So you have decided what to study in order to advance your career. You have even picked out a few colleges. Sure, going through all the programs and the different facilities colleges offer must have been hard work. But, it does not mean that you can sit back and relax now. The most important part, that is, the application is still left!
Filling the details such as mark sheets and personal information is a time-consuming but easy task. Also, you cannot change any of those details at this point. However, there is one thing you can still improve – your statement of purpose. It is also one of the most crucial parts of your college application.
What Is A Statement Of Purpose?
You can think of the statement of purpose as an essay. It is an essay that describes you. More specifically, it should tell the reader why you are interested in the program you are applying for. You should be able to write why getting into the program is an important milestone in your life. It is a personalised document that gives you the chance to communicate with the admissions panel. Thus, you should describe your achievements and all relevant details in the statement of purpose to utilise this chance properly.
Why Is A Unique Statement Of Purpose Important?
Colleges receive hundreds of applications every year. Out of these applications, most of the candidates would have scores above the cut-off. More than a few of them would even have similar academic backgrounds and scores across 10th, 12th and graduation. How does the college select students from these similar people then?
They look at the statement of purpose. They understand who the person behind the writing is. Also, they look for passion, enthusiasm, and whether or not the applicant has enough motivation to stick through the program. They also look at what you, as an applicant, bring to the table. Thus, it is vital to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Your statement of purpose should show why you are the ideal candidate, as opposed to others and why you deserve that seat. Hence, if there is one thing that can be a game-changer in your application process, it is your statement of purpose.
How To Write A Unique Statement Of Purpose?
Now that you know why writing a statement of purpose that sets you apart from others is vital, here are a few tips.
1. Show Your Personality
The premise of this step is based on the fact that you are a unique individual. You have strengths and weaknesses that are different from others. What you truly need to stand out is understanding what those qualities are. You should think about who you are and why you want to do this program. Would you do another program if you got the chance to? You should ask yourself what makes you come alive. You should not be afraid to show the panel who you are.
That said, you should make a list of the personality traits you want to show the panel. You cannot possibly show every part of yourself in a small document. Therefore, you need to first make an outline of what the most important things are. To do so, you should first go through the website of your dream college. You should then understand what kind of students they want. Going through the list of alumni could help you with that. Next, you should see which of those qualities you have. Then, you should think of how you would show those traits to them through your statement of purpose.
2. Tell Your Story With Honesty
Your life is your story. And what better way to tell the panel about you than telling your story? You should not write boring sentences about who you are. Instead, show them examples. Through those examples, show them the traits you want to highlight. Also, you do not go into too much detail. You only need to mention the relevant details. Be sure to mention the things that shaped you into the person who wants to apply to their program.
Further, do not be afraid to pen down your mistakes. You should remember that everyone makes mistakes. Instead of trying to hide your mistakes, you should explain why you made those decisions. The admissions panel will only look kindly on you once you explain that you have learned from your mistakes. They will appreciate the honesty.
3. Be Authentic
Sometimes, people do not like who they are. At other times, they do not like some parts of themselves. If you feel this way too, it is only natural. Showing yourself to strangers is not easy. You might be tempted to remove certain parts of your personality that you are not proud of. However, being authentic comes with a certain amount of vulnerability. This does not mean that you mention flaws after flaws. It only means that you should not present yourself as perfect.
This is because the admissions panel can easily tell when someone is trying too hard to show only good things. It borders on being fake and does not reflect well on your personality. Instead of being bothered too much about the little flaws you have, embrace them and show the panel that you are actively working on them.
4. Show Them What You Have Achieved
The statement of purpose is the place to talk about the things you have achieved. A great exercise to get you started on this is to list all your achievements – everything you can remember. Take a pen and paper, and write down all your achievements one after the other. You can go in chronological order so that you do not miss anything. It does not matter how small or big they are. At this point, you just want to note all of them down in one place.
Once you have done this, read the list very carefully and strike off the insignificant ones. Also, underline the ones you are most proud of. Then, make a list of the achievements that are relevant to your application. Remember that they do not always have to be directly linked to the program you are applying for. Instead, they can show just one of the skills you need to complete the program successfully.
If you have a lot of relevant achievements, you should pick only the top ones. This is because you only have a limited number of words. And, you do not want your application to look like a list, even if it is a list of achievements.
5. Find Your Voice
The way you write can tell a lot about you. So, you should be careful about the style of writing you choose. You must try to own your writing. It means that the admission panel should be able to feel your voice and your passion through your essay. This is an often-overlooked element. But, it can do wonders to set your statement of purpose apart from the others.
Further, you should be aware of the tone that you use. You should not have a bookish tone. Rather, you should maintain a conversational tone. This would ensure that the admission panel stays hooked on your essay. That said, they are still the admission panel. Thus, you should not get overly informal with them. So, you should avoid using short forms and text language. Further, you should not write like you are speaking to them.
To master the art of writing a good statement of purpose, you should understand the difference between writing in a simple way and writing sloppily. Also, you should avoid the use of too many flowery words unless they are required. Your statement of purpose is not the place to show off your vocabulary. Even if you want to show your command over the language, you can use words aptly instead of trying to force too many difficult words into one sentence.
6. Add Details
When you say you worked on something, you should add details to it. You could mention the number of years you worked on it or the results it produced. The details do not necessarily have to be numbers. But, adding numbers is a good idea. They add credibility and weight to your statements. Further, they make your essay more engaging.
You can make it more personal by explaining why such an event or job was important to you. This will help the panel get a good idea about you. In this way, adding details can make a good impact on the panel while making your essay unique.
7. Do Not Start With A Cliche Statement
You do your research and you come across this beautiful quote that you’ve never read before. You even think that not many people might have read it. And the quote is a great beginning to your essay. It conveys things better than you can. Whatever you think, do not start your essay with it. While starting essays with a quote seems like a great start, it seems so for many people.
So, out of all the students applying to the same college as you, a huge percentage of them have a quote as their opening statement. And this happens year after year. Therefore, to admission panels, an essay that starts with a quote is not unique.
Another opening that is very common is starting with where you were born. Sure, that might be important information for you and you can include it in your essay. But don’t start with the lines “I was born in the small town/city of…” You want to steer away from things that everyone else does.
8. Tell Them What You Bring To The Table
Most of your essay is going to be about why you want to study at their university. It would talk about how great the program is and what is in it for you. However, you should also talk about what you bring to the college. Stop for a second and think like the admissions panel. As a member of the admissions panel, your goal is to select the best students. However, it is not always easy to define “best”. It can include a host of factors from academics to personality. One of these factors is contribution.
You must talk about how you can contribute to the program. You do not have the knowledge yet but think about what you can bring. For example, it could be your creativity. Do you approach a situation differently from others? This could help inspire others to think in new ways. To supplement this trait, you should talk about past experiences. Maybe it was working on a group project and helping everyone brainstorm. Or maybe, it was coming up with a creative solution to a practical problem.
9. Show Them Your Roots
At this point, you should also talk about your culture. Culture is a unique part of you and it has contributed to shaping who you are today. Thus, you should talk about how you understand this and how your culture has conferred unique traits to you.
Members of the admissions panel value diversity. This is because diversity encourages working together with people who are different from oneself. Further, it helps get rid of any prejudice people may have. In the real world, you meet people from various backgrounds. Any college would want its alumni to be prepared to face the real world. And diversity in their programs is an important step in that direction. It teaches their students how to communicate well with others. Thus, it enhances the college experience of students.
10. Make It About You
People often make the mistake of writing too much about their parents or families. Unless your family is world-famous, you can do away with mentioning them on your statement of purpose. While your family is important to you, your essay may not be the place to show it. This is because your statement of purpose is about you. They want to know about the applicant and their purpose. The information in the periphery can easily become irrelevant
Some Guidelines You Should Follow
In the previous section, you were asked to write about your achievements. That stands true. However, you should mention them in the right way. You should not sound like you are exaggerating or boasting. Remember that the college receives many applications. It is likely that some of the applicants have better achievements than you. So do not ever let the essay read like you are superior to others.
You can be proud of your achievements. A good way to express how proud you are would be to show that you were happy about the impact it made on others. This way, you can be humble and mention the benefits of your achievements at the same time! Further, these achievements should not look out of place. You should write them in a natural way.
Make Sure It Is Coherent
When they plan their essays, most people plan the content. They think about which incidents to write, what details to mention, etc. But this can often make your essay look like chunks of information thrown together. More often than not, the transitions between different parts of the essay like the introduction or conclusion are not smooth. Sometimes, the transitions between incidents within the body also seem strange. This can make your essay hard to read.
Hence, you should ensure that your essay is organised. Thus, before writing, you should first collect all your thoughts. You must also plan where you are going to place each separate incident. A good idea to ensure that it is in the right place would be to ask why you want it there. If you cannot think of a reason, you could probably come up with a better incident or a better place for the same incident.
If, after many combinations, you have trouble placing different incidents or ideas, you could follow a chronological order. Since you would be placing the incidents in the sequence they actually occurred, they cannot look out of place. However, make sure that you tie them together properly. For example, when you are skipping time between two incidents, make sure you find a good way to do it like mentioning the year or your age at that time. This will ensure that your essay is smooth and effortless to read.
Another way to ensure that your statement of purpose is coherent is to work top-down. Think of one theme for your entire essay, one main idea that you want to convey. Of course, it can have smaller ideas. But make sure that all these ideas build-up towards the central theme or idea.
Revise, Edit, Repeat
You cannot do your statement of purpose in one draft. It does not matter how many days you spend on it. You have to read through it again. You should look for missing words or punctuation mistakes. These mistakes have to be avoided at all costs. Moreover, you should look at anything that is out of place. You must think about any idea that is not making sense. If anything looks forced, you can remove it and add something else instead.
Further, if you are not pleased with your essay, you can rewrite it altogether. Generally, you would need to edit your essay several times before you are ready to submit it. If you have time on your hands, you should give this process a couple of days. Once you have written your statement of purpose, do not touch it for a few days. Then, go back to it. You should do the same thing between any two edits. In this way, you would get a new perspective every time you read work on your essay.
Ask Others For Help
Once you have finished your second or third draft, you can ask others to read your essay. You must not skip this step because it would give you different perspectives. As the writer, you would be at least somewhat biased to your own work. Also, you would have an emotional attachment to things you have written. All this would prevent you from having a clear perception of how you have written.
Thus, you must ask others to go through your work and offer criticism. In case you have specific questions about the writing style, or whether or not an idea fits well into the theme, you can ask them about that too. However, you should take the criticism about your essay with a pinch of salt. Different people would have different suggestions and some of these might even be contradictory.
Hence, you should think about all the suggestions carefully before you incorporate them. If you feel that some suggestions do not make sense, you should not include them. It does not matter how strongly they were suggested.
Mention What You Like About The Institute
When they read your statement of purpose, the admissions panel wants to know why you are so interested in their college. So, you want to make sure that you show them that it was not a random choice. Therefore, you should mention a few things about the college that you really like. For example, you can mention a professor you would like to study under or the different facilities that the college offers. However, you should make sure that it is relevant to your program.
Further, you can go one step ahead if you are from another country. You can tell them why you picked their country. This will show the members of the admissions panel that you have made your decision after due consideration.
Sometimes, people beat around the bush in an attempt to be unique or creative. However, this can be annoying to the person who is evaluating your essay. Therefore, you are better off expressing your ideas in a clear and concise manner.
Hope these tips would help you write a better statement of purpose. You should start writing your essay as soon as you can. This will ensure that you have enough time to revise and edit it. Thus, it will help you produce your best work.