Writing a killer statement of purpose (SoP) for university applications is critically important today because it becomes the key differentiator when the academic credentials of candidates are fairly similar. And with more and more universities taking the admission process online, the number of applications has skyrocketed.

Grades only tell half the story making it harder for the tutor to select the most appropriate candidate. What is more, few universities actually hold interviews. Your purpose statement could be the only opportunity to talk directly with the tutors. And for courses that do interview, the statement sets the stage for it.

While a statement of purpose (SoP) is largely professional, a personal statement, as the name implies, is more personal:

  • Statement of Purpose focuses on your research interests, how your prior academic and professional experiences have fine tuned them, and how the interested course will further refine them. The focus here is the course.
  • Personal Statement showcases your innate traits that made you naturally develop the research interests. It goes on to chalk out the real-life experiences which shaped your outlook. Most importantly, it defines why you are suitable for the program / profession at the innate, personal level. The focus here is you.

Graduate programs rarely ask for a personal statement, they will most likely require a statement of purpose (SoP). Short-listers look for:

  • clear thinking;
  • passion;
  • persuasive and simple writing style;
  • basic knowhow of the university and education program; and
  • value you can add to the program.

Before you start writing your purpose statement, remember the tutor has a huge pile of statements to look into. Clearly he / she is not going to read each in detail. Here are few guidelines to write killer statements of purpose for university applications:

  • Research the education program thoroughly;
  • Start with a bang and keep the tone lively yet professional – never bore the reader;
  • Define your key skills most relevant to the education program;
  • Explain how you acquired and employed these skills and and how you can further develop them; and
  • Provide specific examples in brief when necessary.

Let the take a fictional student named Nathan White who has just completed Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville. A passionate researcher and an environment enthusiast, Nathan has achieved some success in his chosen career path and volunteering activities. Now, he wants to take his research to the next level. Here is how he can go about writing a killer statement of purpose (SoP) for university application:

Nathan White Statement of Purpose (SoP)

“Of all the goods transported across the face of the globe, shipping carries an overwhelming 90 percent. And if it were a country, shipping would be the sixth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide.” Professor Bell remarked emphatically in the Fluid Mechanics class during my second year undergraduate course. “Design something that genuinely cuts shipping emissions and you will make the world a better place,” she continued in her usual invigorating manner. Professor Bell’s capacity to galvanize even an intricately technical class had never failed to amaze me. Growing up in Jacksonville, FL, ships were a familiar sight. Prof. Bell’s comments directed my professional voyage in the pursuit of ‘green’ ships, to explore the impact of various parameters on hull performance with the ultimate objective of boosting ship propulsion efficiency.

Thus far, the journey has earned me a research internship at the Fort Lauderdale plant of Wartsila, numerous awards at seminars, volunteer experience with marine environment organizations, and excellent academic grades. It is with the purpose of taking my research to the next level that I hereby request you to consider my application for admission to the Naval Engineer’s Degree – Program in Naval Construction at the Mechanical Engineering Department of your prestigious organization.

What naturally caught my eye in the early days of research was Professor Anthony Brennan’s Gator Sharkote project at the University of Florida. That someone could successfully devise an eco-friendly hull coating which cuts down algae fouling by a staggering 85 percent was simply inspiring. After all, fouling escalates ship fuel consumption by a mindboggling 40 percent! Not for nothing was the project creating proverbial waves in marine engineering after making literal waves in water.

As I dived deeper, the sprawling expanse of eco-friendly ships, its various facets, and their reciprocal linkages became apparent. Most importantly, I came to grasp the subtle, organic connection between concepts and practices of core Mechanical Engineering (my Major) subjects and those of Fluid Mechanics (my Minor). Staying in sync with the big picture without losing sight of treacherous, tiny details demanded studying Mechanical topics viz. Thermodynamics, Machine Design, Mechanics, Propulsion, and Sensing-Control in unison with Fluid Mechanics areas such as Laminar and Turbulent Flows, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Stability of Immersed / Floating Bodies, Archimedes’ Principle, and Bernoulli’s Theorem.

With my perspective improving, so did my grades. From being a just-above-average someone with 3.2 GPA, my scores surged to 3.8 and stayed there. My earlier inclination to get absorbed in the mathematical aspects and lose track of the overall direction was behind me. Responding to my vehemence, professors guided me and I came to identify how engine power, propeller pitch, gear reduction ratio, speed (RPM), and propeller diameter influence hull performance, which, in turn, affects fuel use and emissions.

Emboldened, I started presenting papers at University level competitions. A participant at one such event spellbound the audience and effortlessly walked away with the first prize not because he presented some exotic topic. But, because he put forth his views in simple words even non-engineers understood clearly. I learned a valuable lesson here, one only experience can teach, which radically transformed my techno-centric approach. The results were exemplary, I started winning presentations. By now, I had enough confidence to volunteer for environmental organizations such as the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast and the Clearwater Audubon Society and utilize their platforms to spread awareness on ocean ecological conservation to a wider audience.

As part of my internship, I had the good fortune to visit the marvellous Pratt School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To say, I was enthralled would be a gross understatement! Discussions with your staff took me through decades of cutting edge development and I was thoroughly convinced I was at the right place for my future studies.

It is with the express purpose of furthering my research on the effect of diverse ship parameters on ship propulsion efficiency that I submit the present application. With a 3.8 GPA, a 333+5 GRE score (169 Quantitative and 164 Verbal), and all the passion I have for hull design, I believe I can successfully make it through the rigorous course regime.

Eco-friendly technologies and advancements will be more important than ever as the downward spiral of environmental degradation assumes calamitous proportions. By accepting my application, I hope you enable me to make my humble contribution in the global endeavour against a truly international challenge.

Thank you for your consideration.

Indrajeetsinh Yadav @ Falcon Words has composed this article and sample statement of purpose (SoP). If you need help writing killer statements of purpose (SoP) for university applications, contact us at info@falconwords.com or call us at +91-9822052945. We also create eye grabbing personal statements for university and job applications, as well as captivating and to-the-point resumes and cover letters.


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