Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Statement of Purpose: "Stay True to Yourself"

The statement of purpose is a crucial component of an application for admission. It's a chance for the candidate to say why SAIS Bologna is right for them and why they are right for SAIS. A year ago we published a post on the statement, and it has become our second most read item. Today we turn the podium over to Nora Sturm, a current student at SAIS Bologna.

The statement of purpose is probably the most challenging but also most rewarding part of the application process.

Nora Sturm
It’s a chance for you to think about what you’re interested in, what you want to do and how a degree from SAIS can help you achieve that goal.

The process of self-reflection is important, in and of itself. It’s easy and tempting to go through life without giving these questions their due consideration. Once you have done so, the writing is comparatively easy!

I would not worry too much about what kind of structure or style to adopt. There are many different ways of organizing your writing. You can approach it as you would a cover letter and show how your past experiences make you a promising candidate. Or you can focus on the linkages between your aspirations and the skills that SAIS will teach you.

There is no one-size-fits all approach. The structure you choose should reflect where you are in your career and what you want out of your educational experience.

The same goes for style. Provided they are relevant, short anecdotes can offer the reader insight into your experiences. But if you would feel more comfortable keeping the text formal, that’s fine too. (In any case,  make sure your statement is free of grammatical and spelling mistakes because those are sure to stick out.)

Permit me to give an unoriginal piece of advice: Stay true to yourself. If you are, your statement will be more convincing. If not, your writing will come across as contrived and trumped up.

It helps to remember that the Admissions Committee has to read mountains of letters. So the easier and more enjoyable you make it for them, the better.

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