Does the right SOP exist?
Pratibha Jain, international education counselor decodes what an ideal
Statement of Purpose (SOP) should look like
The Statement of Purpose (SOP) is an important part of the application for admission to many universities around the world. This is the one place where you may ‘tell your story’, or the qualities of personality that are not reflected in transcripts, reference letters, and resume. The subjectivity of this autobiographical essay makes it difficult for anyone to articulate the exact format or code which makes for the perfect answer. Many feel that the ideal SOP does not exist, so just be you, don’t fret or worry too much about what the admission panel would like to read.
The primary mistake is to super analyze another human being’s expectations. Just as every applicant is different, each admission officer comes with a different background, so it is impossible to prejudge what he/she would “like or not like”. Most admission panelists are unbiased and read applications with an open mind. They would like to read something interesting, yet truthful which gives an idea about qualities that make the applicant relevant to their programme. The word ‘relevant’ is the key. Rambling stories from childhood or glorification of families and ancestors don’t make sense. Pathos and details of hardships should be used only when they show how you have coped
With situations and overcome barriers in life. Another person’s struggle (even a family
Member) with illness does not necessarily look good on YOUR application, unless it is the motivation for your career. Use humor and wit with great care as it requires a master storyteller and stellar writer to carry the genre through while showcasing qualities appropriate for higher education. Keep extreme positions on politics and religion for more appropriate forums, unless it is hugely relevant to your course of study. In fact, the SOP differs with each country, so don’t use the same content or story for applications to universities in all countries. For example, American universities would like to know more about personality traits beyond academic skills. Hence, details of non-academic experiences, learning through extracurricular events are appropriate.
Director at Eduabroad consultancy
Dr. Pratibha Jain