The Statement of Purpose is the single most important part of your application process that will tell the admission committee who you are, what has influenced your career path so far, your professional interests and plan to go ahead from here. The primary question admissions committee members ask themselves when they read a Statement of Purpose is: What does this essay tell me about the person who wrote it?
The Statment of purpose is your personal statement and it need not be a bald statement of facts. The Statment of purpose is the only part of the application process where the student has full control of. Academic and extra curricular activities are of the past and test scores obtained on the standardized tests could be affected by conditions on the day of the test. It is important to choose recommendation letter writers carefully, but while you hope they give you the best possible recommendation, this is not within the candidates control.
The Statement of Purpose is a way to directly talk to the Admissions Committee. To make you stand out of a multitude of similarly qualified applicants. To convince the committee that you have the spark , the thirst for knowledge that could add value to the course.
Most of us work hard for the standard tests – the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and others. To excel on these standardized tests, we attend classes or use study aids. We do everything within our power to aim for the highest possible score. Because we know that these test scores, while not a perfect tool, are crucial to our chances of gaining admission and even a scholarship or assistantship.
The Statement of Purpose or essay, on the other hand, is generally put off by candidates till the last possible moment. When we look at those perfect essay examples given in admission guide books, it scares us and we wonder how could we every write so well. We wonder how or what shining instance we could pick out of our normal and average life and show that instance as unique and remarkable. We have an endless list of Do’s and Dont’s and after overcoming all these obstacles. Every time we read through the drafts we wonder if this latest draft is good enough. Finally we write something, because time’s a-pressing and we have to meet the application deadline. We do our best, juggling the writing process with the last-minute paraphernalia of applying-checking forms for errors and completeness, collating the application packets, making sure transcripts, recommendations, work samples and resumes go in their right envelopes, worrying about transit times. We feel thankful when the essay is over, do a quick scan for obvious mistakes, and send it on its way.
If you do it this way, you are practically throwing away your chances of admission. A good SoP will certainly improve your chances of getting admission to the school of your choice, and even compensate for weaker portions of your application such as less-than-perfect grades. A bad SoP, on the other hand, has the potential to drag down an otherwise strong application.
Why me (i.e. your target university)?
It is good to go through the school’s brochure or web site, speak about it to people, visit the school if possible. Get an idea about the student mix the university would be looking for to decide if this school is the best fit for you. However, trying to tailor your Statement of Purpose to reflect what you think the school is looking for is dangerous business. The people who read your application have been doing so for years and are skilled at spotting fakes. And that means almost certain rejection. Be honest, look inside yourself and do your best.
The people who read your essay want to be convinced that you have thought long and hard about who you are, what are the things you appreciate, what inspires you. What you want out of life, and where you are going from here. It is necessary to show that you have thought about this. And that these life experiences have taught you something.
Finally, you have to show a desire to learn. From your books and teachers, from your classmates, from music or art, from life itself.
If you plan correctly, you can give yourself enough time to submit a well-written, thoughtful, polished essay that will boost your chances for admission. Equally important, this is a great opportunity to look inside yourself and be rewarded by a better understanding of who you are.