Statement of Purpose

1126 Words Mar 9th, 2011 5 Pages
Statement of Purpose

Many professors, department websites, applications, and current graduate students will tell you that the statement of purpose is the most important part of the application. While the statement of purpose is the best way for the admissions committee to gauge your writing skills, it is quite different from the college admissions essay, or the law school personal statement. Admissions committees will not be looking for the most well-written essay with the catchiest introduction. What they really mean when they talk about the statement of purpose is that the research interest match between you and the program is the most important factor for admission, and your interests are revealed in the statement of purpose. In
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However, be as quick as possible and do not make excuses for yourself.
Use professional language
Convey passion, but avoid using "passion," "love," and similar words to describe your research. Also avoid superlatives. Don 't say, "this is the best program for me" unless you 're absolutely sure it is. Instead, say, "ideal program," which may be true of more than one school. Do not use colloquial language in your statement.
Avoid cliches Many students will say, "I 've always wanted to be a psychologist/scientist/writer/historian," or, "ever since I went to the ___ museum when I was five, I knew I wanted to ___." These stories will make the committee members ' eyes roll and they don 't do anything to explain your current knowledge, ideas, and goals. It is ok to start off with a "boring" introduction in order to avoid these openings. If you start with a meaningful anecdote that demonstrates your intellectual development, that is a great idea, but avoid throw-away sentences.
Be concise Many applications will have a page or word limit which is usually about 1 page single-spaced or 2 pages double-spaced. Adhere to these guidelines, unless they sound unreasonable, in which case you should call the department to ask whether the guideline is strict. (One of my applications called for a 500 word limit, which is quite short! When I called about it, they said there was no actual limit.) Even if an application does

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