Exact importance of SOP in a foreign application – [Updated: 2024]

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As much as school and graduation certificates or IELTS/ TOEFL scores are important when you are applying to a grad school abroad, the Statement of Purpose (SOP) is exactly of that importance. To get admitted to an international grad school, the SOP works as a prime document. It is an official document that substitutes a candidate’s physical presence. Therefore, when the candidate decides to apply for a course abroad, they must submit a brilliant SOP.

Your SOP essay must speak about their personality rightly as the admission authorities can judge a candidate based on the SOP. They check how the candidate appears as a person through the written SOP and use it as the candidate’s mirror image for the admission process.

You have that one chance to show the reader why they should pick you by detailing how your candidacy is justified for advancing your academic pursuits in their cohort. Whether you believe it or not, one look at the SOP you have drafted, and the person reading it gets an exhaustive idea about who you are and what you have to offer.

Today, every academic institution is looking for students with cross-functional skills. They want to invite learners who know how to highlight their strengths cohesively. Hence, the importance of an SOP cannot be underestimated if you are applying to a foreign university where the competition anyway is very high.

Let us now see in detail what makes an SOP so important? And what do the admission authorities look for in the SOP?

The SOP tells a story about a candidate’s life. The SOP essay provides details about them in the form of a story that supports other important documents submitted by the candidate like their resume, LORs, educational certificates, professional certificates.

Strong storytelling

A perfectly written is the story of a candidate’s life in a written format. So, an SOP must consist of highly personalized content that distinctly talks about your personality. It should have details regarding achievements, strengths, and vision with the help of a strong storytelling. One cannot just throw words in a chronological format and expect that to yield good outcomes. It also has to be equally engaging.

The authorities need information about who you are and what kind of a person you are like even before they meet you personally. So, ensure to use the right language, excellent grammar and connecting flow of ideas in your Statement of Purpose.

Unique personality

The SOP must be written in a way that highlights a candidate’s personality. As mentioned before, the Statement of purpose must be unique. It must describe the candidate’s personality. The documents you submit are just papers showing your achievements. They do not define your personality necessarily. And what the authorities want to know is who you are. The kind of a person you are in real.

The story of your academic, professional, and social life and the details related to your skills, goals, and accomplishments in the written SOP should read as if you were actually telling it to the authorities in person.

This helps you build a humane narrative that is not only relatable and easy to grasp but also sets a not tone that is convincing but does not resort to flattery. Trust me, the Admission Committee knows when you are resorting to buttering in order to get into their institution. Avoid doing that at all costs!

Written communication skills

At all costs, the SOP has to free from any sort of language errors. Since the SOP essay which the admission committee will hold in front of their eyes creates an image of your personality in front of them, smooth and brilliant language must be used to create a pleasant replica of you in the minds of the reader. The art of writing lies in spinning words in the best way possible to make the write-up interesting.

The engaging flow of ideas: A paragraph in the SOP storytelling must be so well-written that it develops curiosity amongst the readers. The 1000 words SOP essay should create so much interest within your readers, that they must want to keep reading more and more. Readers should feel like they are reading a page from their favorite novel because of the engaging flow of ideas.

Reality Check: Like you are a candidate trying to get into a top-grad school or college of your dreams, there will be thousands of other candidates wanting to do the same. All other candidates like you will also submit their official documents. To select a candidate who fits the criteria at its best, a document like the SOP essay comes in handy.

Exact candidate profile

Thousands of candidates are applying to grad school. The admission committee cannot select a candidate just based on his or her academic scores. Understanding their core interest in the course, personality and capabilities, and short- and long-term goals are also extremely important in order to select the best candidate.

That is why an SOP has to be submitted as it tells the authorities whether you are the right candidate for the course.

Remember to write keeping in mind the course you are applying for. For example, if you are talking about studying Computer Science in a country, you must discuss all your encounters, experiences, and learnings of Computer Science. Do not miss out on anything important and do not talk about the rest of the things too much.

A lot of people miss out on creating a link between their existing skills and experiences with that of the guidelines mentioned under course requirements. This can prove to be fatalistic for your application. Identify the skills they are looking for and shed more light on those instead of beating around the bush.

Pros of selecting you

This, by far, is the most underrated yet important facet of your SOP. A number of students keep focussing on elaborating upon why they have picked a certain university but fail to mention the vice-versa.

The SOP must reflect you as a candidate has thought well about doing the course. Portray your strengths and tell how doing the course will be only for a holistic good. A good SOP is a document that speaks on how a candidate can contribute to the university he is applying to. How he will boost the reputation of the institution as an alumnus if granted admission. Your unique and personalized SOP must convey the pros of selecting you with relevant examples such as dream projects, goals, and proven achievements.

Comparison of pros of selecting you VS others: Another important reason that makes the SOP such a prime factor for the selection of a candidate is that SOP gives an insight into your particular interests and goals as against others who are applying for the same course at the university. How differently you will do with the knowledge gained with as against thousands of other applicants. That is why explaining statements claimed in the SOP with proper examples is essential.

Like for instance, if you are applying for a master’s course. While writing the SOP, you can mention details of your past achievements in depth. Like succeeding at an academic project with your knowledge, unique ideas, and efforts.

Yet, make sure that you are subtle and not boastful. Nothing puts off a member of an Admission Committee more than the fact that the candidate’s strong-headed attitude about their skills. It might have the opposite effect. They might believe that you don’t need the course if you already are that well-versed with the subject.

Concludingly, since SOP is such an important document, we advise that you write it thoughtfully, carefully, and include unique details about yourself in the essay. Let the SOP be precise, clear, and crisp. Definitely use your beautiful writing skills to nail the admission at an international grad school!

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Bhavik Sarkhedi

Bhavik Sarkhedi

Storyteller by Heart and Head. Explorer of the intersection between Philosophy and Psychology.

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