Careers

What’s your SoP?

Write stuff: The essay is a chance to show off your individuality to a potential evaluator. Photo Mohammed Yousuf.  

The advent of social media, mobile phones and popular flicks has paved the way for the emergence of a new language among students. While the colloquial lingo students use makes communication easier, it can prove to be a bane when it comes to writing academic essays. Students now are finding it increasingly difficult to write essays that express their views and purpose in a formal language. A well-written essay/Statement of Purpose can exponentially increase the student’s chances of admission in a desired university.

For admission to the university programmes in the U.S., students are expected to write essays on specific topics. The purpose of any admission essay is not to test the student’s abilities as a writer, but to check on his clarity of thought and his perception of the world, and whether his values match that of the university.

Clarity and relevance

More than 75 per cent of the students applying abroad think they have done a good job with an essay if the content is filled with words scouted from a dictionary. Instead of the focus being on dazzling the admission’s officer with jargon or flowery language, it should be on highlighting why the student has decided to pursue a specific course in a particular university. In countries other than the U.S., students are expected to write an SoP, where the focus should be on explaining why they intend to study in the country and what they intend to do after completing the course, besides a justification for choosing the course.

When writing on any topic, students must first organise their thoughts and create a few rough drafts before arriving at the final version. Relevance of the topic to the question asked and coherence between paragraphs is likely to create a favourable impression on the admission’s officer. Students should also write about co-curricular and extracurricular activities they have participated in, as colleges are often on the lookout for well-rounded individuals.

Avoid errors

Seemingly inconsequential but common mistakes can negatively impact admission chances. The essay is the student’s only chance of impressing the admission’s officer with his uniqueness. Petty errors in punctuation, spelling mistakes, wrong usage of prepositions or tenses can mar this opportunity. When using quotes or references, special attention should be paid to getting the correct name of the individual quoted. Most university applications are to be filled online in pre-designated spaces within the application form. Hence, the prescribed word limit should also be kept in mind. It is always better if the total number of words is close to the permissible number, that is, neither too short nor too lengthy.

When applying to more than one college, it is vital that the content be customised to suit specific college requirements. Matters that are controversial or could hurt religious sentiments should be avoided. If a controversial topic is unavoidable, it is always safe to keep it balanced. Fresh and diverse thoughts on topics will catch an admissions officer’s attention.

Students can get their essays re-checked by their teachers before sending them to the universities. There are also many service providers in the market who specialise in expert guidance on university application essay/SOP writing.

The author is the CEO and founder of Univariety.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 12:37:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/careers/statement-of-purpose-need-to-impress-admission-officers-of-foreign-universities/article6365072.ece

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