A Statement of Purpose is a species of application writing specifically tailored for graduate study, that serves to tell an admission committee about the candidate in question – who they are, what their achievements are as well as their goals for the future; and is thus something of a mission statement for the candidate, seeking to prove both their proven merit and future promise. The Statement of Purpose is decisive in whether or not the associated candidate is admitted to the desired institution; thus it is an extremely important piece of writing, one which will have a marked impact on the rest of the candidate’s academic and professional life. Compositing a first-rate Statement of Purpose is therefore a top priority, and needs to be approached with the same rigour and dedication as any other strand of formal prose. Yet it is a unique composition in that allows for, indeed necessitates, a more personal touch, seeing as one’s topic of discussion is oneself, one’s intention and reasoning for applying. One accordingly needs to provide the relevant autobiographical details, outlining motivation for undertaking the course in question; how this chimes with your personal and career goals. You need to make clear your passion for the sought role, demonstrating to the recruiters that you are a committed, enthusiastic academic and will consequently be an asset to the department. This needs to shine through in your prose, which should be of the highest standard. Top academic institutions have rigorous standards and places within them are competitively pursued. Because the Statement of Purpose will be the committee’s initial and perhaps only impression of you, it is essential you make the right impact: proving you have the skills, experience and dedication necessary for graduate study, as well as the right mentality to meet its challenges. You want to make this clear by example (citing achievements, interests, awards, experience, and so on), as opposed to merely stating, “I am highly dedicated” or some such self-blandishment.
There is an art to composing an effective Statement of Purpose, the art of intimation, of conveying information without overtly stating it; an art with no single modus operandi but, rather a plurality of forms. Such attributes as logical thinking, critical reasoning, a positive attitude, precision, clarity, and many others are demonstrated by default in dextrous prose. A critical observation about the limitations inherent in a certain subject ipso facto evinces an analytical mind-set as well as an awareness of important issues within the discipline; express the point lucidly and with verbal elegance, you’ve also exhibited linguistic ability, formal skill and coherence. In this manner, one terse passage can be made to do duty in several ways, showcasing a variety of skills; and here is the crux: your Statement of Purpose will be limited in word count, so you need to write in a meaning-rich fashion, with every word carefully considered. Your Statement needs to bring together your academic interests, current activities and previous career in an informative and compelling way; to show rather than tell that you are the best candidate.
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