Top Questions When Writing the Statement of Purpose Answered
2/2/2021 by HIGHERGRAD
The hardest single page you will write during your graduate school experience is your statement of purpose. The statement of purpose for graduate school, or your personal statement, is required by most graduate schools during the application process. This piece of writing lets graduate school admission committees, people you have never met, understand who you are and the desires you seek by applying. Many applicants get overwhelmed by this critical document and rightfully so. We help lessen the anxiety by answering the biggest questions around composing the statement of purpose.
An Authentic Essay About You
One of the biggest tips for applying to graduate school is to crush the personal statement. An articulate and concise statement of purpose speaks volumes to admissions folks. They are reviewing literally hundreds of graduate school applications for only a few available slots per program. Chances are many of those other applicants have similar if not better qualifications. The personal statement is where you can stand out, speak to committee members, and show off why you are better than the next applicant.
You can Google and see thousands of statement of purpose examples. While this is a good way to understand what others have done and to get an idea around the statement of purpose format, don't get caught up in what others have written. To stand out, you have to be authentic. It is also important to tell your story of self. Write like you think and how you talk. Use your own experiences and ideas to convey a clear depiction of why you are better for this position than the mountain of other applicants.
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Authentic also means you have to know how to write a statement of purpose for each program and university you are applying to. Each application has to unique and specific to that university or graduate program. Reach out to administrators and professors to understand the program's goals and what they may be looking for in a new graduate student. Incorporate this information in your text. Craft a story around your personal experiences, your life goals, and how that can integrate into their program. The power of the statement of purpose for graduate school is its ability to make your application personal. Let it help the admissions committee get to know you and learn about your value outside of GPA and course work.
How to Write a Statement of Purpose
Similar to having certain graduate school essentials, a statement of purpose format can be generalized across most university graduate schools. However as described above, each personal statement has to be authentic and unique. There are four steps to writing a memorable essay:
Of course, we are oversimplifying the process. There are many more detailed articles available on precisely how to write a statement of purpose. Although, these general steps for writing a personal statement will, when elaborated, be the process that gets you a well-written, noticeable document.
In addition, you may be asked to write a personal statement. This can be in conjunction with a statement of purpose. In those cases, our article on "How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School" may be helpful.
Questions Everyone Asks When Writing a Statement of Purpose
Grad school applicants have many questions. It's a long, difficult process so it's no surprise. The most common and important question often asked is "how important is the statement of purpose?" It is probably the most important piece of your graduate school application. A poorly written personal statement can knock you right out of consideration regardless of your other qualifications. Now that we have answered that question, here are five other questions everyone has when writing their statement of purpose.
How long should a personal statement be?
A statement of purpose for graduate school should be a max of two pages. One page is best, roughly 500-750 words of clear, concise text. There are special circumstances that warrant longer personal statements like those for unique programs or for programs that explicitly specify a length.
Should a personal statement have a title?
No title is necessary for a statement of purpose. Graduate school applications expect an applicant to submit one and the document itself should speak itself for its contents. Avoid using titles altogether and certainly do not label it "Personal Statement" unless the application process directs you to.
Should you double-space the personal statement?
Your personal statement for graduate school should be single-spaced. Again, refer to each graduate school's instructions but generally, there is no requirement or need to double space the document.
How do you end a personal statement
Conclude a statement of purpose by recapping your thoughts and tying together your key values related to the position. You want to discuss briefly what you wish to achieve from your attendance and what uniquely sets you apart from other candidates.
How long should it take to write
There is no set number of hours, days, or months it takes to write a personal statement for graduate school. It takes as long as it takes to develop an authentic voice with key elements to describe your story and path in life. Generally, it takes about 20-25 mins to write a page of text single-spaced, however.
A statement of purpose is your ticket to graduate school. It allows you the opportunity to set yourself apart from hundreds of other potential candidates. Use that opportunity to convey an authentic story of self and show what contributions you bring to the program you are applying for.