As your student applies to various colleges, they may be asked to write a statement of purpose. Also known as a personal statement or application essay, a statement of purpose is an opportunity for your student to explain to admission representatives who they are, their interests and accomplishments, their academic and personal goals, what they bring to their academic program, and the “why” behind their academic aspirations.
With the following guidance, your student can write a well-crafted statement of purpose that will increase their odds of getting into their desired college.
Your student will want to follow the statement of purpose parameters provided by the college, including word count, formatting, font size, etc. Following these instructions demonstrates to the college that your student can be counted on to pay attention to detail, and that will help increase their chances of admission.
Every application will have its own specific instructions, but a basic content outline can look like this:
Your student should share a little about their background — who they are, where they’re from and how they arrived at this moment. They can mention something unique that sets them apart, whether that’s a fun fact or a personal interest. They’ll also want to show the college how they’re prepared for higher education.
Their areas of interest
Your student’s statement of purpose should include a section about what they’re interested in and why. The “why” part is important as it will help explain their motivations. Maybe when they were young they loved taking things apart and figuring out how they work, and now they want to get into engineering. They should explain these things in their essay.
Once your student explains what they’re interested in, they should focus on their ambitions — what do they want to do after studying their area of interest? Continuing our engineering example, in this section the student should explain what they want to do as an engineer, e.g., build car motors, design high-tech products, etc.
Why this university
There are thousands of universities. Why does your student want to attend this one? They should be prepared to answer such a question. Maybe this university offers the program they’re interested in, or it has a good reputation in engineering. Whatever their reason, your student should explain why they want to go there.
What they’ll bring to the university. Attending college is a two-way street. College can offer your student a great deal, but what can your student offer the college? Probably plenty. This is the section of the statement of purpose where your student can sell themself. Did they get good grades in high school? Participate in extracurriculars? Volunteer or work while in high school? Colleges are always on the lookout for well-rounded students who can thrive at their institutions. Your student should show that they are that type of student by discussing all they’ve accomplished and been involved in during high school.
Closing. Your student should wrap up their statement of purpose by summing up everything they highlighted and thanking the admission representative for their time and consideration.
Your student will want to make their statement of purpose stand out. Here are some tips from the pros that can help:
Keep it concise
College admission representatives read a lot of statements of purpose. They’ll appreciate your student keeping the wordiness to a minimum. That’s not to say your student should cut important information from their statement of purpose. They should just cut the extra words. Have them read through it a couple times and keep cutting. There are always places where they can make the copy shorter and more precise.
Organize and edit
Your student will want to make sure that their copy flows well and that there are no typos, grammatical mistakes or punctuation problems. If grammar isn’t your student’s forte, they should consider having it edited and proofread by someone with an editing background, either a friend or possibly even hiring an editor.
Make it personal and original
Your student should write from the heart. Even if they’re not the most confident writer, an admission representative can tell when they’re being genuine. And they should not even consider using a program such as ChatGPT to write their statement of purpose for them. Not only is it ethically wrong, but artificial intelligence can’t capture the originality that only your student can communicate.
Your student’s statement of purpose is an important piece of their admission application for those colleges that require it. But it need not be intimidating. A concise, well-written, honest statement is the name of the game.