Writing Effective Statement of Purpose

 

This segment of the application process basically presents to you the best chance to sell yourself. You are one other applicant in the crowd, and an effective and ‘intriguing’ personal statement will enable the application committee to sit up and take notice. For instance, if there are any flaws that have crept into your resume that might impede your chances of getting in, the statement of purpose is the best possible tool to provide an explanation, for things like a un-impressive GPA or a low GRE score. Also, if there is a year gap, or have you taken extra years to complete your graduation school, explain the reasons. Have you suffered from injuries or illness that could have impeded your study – warrants a mention because these can be genuine reasons that need to be told.
However, not all schools and programs require a statement of purpose, and some programs have a different name for it like a statement of intent, or career goal statement. This is one of the most tricky and difficult piece to write. And hence we believe it is best to understand the different nitty-gritties present and the purpose involved. It is very easy to write about your hopes and aspirations, but the tricky part is when you have to apply these hopes and aspirations in future. Thus, there are many conflicting thoughts that you might encounter while drafting the statement of purpose:

  • Who will read my statement, and who will evaluate my essay?
  • Should I write only what seems to read right?
  • Should I mention a few contentious points which are true and might help the application committee to take note of me?
  • As mentioned earlier, how best can I explain the mistakes if there are on my resume?

Clear thought, comprehensive contemplation and identifying your interests and weaknesses are the key requirements that should be focused on. Even if your resume is brilliant a weak Statement of Purpose will derail your chances of getting in considerably.

Broadly we have identified different varieties of questions that might appear:  

Questions that ask you to discuss your past experiences:

  • For instance discuss any experience that you believe could act as a shining light and might help your study here in this school.
  • Discuss an incident when your plans have failed, and what lessons have you learnt from them?

 

Open-ended questions

  • Describe more about yourself.
  • Some information about your past experiences, your interests, your academic interests which include your career goals.
  • Do you possess any skill that stands out and it might of some use to us in the school.

 

Topics that ask you to do a self-introspection and assess your personality:

  • Discuss your strengths and weakness
  • Have you ever based a critical ethical-dilemma, and what was your thought process while dealing with it

Topics that pose questions about your motives and goals in a more detailed manner:   

  • Why are you seeking admission in our school, in this particular department?
  • What about your background and interests inclination so far that has led you to believe you can do this course.
  • How do you want people to remember your contribution after you have moved on
  • Since you are seeking a degree from our school, what difference you think will this degree make in the future

 

Questions that give you a chance to explain the shortcomings in your resume:

  • Anything else that you would want to discuss that you believe is not properly or adequately discussed in the application form.
  • If you have not submitted the required number of documents, state strong and appropriate reasons for the same.
  • If something on the application form does not describe your potential, or for that matter presents a wrong or a skewed representation of you, explain the reasons with conviction.

 

Now, these questions may vary according to the program that you are planning to pursue.

  • Law Schools
    Law has always been a more verbal and eloquent subject, hence more than any other programs, law schools place high priority over these answers, and how able and capable you are in explaining the questions asked, your chances of getting through will increase. Communication through writing will give an indication of your abilities to communicate during the program and further in your career.

 

  • Medical Schools
    They require very open-ended answers, and answers which provide insight into the academic research, and long-term plans. There may also be supplemented questions asked by few schools directly.

 

  • Business Schools
    The questions probe the aspirants penchant for leadership and form questions that will get them a better hang of the potential of the students to manage teams, formulate opinions etc.
    Questions like:
    “ Describe a situation where you faced a dilemma as a leader, and what step did you take to keep everyone on the same playing field and yet carry out your responsibilities keeping ethics in mind.”
    “Any situation or any incident that proves that you have leadership capabilities, even though you have been a designated manager or a team-leader.”
    “ Often you might have faced a situation when you had to take a stand against the majority; how did you go about it, and how then did you handle the repercussions.”

 

Hence, what we have been trying to install in you is that the statement of purpose will have to drafted in such a way such that it serves the purpose of being both persuasive and yet should appear as if it is personal.  

We advise you to jot down all the points you believe must be included in the statement. Prepare an initial draft without bothering too much about the word limit. Elaborate on the ethics of the school, and also the specifics that you have discovered during the research work on the website or through any form of interaction.

And then proceed to the second draft, where keep in mind the word limit, remove all the redundant words, do not repeat information, minimize the clichés, and put more emphasis on providing information that will be powerful and worthy of attention.