Priya Gidwani is working with the University of Essex, as a Recruitment Advisor. For 8+ years, Priya has been in the education industry and has worked extensively with South Asian students in navigating them towards a career path they would cherish and enjoy.
A statement of purpose (SOP) is a personally curated journey of an applicant so far, which makes you stand out from other applicants. As the UK is a preferred study destination for students, UK universities receive hundreds of applications for assessment. It is imperative that each applicant writes their SOP with the utmost sincerity and honesty. The details mentioned in the statement must be true and verifiable. This is very important as a properly written SOP is often one of the parameters on which an applicant is assessed upon.
There is no one perfect to create your SOP guide, but there are some key points that the you should always keep in mind while writing your SOP.
Introduce yourself and highlight your strengths
The most important aspect of any personal statement is to introduce yourself properly. The details you provide as an applicant should not only focus on your academic and professional background. They should also include details about your hobbies, passions, skills, family background, experiences etc.
The academic department of any UK university would be keen to understand the applicant’s personality, which goes beyond the academic and professional background and what they would be able to add on to a dynamic cohort of students, the thing to understand here is that every applicant is unique and they have something unique to offer.
Let’s take an example of an applicant who has average academic scores but, they have other skills that they have learnt and relevant experiences. Writing about those extra skills or experiences will help the advisor understand the applicant’s profile and strengths better.
Another example would be if an applicant is passionate about and has trained in singing or dancing. Mentioning this in your SOP highlights that you are creative and will be able to use this creativity to deal with any issues that might occur during your stay at the university.
Show why you want to study at your chosen university
It is really important to precisely highlight why the UK is your preferred study destination. The University and the department of the university that you are applying to, would be keen on understanding your reason to apply for a particular UK University and also the reason to pursue that particular program. You should write about your career and personal goals and how significant it will be for you to be accepted by the department. Also, it will create an impact if you can show you are aware of the University’s achievements and reputation and the department’s focus and strengths, ranking, accreditations and facilities it offers to its students.
As an applicant you should also precisely mention about the subjects that you have studied previously and how those subjects are compatible with the degree that you would like to pursue in the UK. If the application is for a conversion program your SOP should mention the reason for your shift in career focus and how this program will help you in getting closer to your career goals.
You should be able to give a career oriented, as well as personal reason, of why has you have applied for a particular program. Adding information in about what inspires and interests you can really enrich your SOP, show how motivated you are as a student and illustrate your interests. As an example, if an applicant has applied for MSc Data Science so, is Jeff Hammerbacher, who led the Data team at Facebook, the applicant’s role model? Or if they have applied for MSc Artificial Intelligence, have they been following the work of Geoffrey Hinton, who leads Google’s AI team?
Explain your financial support
If you are being supported by your family in terms of expenses and tuition fees; you should mention briefly about your family background, family savings or income and the support you will receive from your family as far as the fees and living expenditure are concerned for studying in the UK. If you are self-funding your stay and studies in the UK you should mention your sources of funding. For example, you might refer to an education loan, savings or another funding route,
Be honest about previous travel and your visa history
You must categorically mention about any visa refusals in the past along with, the reason for visa refusal. You should also cover all the international travels you have done in the past for leisure, work or study.
Conclude by describing why you are a deserving applicant
You should conclude with why you are deserving candidate by connecting the dots between your academic qualifications, your career and personal goals, your personal strengths and skills, and your determination to succeed in your studies on the program at the University of your Choice.
I really wish you the very best if you are applying to study at a UK university. I hope these points help you all in your applications.