Applying for graduate school can stressful. All in all, a lot of weight is given to standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and past grades. Indeed, the statement of purpose is your chance to express your individuality and show your strengths. This document will help professors decide whether they want to work with you. Therefore, it’s imperative to use it to your advantage. Here are four simple ways to create a strong statement of purpose that will help your application shine.
- Tailor your statement to each individual institution. Importantly, your graduate school statement of purpose should state why you wish to enroll in the program in question. This is because it will be obvious to the admissions committee if you write a generic statement and submit it to many schools. Instead, write a statement specific to each graduate program you apply to. What strengths of the program make it attractive to you? Why do you think you’re a good fit? To be sure, graduate committees want you to know what you’re getting into. For this reason, you must prove you know what the graduate school has to offer. In the end, doing the requisite research on your program is a great way to get through the door.
- Discuss the professor or professors you hope will advise you. One way to show that you have done your homework is to know whose research interests converge with yours. Read faculty biographies on the program’s website to figure out which professors would work as members of your committee. If one professor stands out as a future advisor, say so. This shows that you have gone above and beyond in researching the program. Not only that, but it shows you understand how your research fits in. If you do this effectively, you can win advocates on the admissions committee.
- Explain gaps in your academic history. Some applications include a specific section in which you can address gaps like poor grades. If your application does not have this question, you need to address weaknesses in your statement. Certainly, graduate committees like a good redemption story. Therefore, you should frame your history as one of overcoming struggle. Did you learn strategies to be successful with a learning disability? Did you have a major health crisis that affected your grades for a brief time? You should explain what happened, and describe what you learned. To this end, keep your tone positive throughout, and be sure not to speak ill of past institutions or professors. If you do this well, you can turn weaknesses into strengths. Undeniably, showing that you have learned and improved from the past makes you an attractive candidate.
- Write with clarity and precision. Your statement of purpose should discuss your research interests and academic plans. To do this well, you must be organized. Indeed, each section should flow intuitively from one to the next with good transitions and smooth writing (grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/steps-to-apply/requirements/statement-purpose/). This means the document should be easy and pleasant to read. Write to the designated worth length, usually 500 or 1,000 words, and complete multiple revisions to cut anything wordy, awkward, or unclear. Show that you’re a strong writer now who can become a strong academic writer with proper training.
Ultimately, following these simple guidelines will help your graduate school statement of purpose stand out in a sea of overly similar statements. The goal is to persuade faculty members they want to work with you. You can do this by writing a statement that details your interest in attending the program, specifying which faculty members you wish to work with, explaining weaknesses in your school record, and writing clearly and precisely.
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