Hello readers, today I am going to discuss about some facts regarding how to start writing your own SOP. This is a very vital issue because not many people knows how to do it in the first place, I mean how to start writing. But we should all remember that we need to start from somewhere to reach the finish line.
Beginning an admissions essays or Statement of Purpose (SoP) is a long process – many drafts over a two-month period are very common. It is essential to put in this toilsome work to come up with an essay that is very much your own, and an excellent read which convinces the admissions board that you are what they are looking for. This is a great opportunity to look inside yourself and be rewarded by a better understanding of who you are and what you want. So, it is also important to know where to begin writing such an important essay like this.
THE ANALYSIS TO BEGIN WITH
Step one: Start from your resume, write it down. It is best to get this out of the way so that your SoP is not a repetition of the information in the resume. It should instead, use the resume as a reference and highlight the knowledge you have received during some key points in your career. There are a number of sites that help you to write a suitable resume for your college applications. You could also browse your local bookstore for resume-writing aids.
Step Two: Research the universities you are considering applying to. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of each. Good sources for this exercise are – university and department web sites and brochures, home pages of students, your seniors or friends who are studying at that university or in the same field elsewhere, your college professors, friends in the same field. If it is possible for you to access the university’s web site, find out which professors work in areas that interest you and write to them about your plans. Some professors respond, some don’t – but you have nothing to lose at this stage. In fact, you could gain a better idea about the areas of research emphasized upon by that particular department. After finding out some details about your potential universities, decide whether you still wish to apply there.While you should start work on this as early as possible, recognize that it is a long process and will continue through the various stages of writing your SoP. At the same time, you will have to draw the line at background research sometime as you are working on a timetable.
Step Three: Visit some web sites that talk about how to write your essay. A search for ‘college admission essays’ on Yahoo will yield some sites. Check out the sample essays. If you do not have easy access to the Internet, go to your local bookstore and browse through a few books. In India, ‘The Princeton Review: The Student Access Guide to College Admissions’ is good and easily available. Read their section on application essays. Remember that the essays you read are usually the best the authors could find. You are not expected to write as well; most people who get admission to top schools do not.
THE ISSUE REGARDING BACKGROUND
Ask yourself why you want to study further. Take a piece of paper and start writing down all the reasons. Spend about half an hour on this, so that you can go beyond cliched ideas like wanting to improve your prospects or contribute to society. Write a few sentences on any reason that particularly strikes a chord with you.
Make lists of instances you can use in your SoP. For example, if you’ve been asked to talk about an important event in your life, list down events that have made a significant impression on you. Don’t worry if these are events that are not ‘conventionally’ important or seem insignificant; what matters is that they have had some influence over you. Similarly, make a list of people you admire or who have influenced you – this could be a friend, a family member, a teacher, etc. and need not necessarily be a famous person.
Go through your resume and reflect on what you have learned from your various experiences. How have they molded your interests and led you to this point? Pick one or two cases that you can talk about in-depth. For graduate school, it is best to take at least one professional situation and show what you did and learned.
Make a list of schools you plan to apply to. As you continue through the background check, you will add a few universities and delete several. A final shortlist of ten to fifteen schools is common. Ask yourself why you wish tostudy at each of the schools you have listed. For graduate study, it is important to ensure that your interests are compatible with the research interests of the department you are applying to. As you progress through the background check and understand more about your interests through subsequent revisions of the SoP, add to and improve the list.
That’s it for today. In my next article, I will go farther into analysis of the SOP and how to execute writing it very smoothly. Till then, happy reading!!