Statement of Purpose
A Statement of Purpose (SOP), is one of the most crucial aspects of the entire application process for Graduate Schools. In simple terms, an SoP is an essay written to convey your goals and your proficiency to the admissions committee of the university you’re applying to. You want them to read the essay and be convinced that you’re the student they’re looking for and that you deserve the admit.
For a lot of students, when it comes to writing a Statement of Purpose, the first thing they wonder is ‘How many pages long does winning SOP need to be?’ and of course, ‘What actually goes into a good SoP?’. Let’s answer those questions right away.
Ideally, your SoP should not be more than 1.5 pages long. Unless of course, the university has instructed otherwise. Many universities do set word limits for SoP’s so you should definitely make note of that before you get started.
Coming to what the content of the SoP should be - it’s important that you be very clear and honest. State what is the field or the specialization that you intend to pursue. Do not make up stories and avoid being sentimental.
The Introduction Paragraph:
You can begin by stating what is the field or specialization you desire to pursue. Use engaging language and correct sentence structure to keep the reader’s attention on your Statement of Purpose. There’s no need to be humorous or begin with a quote. But you can frame an entertaining introduction and make your statement of purpose stand out.
The Middle Paragraph:
This is one of the more important paragraphs. WriteHere, you write about your academic performance, the courses you took, briefly summarize any thesis or project work. Use technical terms as you are writing it for some expert in your field - not a layman. This is the place to make sure they fully grasp your technical skills and make yourself worthy of getting the admit. You can even talk about what motivates you and what are you passionate about to make your SoP look really good.
Work experience/internship paragraph:
Display your capabilities by mentioning the responsibilities you were given in your workplace or meaningful internship and how you accomplished goals. It is equally important to mention the lessons you learnt as well the skills you acquired from this experience.
The Conclusion Paragraph:
For the concluding paragraph, do your research on your target program. Identify professors of interest and demonstrate your knowledge of current research at the department. Use this paragraph to point out why you chose this particular university and how you’d be a good fit for this university. You can also talk about your goals for the future - how you plan on using the knowledge and skills you’ll pick up in Graduate School to meet these goals.
But aside from SoP’s, there is one other component you need to start think about right away - because they aren’t entirely in your control.
Your Letters of Recommendation.
Letter Of Recommendation
A Letter of recommendation is a letter in which the writer (or ‘recommender’) assess the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended in terms of that individual's ability to perform a particular task or function.
They play a very important role in the admission decisions, whether you’re applying for a Master’s program or a doctoral program.
With a letter of recommendation for graduate school, the most important point is they have to be taken from people who know you professionally. You don’t want to take this letter of recommendation from peers or people who know you personally.
It is a signed statement from a person who knows you well professionally or has taught you in a subject that is related to your course.
For example if you’re applying to an Analytics course, then the recommender should have interacted with you in the field of Analytics.
There are some common factors that an admission officer looks for when reading your LoR’s. Unique abilities of the student, leadership skills, whether or not you’re a team-player, how you overcame any struggles or weaknesses in your line of work, how you used your strengths to benefit the project being worked on.. Preferably, each recommender should highlight different qualities in their LoR’s.
Some institutions also use your LoR when considering your application for the financial aid. So there is a need to write strong LoR. Send the exact number of letters required (no less and no more).
Usually, universities require three letters of recommendation so you want to make sure you approach three distinct people in terms of level of interaction. So how do you actually choose a recommender? The most important aspect to keep in mind is that the recommendation letter should add value to your application in terms of the relevancy of the program that you’re applying to.