Building up your Statement of Purpose
- Building up your Statement of Purpose
- When Browsing Graduate Department Websites
- Dos and Don’ts: Writing Emails and More
- Student Visa Interview Advice
A good statement of purpose allows you to pull together the pieces of your application and show yourself in the best light possible.
Below you will find five important areas that you need to cover when writing your statement of purpose.
1. How did you become interested in this field?
Explain your serious interest in the field and describe positive steps taken in pursuing this interest. Do not be afraid to promote yourself—give the readers of your essay a specific understanding of your dedication, talents, and academic strength.
2. What experiences have contributed toward your preparation for further study in this field?
Demonstrate your interest by providing examples of research experiences, internships, work experiences, community service, and/or publications. Briefly describe what you did during each experience. Also, make sure to articulate what you learned about the field from your experiences and how what you learned inspired you to pursue an advanced degree.
3. What are your future goals?
Specifically state your degree objective (master's or Ph.D.) and specify what sub-disciplines you are interested in pursuing. For example, if you are applying in electrical engineering, the committee needs to know whether you are planning on pursuing signal processing, control systems, telecommunications, electronics, or some variation.
4. What are your research interests?
Within your sub-discipline, you should be able to identify one or two topics that are of interest to you. We cannot stress enough that when possible, be specific about your research agenda. Remember that you will be working with the program’s professors in research; therefore, your research interests should parallel those of the faculty.
5. How are you a "match" for the program or professors to which you are applying?
Explain what attracts you most to the institution/program to which you are applying. Align your research interests with those of one or more of the affiliated professors. The better the "match" with the program or professors—the better the chance for admission.
Remember that your statement of purpose should be well-organized, concise, and free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Before submitting the statement, seek constructive comments and criticism from friends, colleagues, and instructors.
One important step in deciding where to apply for graduate school is to explore university department websites in your field. Here are some important information to look for while you’re on those sites:
- Consider various research areas and subspecialties available at that university.
- Thoroughly read and research professors’ academic interests and publications. It is very important that their research interests are aligned with yours for a good match.
- Look at the courses offered by the department and see if they interest you.
- Look at the various resources available for students (such as libraries, laboratories, equipment, and so forth) and any corresponding fees.
- Look at application deadlines for that particular department.
- Does the program emphasize theoretical research or practical applications?
- What are curriculum requirements? Is there a lot of opportunity to specialize or do they emphasize broader mastery of the general field?
There are many things to consider when selecting your graduate program. While it may seem overwhelming at first, putting in time and effort before going into a graduate program will pay off.
We have noticed that a lot of students forget about formal punctuation and spelling when sending emails to EducationUSA Iran. Although email can be an informal form of communication, it also represents to admissions counselors the international students’ mastery of the English language. When writing messages to graduate schools please remember to capitalize the first word of all your sentences and end every sentence with a period, question mark, or other appropriate punctuation. Get your spelling and grammar right and take a professional tone. Don’t take the chance that admissions staff will be left questioning your education, intelligence, or maturity.
Any email that you send to a university should have the same grammatical, punctuation, capitalization, and content quality as any formal "hard-copy" letter that you would print, sign, and send. This may be the graduate department’s first glimpse of you as a student, so try to impress them with your clear, concise command of the English language.
U.S. Résumé Style: No Need for the Personal
When sending a curriculum vita or résumé to a U.S. university, do not include information such as your weight, height, or marital status. In the United States this information is considered private and is strange to mention in this context.
Your birth date is also not needed. A number of people write us asking about age restrictions—you will be asked for your date of birth on various forms, but this is for identification purposes rather than being part of the admissions process. In general, under U.S. law universities are not permitted to discriminate based on age.
Your Papers: On the Road
When travelling to the United States, make photocopies of all your important documents. Carry one extra copy with you as well as the originals; put an extra copy in your checked luggage; and leave your parents or family with an extra copy as well.
Some of the important documents that should get this treatment include travel documents, transcripts, financial paper work, health records, and university contact information. Think about what you are going to need when you arrive, what your family at home may need, and what’s “official” and/or would be difficult to replace easily.
Although you should remember to bring all potentially useful documents, it is also important to remember that the visa interview is a conversation, not a document review session. The burden of proof is on you personally to show that you intend to return to Iran after your studies. The best thing that you can do is to clearly articulate—
- Why you want to go to the specific school
- What you plan to study
- How you plan to use your education in Iran when you return.
Be ready to cover this information in no more than about 3 to 5 sentences, and practice saying those sentences with family and friends until you become comfortable with the English.
Here are some of the types of questions that you might get asked:
- Why have you chosen this university?
- Who will sponsor your education?
- Why don’t you study this in your own country?
- Do you intend to work in the U.S.?
- What are your plans after finishing the degree?
- What was your TOEFL score?
Also important, as for any first conversation, is to dress appropriately and present a positive attitude.
In regard to documents, it is better to have too many documents than to have too few. Just keep them in order so you can find whatever you may need!