When you’re about to submit your application for one of the most competitive graduate programs in the world, it’s easy to feel like there are a million things that could go wrong and almost as many things you need to worry about. Creating a stellar personal statement of purpose is essential for your career growth, it is a necessary part of every student life who is preparing to study abroad. A good personal statement can open doors and give you an edge over other applicants, but a weak or unoriginal personal statement can be the difference between getting accepted or rejected.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with your personal statement of purpose, read through these tips on how not to write one. These common mistakes often reveal an applicant’s weaknesses and signal that they won’t thrive in the program they are applying for.
Don’t start last minute
Writing your SOP at the last moment is the most common mistake an applicant can make. An SOP is a reflection of you as a person, your achievement, your future goals and plans. So if you write it in a hurry you will never be able to write it properly. Hence, give yourself ample time to brainstorm ideas and put everything on paper in a way that properly articulates your purpose and aim.
Talk about your passions/hobbies
This might seem like a good idea, but it can backfire. The main problem with talking about how much you love your favourite hobby is that it’s not always directly related to the degree you’re applying for. This means that the admissions officers who are reading your statement will have to do an extra bit of work to connect the dots. You can bet that most people applying for a master’s degree want to go into a field that they are passionate about. If you lead with the fact that you’re passionate about tropical fish, you’re just going to blend in with the crowd. Avoid this and be more specific.
Don’t be too broad or general
It’s fine to say that you want to go into the social sciences, but you need to be more specific. What field of social sciences? Why does this particular field interest you? What do you want to do with it? You need to show the admissions officers that you’re knowledgeable about your field of choice. If they think you’re just winging it, they’re less likely to accept you. Therefore it’s important to do a bit of research and find out more about the degree you’re hoping to earn. If you go into the process with a false sense of security, you might find that you’ve shot yourself in the foot before you’ve even gotten started.
Don’t rehash your resume
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but there are people who do it every year. When writing your statement of purpose, you need to avoid rehashing your resume at all costs. After all, the resume is designed to get you a job, and the statement of purpose is designed to get you a degree. Not only does rehashing your resume sound insincere, but it can make it seem like you don’t really care about the degree you’re applying for. The last thing you want to do is make the admissions officers think that you’re unserious about your application.
Don’t brag about your achievements
Also, don’t try to come as an overachiever it may seem like a good idea in the start but this too can backfire. Stay true to your roots, and only write things that you are sure of. You don’t need to show off in front of the admission officers you just need to show that you are capable and deserving of a seat in your chosen university. Hence it is extremely important to find the right balance between sounding humble and braggy while writing your SOP. We know those achievements are necessary for an SOP, but they should be broached organically and properly. Make a list of all your achievements and sort out the one that you think will impress the admission officer. Remember, try not to include every single accomplishment.
Don’t talk about what others want to hear
Here’s the thing—you don’t know what the admissions officers want to hear. You know what you want to say, but that alone won’t cut it. While there are a few general things that most master’s applicants want to say (see below), everyone is different. Find out what the school that you want to attend is looking for and make sure that you address your application accordingly. If you want to go to Harvard, but you’re applying to Yale, the application process will be a bit different. Figure out what you need to do so that you can have the best application possible.
Respect the word limit
This is easily the most common mistake aspiring students make while working on their SOP. To look extra smart, students go overboard and exceed the word limit. This is one of the mistakes that you should avoid if you want to get into the university of your choice. SOPs that exceed the word limit do nothing but make you look bad and reduce your chances of getting into the school. So, choose your words wisely and adhere to the word limit!
Don’t use overly flowery language
This one is tricky because you don’t want to sound bland and boring, but you also don’t want to sound like a giant, pompous dork. You need to find a happy medium between the two. While you should never use the words “like” or “um,” it’s also a good idea not to use words like “impeccable” and “exquisite.” You need to find a way to express your passion for what you do without sounding like you’re writing an essay for a third-grade class. If you can find a happy medium between these extremes, you’re in good shape.
Focusing too much on the negative
This has been proven to be a slippery slope for students. While it is crucial to acknowledge your failure, it is also important to know when not to go on about them. You must find a way to introduce your failure in a way that the one reading about it knows that you have control over things and have the capacity to overcome defeat
Proofreading is the most important part of writing your SOP. Not proofreading your document before submitting can prove to be the reason why you got rejected. In order to avoid that fate, you must need it multiple times to make sure that you get the correct spelling, grammar and consistency. Ask someone to do it for you, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Avoid Plagiarism at all cost
Plagiarism is a mistake that can get any aspiring applicant debarred from the university. Every university has strict rules against plagiarism and it is not accepted in any capacity. It is a serious crime and if the university detects any plagiarism in your content they will reject you. To avoid that, write your own statement and use plagiarism tools available on the internet to make sure that your SOP is original.
Your statement of purpose is an important document in the application for a master’s degree. It allows you to show off your skills, knowledge, and passions, and it can help you get into the program of your choice. That said, you want to make sure that your essay is as good as it can be. Make these mistakes and your application will be weaker as a result. When writing your essay, make sure that you focus on yourself and what you have to offer.