A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is an essential part of getting admission abroad, which makes it even more important to choose your words wisely.
Universities, especially those abroad, ask interested candidates to write a Statement of Purpose (SoP) asking them to give their reasons for seeking admission to that particular institution. An SoP is a chance for students to creatively explain their passions, interests, strengths, qualifications, and motivation behind choosing a specific course and university.
Most importantly, it helps university officials get a sense of the candidate’s personality, character and behaviour through the application.
What is a Statement of Purpose?
Statement of Purpose is one of the most important parts of the assessment for interested candidates, and therefore it is important for students to ensure that they ace their essays. The SOP gives students with a weaker academic performance a fair and equal chance to impress the admission faculty. However, it is also important for students to ensure that they not only remember to put their best foot forward, but also ensure that they do not overwhelm the admissions faculty with the information they are putting forward.
Writing a well-rounded SOP is crucial because it allows each student to separate themselves from other applicants by describing how they intend to succeed before, during, and after their studies.
Keep it short
Experts say it is important for students to realise that nobody has the resources or the patience to dedicate hours to a candidate’s application. A university’s admissions office gets thousands of applications and they have to assess them within a very short period of time. So, an ideal SoP should be written within 800-900 words.
If a candidate has many accomplishments, it is extremely important to highlight them. However, only those that are too important to miss out and those that are relevant to the field of applying should be prioritised.
Students must remember to follow the right structure—mention the course they are applying for and then give a brief about themselves, their educational qualifications, and details about work experience, and finish it off with how and why all this can help them in the course they want to pursue. They should also briefly touch upon how they plan to use all of this in future.
The basic structure of an SOP is more or less the same as it conveys the student’s background, goals, and reason for joining the course but the key skills vary for each program and each university also looks for different things. Students need to customise their SoPs to suit the programme and college-specific requirements.
Ensure the SoP follows the word limit suggested by the university. This can change between different universities one is applying.
Keep it simple, honest
Students should not forget that an SOP is not a contest for showing off their vocabulary, but a simple assessment of why they seek admission. Therefore, it is important to keep the narrative simple, to the point, and honest. They should also remember that honesty, really, is the best policy here. If a candidate is caught lying about their background, qualifications, skills or work experience, their admission may be cancelled and they may also be barred from seeking admission again—depending on the level of forgery or plagiarism.
Do not plagiarise or copy the SoP from the internet or adapt a version available on the net. The university has access to powerful anti-plagiarism tools and software which will allow them to catch such SOPs. If your essay is flagged for plagiarism your application would be rejected point blank and you may not get a second chance at that. Where you need to use some existing material, you must reference the source.
One of the best practices, experts say, is to first jot down all the points that the candidate feels may be important. Whether or not those points are used in the final essay does not matter, but it is a good practice to first jot down all points and then keep striking them down while drafting the essays. This can help ease the flow of the essay.
Avoid technical terms
Students should remember that it is not necessary that the person reading and assessing their essay will be an expert in their discipline. There is a probability that the person may not be connected to the subject they are applying for, and so experts said it is best to avoid the overuse of technical jargon.
While jargon and technical terms make the candidate appear knowledgeable, overusing them does not present a good image. Hence, the use of such words should be limited.
Experts also advise students to spend at least two to three months mulling over their Statement of Purpose. Some experts also say students should start preparing six months prior to submitting the application. The idea is to ensure that they do not miss out on any important detail and that they have the time to edit their drafts multiple times as per the course and university requirements.
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