One of the many aspects of an application to study in the United States is the statement of purpose (also referred to as personal statement).
- A statement of purpose essentially is a long essay, usually somewhere around a thousand words, where the applicant describes themselves to the reviewing committee.
- The statement of purpose allows international students to give the reviewing committee a better understanding of who they are and where they come from.
- It also gives the international student applicant a space to describe their career goals and aspirations.
What Do They Consist Of?
Like all applications, statements of purpose and their requirements vary from school to school and can even vary from program to program. Some universities may give you a broad question or questions which you would then answer, and some may just give you a blank space to provide your own statement of purpose with little to no guidelines. Generally speaking though, statements of purpose usually include these three core elements:
- Your goals,
- Your prior career path,
- Your prior or current academic progress.
Typically, most statements of purpose include these elements. Most include your own motivations that have led you up to this point in your life and your prospective application to the university. It is suggested that you do some external research of your own to see if the university and/or program you are applying to typically requires or likes to see other elements in the statement of purpose.
What Sets it Apart from The Other Requirements?
We have previously discussed different aspects of the application process, such as letters of recommendation and TOEFL/IELTS scores.
- What sets the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation aspects apart from aspects such as test scores or GPAs is the subjective vs objective theory.
- For instance, test scores are objective.
- The scores are generally represented as numbers, and each institution looks at those numbers to determine success, generally speaking.
- However, with aspects like the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation, those are subjective.
- There is no quantitative value allotted to these, which makes them extremely important in case your test scores are low.
- They serve as a place to speak about your work ethic and character and other aspects of you that tests cannot show and that a number cannot represent.
- Essentially, especially the statement of purpose, serves as a platform for you to show how unique you are and why that specific program should grant your admission.
How Should I Write It?
When it comes to writing your statement of purpose, it is important to tailor it to the type of program you are applying for. For example, a statement of purpose for an MS program would differ from one written for an MBA program. Most people ask what to include in their statements of purpose. Listed below are a few topics with explanations to get you started:
- Personal Background: this is where you discuss yourself and where you come from. Basically, how did you get to where you are now. Use your background to highlight your strengths and how it helped you get to this moment. Some students even may briefly discuss their financial backgrounds.
- Extracurricular Activities: this is where you would highlight any and all activities you have participated in. This can include sports, clubs, and any other type of activity. If you have leadership experience, this is definitely the place to discuss that.
- Failures: this can oftentimes be the most difficult topic to discuss. The main point of this section is to showcase how you bounce back from failures and how failing has led you to success or taught you a valuable lesson. Also, effectively discussing failures can show confidence in an international student
- Work Experience: this may be the most straightforward topic of the four discussed. If you have any work experience, whether it is required of your prospective program or not, it is important to discuss any experience you may have, whether it was paid or voluntary. You want to make sure to highlight the valuable knowledge you gained through that experience.
Again, these are only four topics to get you started. If something that you feel is important that has happened to you and does not fit into one of these topics, include it anyway. After all, this is the platform that you have to showcase who you are as a person.
There are many different templates available for statements of purpose online. To help get you started, here are a few examples. Also, here is a video sharing some tips for a statement of purpose.
If you have any questions about the statement of purpose or any other aspect of the application process to study in the U.S. please visit us at www.nomadcredit.com. We’d be happy to help you search and compare options for education loans or study loans, too. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about international student loans! We are happy to help.