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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School: Tips in Writing Your Story

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student with mask is preparing her statement of purpose on laptop

Learning is a never-ending process. It might seem like only yesterday since you went off to finish your undergraduate studies. Now, you are preparing your application tools needed for graduate school. The application to graduate school is no different from your bachelor’s degree. In addition, the requirements are strict. For school applicants, the documents needed to be admitted for grad school can be confusing. One of these is a statement of purpose for school admission.

What is it? To get a full idea of writing your personal statement, let’s first define a statement of purpose.

What is a Statement of Purpose?

Sometimes referred to as personal statement, a statement of purpose is not like a typical essay. The goal of writing a grad school document is to highlight your interest in your chosen field of study. You must detail the reasons you are choosing that specific program and their school. In its essence, your statement of purpose should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to study the program?
  2. How do you intend to apply the learnings gained from grad school?
  3. What drives or motivates you to pursue a master’s degree/internship/medical residency program?

Basically, the statement of purpose is a roadmap of where you are in your career and how you want to progress as you complete the program and earn your degree. Bear in mind that the most important aspect of your application focuses on you as a good fit for the school. Moreover, tell something about your personal background, objectives, and career history.

Aside from convincing the admissions committee that you are the right candidate for their school, a statement of purpose is a testament of your writing abilities as well. When you pass the screening and you’re doing your graduate studies, there are lots of research statements to write as well as essays. Having that said; writing at least 10-page long documents is a normal occurrence. With that in mind, a good statement of purpose reflects how coherent—and competent—of a writer you are.

Difference Between a Cover Letter and Statement of Purpose

Before you can get past the screening, you’ll need to submit your school requirements, resume, cover letter, and a statement or purpose. So, what’s the difference between the two narrative documents?

Cover Letter

A cover letter presents a more direct opportunity to tell a particular school about your past successes and future career goals. With just one page, you should grab the attention of the reader. It must point out your experience and give the reviewer an overview of why you want to pursue the application. With a cover letter, you’re demonstrating who you are without the constraints of addressing a school and specific field of study.

Statement of Purpose

All graduate and professional schools require a written statement as part of the application process. Often, you’ll find the requirements for the program in the university’s ‘apply now’ page. Even though the terminology differs, the applicant’s intended area of study has a distinct information that needs to be included. While this application tool is known as statement of purpose, some universities prefer calling it personal statement, personal narrative, or admissions essay, among others. Despite the name, it all serves its objective: Describe one’s professional and personal aspirations and goals.

Some applications are about a narrative of your professional and personal attributes. On the other hand, some of them require responses to a series of questions. The utmost importance of the statement is to let the admissions officers that you have aspirations and motivation to complete the degree.

What is the Importance of a Statement of Purpose?

Suppose you are applying to a university abroad. A statement of purpose is one of the most important pieces you have to prepare alongside your other documents. You may see it as a narrative document that is two to three pages long, but it is your key to study your desired program at the university that you choose. Your personal statement is the best way to stand out among the candidates applying for the program. Make sure to leave room for your creativity when highlighting your accomplishments and extracurricular achievements.

Writing your personal essay is like solving a puzzle—you are wondering if your document can unlock the door of opportunities for you to receive the letter of acceptance. The admissions committee will be reading tons of applications, so details matter in order for you to be accepted. Your statement of purpose should be concise; it’s best to use clear language and check your grammar as well.

Remember, a statement of purpose gives the school an inside view of your personality outside of your academic performance. Moreover, by reading your essay, the committee can determine if you’re a good fit for the campus culture. It gives you a chance to prove that there’s more about you than just your GPA.

Writing On Journal With Laptop And Coffee

Statement of Purpose: A Checklist of What to Keep an Eye For

The hardest part of moving into your next goal is getting started. It goes the same with starting to write a piece for a school admission. Having a template can help create a structure or flow of your content, but it’s hard to know if you’ve met the criteria. Check out these tips to know what you should bear in mind before you write your first story.

Steer Clear of Plagiarism

First things first: Write using your own words. Having a template or sections copied from the internet will just drag you down. This means avoiding copying from general templates or statement of purpose of someone else.

To prevent yourself from committing this mistake, better to cross-out a generic statement and emphasize ambitions, upbringing, and goals that are uniquely yours. Make sure to let them know why you stand out among the rest.

Let Your Tone Be in Active Voice Rather Than Passive

Demonstrate everything backed by evidence. Don’t simply say you are equipped with leadership skills; show them how you’ve managed actual situations like a leader.

Tell a Story—What Makes You the Person You are Today

Tell them something about your interests, along with what sparked those interests to pursue a graduate study. Let yourself loose; be creative, but stay on point.

Include Measurable Quantities

Aside from giving them an in-depth understanding of who you are and what you did in your past experiences and studies, provide numbers or concrete data that can add credence to your statement.

Decide How You Want to Portray Yourself

It is imperative that your statement of purpose speak of your personality and character. Most of the time, the character that you want the committees to see is based on their questions. Take advantage of aligning who you are with who they want to study in their university.

Here’s an example of how you can portray yourself in the essay:

I believe that continuous learning is needed to address the complexity of principles and concepts related to data-driven transformations. Similar to these viewpoints, I have set my focus toward broadening my knowledge to grow and maximize my potential as an employee and as an individual. Additionally, I am highly passionate about achieving success in life; and I believe that continuing education can help me utilize the skills and resources that I possess more efficiently.

Check the Requirements of the School

You might be asking, “How long a statement of purpose should be?” The answer depends on the school’s requirements. The number of words, font size, and face differs from one school to another. It is best to check the site of your target graduate degree and school before writing down your statement of purpose. Also, knowing the requirements will give you an idea of your content flow.

Despite the variances in application requirements, most schools expect student applicants to submit a statement of intent and resume or curriculum vitae. Furthermore, such as with California State University Long Beach’s Master of Health Administration Program, applicants would need to present their GRE/GMAT scores, along with three (3) letters of recommendation.

Student Happy That Her Statement Of Purpose Helped Her Get Accepted To University

What to Include in Your Statement of Purpose: Your Narrative Flow

Your statement of purpose is your gateway to break into the field of your interest. Display your enthusiasm and lifetime dedication to your academic pursuits. You should also tell your readers of your motivation or influence in taking up the graduate degree. The only way to move forward is to take the first step. Hence, here are specific elements that most graduate programs look for.

You wouldn’t want to waste your time writing and not knowing if it will pass the screening, would you? Therefore, if you’re looking for the best guide on how to write a statement of purpose, read our quick guide to help you from starting out with a blank page to writing down your closing remarks.

Discover how to create a school statement of purpose!

First Paragraph: Introduce Yourself, Your Academic Pursuits, and Motivations

Tell your readers something about yourself and give a brief background. Starting from your career to your goals and aspirations, make sure that your introduction is relevant to the specific program that you’re applying for. Your introduction should be related to specific aspects of the program. State your reasons in believing that the program will help you achieve your goals. Don’t just provide generic goals like building relationships. You must expound your idea.

To give you an example:

Let me tell you something about my life experiences that influenced my interest in the healthcare setting. When I think about the reason behind my decision to become a healthcare professional, my family comes first to mind. The early days of my interest in this field was when I graduated from high school. My uncle who practiced in Dubai introduced me to the field of study. Our interesting conversation on the healthcare industry further added fuel to the fire, leading me to decide on wanting to study healthcare administration.

With the pandemic affecting millions and declining the economy and the healthcare system, I got to thinking: If only healthcare systems in America were prepared for this pandemic, then there would have been no suffering as much as there is today. With that said, I should never stop from honing my expertise on all aspects of healthcare administration.

Second Paragraph: Summarize Your Education from Undergraduate to Graduate

You might have taken interest in your field of study due to your academic background. State the reasons! It’s a good idea to reference your previous degree which is related to your graduate study. Be sure to describe how your experience relates to the program. List your projects, courses, or even internships that have helped shape your knowledge of the field. This way, you’ll get to show that you have in-depth view of the program and how you’ll fit into it.

In my bachelor’s capstone project, my teammates and I earned the “Most Innovative Project” award among the graduating class for an accessible technology project in which we designed a motorized knee orthosis. During my master’s degree, I focused my academic research projects and education in the computer science area. Working on various research projects at the University of Washington in many research areas has opened my eyes that my multidisciplinary background can be more beneficial through the right combination of knowledge and practical applications.

Last Paragraph: Closing Remarks

Make your intentions clear. Let the admissions officers know how finishing the program will benefit you and the university. Using the description of the program and the things you’ll learn, align it with the value you’ll bring to apply your knowledge and skills for the betterment of the society. You may simply focus on explaining why you are the best person for the program.

In the field of research, there are trials and errors along with many challenges ahead. However, success comes to those who set their minds to achieve their goals. In this regard, I am certain that I am a perfect candidate for the program as I have always been considered as hardworking, competitive, and resilient. Having said that, I desire to apply more of my research-based achievements in accessible technology and robotics as I am committed to continuous knowledge transfer that could benefit the world.

Sample Of Statement Of Purpose Written By Career Experts At Resume Professional Writers

Be a Compelling Candidate: Speak of Your Unique Experiences and Character

Having a well-structured content flow helps in creating a universal theme in your narrative. Before submitting your statement of purpose, edit and refine your work. Your statement of purpose can leave a lasting impact if written well. If you want to impress the admissions committee, you can let the expert writers turn your experiences into a unique story.

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