Guidelines for Statement of Purpose (SOP)
Though most universities ask for a Statement of Purpose or a personal essay wide array of the students doesn’t bothered much about that.
This document gives you a chance to talk directly to the admissions committee and allows you to portray yourself.For most of the admissions SOP plays a key role.Therefore it is very important to prepare an effective SOP to increase your chances of getting admit in to universities.
Many International students think that the statement of purpose is about character or an autobiographical sketch. But what is being requested is:
- Your interests in the subject and how you got those.
- Your goals,targets, and ambitions in life.
- How the program to which you are applying can help you to achieve those goals.
Justify your reasons for seeking graduate level training. If you cannot find such reasons, perhaps now is a good time to think about whether a career in science is for you.
As far as your goals and ambitions are concerned, try to be as specific as possible. Don’t be vague and don’t be negative. Be positive and simple. Be descriptive enough.
Other things that may go in your statement of interests are research, applied and professional experiences and relevant skills such as computing skills.
- Before you begin to write, plan the points you are going to discuss and the order of the topics
- Be objective and straightforward.
- Write concrete examples that clearly distinguishes you from other applicants.
- Write about what your interests other than studies.
- Start your essay with an arresting and attention-grabbing quote.
- End your essay with a valid conclusion.
- Revise your essay at least three times.
- In addition to your editing, ask someone else to critique and analyze your statement of purpose for you. Because even Shakespeare cannot be his own editor.
- Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud.
- Don't include unnecessary information.
- Don't start your essay with "I was born in...," or "My parents came from..."
- Don't be too elaborate. This brings your SOP a look of an itinerary, autobiography, or résumé in prose.
- Don't fake anything.
- Don't be afraid to start over the essay because you have no answer for that.
- Don't try to impress with your vocabulary by using complex words.
- Don't rely exclusively on the spell checker and grammar check in your computer.Check it on your own.
- Don't bad mouth your college and University.
- Don’t give weak excuses for your poor academics and scores.
- Don’t try to give statements like “It is very important to have communication skills in this field.” Every member in the admission committee knows that and they need not know that from an applicant.
Make sure that your Statement of Purpose should not be more than two pages or less. In some instances it may be longer, depending on the school's instructions.
Letter of Recommendation
Letter of Recommendation is just another essay that helps a college or university to know their applicants a little better. Its purpose is similar to that of the college essay and interview as it can set you apart from the thousands of other applicants and bring you one step closer to receiving your acceptance letter. One good thing about a recommendation letter is unlike essaysand interviews it always carries a positive note and doesn’t have any negative impact.
Usually colleges in which students did their studies will provide three forms for recommendation letters that can be found inside their applications. You should ask teachers, lecturers, and head of the departments whom you knowpretty well and get it done. Colleges may also allow additional recommendation letters that can be given to others such as those who know your special talents and character well (music or art teachers, coaches, etc.).
Some people and especially parents believe that recommendation letters from famous and important people in the community can be more influential in the admissions process. Such people may include community leaders, business people, politicians, religious leaders, and people from other walks of life. Though this may or may not be true in some cases, what is important is the content of the recommendation letter. That carries weight everywhere. It should be written by someone who has personal knowledge of you. Remember that a good strong recommendation letter carries a lot of weight. A Luke warm letter will do little good.
Try to bring out the best qualities as much as possible. The admissions committee will gauge your character and find out the persona. It reflects your qualities such as commitment, dedication, determination, creativity, sense of humor, intelligence, hard work, punctuality, leadership abilities, learning abilities, intuitiveness, enthusiasm, kindness, reliability, ability to express yourself clearly, effectively, and concisely, etc.
Please get the Letter of Recommendations ahead the time, as teachers will be busy in many of those when the colleges open.
Usually, Institutes abroad conduct Interviews rarely and limited to some business schools. Some schools conduct interviews telephonically and some others through their alumni who are based in the city you live in.
If the institute you are going to apply conducts an interview, you ought to be prepared.
Preparing for the Interview - have the right attitude and do your homework.
- Consider the interview as your final opportunity to market yourself. Establish your objectives for the interview. Think how to address your weakness and reinforce your strengths. Good preparation will also help you relax somewhat during the interview.
- Go through the institute brochure and website. This helps you know all the details about the school and the program - the school brochures and the website can be useful sources. Also Google the relevant results. It also conveys your interest in the school.
- Prepare for the typical interview questions.
Most of the interview questions come from two categories:
- Standard questions like tell me about yourself, your interests, greatest achievements, strengths and weaknesses, hobbies, goal, why course, why country, and why University etc;
- Questions those are person specific and tailor-made based on your essays and your resume. The interviewer may probe into some of your claims to fame from your essays and resume. Be sure to review your application, essays and resume prior to the interview. The worst thing you can do is contradicting yourself at the interview.
Prepare 5 good questions that reflect your concerns about the school and your success in the program.
Other tips including:
- Remember your interviewers are from the academia, so give adequate importance to learning and education. Show your commitment to learning and growing. Talk about your extracurricular activities and how these activities helped build your well-rounded personality. Detail your contribution as well as what you learnt. Describe how your schooling will help you in achieving your career goals. Describe any leadership experiences and what you learnt from those experiences
- Be enthusiastic about your job experience, if you have any. Portray yourself as one who tries to exceed expectations. Stress on teamwork, motivation, continuous learning and ownership. Be positive when talking about your boss or your firm. If you changed jobs, it should have been motivated by a desire for more challenges, more responsibilities, and opportunity to grow and so on. Avoid negative comments. If you had failures admit it. Stress on what you learnt from your failures .Describe your leadership experiences at work. Leadership potential is a very important quality desired by all MBA programs.
- Be practical with your goals. Your goals should be consistent with your experience and your desire.
- Be realistic where you want to see yourself in the nearer future. Don’t make statements like "I will become the CEO of Microsoft”. Highlight the strengths of the program to strengthen your choice. Make sure that all your answers are interrelated and reflect in the plan of action.
- Prepare a brief outline of your upbringing. Take every opportunity to show that you are achievement oriented and strive to develop both personally and professionally. At the same time, show yourself to be a well-balanced and sensible person with varied interests. It is very much ok and does not matter whether you like science fiction books or autobiographies, the idea is to show yourself as knowledgeable in whatever interests you pursue.
The purpose of a resume is to disclose your accomplishments and qualifications to the admissions committee. Think of your resume as a promotional brochure about you. You need to show the committee what you have accomplished and where your experience lies. Your strategy should be to emphasize the experience and skills that a particular school is looking for. Your resume is also an example of your communication and organizational skills.
There are several acceptable formats for a resume. Based on the amount of your work experience, you can use any format. Try to emphasize more on skills and employment experience, if you have any. Place the most recent jobs at the top of the list. Include all part-time and full time work experiences, research and project activities, extracurricular interests and community/civil activities.
Resume writing tips:
Keep it concise
Resumes should be one page, if possible, and two if absolutely necessary to describe relevant work experience.
Make your words count.
- Your use of language is extremely important; you need to sell yourself to a committee quickly and efficiently.
- Avoid large paragraphs (over six or seven lines).
- Use action verbs such as "developed," "managed," and "designed" to emphasize your accomplishments.
- Don't use declarative sentences like "I developed the..." or "I assisted in..."; leave out the "I."
- Avoid passive constructions, such as "was responsible for managing." It's not only more efficient to say "Managed," it's stronger and more active.
Make the most of your experience
The admissions committee is looking for future business managers and leaders. They need to know what you have accomplished to have an idea of what you can add to the program.
Don't be vague. Describe things that can be measured objectively. Telling someone that you "improved warehouse efficiency" doesn't say much. Telling them that you "cut requisition costs by 20%, saving the company $3800 for the fiscal year" does. Employers will feel more comfortable hiring you if they can verify your accomplishments.
Be honest. There is a difference between making the most of your experience and exaggerating or falsifying it.
Don't neglect appearance
Your resume is the first impression you'll make on the committee, and a successful resume depends on more than what you say; how you say it counts as well.
Check your resume for proper grammar and correct spelling - evidence of good communication skills and attention to detail. Nothing can ruin your chances of getting an admission more than submitting a resume filled with (easily preventable) mistakes.
Make your resume easy on the eyes. Use normal margins (1" on the top and bottom, 1.25" on the sides) and don't cram your text onto the page. Allow for some breathing room between the different sections. Avoid unusual or exotic font styles; use simple fonts with a professional look.
Eliminate superfluous details
Unnecessary details can take up a lot of valuable space on your resume.
Don't mention personal characteristics such as age, height, and marital status on your resume. This information is either irrelevant or is taken care of in other parts of the application. List your hobbies and interests and extracurricular activities if these are not covered elsewhere.
However, do not forget to sign your Resume If it is done on a paper.