Statement of Purpose, or Personal Statement, for graduate school.18 Jan 2021
I’ve been helping people edit their Statement of Purpose, or SOP, for graduate school applications in the USA this past year. I like writing, I like editing. It has been fun and interesting!
Out of the statements I have seen, the most common feature was that people had trouble getting a smooth introductory paragraph.
My top advice then would be:
- Read some of the links below (I recommend 1-4 especially; if you are looking for more, 6-7 probably have it),
- Write about you/ your research,
- Get something on paper and worry about that pesky introductory paragraph later. I have a general post on writing.
An important disclaimer: I don’t sit on admissions committees.
- Andy Palvo has a short, efficient post with examples of statements.
- Stefanie Tellex, Humans to Robots Lab has a short post about writing a research statement for graduate school and fellowships.
- Mor Harchol-Balter talks about personal statements in depth on page 11 (section 3.3) of the .pdf, complete with a template.
- Krishna Murthy has an in-depth post about what your statement should be about, and not about.
- U.C. Berkeley’s grad school also has a template for personal statements.
- Swapneel Mehta has a lot of resources at his post, including examples of some statements.
- Kalpesh Krishna has a list of guides. This is a big resource!
Ok, now you have a statement. Do you want someone to read it over? You can fill out my contact form.
I’ve taken down the link for my SOP contact form at the moment, in mid-October 2021. I am currently at my maximum with handling SOPs.
Jia-Bin Huang has an extensive Twitter thread with pre-application programs, here.
A few notes:
- Again, I have no power on admissions committees.
- If your deadline is tomorrow, I will be unable to help you. I plan to do this in ‘spare-ish’ time, and will only take on as many SOPs as I can edit well.
- My research areas are: computer vision, robotics, computer science, engineering, and it is likely that it will be easier for me to critique your statement if those are also your research interests. However, I did work with someone applying to Biomedical programs and his statement was really interesting.
- This is free, and consequently you will have to do most of the work. If your statement needs a lot of editing, I will point you in a certain direction, but it will be up to you to decide if you want to implement these suggestions and whether your statement is finished or not.
- If your English is not good, that is fine, because I can help you improve it. I can also help with cultural items, such as different interpretations between dialects of English, how to write for a North American audience, correcting grammar in one sentence and showing the pattern of where it may need to be corrected elsewhere. My best non-English language is Spanish.
Many thanks to early readers of this post, Krishna Murthy Jatavallabhula and Dmytro Mishkin.