Time to Write an SOP? Read This to Avoid Some Common Mistakes

The Statement of Purpose is one of the most important documents you will ever write. There is a good chance that this document would decide the college you get into. When you write an SOP, do you wonder what things you should avoid doing?

We want our Statement of Purpose to turn out as the best in the world, so we work hard on it. Our efforts may not always have the desired result. While working hard is necessary, working smartly also pay off.

What is an SOP?

When students apply to a university, they write a Statement of Purpose. The letter has about a page of text (approximately 5 paragraphs) (500 to 1000 words). It should tell your story for you, your accomplishments and goals, and why a university course is right for you. SOPs serve as the student version of cover letters for job applications. In addition to your exam results, university admissions panels will consider your SOP when making a decision on your application.

How vital is an SOP?

The importance of this is undeniable! The Statement of Purpose is vital for your college application. It enables you to distinguish yourself from other students. Your SOP is one way to prove your worth and secure your place at your desired college. The better your SOP, the better are your chances of acceptance. 


Common mistakes to avoid in your SOP

One of the common beliefs of students is that it does not require attention and precision to write an SOP. If you think that this is the case, you are mistaken. Here are some of the common mistakes that students do while drafting their SOP

  1. Working late on the Statement of Purpose
    Many students underestimate how long it takes to write an SOP. They believe that they can spend a few hours copying and pasting samples online. It is a gentle reminder that your SOPs will run through a plagiarism check. If you have copied it from any source, the admissions committee will know. 

    Start thinking about your SOP at least a month before your application deadline. Create as many rough drafts as you need, improving each draft as you go. Writing an SOP takes a great deal of deliberation and planning, and you should not leave it to the last minute.

  1. Lots of storytelling and little academic thinking
    Introduce your SOP with the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. A great story starts here. We want people to believe in it. A real person.

    As an example: “Having ended my career with the California Ballet in 2016, I was looking forward to studying the metabolic and neurological systems that had guided my physical reality as a performer for so long.”

  1. Dishonesty and over-exaggeration
    There is a big difference between embellishing the truth and telling a flat-out lie when applying. So be upfront and honest in your SOP. Any lies you tell can uncover if the admissions team contacts your referee.

    For example: If you want to talk about your achievements, do so with honesty, and be modest about it. Instead of coming across as overconfident, you want the impression of a driven and focused individual. Try to remain modest when you tell them you are amazing.

  1. Using a lot of jargon or technical terms

    It is best to use simple language. Using a lot of technical terms can make your SOP boring and lengthy. A good SOP should not include a lot of jargon. If you use too much jargon, they will become confused and lose interest. You can use technical terms a few times when explaining your motives and how you intend to use your life. Your choice of a course and your plans must relate to them.

    Here’s an example

    “I became interested in molecular biology and regenerative medicine when I heard a lecture on somatic cell reprogramming in my master’s program at the University of Alaska. This field was limited in Alaska with no opportunities to translate research into clinical practice, so I was awarded a Fulbright Research Award and joined Prof. James Bennet’s research group at the University of Toronto.” 

    That sounds good, right? It is correct and informative. But smoothening things out a bit can make it better.

    “During an M.S. course in somatic cell reprogramming at the University of Alaska, I developed an interest in regenerative medicine. However, I applied for a Fulbright Research Award and joined Professor Bennet at the University of Toronto to help translate research into clinical practice.” 

    If you repeat this for every sentence in your SOP, it will surprise you when you find space for another paragraph under ‘Why This Program’.

  2. Weak introduction and conclusion
    First impressions last a lifetime. Writing an impressive and compelling introduction will seek the attention of the readers. It will keep them engrossed since the introduction is the first thing he reads. In the same vein, if you want the admissions committee to read your entire 1000-word essay, start with a powerful line.

    Additionally, how you end your SOP is crucial since it is the last thing a reader will take away from your essay. Finish by stating what you expect from the university and how you hope to contribute. You can research the university and programme to show that you understand what you are signing up for in your conclusion.

    For example: “When we travel places, the first thing that portrays the social standing and gives us an idea of a City is its infrastructure, due to innovations in the field of structures.”

How you write your Statement of Purpose is completely up to you. After all, it will speak volumes about you, and you have the right to make that happen. But, it is always better to learn from the experiences of others to prevent making the same mistakes. Make your SOP stand out among the pile of others. Remember, the fewer the mistakes, the higher the chance.

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