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What Is a Statement of Purpose and Why Is It Important?

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When applying to study at a university abroad, one of the most important pieces of a strong application is your Statement of Purpose (SOP). A Statement of Purpose is a short essay that highlights your educational background, achievements, and goals. It’s also where you should share why you’d like to study your desired program at the university of your choice.

Your Statement of Purpose is the best way to stand out among the many applications schools receive on a daily basis and helps distinguish you from your grades (because you’re more than just your GPA!)

A Statement of Purpose does this by emphasizing your extracurricular achievements and enthusiasm for studying at university. It gives the school a snapshot of your personality outside of your academic performance and helps determine if you’re a good fit for the campus culture. It can also be a fun and creative way to showcase your writing skills!

A Statement of Purpose is an important piece in the application puzzle because it can impact whether you receive a Letter of Acceptance.

Writing the perfect SOP might seem daunting, but don’t worry – the team at ApplyBoard is here to help. Here, we’ll go over the basic structure of a Statement of Purpose, and highlight ways you can make yours stand out. Remember, the most challenging part of writing an SOP is just getting started.
 
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Two Important Rules for Your Statement of Purpose

Steer Clear of Plagiarism

Your Statement of Purpose should be written in your own words. This means that it needs to be written by you and only you. Sections should not be copied from external sites, general templates, or written by someone else.

Using any of these shortcuts is considered plagiarism, which is a serious academic offence in postgraduate education. To avoid writing a Statement of Purpose that is generic or plagiarized, focus on highlighting ambitions and goals that are uniquely yours. Remember, the school wants to see what makes you stand out!
 

Keep Things Clear and Follow Instructions

The admissions team will be reading hundreds of applications, so details count. Your Statement of Purpose should be concise and use clear language with proper grammar.

Schools will provide guidelines for the length of your SOP – in most cases, it’s no more than one page long. They’ll also include guidelines for your word count, spacing, and structure, and these requirements all vary by school. It’s important to follow them closely, as it demonstrates to the school that you can follow instructions and pay attention to detail.
 
Read more: International Application Tips for Canadian and American Schools
 
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How to Write a Statement of Purpose

Though every Statement of Purpose you write should be catered to the school and program you are applying for, there are basic traits and structures that most will follow.
 

Paragraph 1: What’s Your Story?

In your opening paragraph, give a brief introduction of who you are. Indicate the program you’re applying for, and the intake date that you are interested in. Next, outline what you will be discussing in your Statement of Purpose in two to three sentences.
 

Paragraph 2: What Inspires You?

In the second paragraph, focus on what motivated you to pursue the program you’re interested in. Are you inspired by your parents’ medical careers and want to follow in their footsteps? Were you interested in studying archaeology after a field trip to the museum?

Whatever your inspiration, make sure it’s unique to your personal experience and relevant to your program!
 

Paragraph 3: What Can You Bring to The Table?

This is where you can write about past experiences related to your desired field of study. Include any extracurricular activities, work experience, sports teams, or clubs that can enhance your studies in your future program.

You don’t need to mention every single accomplishment you’ve achieved. Instead, select past experiences that you believe are relevant, what skills you earned from that experience, and how these skills make you a great candidate for the university. For instance, if you were interested in entering an Early Childhood Education program, highlight previous experience you had working with children, such as a summer camp counsellor, and how it helped you learn skills such as management and event coordination.
 

Paragraph 4: Why Do You Want to Study Here?

In this section, discuss why you chose that particular university and what you value about that institution. Does the school have a renowned engineering program, with a strong reputation in field research? Does the campus have amazing facilities and studios for the Fine Arts program you’re applying to? This is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge of the school’s history and reputation while showing admissions officers that you’re dedicated to the future success of the university.

Additionally, as a potential international student, discuss why you want to study in that particular country and how it will enhance your study experience. For instance, do you want to study in Canada because of its multicultural demographic, and to practice English and French-speaking skills? An international education exposes you to a new culture, language, and way of life, providing a wealth of learning opportunities that go beyond academics, so be sure to include these reasons in your Statement of Purpose!
 

Paragraph 5: What Are Your Next Steps?

In the last paragraph of your statement of purpose, discuss what you hope to achieve with this degree. This is where you outline your next steps and what you plan to take away from this study experience.

Indicate your intended career path, or if you will be pursuing further education. Do you plan on returning to your home country to bring back what you have learned, or do you wish to work internationally? The university wants to know how completing their degree will help your future goals and plan of action.

In the closing sentence, thank the admissions officers for taking the time to review your application. Showcase your enthusiasm and excitement for a new chapter in your life!

Once you’ve finished writing your Statement of Purpose, make sure to proofread and edit it to catch any errors before submitting it along with the rest of your documents.

By following this outline, starting your own Statement of Purpose should be less of an intimidating requirement and a more motivating writing experience.

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