How to Write a Good Statement of Purpose

At The College of Saint Rose, the essay for a graduate application is called a statement of purpose.  Other institutions may call this the application essay, or statement of intent, but they are essentially the same thing, a brief description of your reasons for seeking to begin a master’s degree.

Everything in your application, other than your statement, is about you.  Your transcripts, letters of recommendation, and even your resume, convey useful information about you. But, they are not you.  The important things you want an admissions committee to know cannot necessarily be inferred from these documents.  Only the statement of purpose – sometimes abbreviated SOP – expresses your ideas in your own unique voice.

Thus, the SOP provides a special opportunity to initiate a conversation with the faculty of your intended program of study.

If you are experiencing writer’s block in crafting your statement, begin by answering three questions:

  • Where are you now in your life or career?
  • Where do you want to go in your life or career?
  • How is an education at Saint Rose going to form a bridge between where you are now and where you want to be?

Once your statement answers those questions, you have the outline and can begin to fill in details!  So, do not let the stress of writing a statement of purpose hold you back from completing and submitting your application.  While important, the SOP can also be very simple and straightforward.

Finally, use your SOP to make it easy for faculty to see you as a part of the program.  If you look at the statement as a marketing message about you, it will be easier to persuade them that you are a good fit.  Create a narrative that creates a picture of you as a successful, intellectually curious, professional and motivated student.

Any advice writing on statements of purpose should have a “do’s and don’ts” section.  So, here are some pointers:

DO:

  • Make sure the statement is specific to the program at Saint Rose, with the correct title of the program and the name of the College.
  • Wait at least one day after writing it to re-read and edit your statement.  With a fresh perspective you will notice anything that seems awkward or irrelevant.
  • Ask someone who is a good editor to give you feedback.  You want to pick someone who will catch typos and bad grammar, not just someone who will shower you with approval!
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread.
  • Visit the Career Center of your undergraduate institution, even if you graduated a long time ago.  They will have resources to help you, and if you request help, they may even provide a critique of your statement for you.

DON’T:

  • Don’t apologize or make excuses for bad grades in your statement.  You can tell a story about your background that makes it clear why you would have struggled during a certain period of time, but make sure to indicate what you learned about yourself that will ensure that you are a successful graduate student.
  • Don’t write a biographical sketch.  We don’t need to know what hospital you were born in, or who your second-grade teacher was … unless these elements are relevant to the theme of your statement.
  • Don’t rely on software to catch grammar and spelling mistakes.  Go back and proofread again!

If you have any questions about writing your statement of purpose, please call Graduate Admissions at 518-454-5143 or email grad@strose.edu.

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13 thoughts on “How to Write a Good Statement of Purpose

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