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How to Write a Standout Statement of Purpose

How to Write a Standout Statement of Purpose

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The importance of a statement of purpose in establishing your GPA score cannot be overstated. It aids in your differentiation from other students. Many people overlook the significance of the statement of purpose for graduate school, and as a result, their statements wind up sounding repetitious and lacking in creativity. You should not pass up this excellent occasion to demonstrate your writing abilities and to demonstrate to the educational institution to which you are applying that you are exactly what they require.

In this post, we’ll go over the most significant qualities that admissions officers look for in applicants, as well as provide some pointers, ideas, and statement of purpose examples to help you stand out. We’ll show you how to craft a statement of purpose that will guarantee you a position at your dream university. We’ll also talk about how to use narrative to communicate your passion, hobbies, experiences, and overall attention to the subject.

What Is a Purpose Statement?

A statement of purpose is a formal written declaration that follows the essay structure. It explains why a student is applying to graduate school, exhibits their expertise and experience, and gives the admissions office a true picture of who the student is. Long-term goals and methods for reaching them, such as graduating from high school, are always beneficial. The admissions staff is unfamiliar with you, and it is up to you to explain who you are and why you are the best candidate for admission. Your statement of purpose is the most effective tool for carrying out these goals.

Writing a statement of purpose for graduate school means fusing your interests and experiences into a compelling narrative that demonstrates your commitment to continuing your education. This statement also explains what career you want to pursue and how this program will help you achieve on that route.

When writing a statement of purpose, keep the following points in mind:

  • Your college’s facilities, community, location, basic beliefs, and how they represent your own, as well as how the school’s program will benefit you.
    Your objectives are as follows: What made you decide to enroll in this program?
  • Discuss your commitment level, how much experience you have in this topic or field, and how much passion and effort you are willing to put into your studies.
  • Graduate schools are looking for candidates that are self-assured and motivated. Your statement of purpose must stand out among hundreds of other applicants in order to be chosen. Your sincerity and uniqueness must impress admissions officers.

A statement of purpose not only demonstrates your personality and desire to continue learning, but it also demonstrates your writing abilities. Picky admissions officers will assess basic skills such as language and punctuation, as well as your storytelling vision and ability to sell oneself. Keep the big picture in mind while writing a statement of purpose, and depict yourself as a dedicated student—not only in your career objectives, but in your life as a whole.

How Long Should a Statement of Purpose Be?

One page is the best bet for the length of a statement of purpose. You can write an additional half-page if you need more; but, a page and a half is the maximum length you should write in your statement of purpose for graduate school. First and foremost, consider how many admissions officers are involved. If it’s too long, they’ll assume you’re not motivated enough to make a well-thought-out remark. A lengthier statement of purpose demonstrates a lack of concentration in articulating your ideas. They can pass you over and go on to the next candidate without even giving you a chance. Think quality over quantity when deciding on the length of your statement of purpose—no more than a page and a half.

Format for a Purpose Statement

The format of a statement of purpose is fairly similar to that of a basic essay. These publications, on the other hand, do not necessitate any research or citations. You won’t need a title page or a works cited section if you utilize the statement of goal format because you won’t be employing sources.

A statement of intent should be formatted as follows:

  • Times New Roman (or similar) typeface
  • 12 point;1-inch margins on all sides;
  • 1.5 line spacing; maximum length of 2 pages;

The statement of intent format requirements are a basic formality that shows the school that you can express yourself properly and follow the rules of academic writing. Let’s get started on how to correctly begin a statement of purpose.

How to Begin a Purpose Statement

It’s crucial to brainstorm and decide on your ideal portrayal of oneself before you begin writing. Review your long-term objectives (for example, you could wish to work in a specific field) and explain why the school you’ve chosen is an important step toward reaching them. This is vital information that you are providing to the admissions office. Make an effort to be as descriptive as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be a designer,” say something like “I’d like to work as a senior Graphic designer at a firm that focuses on environmental sustainability or improving our ecological predicament.” By adding more information to the statement, you may paint a much clearer image of your individual interests.

Start writing a draft of your statement of purpose after you’ve brainstormed and jotted down your ideas. Include your major principles for applying to the institution you’ve chosen:

1st paragraph introduction: introduce yourself and state your purpose;
Second paragraph, body: what has inspired you to take this path?
Explain why you are a good fit for this program in the body, third and fourth paragraphs.

Conclusion, final paragraph: What are your professional objectives in this field?

As you can see, your statement of purpose (SOP) is structured similarly to a normal five-paragraph essay.

The following is an example of an excellent opening paragraph for a statement of purpose:

Example of a mission statement:

I’d like to apply for the University of Southern California’s Cartoon Animation MBA program in the spring of 2020. My desire to learn more about cartoon animation stems from my daughter’s early interest in cartoons and comic books, as well as my screenplay profession. I graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in screenwriting in 2010 and immediately began working as a cartoon scriptwriter. After becoming a father, I was compelled to assist my adolescent daughter in developing an interest in filmmaking, which was sparked by learning about Steven Spielberg’s early life and accomplishments.

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What Do I Write in a Statement of Purpose Format?

According to the statement of purpose structure, the first paragraph should define who you are and contain your background information. It’s also crucial to write down your career objectives. Make sure that all of the information you provide is relevant to the program for which you are applying. If you’re applying to an engineering program, mentioning your interest in marine biology isn’t going to help you in any way. It’s preferable if all of the information you give the admissions board about yourself links in some way to what the program has to offer.

If you’re applying to San Diego State University’s School of Art and Design’s Painting and Printmaking program, for example, it’s critical to include information about your drawing expertise and design talents. Obviously, if you are majoring in it, no one will teach you how to draw the fundamentals; you must have your own background and demonstrate to the admissions board that you already possess them. Also, explain why you enjoy drawing and painting — is it for self-expression? Is it a goal of yours to share your creativity with others? Anything might be the case. Your statement of purpose will be fantastic if you simply be yourself and write from the heart.

The second paragraph of your statement of purpose should explain how your curiosity grew into a passion. You’ve set the tone in your previous paragraph by stating that you have the necessary skills and background for the program, and now it’s time to show how your interest has grown over time.

You can’t just declare, “I enjoy teaching.” Go a step further and be more precise. Was there been a time when you had to explain a math issue to your younger sister because she couldn’t figure it out on her own? Maybe you enjoyed assisting classmates with their schoolwork and they reaped the benefits? Details like this help the admissions committee see you as a person who actually enjoys teaching and assisting others. When it comes to this form of writing, many people are overly generic, which leads to them seeming boring and failing to stand out.

Your field experiences are described in the third and fourth paragraphs. Explain the general experience you may have at the start of the third paragraph. Then dig into the details, such as any previous jobs, internships, volunteer work, or unique projects. However, keep in mind that these experiences must be relevant to the program for which you are applying. It may be tough to imagine such events, but there is always a way to improve things.

If you’re applying to be a teacher, for example, your experience as a grocery store clerk has little to no relevance to that field; however, explaining how you trained and educated new cashiers yielded the best results positions you as a good teacher capable of delivering impressive learning outcomes.

Your experiences should complement the school’s curriculum. The more closely your experiences match the program, the better your odds are. You must demonstrate in your statement of purpose why you are a deserving candidate for the program.

You can also include any other facts about yourself in the fourth paragraph that you haven’t had a chance to express in the previous paragraphs. However, avoid long stories that are unlikely to impact the admissions committee’s judgment. Be honest about your accomplishments and make a list of them. Use it as an additional opportunity to demonstrate why you are the right person for the job. Remember that a statement of purpose should be no longer than a page or a page and a half.

You must discuss your objectives in your concluding paragraph. The importance of attention to detail and minutiae cannot be overstated. “I want to be a registered nurse,” don’t say. Instead, offer something like, “My dream is to work at a local hospital’s ICU as a first responder, helping individuals in critical situations.” I am perfectly capable of working under duress and would like to incorporate my calm yet focused attitude into my work ethic.” Admissions board members can definitely picture you donning scrubs and performing CPR after reading your second career objective.

You’ve talked about your successes and experiences up to this point. Now is the time to demonstrate that you have a clear notion of what you want to accomplish after graduation and where you want to end up.

Questions to Answer for the Admissions Committee

Now that you know how to write a statement of purpose, let’s look at some particular questions you can ask yourself to ensure you’ve covered all of the bases and made a strong first impression. The admissions committee will not directly ask you these questions; instead, they will want you to include this information in your statement of purpose. To get a thorough view of your personality, aspirations, and commitment to the program, try to answer them by narrating a story:

  • What academic path did you choose, and what was your motivation for doing so?
  • What led you to this college and why did you decide to apply?
  • Why did you chose this country if you’re applying to a school abroad?
  • What kind of background do you have in the field you’ve chosen?
  • What talents do you want to acquire as a result of obtaining this degree?
  • What are your plans after graduation: will you look for work with this degree or will you continue to study?
  • What do you want to get out of this school and program?
  • Is there a particular professor whose lectures you anticipate? If you answered yes, please explain why.
  • What can you do to help the school using your talents and experience?
  • What are your interests, hobbies, or habits, and how would you describe yourself as a person?
  • What do you think your chances are of fitting in with the student body at this school?
  • How do the values of the school reflect your own, or vice versa?
  • How do you set yourself out from the competition?

You will demonstrate to the committee that you are the best candidate for this degree by answering these questions.

Writing Techniques for a Statement of Purpose

Standing out from the crowd is an important component of creating a statement of purpose. Many mission statements are nearly identical, and they get lost amid hundreds of others. You may make your comment stand out by encouraging your inner writer to spill it all out and shaping it into a compelling story. Here are a few ideas to help you come up with an innovative statement.

The statements of purpose of many students follow the same basic structure and do not distinguish out. Before tossing this statement into the nearest recycling bin, an admissions officer will take a quick glance at it:

Example of a poor statement: I am really pleased to apply to the University of Vermont’s Master of Science degree since I have always been interested in science. In class, I remember thinking of being a scientist or engineer.

This type of opener is boring and lifeless. The author claims to be passionate about science, yet fails to persuade us. Unfortunately, no matter how passionate the writer is about the issue, such a bad statement does not convey a true picture of how the author feels about it. To be unique, tell a tale to convey the same message.

The King Is the Story

A story aims to establish a connection between you and your reader. Make them feel empathy for you by using vivid visuals and descriptive language. Don’t be afraid to use adjectives and other small details to assist the reader form an image of you. A statement of purpose, on the other hand, should not be a narrative, but rather incorporate crucial aspects of a story.

Here’s a dreary tale:

Working in an office has made me see creating my own business as an example of a good statement. Giving back to the world has always been a dream of mine since I was a child. I was a really imaginative kid. After work one day, I thought it was time to begin my search for a business school where I could learn to become a successful entrepreneur.

This is a dull story since it is made up of dry facts with no context. What type of workplace was it? What’s the connection between being creative, wanting to make a difference in the world, and looking for a business school? There isn’t a plot or a relationship. The writer expresses their dissatisfaction with their office work, but fails to engage the reader; the reader has no sympathy for the author; and no vivid or descriptive language is employed.

Here’s one that’s a little better:

I used to work at an office, as an example of an excellent statement. Every day, I’d type for hours, battling with disgruntled consumers and assuring them that their problem will be resolved as soon as possible. I was exhausted after work one morning and decided to take a walk across my lovely city. “I don’t want to work for someone else,” I found myself thinking. I’d like to establish my own business.” I jogged back home and began looking for business schools to apply to without wasting any time.

What’s the difference between the two?

The writer in the second example is more descriptive. The opening statement, “I used to work in an office,” is concise and to-the-point, conveying the monotony of an office job. The following sentence defines this employment, ironically twisting the customer service term “your issue will be resolved in the shortest period possible.” The writer employs descriptive terms like “drained” and “jogged” throughout the text, which paint a more complete image than the words “sad” and “ran.” You build this bridge, a specific connection with the reader, who immediately “feels for you” and sympathizes, by being explicit.

The second plot follows the same three-act structure as the first: setup, conflict, and resolution, which is typical in movies, plays, and literature. The protagonist is depicted as an ordinary office Joe (setup), who gets unsatisfied with his job (conflict), and finds inspiration – or even atonement – by rediscovering his or her passion for starting a business (resolution).

When discussing your accomplishments, be specific.

Applicants who are brave and confident in their ability to succeed are valued by the admissions committee. You must be quite detailed in outlining your achievements, citing quotes, dates, award titles, and so on, to demonstrate your level of experience. It sounds like you’re boasting when you’re being too vague. The admissions committee knows exactly what you’re talking about, notwithstanding the specifics.

For example, George Orwell, the author of 1984—one of the numerous political texts I researched for my honor’s thesis on political psychology—explains, “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

I present a synopsis of my senior thesis, which earned me the 2007 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Marketing at Vermont University, to formally explain my interests and objectives in digital marketing.

Don’t use the same purpose statement for many schools.

Applicants frequently make the error of copying and pasting the identical statement of intent to many schools at the same time. This will significantly reduce your chances of admission, as each school looks for unique features in each applicant that explain why you are a good fit for them. They want to see that you put in the effort to write a statement of purpose that is tailored to their program and school as a whole. You don’t need to write seven separate statements of purpose, but a little editing can make a big difference. The foundation can remain the same, but tailoring it to each institution will greatly improve your chances of acceptance.

Harvard: Before relocating to Middlesex, England, I spent the majority of my youth in Zanzibar. As a result, I’ve been able to adjust to a multicultural environment since I was a child. Respect for the rights, diversity, and dignity of others is one of Harvard’s values, and it perfectly reflects my upbringing and philosophy.

Stanford: My cosmopolitan upbringing has compelled me to learn about the world out of natural curiosity, and my working-class upbringing has made me a hard worker who always closes the deal. As a result, Stanford’s goal to “advance our mission as a research university to serve as a place of enlightenment and freedom of opinion and expression” reflects my own perfectly.

Use a formal but conversational tone in your writing.

Maintain a conversational tone, despite the fact that this is a formal document. The admissions committee is interested in learning about you and your goals. They are quite aware that you are attempting to impress them, and what better way to do so than to be yourself? They are more interested in getting to know you, your hobbies, and your ambitions than in your ability to utilize clever synonyms and overly convoluted jargon.

Bad: I’m looking for a job in the competitive field of digital marketing.
Good: I’d like to work in the field of digital marketing.

You’ll get in if you’re yourself and honest about your aims and ambitions.

A Statement of Purpose Checklist

Mastering the art of writing a statement of purpose is only half the battle. The most crucial step is editing, which is stitching your work together and ensuring that it flows. We’ve put prepared a proofreading checklist that you can use. Each statement of purpose is different, therefore these points may differ based on yours. Let us know if something is missing from the list in the comments, and we’ll add it:

  • Please introduce yourself.
  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the topic of study;
  • Give some history on why you’re in this line of work;
  • Explain your academic background in this field.
  • As described in this post, answer the questions that the admissions committee would like to know.
  • Describe the lessons or activities in your education you are looking forward to;
  • Make a list of your academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
  • List your professional achievements, such as talks, official publications, and awards;
  • If you have any, name a problem you’d like to solve in the world.
  • Describe why you chose this particular institution.
  • Specific reasons for applying to this college, such as location, subjects, professors, and so on;
  • Use descriptive language and tell a tale.
  • Avoid cliches like “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor”;
  • Ensure that your hook is solid and that your ending makes a lasting impression.
  • Before submitting your work, get comments from at least three distinct people (a family member, a friend, and a professor).

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