If you are even a little informed about the Statement of Purpose (SOP), you might be aware of its importance. Well, don’t worry if you don’t know what it means. Statement of purpose is an essay or other written statement written by an applicant i.e. a prospective student applying to some college, university, or graduate school. It is also known as admissions or application essay or personal statement. Its degree of importance in your understanding might vary but it is important in one way or other if you really want to study in Australia. You need to be clear about a few things before starting an SOP. The first thing is that it is not your resume and the other is that you cannot complete it in a single day.
It is important for you to understand what to include in an SOP and how to write it. The SOP can vary from person to person just like they vary from each other in terms of life events, behavior and understanding of themselves. Needless to say, your experiences would be your own, your thoughts and ideas would be your own and your aspirations would be unique and different too. So if you write an SOP based on your real life, it is going to be unique for sure. However, there are a few basics you need to keep in mind in general. We have summarized the basics into five simple steps described below:
Step 1: Prepare a list of what things you are going to include
An SOP is going to be a long and time-consuming document. So you should not forget about staying calm. First of all, you need to start brainstorming about what important things have happened in your life. You may choose among them to prepare a final list of what you are going to include. SOP ideally lets you express the journey of your life so far and seeks to understand your goals and aspirations. Hence, there are so many things that you can include. Do not forget to jot things down in a paper or any other forms of note when you brainstorm. This is simply because it is possible that you can forget those points. You must not forget listing your long-term and short-term goals. It is best for you to write down every incident, how irrelevant it may seem. At this stage, you must not worry about deciding what all not to include while writing the SOP.
Step 2: Develop the theme of your SOP
You cannot write about just anything and everything in your SOP. Your SOP as a whole must depict a single and clear picture of you—theme. Your SOP must have a theme. Otherwise, it will turn out to be just beating about the bush. What we mean by that is that it should try to focus on a certain thought process. You might be wanting to tell about everything, but you must decide how your SOP should progress. Thinking of a theme or to simply put, how your SOP would flow towards your goals is important. Suppose that you are writing a story of your life. Think about it! Of all the things in your life, you need to choose one that can make you stand out. It could be a particular incident that got you interested in that Nursing course or perhaps how your job highlighted why you need to take Arts. But finding the theme is very important and the easiest manner of doing that is finding that one turning point in your life when you knew that this is what you had to do.
Step 3: Optimize the List
As soon as you finish preparing the list, you need to start filtering out the things. If you have decided a theme, start removing the instances from the list which are not compatible with it. Simply take a red pen and keep striking out the instances that are not important or, would not necessarily go well with the theme decided. Remember at this stage, it is extremely important to know what to include in a SOP and more importantly what all you should not include in your SOP.
Also, the list usually can be customized as per the course you are applying for. For instance, what to include in a Nursing SOP varies from what you must include in an Engineering SOP. Also, how to write an SOP for UG courses is completely different as there are lesser instances and relevant projects to highlight. So, depending on the course, cut short the list prepared.
Step 4: Research about the course and the University
You would know a lot about the course and the university. This time around, research about the culture, the alumni and find out how the culture and the success stories of the university chosen fit with the theme you have chosen. This would help you greatly customize your SOP and sync your goals with your chosen path. For research-based programs, it would be almost necessary to include the names of the faculty members and their respective research projects that are currently on-going. Remember, even if it is not categorically asked, it would bode well to do your research about the faculty members who would be taking up the course you are planning to take up. A thorough research about the program is highly appreciated by universities abroad.
Step 5: Write, Edit, and Re-write
After all the brainstorming and research, it is now time to write the SOP. Never submit your first draft. It is extremely important to write it at once and re-visit it at certain intervals. You may not want to have three or four edits, but one is essential. Even if the story and thoughts don’t change, the vocabulary and basic punctuation must be checked. In all your essays, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation must be in order. With time at hand, there is no reason why Universities would accept typo errors. Never underestimate the importance of punctuation in your essays or SOP.
Do not assume that it is the final draft. Go through your SOP after a few days. There is always a place to improve. Take your time. Relax. And put a thought on what you have written. You may need to change the way you have presented something or there might be some flaws. Just clear them out and get your final draft ready.