In the process of getting together everything for your University applications for study abroad? A good SOP could help give you the edge over other applicants academically similar to yourself who stand as much opportunity as you do to gain admission in your dream Uni.
Don’t just be another face in the crowd; here’s what you need to know to make yourself stand out in all the right ways.
Some basic do’s you must be aware of before you put pen to paper!
As you commence preparation of drafts, try outlining topics that have been asked and have some supporting material for each of its topics. Some usual topics that are covered are: career goals; academic objectives; practical and research experience; personal details about yourself, such as reasons for choosing the program you’ve applied for or about your motivation level and interest level in the related area.
Try not to get into lengthy narrations of philosophical or personal information unless you’re asked. Stick to what has been requested by the program; some grad schools may request for clinical work or research experiences so ensure you emphasize these.
Show the Uni you’ve done your homework and look up and email the department for details about professors and in case you are also looking to perform research, run a check to see if there are professors whose interest matches your research interests. Go that extra mile to show them you are highly motivated. Include names of faculty members and their interested areas of research as examples that you would like to be doing once you’re there.
- Use active voice and always highlight everything from a positive angle, and if the program asks you for one page, stick to it strictly.
- When it comes to font, go for 11-12.
- Note that it’s always better to use examples than just making plain statements especially while referring to yourself. If you say you’re a persistent person, back it up with an example or demonstrate how you are one in your SOP. Examples are always more catchy and hold the reader’s attention compared to general statements. Don’t hold back from drawing on situation from your very own life and adding them. This will put you above other superficial applicants who may have just made statements with no content to back them up.
- The key of the SOP is focus and continuity; have your essay proof-read and checked a couple of times before submission. A fresh perspective always helps. If you’re looking to apply to the US, it would be great to get someone who’s currently studying in a grad school to have a look at your essay, as they would be in the best place to know what grad schools would be looking for in a prospective student.
- Tailor your SOP for every school you apply to; make sure your essay is convincing enough to prove you belong there.
Steer clear of these!
- There are some words that are painfully over-used and just sound empty and vague – such as challenging; rewarding; beautiful and meaningful. Make sure these don’t end up in your SOP.
- Non-specific information and common phrases are definitely not going to get you any closer to getting you noticed. Stay away from them as much as you can. It’s useful to ask yourself if you have just put down what a hundred other students would have too.
- Do NOT repeat information from your application unless you must.
- Humour may backfire as you don’t really know your audience. So refrain from jokes or funny phrases.
- Slang and unoriginal phrases like "I have always wanted to become a.." won’t really help you score either.
- Talking about mistakes unless you are referring to it as a learning experience.
- Special fonts or coloured paper are a definite no-no!
- Don’t let them mistake your confidence for arrogance — make sure your tone throughout the essay portrays you to be a person who is open to learning.
Now that you have an idea what your SOP should and should not contain, start today. Draft the SOP that could make all the difference between a normal career path and an outstanding one.