In this brief guide, we will look at what a Statement of Purpose is and tips on how to write the best possible one.
Statement of Purpose: Meaning and Format
A statement of purpose is an essay that serves as your introduction to the admissions committee at a graduate school, and it is meant to tell them about your interests, experiences and everything about you that makes you a good fit for their school.
A statement of purpose is probably the most important part of your application aside from your transcripts, because most schools care deeply about you as an individual and they need to know they are getting more than just a straight A student.
While some schools may specify what they need from your statement of purpose in the form of a single question or statement that tells you of the things you need to include, there may be some that are more open ended about it and just say that they need a statement of purpose and not much else.
When writing a statement of purpose, you will need to follow a formal format that does not really vary much, and you can also find some statement of purpose sample PDFs at the end of this section to help you out in determining what format you are meant to follow.
While your guidance counselor or someone else who has done this before can help you out in writing your statement of purpose, you need to still know what to write and what the school may be looking for.
A statement of purpose should in general answer these questions:
- How much and what kind of experience do you have in your field?
- Is your experience related to your choice of degree?
- In addition to the experience you already have, what skills are you planning to gain from the degree?
- Have you thought about what you will do with this degree after graduation?
- What subject are you looking to study in this particular graduate school?
- Why are you interested in this degree particularly?
- Why is this particular college important to you?
- Why did you choose to study in this particular country and what do you like about it, or, more importantly, what do you think you can contribute?
- Do you want to get a job or do any more research?
- Do you have any specific expectations from the graduate program or the university and if so what?
- What do you understand about the student community and culture at the college you want? How well do you think you will fit in?
- What is that one unique aspect/characteristic about you that you think the university should know?
- Is there any particular professor you are keen to work with and why?
- Apart from work and education, what are your hobbies, interests, and habits?
- What are you like, as a person, and what experiences have you had in your life that make you who you are?
When describing some aspects of these questions, like what makes you unique, for instance, make sure to not include things like being a hard worker or fast learner, because cliches like that get rejected quite early on and you are not saying something very unique.
If you do think that you being a hard worker or fast learner are traits that you absolutely need to show, you need to do so with examples that other people may not have going on for them, and you need to not just mention but prove that you are in fact more hardworking or smarter than others.
7 Tips for the Best Statement of Purpose
Here are 7 of the best tips to write the best Statement of purpose ever.
Maintain the correct voice
Berkeley guides about statements of purpose say that when writing a statement of purpose you must always use the correct voice, which is active voice and not passive.
When you use a lot of passive voice you sound too archaic and rigid, and you may also come across as someone things happen to and not someone that makes things happen.
Also, a constant passive voice in the statement of purpose can make it sound a bit convoluted and sort of broken.
Focus on positives
You need to always mention positive things in the statement of purpose, which does not mean that you can’t tell them about a rough period in your life, but it means that you need to show them that you are hopeful and optimistic.
When you mention positive things and maintain a positive tone in the statement of purpose it helps the admissions authorities to envision someone with enthusiasm and a will to learn.
Emphasize your experience
If you have gained any sort of real world experience, talk about what you have learned from it; it does not have to be specific to your field or very impressive or extravagant.
Real world experience counts for a lot in any admissions essay or statement of purpose, because it shows the admissions committee that they are getting someone who is good at learning from the smallest things in their life.
Mention stories not facts
When writing a statement of purpose many people can get hung up on informing the committee about all they have done, but you need to ensure that you don’t do that and tell stories instead of telling them facts about your life.
Making the committee aware of your humanity and your personality is a very relevant and significant part of the statement of purpose, and when you tell your stories in the right way it is very successful in painting your picture appropriately.
Be formal but conversational
Just because a statement of purpose is a formal document and you need to ensure a polite and respectful language does not mean it cannot be conversational.
You need to make sure that the statement of purpose reads smoothly and does not come across as overly stiff or rigid. Think of it sort of like a written interview where you are talking about your most important attributes.
This should go without saying but your statement of purpose should not have silly grammatical mistakes or typos and you always need to proofread it, and ideally you should have a couple of other people do it too.
Discuss future plans
While your statement of purpose should tell the admissions committee where you have been and what your stories are, they also need to know where you are expecting to go from here because if they offer you a spot they will be a part of your future too.
Talking about your future goals in your statement of purpose is a very smart thing to do, just make sure you aren’t too outlandish about it, keep it firm and grounded, mention your plans in a practical and reality-oriented way.
Statement of Purpose Sample
Here is a statement of purpose sample for you to understand what yours should sound like:
“Since I was a child, my favorite thing has always been a book. Not just for the stories and information they contain, although that is a large part of it. Mostly, I have been fascinated by the concept of a book as an object—a tangible item whose purpose is to relate intangible ideas and images. Bookbindings and jackets, different editions, the marginalia in a used book—all of these things become part of the individual book and its significance, and are worth study and consideration. Books and their equivalent forms—perfect bound, scrolled, stone tablets, papyrus—have long been an essential part of material culture and are also one of our most significant sources of information about the human historical past. Through both the literal object of the book, the words contained thereon, and its relationship to other books—forms of context, text and intertext—we are able to learn and hopefully manage layers of information with which we would otherwise have no familiarity.”
“Furthermore, blogs, webcomics, digital archives, e-readers, and even social media sites like tumblr and Facebook have revolutionized the concept of the book by changing how we share and transmit ideas and information, just as the Gutenberg printing press revolutionized the book all those years ago in the fifteenth century. Once again there has been an detonation both in who can send out information and who can receive it.”
“I am deeply interested in the preservation of the physical book, as I think it is an important part of human history (not to mention a satisfying sensory experience for the reader). However I am also very concerned with the digitization and organization of information for the modern world such that the book, in all of its forms, stays relevant and easy to access and use. Collections of books, archives, and information as stored in the world’s servers, libraries and museums are essential resources that need to be properly organized and administered to be fully taken advantage of by their audiences. My purpose in applying to the University of Edinburgh’s Material Culture and History of the Book is to gain the skills necessary to keep all forms of the book relevant and functional in an age when information can move more radically than ever before.”
“Additionally, I intend on pursuing a PhD in Library and Information Sciences upon completion of my master’s and I feel that this program will make me uniquely suited to approach library science from a highly academic and interdisciplinary perspective.”
In this brief guide, we looked at what a Statement of Purpose is and tips on how to write the best possible one.
Statement of Purpose is often what makes the application stand out, which is why it is important to write the absolute best that you can.
There are many ways to write a statement of purpose and there are many tips as well, but the main thing is that it should always talk about who you are and why you fit into the program you’re applying for.
If you have any questions or comments about a Statement of Purpose, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Statement of Purpose
How do you write a good statement of purpose?
To write a good statement of purpose, you need to ensure the following:
Check for spelling or grammatical errors.
Stay away from overly informal language.
Keep a positive and confident tone.
Use strong, clear, and concise writing.
Avoid cliches and repetitive language.
What is a Statement of Purpose example?
An example of a Statement of Purpose may be the following question: “Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals.”
What should a statement of purpose include?
A Statement of Purpose should include the following things:
A Summary of your undergraduate and previous graduate career.
A Discussion of the relevance of your recent and current activities.
An Elaboration of your academic interests.
What is a statement of purpose called?
A statement of purpose is also called a letter of intent or a research statement and it is an essay that introduces your interests and experiences to the admissions committee.
A statement of purpose for graduate school is basically a formal introduction you sent to the people who are going to oversee whether you belong in their program and as such it is something that should represent the absolute best that you have to offer.