Statement Of Purpose Guide
Many candidates have told us they experienced difficulties in drafting an effective SoP. Since it forms a crucial part of the JN Tata Endowment Scholarship process, we decided to provide you with some guidelines, some from JN Tata Scholars and some culled out from some universities. Reading this will help you a great deal when you start drafting you statement of purpose to be sent to The JN Tata Endowment.
A statement of purpose is a statement of intent. What makes you you. What makes you think a space is for you. Why does it matter now. What value-add do you bring to the table.
I've had the good fortune to have mentored many students in the course of my young life. A question I often receive from them is what goes into creating a good statement. Having fielded this question a number of times, I can now say with confidence – it is clarity. The clearer a statement of purpose is, the more sure you can be that your point is being driven home. This is especially vital, as assessors are often going through a stack of applications under time pressures. Let’s make their job easier and more pleasurable!
How does one write a 'good' statement? Good being a relative term, but in the sense of how one writes a high quality statement of purpose… A quality statement can only be written when one’s intent for application at that particular juncture is clear. Following this, how to get the ball rolling? Jotting down a few key points on paper, either in running format or in a diagrammatic representation, is a good way to get started. Keep it short. Keep it simple.
Once you have a skeleton of sorts before you on paper, you have the raw ingredients to make the meal of your dreams! The key factor for this is that the timing and sequence of the ingredients should be just right. You can choose to then create a grouping of information by way or some kind of logic or order. This may follow, for example, academic or professional progressions, or it may be grouped according to a cross-cutting thematic area that you wish to highlight in your statement. The idea in the statement is to lead your reader through your thought process. They need to come away with a clarity of understanding regarding your intent, why now, why you, and critically how you can make that difference. This is the formula that worked for me! I will add that there is no one magic fix; each person has their own style and way with words. Be creative, but be yourself! That’s what makes you special, and that’s the value-added you can bring to any space.
There are a few words of caution. A statement that is too long runs the risk of meandering too far from the main stream of thought. You can lose your reader with an information overdose. A statement is also not the place to list every single achievement you’ve ever had. Be selective and exercise your own judgement regarding the main competencies and skills you wish to highlight. You can share more of your gold stars in your résumé which is a place better suited for this purpose.
Remember, the start and close of your statement of purpose are critical. They are the impressions with which you first open and then finally leave the assessor with. Consider it a handshake; you want it to be firm and sure – it needs the right balance! The body holds it all together.
The paper starts off as being blank. You populate it with your signature.
- Ria Sen, JN Tata Scholar