A Statement of Purpose is an essay written by an individual applying for university or graduate school as part of their application.
The statement of purpose helps to provide the admission committee with more details about the writer of the essay, why they are applying, why they think they are great applicants, and their future professional goals.
These titles sometimes refer to a statement of purpose:
- Statement of intent
- SOP letter
- Application essay
- Personal background
- Objectives for graduate study
- Cover letter
A statement of purpose is a critical essay. It acts as the deciding factor for universities as they go through the many applications they receive from potential students. With a properly written SOP letter, an applicant can stand a chance to get into the university or graduate school of their choice.
Statement of purpose vs. Personal Statement
There is a difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement. A well-written statement of purpose example addresses the writer’s intentions for their future endeavors, while a personal statement reviews their previous activities and successes.
Both writings usually describe the individual’s skills, knowledge, and experience. However, an effective personal statement example should focus on details about the ‘who’ aspect, while the statement of purpose should focus on the individual’s ‘what’ side.
The personal statement is written in a more personal tone as it focuses on the person compared to a statement of purpose, which is more formal and addresses the reasons as to why the person wants to study and what they want to do after earning their education.
Essential Writing Considerations
To craft a proper statement of purpose example and stand out among other applicants, the writer should observe the following essential considerations;
Write stories and not statements
When writing the statement of purpose, the writer should focus on telling a story instead of just placing statements throughout the essay. Telling a story is more exciting and will grasp the admission committee’s attention. The essay should be well-crafted and beautiful to read.
Stories are more memorable than statements; that is why the writer should describe themselves like how a narrator would describe a character in a story. The reasons for applying to university or graduate school will help the writer craft a great story.
The writer should focus on the reason as to why they want to study and powerfully write this reason. The reason could be emotional, economic, or any other type.
The important thing that the writer should focus on is creating a connection between their desire to study and the reason behind it.
Quantify your stories
The perfect statement of purpose example should be crafted like a story with qualitative information and quantitative information. The story should contain measurable quantities like the actual grades or the number of years spent doing something. With such numbers in the story, the reader will be able to have an in-depth understanding.
Also, such information makes the story more believable and authentic. Quantifying the story states purpose more authority and makes it unforgettable.
Even though the perfect statement of purpose example should be crafted like a story, the writer should avoid making it sound like story-time with friends; therefore, be specific. Everything that is mentioned in the essay should serve a purpose. That means that the content of the SOP letter should be written in detail and with a particular intention.
Being straightforward in the letter will help the committee understand all the reasons the writer has towards making such a big decision: applying to college, university, or graduate school. However, the writer should also be reflective by explaining why they love and chose the course they want to study.
This can be accomplished by listing the skills and objectives they hope to achieve by studying that particular course. The applicant should be straightforward by avoiding ideal or cheesy sentences like they would when talking to their friends.
Being specific also involves sharing a memorable and distinctive reason why the applicant wishes to pursue that particular field. The admissions officer will be more pleased with a statement of purpose that highlights the applicant’s dream and amazes them with their way of thinking when it comes to making such a life-changing decision.
Customize your essay
Students usually fail to customize a statement of purpose example. That means they prefer to attain one template/example and then change the relevant details to match their application. This will lead to reduced chances of being considered as a potential student.
Most universities are different and customizing a statement of purpose example will place the writer at an advantage. The applicant can write an essay that fits the university or college’s specific culture, values, vision, mission, and even motto with a customized statement of purpose. A potential student should do their research and customize each essay example based on their application instead of copying and pasting.
Use formal but conversational tone
A statement of purpose should neither be super formal nor super friendly. It is not a letter to an individual in the military or a text to a friend. It should, however, have a formal yet conversational tone. The essay should respectfully address the recipient but still present their content in a relaxed tone.
The writer should avoid too much humor, causal language, and jokes. The tone should be severe in a way that does not put the reader off due to boredom. This can be achieved by using a conversational tone that makes the essay sound warm, funny, and welcoming to read.
Portray yourself indirectly
The candidate writing this essay should learn how to portray themselves and do it indirectly. Being too obvious will make the recipient view the arrogant and being too shy or polite will make them seem less confident. Therefore, the recipient will not focus on only the content of the essay but also on how the writing was done.
A few criteria will be observed when gauging who the writer is, and some of them include being remarkable, being successful, having potential, and being responsible. Again, using already prepared statement of purpose examples in such a situation will help to portray the student clearly but indirectly.
Don’t lie, be yourself
The stories being crafted in the statement of purpose should be truthful and not created ones. If the writer lacks excellent stories, they should write their everyday stories creatively instead of coming up with non-existence experiences.
If the committee detects that the writer is lying and pretending in their essay, this might affect the whole application. A false applicant can be spotted, and even though the essay is excellent, it will not impress the admissions committee. In addition, evidence is always required for any given story in the essay, which means creating stories will negatively affect the application.
Address your problems
Another important factor to consider when writing a statement of purpose is acknowledging and addressing any problems or challenges experienced. Whether academic or work-related, it shows a level of humility and honesty if the writer addresses their problems. This way, the potential student can convince the admission committee of their problem-solving abilities.
Writers should not try to defend themselves regarding making mistakes. Instead, they should highlight all the lessons learned while they resolved the issues they faced. Addressing the problems also makes the potential student seem mature and adaptive to different situations.
Writing an Effective Statement of Purpose
A truly effective statement of purpose maximizes the chances of being shortlisted for admission. In addition, with a well-written statement of purpose, the potential student can increase their chances of joining grad school, pursuing their dream, and accomplishing their goals.
With the essential considerations of writing a statement of purpose in mind, here are steps that an applicant should follow to craft an effective essay;
Introduce your interests and motivations
The first part of the SOP letter should introduce the applicant, his/her interests, and motivations. This section should be brief and straight to the point. The student should give details of their background, the goals, and what encourages them to pursue their goals. All this should be in line with the course they are applying for.
Summarize your career in the past
The next part should provide information about the student’s academic and work achievements. The student should have details of any research they conducted, their thesis projects, and the work experience they gathered after completing their undergraduate studies.
These details should relate to the university, college, or graduate school program they want to study. The student should also show a relation between their academic and work experience and their current study choice. Finally, they should highlight how their experience influenced their interest in the field they want to study.
Explain why you are the right fit
The student should explain why they are the right candidate for the program and how it will benefit the learning institution to choose them. This can be done by listing all academic accomplishments, the job, and internships in line with the field.
Also, adding other relevant experiences and examples will help convince the admission committee. The student should expound on the interests and motivations mentioned in the beginning as part of the reasons that make them qualified and suitable candidates for the program.
Relate your recent and current activities
The potential student should then mention all their recent activities and achievements that align with the area of study they have applied for. Any career adventures and further studies they have undertaken recently should be well highlighted and discussed in the statement of purpose.
The writer should not forget to indicate how all those activities they were involved in recently helped prepare them for their university or college studies.
Elaborate on academic interests
The final part is to focus on their academic interests. The statement of purpose is meant to increase an applicant’s chances of being selected for the program they have applied for. That is why the potential student should elaborate more on their academic interests at the end to leave the recipient with a positive impression.
Information such as potential student’s areas of interest like research they would like to conduct and details about their prospective department like the professors and the program.
The student should always end their statement of purpose in a positive way that indicates their excitement and expectations to join the institution.
Statement of Purpose Example
I am (full names) from (place), born in (year). I am a candidate interested in studying Media and Journalism (mention the program) at your (name of university) for a Bachelor’s degree (name the level of program) as from (mention the semester and year). I have always been amazed by the way journalists are always first at getting and sharing information.
My interest in media and journalism first emerged from watching the news and reading books. Sitting with my family at home watching the news while we ate dinner and told each other about our day, propelled the dream I seek to pursue. I am eager to pursue this field so as to fulfill my ambition of being able to gather truthful and objective news in a timely manner. Being able to give another family, just like mine, the same satisfaction would be a dream come true.
I graduated from high school with honors with a GPA of 3.6 and I am now ready to start my Bachelor’s degree. After graduating, I spent most of my time completing some important short courses that I believed would better my mission to pursue media and journalism. For 3 months, I completed a computer course and also learned how to articulate properly. I took another short course to better my Math skills for a period of 2 months. I also spent about 6 months learning and being fluent in about 14 foreign languages. I had to juggle between helping my father run his business and still succeed in all these short courses. The art of time management was a great aspect that I learned during this period.
I applied to this university since I believe that here is where dreams go to become true. I believe that I am the right candidate for the program based on my passion, qualifications, and interests. I plan to share the knowledge I gather with other interested persons and even guide others like me to enroll in the program. I desire to further my education further as I continue working while gaining practical skills and experiences from my internships.
With the subjects, I studied in high school and the short courses I took as I waited for the right time to apply for the program, I believe that all that I experienced helped to shape me for this opportunity. From having to learn new languages and even focusing on improving my math skills, I know now how essential it is to not give up. My improved fluency, articulation skills, and even writing skills that I have learned have prepared me for this program.
Once selected for the program, my plan is to focus on gathering both theoretical and practical knowledge regarding Media and Journalism. After completing my Bachelor’s degree, getting a Master’s degree is the top of my priority. I would like to venture on the subject of how best journalists can report objectively even in the midst of the emotions that result from their human nature. I believe that your university will offer me the best chance of succeeding in my research.
My hope is that you will consider me and make a favorable decision regarding my application to join this esteemed university in order for me to pursue the field of Media and Journalism. I am confident that a positive response will be the first step towards my bright future for both my academic and work experience.
Tips for Writing an Effective Statement of Purpose
When writing a statement of purpose, here are some tips a writer can use to format their essay to make it perfect and effective.
Observe formal language in your statement of purpose. The language should not be stiff but official yet welcoming. In addition, the formal language should be crafted in a way that makes the essay unique.
Do your homework
A potential students should do their homework before they write the essay. They should research everything they need to know about the universities or graduate schools they are applying to. They should also have information about their program and the facilities and professors available for that program.
If the potential student knows any professors from the grad school they are applying to, they should reach out to them. This way, they can gather more information about the best way to craft the essay. Also, the professors are likely to offer them appropriate advice that will benefit their application.
Continuity and focus
The student should ensure that their essay does not sound like an ending. However, it should be formatted to highlight continuity and focus of what will be achieved after the student gets selected for the program at the particular learning institution.
Demonstrate everything by example
Showing examples is the best way to sell academic successes, work achievements, and even personal character. Therefore, a student should not only state them but also give examples for everything. This adds more authenticity and honesty, which also makes the essay outstanding and unforgettable.
The applicant should ensure their essay is written from a positive perspective. That means, even when highlighting challenges or problems, a positive perspective should be maintained. Such a student is likely to stand out from the rest due to their optimistic nature.
Use active voice, not passive
Since a statement of purpose is best crafted like a story, it is advisable to use an active voice. Using the active voice instead of the passive voice will help the student to have a more concise and straight-to-the-point essay. Also, active voice makes reading the essay more straightforward and faster and gives it a more narrative feel than passive voice.
Proofread, edit, and re-edit
After completing the essay, it is best to proofread, edit, and even re-edit it. A different perspective is important in identifying and correcting any hidden mistakes. That means that they should ask their friends and family to grade their essays. Also, these people can help the applicant with more examples that they might not remember; hence, they will better the statement of purpose.
Do’s and Don’ts of a Statement of Purpose
Here is a list of what an applicant writing the statement of purpose should do when dealing with this essay;
- Format the essay – it is important to format the essay using tips provided above so as achieve an effective statement of purpose.
- formal language – the essay should be written in a formal language. The student should avoid making the language stiff but should maintain an official and conversational tone.
- Check grammar and spelling – proofreading the statement of purpose is important. This way, the potential student will avoid any spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Space the text – while writing the essay’s content, spacing the text is necessary. It will make the essay neat and readable.
- Use readable font – to ensure the recipient goes through the whole statement of purpose, the writer should use a readable font. This is the first impression, and it should be positive.
- Use a beautiful or awkward font – while trying to impress the admissions committee, using a beautiful or awkward font will not help. Instead, it will only make them cringe and fail to read the statement of purpose.
- Submit half-backed paper – since this essay is an important part of the application process, a candidate should only submit a well-written one and not a half-backed paper.
- Pretend as you write a message to your buddy – the statement of purpose should not contain any fabricated or made-up like the stories people share with their friends. Every story should be truthful since evidence will be needed for all of it.
- Use overcomplicated language and sentence constructions – a student should use simple and easy-to-understand language. There are many applications that the admissions committee is going through. Writing the essay using overcomplicated language and sentence constructions may prevent the recipient from reading it.
- Apply colorful and vivid background – colorful and vivid background is not advisable as it is distractive and will not allow the recipient to focus on the essay’s important importance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since the statement of purpose is part of a more significant application for grad school, there is no need to add your name. However, if there are instructions for writing the SOP letter and the name is required, it should be written.
You should not title your statement of purpose since there is no need for it; unless asked by the provided requirements from the learning institution, you are applying to.
The statement of purpose should be between one and a half to two pages which makes 500 words enough.
Any information, details, facts, or data that do not make sense and are just there to fill the essay should not be included when writing the SOP letter.
The statement of purpose should be written in about five paragraphs, with two of these paragraphs being the introduction and closing paragraph.
A statement of purpose should not be longer than two pages.