Study Abroad: How to write a powerful Statement Of Purpose
Statement of Purpose (SOP) is not an unfamiliar term for students who wish to apply to foreign universities. In fact a lot of Indian universities have also begun the practice of asking students to submit a statement of purpose along with their application. In India this practice remains limited mostly to research courses. But when applying to a foreign university, you will be required to submit a statement of purpose or an application essay or a cover letter on similar lines for post graduate courses too.
But, what is a Statement of Purpose?
Statement of Purpose (SOP) is basically an essay you write which states the reasons why you want to join a specific program, a specific university, and your personal experiences which have helped you take the decision to study the particular program. AN SOP delivers on many levels, and tells the professor examining your application about your academics, ECA, work experiences, personal experiences etc. and helps them shortlist applicants from the hundreds of applications they receive for a program.
How to make your SOP stand out?
Most students write their SOPs in a set pattern. The worst practice to begin writing an SOP is to google a template and follow it word by word while writing an SOP. It is a good idea to look for formats online, but never a good idea to frame your SOP exactly like it.
When professors sit down to shortlist applicants, they are not looking to read the same sentence written in different ways over and over again. They are looking for a story. They want to know your personal brand value (yes, every applicant carries a brand value shaped by their individual experiences). Tell them your personal story, how your personal experience has informed your decision to join this particular program at this university.
Some tips to keep in mind while writing your SOP:
1. Mention numbers in your SOP. How many months you worked/volunteered for, number of people affected, size of the team you handles etc. Also mention what impact you had on people around you at work/volunteer organization.
2. Decide how you want to project yourself and customize your SOP accordingly.
3. Address your problems honestly. If you had any work related problem, or academic problem, or any gap year, address these issues and explain how you overcame your problems.
4. You don’t have to harp on and on about how great you find a college, instead focus on the aspects which appeal to you the most.
5. Your SOP should be formal but conversational in tone.