What is an SoP?
An SOP stands for Statement of Purpose. Purpose means the reason for which something exists. To be precise, SOP is a lettter of intent which describes you, your goals and intentions that the admission committee will evaluate. An SoP is a document which shows your passion, clarity of thoughts, dedication, inspiration, and most importantly, uniqueness.
How important is the SoP?
The evaluator has never seen you or heard of you. So, the SoP serves the purpose of telling the admission committee why they should choose you. To apply for admission in US universities, you have to take utmost care in SOP preparation. It is “the” most important document. They want to know a student in and out and not just by his transcripts and final year project. An SoP document carries a lot of weightage. A well written SoP, particularly for the top universities in US for MS courses, can tilt the scales in your favour.
How should I write an SoP?
SoP is basically an essay and a major chunk of it will be boring. However, it is the most important document which means preperation of SoP will take a lot of your time. Start working on it from around 1st week of October (if you’re applying for Fall). It’s not an essay on a political leader which will get over in a day. To draft the best SoP, you have to make several rough drafts, keep on editing your SoP. Then get it proof-read by your seniors and then you will have your final copy ready.
What is a good SoP format? What should I write in an SoP?
- You can start off with a quote that has inspired you the most. Though it is not needed as the MS Admission Committee knows that you're certainly not inspired by it, still many applicants do write (in like 2 lines).
- First Para: Describe your childhood interests in an innocent way (don’t drag it for long) and how that interest is still in you.
- Second Para: Highlight your undergrad percentage (make sure the achievement is big, else don’t) in a subtle manner. Also, write about your current subjects that inspired you towards the course (as a part of your Master's Degree) and express it as one more element towards your interest.
- Third Para: Give an idea of your Final Year Project and explain what you are learning from it rather than boasting about your project. Explain your publications, internships in the same way as your projects.
- Fourth Para: This is the most important paragraph. Don’t bore the reader by praising them irrelevantly. Express your liking of the university in terms of Research work, Labs, Faculty, and current Projects. You've to cater to three primary questions in this paragraph -
- Why have you decided to choose the USA for Masters Degree? (Okay, everyone knows it's the fat pay package but you can't mention it, of course.)
- Why have you opted for this course and university?
- What have you liked about the university? (not only pertaining to the course but a general liking)
- Fifth Para: Explain your goals-short term and long term, where you see yourself some years down the line. Express the content in this paragraph pretty well (one of the crucial factors that decide if you get your admit.)
- Last Para: This is the concluding paragraph (in 2-3 lines) saying that you will serve really well in the respective university and will bring a lot of value to the institution and your home country.
Important Note: You have to make as many rough drafts as the number of universities you are applying to. All the content more or less remains the same except the paragraph where you describe the specific university. So, finish the common parts of an SoP as early as possible and then start searching for particular university as mentioned in point no. 5.
Tip: First and Last sentence of every paragraph is very very important as the evaluator won't spend more than a minute on your essay. So, s/he might skim through the SoP and would focus on the first/last sentences of the paragraph which can decide your result.
What NOT to write in an SoP?
- Don’t boast about your achievements, especially marks. Put it in a subtle way. Write more on how that particular achievement helped you and spurred you on.
- Language is an important parameter so you should avoid using slangs (Yeah!, Chuck, etc.). Also avoid using short form for words like you, are, etc. Keep your vocabulary in control though. Don’t refrain yourself from using nice GRE words. Make sure that the usage of the word makes sense.
- We love copy-pasting but, this is not the place. You can take an SoP template, but it would be appreciative that you make your own as unique as possible.
- Your SoP shouldn’t highlight your interest in working in an MNC or earning heavily in dollars. It should hit your goals and targets. It should be inclined towards your interest in the course and the respective university.
- Don’t make it too long and boring on a particular topic. Understand that a reader is a man and not a computer.
- Make sure you keep your SoP in a safe locker. Don’t share your SoP or the idea of it with anyone. The people reading your SoPs are experts and will surely be able to identify copied SOPs.