The Statement of Purpose is one of the most important documents while applying in Universities and Colleges. A good statement of purpose may not necessarily get you in to a program, but a poorly written one could cause the committee to overlook your application. In addition, submitting a strongly written statement works in your favor in such situations as:
- Having a low grade in one or two of your courses/semesters
- Breaking a tie with other applicants who have performed at your level in terms of GRE and GPA scores or any competitive score
- Getting into programs in which standardized test scores are weighted significantly less than demonstrating ones professional interests and abilities (i.e., Humanities and certain Social Science fields).
- Explaining any study gaps or work profile which might weaken your application
Remember that your statement of purpose is the only opportunity you will have to let the admission committee directly get to know you. They will have some sense of who you are based on your recommenders notes and on the writing sample you include, but this is the chance for you to personally make a good, strong impression.
Checklist of relevant points for a SOP
- What you are doing now
- What course you are applying for
- Your aptitude for the chosen course
- Significant educational / work experiences
- Your short term goals (2-3 years from now), and long term goals (5-10 years from now)
- Why you have chosen this specific college/university, and why this particular course
- Significant extracurricular interests, social service, etc. (if relevant)
Tips for writing a statement of purpose
- Be as honest as you can. Essay evaluators can read between the lines do not underestimate them.
- Write the essay yourself. Don’t get an expert or your best friend to write for you. The admissions officers can compare your essay style with your grades, test scores, and writing samples from GMAT, GRE or the SAT.
- Get the essay checked. The writing must be your own, but you are allowed to get advice. A parent, friend or counselor can give an opinion on how the essay sounds. You can also get help on grammar, spelling and layout.
- Evaluate rather than narrate. When writing about your experiences it is important to discuss what you have learned. Don’t just “tell stories”.
- Be logical. Make sure the essay flows well with a proper beginning, middle and end. Each paragraph should follow logically from the previous one.
- Keep the language simple. Avoid quotes because the examiner wants to hear your words. Don’t use flowery language.
- Keep it short. Concise writing is always appreciated.
- Pay attention to detail. Use 12 point font. Use a simple font such as Times New Roman. Justify the text (i.e. align to both left and right margins).
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are a very important part of the application process. As colleges become more and more sought out from the increasing number of applicants each year, the need to stand out from the competition is also increasing. Nearly all college applications require letters of recommendation from previously attended school, college or University or from previous employer.
These guidelines will help you know who and how to ask for letters
1. Ask the Right People to Recommend You
Choose someone who can speak in concrete terms about the passion and energy that you bring to your work.
2. Ask Politely
Remember, you are asking for a favor. Your recommender has a right to refuse your request. Dont assume that it is anyones duty to write a letter for you, and realize that these letters take a lot of time out of your recommenders already busy schedule.
3. Allow Enough Time
Respect your recommender and give him or her a couple weeks minimum to write your letters. Your request already imposes on your recommenders time, and a last-minute request is an even greater imposition.
4. Provide Detailed Instructions
Make sure your recommenders know exactly when the letters are due and where they should be sent. Also, be sure to tell your recommenders what your goals are for college so that they can focus the letters on relevant issues.