STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
1. What is a “Statement of Purpose”? A Statement of Purpose is a written statement, which identifies and briefly explains your motivations, objectives, and longer term goals.
2. When will I need one?It is most often requested by academic institutions as part of the application process.
3. Why do institutions ask for them? The Statement of Purpose provides the institution with valuable information about their applicants as regards what they intend to do while attending (or working for, or with) the school or program. It also lets them know what the applicant will do with their acquired experience after they leave. Look at it as a first interview in written form.
4. How do I do it? What should I say? The Statement of Purpose is just that. A written document stating what you intend to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
Approach this as you would in any other academic writing. Be clear, concise and consistent. Use an outline. Be sure your statement is well structured. Your spelling and grammar should be 100% correct.
1. Remember that the essay is your opportunity to demonstrate how you think, feel, and write; how mature you are; and how focused you are.
2. Do a lot of self-assessment before trying to answer the questions. Think hard about your goals and interests. Think of the long-term implications of your reasons for studying at THAT university, i.e.: where do I want to be in 5 years?
3. Reveal your distinct personality. Your essay should distinguish you from others. What do you have to offer them? Why you and not one of the thousands of other applicants?
4. Be honest and true to yourself. Don’t try to determine what the school wants, but rather be yourself – that’s very, very important.
5. Keep your essay concise and to the point (but complete). Don’t throw into the essay everything you think the admissions committee might want to hear.
6. Answer the question being asked, not the one you would like to answer.
7. Pay attention to details, but don’t agonize. Over-edited essays tend to sound dull.
8. Don’t inflate your experiences. Don’t think that big, marquee-name experiences are going to have more value than those that may not be quite as fancy.
9. The essay should place all other parts of the application into context.
10. Remember that self-glorifying essays are never effective.
11. AT THE SAME TIME: Don’t be too modest. If you’ve done something important that will contribute to your studying this course then tell them. Try and present a true and fair picture of yourself, as seen in your best light.
12. Avoid making excuses. The essay is not the place to explain why your test scores are low.
13. Where are you applying? Mention the institution by name at least once. Make your answers specific. For example, don’t just say. “I like the University of Chicago because it has great faculty, great students and is located in a big city.” MIT, Columbia, and UCLA also fit this description. What sources or resources will this universuty or program make available to you?
14. AT THE SAME TIME: If you are applying to several universities or programs, tailor the statement to suit each program and each university.
15. Remember that formal, inflated essays are truly boring and forgettable. Make your essay personal; include some humor in it.
16. Don’t complain. Your tone should be positive and upbeat.
17. Don’t lie because they will see it immediately. They will pick up on that and then start to question everything else you say. It’s much easier for people to be positive and convincing about things they have actually been done, awards they’ve actually won.
18. The worst thing you can do with your essay is to bore your reader. Take a different approach (as long as it’s genuine) or take the time to bring something new and different to the subject.
19. Don’t just narrate your life history, without any reflection or evaluation or self-criticism.
20. Avoid using quotes. Admission officers are more interested in what you have to say than in what some famous person or writer has said.
21. Try and minimize the number of times you say “I…”
22. Your essay should be easy to read. Hand-written essays are often not acceptable. Leave enough space between lines – better to use double line spacing – and for margins.
23. If there is a limit to the length of an essay, stick to it.
24. There should be NO spelling or grammatical errors. Proof read your statement, ask friends/faculty/department staff to edit it. Don’t send first drafts!
25. Be positive – show your ability and certainty. If you’re not sure of yourself, why should anyone else be?