Summary of points culled from the thread’s discussion Organized by Rita Orji, PhD
Summary provided by Felix Dike and Martins Iyekekpolor
The full discussion is available on LinkedIn here
Statement of purpose is a rich but concise essay where the applicant clearly justifies their motivations for their choice of research, program, and school with strong reasons for why he/she should be considered for the admission / funding. This should not be a story of your life!
A Statement of purpose (SOP) is to enable applicants to discuss the link between his or her past experiences and future career goals.
SOP is very important to showcase one’s ability to the admission committee.
– In writing SOP, mention the skills you have (in concrete ways, using key terms); the skills you intend to acquire and where you intend to be afterward (future career path)
– Candidates should commit Professor they want to work within their SOP. For example, mentioning a professor and his work, which of his research captivates you and how you fit in can further make your SOP stand out.
– Be concise to explain why you choose the graduate school and field of interest. In some cases, why you need to join the research group? What are your interests during and after the training/program?
– Mention Positive and valuable Past experience relevant to the study. Think of the skills you need to include in this SOP. Not all your past experience will suit all graduate school (select the vivid ones)
– Mention why you choose the Program, Why the country and not other countries? Why the University? Also, there must be a strong connection between the selected program and your future career.
– Highlight your positive Personalities relevant to the study. Any outstanding qualities that make you unique for the program (please do not mix it up with personal statement). You can start your quote or anecdote that relate with the program
– Write in simple but correct English free from grammatical errors. communicate clearly, effectively and logically. Be simple! The admission committees do not have time to check vocabulary words.
– Start the Process early. Begin writing your SOP at least 3-4 months before application. This would give you more time to brainstorm and get feedback.
– if you struggle with writing generally, I would recommend you make up your mind to write in drafts. No good piece of writing happened at a go.
– You can think of SOP this way, it serves as a surrogate interview between the applicant and graduate admission decision committee.
– Contact friends, learned colleagues, and relevant professors in your target school to know if funding is available for your chosen program. You can also send the same SOP to the professor you are about to work with. Then he may let you know if he is interested in you.
– Discuss your SOP with your present academically experienced friends and colleagues for feedback.
– When you identify a program and a professor, please read their areas of interest. That must correlate with yours! Then, read the last two scientific publications and identify area for further study— that you are likely to find at the conclusion or the end of the abstract of the paper. Report it in your SOP without mentioning that you read it from his work, and that will be the area you seem to be interested in.
– Be honest and precise while writing your statement of purpose, it is very important to showcase your strength and determination toward achieving goals.
– Consider your long term and short-term goals? start writing SOP at least 2-3 months before application.
– avoid all forms of plagiarism, follow the instructions given and avoid more than 2 pages (sometimes, one page is required).
– Do not wait till after your test scores before writing SOP. The more you write, the more you become better.
– Avoid writing general conclusion: You can get the attention of the committee more by writing about some interesting courses or about their alumni in your conclusion.
– Do not mention the name of a professor (s) who you are not sure of whether he or she is accepting graduate students or have funding (s) to support international students.
– Avoid using the same SOP for different applications. Read about the objectives of the department or scholarship.
– Always crosscheck what the admission committees are looking for and ensure your SOP speaks to those before submitting it.
– It is advisable you write the same ideas in different ways if you are applying for different graduate schools.
– List your achievements, extracurricular activities, community services, work experiences including internships, part-time jobs, and freelance jobs, research experiences, degrees, and any other thing the school specifically requires.
– Talk about why you have chosen the school/university or college for this program. Perhaps the quality of the faculty members, the reputation of the college or even the employability of their graduates.
– Discuss what qualifies you to be taken on this program – academic background, leadership skills, extracurricular activities or support for your community. Understand that grades is not everything. There is a need for students who can balance every aspect of education vis-a-vis social interaction and shaping humanity with the knowledge you will gain.
– State your future goals and how the program would prepare you for it. Make a case for why you deserve a place.
– One thing to check for when writing SOP is the prompt for the essay. You’d usually find the prompt in the application guideline or while filling forms. You might also be given word limits and points to cover in the SOP.
– Do not forget to finish with an appreciation sentence.
– In writing a good SOP especially for Erasmus scholarship, you must know the core values and goals of the programme. For example, if they intend to raise passionate leaders, you must be able to connect all your achievements and short/long term plans to that goal.
– Also, it is very important for an applicant to have clarity. Where do you see yourself in 5 year-time and how will the fellowship help you to get there?
– You must be able to make reference to the achievements of the school, quality of teaching and facilities and the excellencies of their current students and alumni across all sectors.
– Another point to note is that most applications would have requested your CV, so no need to repeat what you already have on your CV in your essay. Tell them what they are yet to know about you that distinguish you from other applicants.
– it is important to be coherent. Don’t make repetitive ideas in your SOP.
– One should be able to see a sensible flow from the first statement, paragraph to the last. So before starting, first define what comes at what point. No disjointed flow.
– Normally the first paragraph should capture the interest of the reader. An improperly structured first paragraph could even not allow the rest of the SOP to be read. start this paragraph describing what skills, courses, lab works from my undergraduate studies that are relevant to the programme. Be careful not to give too many details that are not necessary. Talking about your IT experiences is advisable if it is relevant to the programme, the same goes for your bachelor thesis but again just the relevant aspect with respect to the programme. Equally important is the concluding or last paragraph, a lot of people read the first and the last paragraph before diving into the rest.
– A SOP helps convince the institution on how you can give the institution the best of you. It’s about what you are willing to give and how your effort will transform your career and your field of study. This statement must be very clear, true and upfront.
– A mistake that I come across all the time is the lack of a CLEAR PURPOSE (especially for PhD applicants). Remember that the career you hope for is not necessarily your purpose. Your purpose is what you hope to accomplish with your future career.
– Write in an active voice and provide details in a positive perspective
– Be logical. Don’t beg and don’t sound desperate. Focus on your value proposition and the opportunity to learn and make an impact.
– Start your personal statement by explaining and demonstrating your motivation or rationale for applying to the course.
– Includes what elements of the course you are interested in. Explain what made you choose the programme.
– Apart from your work and education, what are your hobbies, interests, and habits? Mention any unique aspect or characteristic you have and how this will benefit other students. What do you know about the school community and do you think you can fit in?
List of Contributors to the original discussion:
Rita Orji, Kelechukwu Onwukamike, Olaniyi Fawole, Bello Folaniyi, Felix Dike, Bayode Akomolafe, Theophilus Tenebe, Adeniyi Adeoloye, Ikenna Henry, Ọlágbénró Ọládípọ̀, priyanka porwal, Samuel Ogunwale, Maryleen Ndubuaku, Adegoke Adeniyi, Wainkwa Chia Rogers, Sam Eneje, Chigozie Joseph Samuel, Akeem Ayobami, Unyime Jasper, Great Umenweke, Iroabuchi Idika, HENRY ODOEMELEM, Ayodeji Akintomi Ojo.