A statement of purpose is a short essay that a college or university entrant has to compose in order to introduce themselves to a admission committee. A statement of purpose needs to show your previous education, work experience, career and academic goals, as well as what factors have influenced your choice of a profession or major.
Steps for Writing a Statement of Purpose
- Read all about the educational institution in which you want to apply, the program and major you have selected.
- Make a short list of points that have motivated you to become a student of this particular institution.
- Think of your past experiences, skills and qualifications, as well as personal traits and qualities that will help you successfully perform in the profession you wish to acquire.
- Based on the mission, values and principles that the institution in which you are applying for upholds, think of what personal goals the committee is expecting the candidates to set out. Try to integrate these with your own system of principles in your statement of purpose.
- Write a draft, trying to stay within the limit of 400-500 words (if not stated otherwise in the application requirements).
- Write an introduction, specifying the program for which you are applying, briefly explaining your choice of a future profession, as well as this particular institution, so that you can further expand on this reasoning in the paragraphs of the main body.
- Write a conclusion, projecting your future career goals and outlining how acquiring this particular profession in this institution will influence your personal development and career success.
- Proofread your statement of purpose several times.
Key Points to Consider
- Be creative and unique in your statement of purpose. Instead of using clichés and general phrases, personalize your statement of purpose by writing in your own words, even if they sound less sophisticated and smart. Considering how many applications the committee has to look through. It is the characteristic of being “different” from all the other statements that is your objective.
- Carefully read the institution’s website and all the information for entrants. Do not just assume that looking through the brochure is enough to give you an understanding of what the committee will be looking for in your statement of purpose.
- Start writing your statement of purpose at least a week before the deadline. Allow yourself to absorb the ideas and thoughts that you consider expressing in your essay; make an outline and then draft it, revising the draft a few times to perfect and polish your writing. After the statement of purpose is complete, set it aside for a day or two, then come back and re-read it with a fresh perspective.
- Another useful tip is to let your adviser, or someone who knows you well and has a critical mind, read your statement of purpose and comment on how it can be improved.
- Choose an appropriate tone when addressing the committee. Your overall attitude is as important as the actual content of your statement of purpose. Be polite, respectful and use formal language.
- Think about your statement of purpose as the best chance to introduce yourself and present your goals and motivations to the admission committee.
Dos and Don’ts
- Not having a logical direction for your thoughts and ideas is a common mistake. It is wrong for you to think of your statement of purpose as a document where you just list your experience, background, previous education, goals and motives, which is more like a formal report, rather than thinking about it as a statement of purpose. Use transitions and logically move from paragraph to paragraph, as you would in any other essay. Sketch an outline and follow it, making sure that your writing flows in one direction, and naturally develop your thoughts as you write.
- Being vigorously persuasive and pushy in your statement of purpose. You are not trying to “sell” yourself as a pesky merchandiser. Do not brag and boast about your advantages; use a moderate and respectful manner to present your skills, talents and interests. If you know fairly little about the profession at this point, there is nothing terrible about this: an educational institution is a place where you will learn about it. As long as you are motivated, experience-oriented and willing to learn, you are a perfect candidate.
- Trying to be funny and witty is not a prudent idea in such a serious paper as a statement of purpose. Try to remain official, even when talking about your interests and hobbies. After all, as a future student, you have to sound like a presentable and earnest entrant, willing to overcome challenges and effectively cope with academic assignments.
- Delving into too many details and overloading your statement of purpose with information is also often an erroneous approach. While avoiding generalizations, there is also no need to go into too many details in a two-page essay. To make sure that your statement of purpose is consistent and well-balanced, choose one or two leading motives and support them with solid argumentation. Base your writing on these two major motives and, if you are really eager to mention the other factors that also influenced your choice of a profession, do so in the last paragraph by simply listing these factors in one sentence.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic statement of purpose writing tips and rules, you can check out our statement of purpose samples to link theory with practice.