Statement of Purpose – Guidelines

 

The Statement of Purpose must focus on future career plans, reason for taking this course and your past study. It should give an overview about yourself, your mindset and also your quality of English.

This statement forms a vital part of your application and helps the University to assess an application. It should include:

The reason why you wish to study your chosen subject
Any experience you have to past study related to your chosen subject.
Any employment experience.
The reasons you wish to study in the UK.
Your ambitions / goals / expectations.
Personal and other areas of interest (Hobbies, sports, social or leisure).
Any other information, which you feel, will support your application
The statement should be approximately 350 words. You should be clear and genuine in your writing as far as possible and check thoroughly for spelling and grammar mistakes before submitting to make it error free.

We mention below in brief, steps that you can use to draft a good statement of purpose. Please note that these are only guidelines and are not intended to stifle your creativity. Our purpose in giving you these guidelines is to give you a sense of direction in terms of the required content.

 

Brief Introduction


The first paragraph could consist of your name, a personal philosophy/motto if you like, a little about your personality, your area of strength and finally your personal interests (hobbies/sports). You could also use this as an opportunity to acknowledge your family to be the source of motivation, encouragement and tremendous support. If you plan to take your spouse and/or your children along or for that matter, leave them behind ensure that you provide convincing explanations for the same.

 

Education Background


In chronological order, mention all of your academic achievements with the respective dates. Mention the medium of instruction in school and in college. Include those projects
Research, internships and training undertaken during your period of study connected to your proposed area of study. Mention your academic strengths, highlighting achievements and receipt of any awards, rank and scholarships in the relevant field if applicable.

Explain shifts in education interests, instances of weak academic performance repeated failures, and consistent ‘achievement of low marks and breaks in education, if any. If there is a similar course available in India, you will have to elaborate your reasons for not wanting to enroll in it in India. Concrete and substantial links must be established, between your previous academic background and your proposed course of study.

 

Employment History


In case of relevant work experience, a connection must be established with the proposed course of study. In the event of break/s in employment, mention and provide an explanation for the same. If you are working with the family business, highlight the scope and application of the proposed course of study in relation to the family’s business interests.

Highlight Purpose for Proposed Course of Study
Mention the actual reasons for taking the proposed course, properly indicating your wish to specialize in the particular field as applicable. Highlight the reasons for choosing UK as well as the particular institution of study.

 

Career Goals


You will have to explain explicitly why you want to pursue your chosen course of study (do include an outline of your course) in the Institution in UK and how on its completion, it will help you in your career pathways. This point is absolutely essential and it must be explained very clearly. Mention your career aspirations, both short-term and long-term and how the UK qualification will help you achieve them. Also mention your plans upon your return to India, whether you have a family business to return to or if you wish to join a firm or set up a business concern of your own. Please remember that your goals should be concrete and realistic and based on sound inferences.

 

In Conclusion


Finally you can mention how you did find about the programme at the university you are applying for and any special reasons in choosing the same .Conclude by requesting the Institution to admit you into the program of your choice.

 

SAMPLE SOP

 

 

 

Sample Postgraduate Statement of Purpose
The following statement of purpose was written for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s PhD in American History.  The instructions in the application materials regarding the statement are:  ‘Attach a statement describing your reasons for graduate study. Include a brief overview of your current degree goals, your professional aspirations, and your reasons for selecting a field of study.’

I was born and raised in a city that can trace its roots back to the Roman legionary fort of Deva, in a house that dates back to the Reformation, and studied at a university that predated Columbus by three centuries. So what could America have that I didn’t already have in abundance where I was?

The first inkling of an answer to this question came when I started work on my first course of American history as an undergraduate at Oxford. It was then that I finally discovered what it was I wanted to do in life. When I returned to education after five years of working I was no clearer in my own mind as to what career I wanted to aim at. I selected a history degree because I was aware of a nagging absence of an understanding of how the world got to be the place it is today, and that I wanted to rectify. I set out with the intention of covering as wide a sweep of history as possible, with an emphasis on my own country, and also the country that had held a fascination for me since I was a child – America.

My first year on Britain and Europe was enjoyable, and told me I was more of a 19th century buff than a medievalist, but the variety helped give perspective. It was only when I started my first paper on American history that things became clearer. The sheer vigour, freedom and effervescence of what I was studying took my breath away. Britain does have a rich and glorious past, but in many ways it is now held back by its history, so set in its ways that change is extra difficult. America did not have that problem; it simply cherry picked the best bits from other systems, adapted it to its own needs, and never stopped moving forward. Such freedom was alien to me and to the system that introduced it to me, but it was refreshing and invigorating too. That same year I made several good friends amongst the visiting JYAs and visited them on their home turf, a trip that helped cement my fascination with America.

From then on it became clear what I really wanted to do – US history. My other courses, already chosen, were interesting and gave different perspectives, but I only really came alive when studying America. My plan to move into journalism once graduated was dropped and I went straight into a Master’s course in American history. I wanted to broaden my understanding, and also see if I really was committed to further study. Certain aspects of my time at Sussex were dissatisfying, but one that wasn’t was the enjoyment I got from the work, especially the independent research for my thesis.

That is I why I write to you now. I am asking you to give me the opportunity to fulfil a wish, long cherished, of being able to study nothing but American history, taking the courses I want to take, with professors of my own choosing. That this decision has not been lightly taken is illustrated by the fact that if my application is successful I will be leaving friends, family and my own country behind for upwards of five years.

My major interests lie in the 19th century, and focus on slavery and Native Americans. My MA thesis was an investigation of racist beliefs amongst the Five Civilised Tribes (FCTs) towards their black slaves, and the reasons for these beliefs. My conclusion was that these racist beliefs were a self-defence mechanism designed to differentiate themselves from blacks and thus move back up the racial hierarchy and avoid the worst excesses of white racism.

While I would envisage taking my MA thesis further to form the basis of my doctoral dissertation – I uncovered many interesting side-issues that I did not have the time to pursue in the course of my MA – my interests centre on slavery and its culture. One of the issues, for example, that I wanted to look at but never even had time to start was a comparison of slave culture under Native American masters as opposed to white owners. For this reason I would like to track certain elements of slave culture back to their African roots and see how many were adaptations and survivals of tribal culture in Africa.

Equally I would also like to do more research into Native American culture in order to see if there was any transfer of cultural traits from them to their slaves. Such transfer of cultural practices between groups would seem to offer a useful insight into the racial attitudes of the three groups as whole, with the adoption of African practices by Native Americans offering particular insight into their true attitudes toward Africans. If the FCTs did adopt African practices at an earlier stage in their joint history then it could be claimed that later racism by the FCTs towards their slaves was a result of the pressure of white attitudes upon them. Submission to such pressure would therefore indicate a willingness to assimilate and become more acceptable to the wider white society. The Seminole, for their amicable role towards runaways and blacks generally and animosity to assimilation, would be an integral part of such a study. A comparison of slavery as practised by Native peoples in other parts of the US – the Pacific Northwest for example – and also in Latin America would also be useful for my research.

My goal is to teach history – preferably at university level – and hopefully be able to convey to my students my own passion for the subject. The best teachers I have had in my academic career thus far have been those who’s fascination and love of their own subject has shone through and animated them. There is no other feeling quite like the sudden rush of realisation and understanding when another piece of the jigsaw drops into place and the larger picture of which it is a part is drawn more closely into focus. If I could convey even a fraction of the buzz it gives me to make that connection and complete the picture then I could look forward to as fulfilling and satisfying a working life as anyone could lay claim to.

When I first started looking into possible destinations for doctoral work one of the first institutions recommended to me was Madison. Once I actively started researching the University I found the faculty helpful, interested, and swift to reply to any queries I sent. The Department also houses a multitude of specialists in all the fields I am looking to study. Professors Blackhawk for Native America; Professor Cronon for Native Americans, the West, and the Frontier; Professor Kantrowitz for southern culture, racism and white supremacy; Professor Lee on slavery; Professors Stern and Scarano for slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean respectively; Professors Spear and Thomas on Africa, its pre-colonial culture, and the Diaspora; Professor Cohen for Colonial and early America, Religion and Native Americans; Professor Boydston for westward expansion and Removal, as well as others in the broad categories of African-Americans, the South, and Africa.

From the website listings I also identified nearly 30 courses that I would be interested in taking, and the program would also enable me to further my knowledge of French, allow me the opportunity to sample anthropology or archaeology for use as an extra research tool.

I also believe from my correspondence with faculty that there are already a couple of students at Madison working in similar areas to the one I propose.

 

Statement of Purpose- DO’s & Don’t’s

 

Strategies for success –the personal statement
Your personal statement provides you with the opportunity to distinguish yourself from all the other highly qualified people and is of major importance. A good Statement of Purpose is a very important part of the application since it gives the School Admissions Committee the best opportunity to evaluate the full range of the Experience and knowledge you bring in your pursuit of a professional degree and the Appropriateness of their school to your objectives. The Statement of Purpose should be concise, well-written essay covering three distinct areas relating to you:Open with a summary statement of your preparedness, then describe your background, education, and community and the reasons you became interested in the profession of your choice. Briefly discuss your academic preparation (including lab or Research), relevant work, and other experiences, i.e., volunteer work. Make sure to tell the reader what you gained from these experiences – what qualities you have developed. Discuss how the school will help you meet your educational and career goal. State your skills, your strengths, and your uniqueness. Be positive and not apologetic. However, explain any significant lapses in your academic record. After reviewing with Career Center, family, friends, make sure the final copy is Proofread for errors.
Do’s & Don’ts
Don’ts
Don’t underestimate the importance of the essay (A very common mistake).
Don’t underestimate the length of time it will take to write your statement.
Don’t have someone else write it for you! There are ethical issues involved here, but you are also the best spokesperson for yourself.
Don’t list everything you have ever done. There is usually a place on the application to list your activities. Avoid giving unnecessary details. The statement should read smoothly.
Don’t mention your interest for one particular school in a general application that is being sent to many schools and vice a versa.
Do’s
Keep a journal of your work and volunteer experience.
Get an early start. This cannot be stressed enough.
Be honest, consistent and straightforward.
Be specific, not general.
Be comfortable with the image of your self that you’re presenting.
Pay attention to detail – absolutely no spelling or grammatical errors.
Your statement must be neat and error free. No excuses . . . you must make a good impression.
A summary of your accomplishments first
Background information – people and events that influenced your decision.
Learning experience(s) that serve as a foundation for your choice of career
Where you picked up first-hand information/experience about the field
Your own appraisal of yourself (strengths, weaknesses, uniqueness)
Leadership role activities
Career objectives and goals
Let your personality and individuality come through. Give insight on your hopes, goals, motivations and dedication. Be interesting and unique. Do not be afraid to let your passion and commitment to a career come through.
Take the opportunity to explain anything you feel might raise questions (e.g., a weak academic quarter . . . Explain what was going on in your life, if a personal or academic issue affected you).
Be responsible for your own background. Don’t discuss or compare your self to the application standards or other students.
Have someone else read your statement but be careful of advice. Get two or three different opinions. Remember, it is your personal statement but other opinions and professional advice can make the difference in gaining acceptance.
Write a draft, edit, and re-write as many times as needed.
Make the essay look good. This makes it easier and more enjoyable to read. Follow the guidelines for length, margins, and do not use too small a font. You can squeeze more on a page that way, but readers see hundreds of statements and don’t have time to deal with smallfont.Keep a photocopy of each essay you write. You need to keep a copy of every single piece of your application. It is imperative you have copies of everything, both for your own reference before you go to an interview and as documentation in case someone else loses or misplaces your application. This has happened to students, and you do not want to have to recreate anything. Keep paper copies in addition to disc copies.
Read your essay before an interview. Make sure you know what you wrote.
Be prepared to discuss and defend essay points during the interview.
Schools prefer unique essays so avoid copying any others

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