How to Write a Statement of Purpose
Writing a statement of purpose requires self-confidence and excellent self-assessment. You need to keep the balance between boasting and underestimation. In order to write a good essay of this type, you should get familiar with its goal and context. Let’s now talk about all this below.
A statement of purpose is usually written while applying for a graduate school, which means that you want to be enrolled in a PhD program. As more and more people today are applying for graduate studies, universities and academic institutions in general have introduced stricter criteria for admission. Since the access to tertiary education today is easier than before (for example in comparison with the situation at the end of the 20th century), more people decide to pursue an academic career. Not everyone is successful, though. The decision to apply for a PhD program is a serious step and the application process is not that easy. Whereas a college application letter is only a useful supplement to your CV and interview, a statement of purpose should convince the selection committee that you possess the qualities needed for academic work.
How to write a statement of purpose – 4 steps
Step 1: Start preparing yourself at least one year in advance
Some college students consider academic career even in their first year of study, so you should not hesitate. If you have decided to take this step at the last moment, your application will be a failure, provided you are not a genius, but even geniuses are sometimes unrecognizable by professors.
To prepare means to know exactly your subject of study and topic of dissertation. An academic writing is not a joke; it takes years to be written and defended. You will be almost completely deprived of social and family life, so take this into consideration.
Step 2: Write a precise plan of your academic work
This draft will serve as a basis for writing the application letter required by the PhD selection committee. The plan should include: topic (may be generally defined), supervisor/s you want to work with, particular institution (of course), and time framework of the dissertation.
Step 3: It is time to start working on your statement of purpose
It has to contain the usual structure typical for every essay, but its contents need to be very clear and convincing.
Show your knowledge on the particular institution you are applying for. For example, write the following: “The Department X/Institution X is remarkable for its constant research in the field of Z. I have read the works written by Prof. Y, which provoked my interests and made me searching for more information on the topic. In the course of my higher education, I made it clear for myself that I would like to pursue an academic/ a scientific career in A." It should definitely catch the committee’s attention at first sight and you will have preference over other applicants.
(1) Instead of telling personal stories, you must present your plan for research, and particularly for writing the PhD dissertation. It has to be more elaborated now. You can use the draft as your starting point. The plan should include the elements mentioned above as well as detailed information on the methodology and theoretical framework of the dissertation (sources, authors, theories which you will base your research on).
(2) The other thing you need to make clear is whether you pursue a career as a lecturer, or as a researcher. Both positions are usually separated, so you should make it clear to the committee. At any rate you will be required to give some lectures, whether you want or not.
Express your personal intentions in one long sentence. Do not quote or refer to famous quotes. Show your uniqueness.
Step 4: Include your personal achievements
Attach a list of your personal achievements: international conferences attended (especially abroad), articles or books published, translations, laboratory work (if applicable), etc.
Now you should feel more confident and have enough knowledge on how to write a statement of purpose. Do not be afraid or worried: if you are a true researcher, you will find your proper place some day.
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