Statement Of Purpose
Graduate and professional schools often require some sort
of written statement as a part of the application. The terminology
differs, but may include "statement of purpose,"
"personal statement," "letter of intent,"
"personal narrative," etc. Some statements require
rather specific information--for example, the applicant's intended
area of study within a graduate field. Others suggest subjects
which should be addressed specifically. Still others are quite
unstructured, leaving the applicant free to address a wide range
of matters. Some applications call for one statement, while others
require responses to a series of six or more questions, ranging
from 250 to 750 words each. The importance of the statement varies
from school to school and from field to field.
your purpose in writing the statement
Usually the purpose is to persuade the admissions committee
that you are an applicant who should be chosen. You may wish to
show that you have the ability and motivation to succeed in your
field, or you may wish to show the committee that, on the basis of
your experience, you are the kind of candidate who will do well in
the field. Whatever its purpose, the content must be presented in
a manner that will give coherence to the whole statement.
attention to the purpose throughout the statement so that
extraneous material is left out.
>>> Pay attention to the audience
(committee) throughout the statement. Remember that your audience
is made up of professionals in their field, and you are not going
to tell them how they should act or what they should be. You are
Determine the content of your
Be sure to answer any questions fully.
Analyze the questions or guidance statements for the essay
completely and answer all parts. Usually graduate and professional
schools are interested in the following matters, although the form
of the question (s) and the responses may vary:
purpose in graduate study.
This means you must have thought this through before you try
to answer the question.
area of study in which you wish to specialize.
This requires that you know the field well enough to make a
decision and are able to state your preferences using the
language of the field.
intended future use of your graduate study.
This will include your career goals and plans for the future.
special preparation and fitness for study in the field.
This is the opportunity to join and correlate your academic
background with your extracurricular experience to show how
they unite to make you a special candidate.
problems or inconsistencies in your records or scores, such as
a bad semester. Be sure
to explain in a positive manner and justify the explanation.
Since this is a rebuttal argument, it should be followed by a
positive statement of your abilities. In some instances, it
may be more appropriate to provide this information outside of
the personal statement.
special conditions that are not revealed elsewhere in the
application, such as a significant (35 hour per week) workload
outside of school. This,
too, should be followed with a positive statement about
yourself and your future.
may be asked, "Why do you wish to attend this
requires that you have done your research about the school,
and know what its special appeal is to you.
all, this statement should contain information about you as a
person. They know
nothing about you unless you tell them. You are the subject of
your approach and style of the statement
There is no such thing as "the perfect way to write a
statement." There is only the one that is best for and
fitting for you.
are some things the statement should not be:
the "what I did with my life" approach.
the "I've always wanted to be a " approach.
a catalog of achievements. This is only a list of what you
have done, and tells nothing about you as a person. Normally,
the statement is far more than a resume.
lecturing the reader. For example, you should not write a
statement such as "Communication skills are important in
this field." Any graduate admissions committee member
knows that and is not trying to learn about the field from the
applicant. Some statements do ask applicants about their
understanding of the field.
are some things the statement should do:
should be objective, yet self-revelatory. Write directly and
in a straightforward manner that tells about your experience
and what it means to you. Do not use "academies."
This is not a research paper for a professor.
should form conclusions that explain the value and meaning of
your experience, such as what you learned about yourself and
your field, your future goals, and your career plans. Draw
your conclusions from the evidence your life provides.
should be specific. Document your conclusions with specific
instances, or draw your conclusions as the result of
individual experience. See below a list of general words and
phrases to avoid using without explanation.
should be an example of careful persuasive writing. Career
Center Counselors can help you determine if this is so by
reviewing your draft statement.
should get to the point early on and catch the attention of
often should be limited in length, no more than two pages or
less. In some instances it may be longer, depending on the
Expert>>> Sample SOPs
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