Friday, October 10, 2014

Admissions: Tips for Writing the Statement of Purpose

Students who apply to SAIS are asked to write a statement of purpose. The statement, which has a 600-word limit, is a very important part of the application. It is a window on yourself and a chance for the Admissions Committee to learn more about you.

Below, Chelsea Boorman, a first year MA student at SAIS Europe, offers some tips to help with the writing process.

Many people find writing their statement of purpose to be the most challenging part of the SAIS application – and rightly so! 

It’s one of the most important pieces of one's dossier that gives the Admissions Committee insight into your personality and motivations.

With the memory of writing my personal statement still fresh in my mind, here’s some advice to get you going:

Be memorable. The obvious point here is finding a “hook” that will grab the reader. Try to think of a
“hook” that the Committee has never heard before. Reflect on the moment or experience that influenced you to apply to SAIS, and write about it in your statement. I opened my statement combining my experiences in Rwanda with a State Department internship in Canada.

Be personal. The statement of purpose is where you can breathe life into your application. I re-read my statement before writing this post and realized that most of it focused on personal experiences that weren’t on my resume.

Be professional. Don’t be afraid to be personal IF you can remain professional in your writing. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. SAIS is ultimately a professional development program.

Tell the Committee “why” SAIS. What specific aspects of the program (curriculum, professors, location, seminars, career development, etc.) are important to you? If you really want to impress the Committee, think of a reason that’s not advertised on the website.

Finish strong. There’s always a heavy emphasis on grabbing the reader at the very beginning, yet it’s equally important to end your statement leaving the reader with a (positive) lasting impression.

The easiest thing to do is to reflect on your past experiences and connect them to your future goals.

Writing a statement of purpose for this program is tricky because every applicant has an impressive background, but taking the time to reflect on what makes your experiences unique will help you stand out from the crowd.

Good luck!

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)

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