your career goals?
- Personal background and life experiences
- What is that one unique aspect/characteristic about you that the admission officers should know?
The best way to craft your SOP is to self-reflect. Begin with introspection and a summary of all the significant events in your life that have shaped your thoughts, personality, and actions. You must devote a lot of time to introspection and you will come up with a great SOP that helps you stand out from the crowd.