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Statement of Purpose

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:06 pm
by murs
Hi all,

I'm working on applying right now and had a quick question about my SOP. I really want to do research for solar panels, so I am looking at studying condensed matter or nanostructures. Is it worth saying in my statement of purpose that I want to study condensed matter/nanostructures because I want to work on solar energy, or should I just talk about my interest in quantum mechanics and such? Some of the schools I'm applying to don't have a professor working on solar specifically, but they have some programs that would be similar I think.

I'm applying to 9 schools: U Delaware, Cornell, U Washington, U Oregon, Berkeley, UCSC, UCSB, Colorado School of Mines, and CU. My chances are slim to a lot of these with a 3.6 GPA, hopefully 800 on PGRE, and some research at Los Alamos but more with nuclear engineering than actual physics.

Thanks!

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:17 am
by xudis149
Isnt 800 a good score..??
unless you are an international applicant...

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:59 pm
by murs
I'm domestic, and I know that 800 isn't bad, but with a 3.6 GPA it will be the strong point of my application.

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:46 am
by secander2!
If it were me, I'd probably avoid discussing interest in a sub-field which isn't explicitly offered by the university I'm applying to, unless I could spin it very positively and make it extremely clear that my research objectives could be easily met by working in conjunction with the existing research groups, without becoming a drain on funds and while actively contributing to their research.

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:39 am
by abeboparebop
My generic statement of purpose is around 1200 words, but I've noticed that there are wildly varying size suggestions for different schools. For instance, Chicago asks for less than 2000 words, while Columbia requests ~500!

Do you think it's a problem to use a 1200 word SoP for each of these? Or should I add filler for Chicago and seriously cut down for Columbia? I'm trying to cut it down and I'm having difficulty getting significantly under 800.

(I didn't want to start a new topic and I figured this was as good a place as any for the question.)

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:45 am
by trani
ha, I am applying to Chicago and Columbia too... and was just writing my personal statement too...and to make it extra creepy, mine is getting to be about 1200 too :)

I would recommend trying to cut it down to at least less than 600 for Columbia, since i think more than 20% over the allowed would demonstrate inability to follow simple guidelines, thereby, affecting you negatively.

As for the other ones I was planning to elaborate a bit more on things that i just skimmed over for the 1200 word statement. I think bringing it up to 1500 is quite sufficient...

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:39 am
by jsd
As someone also applying to Columbia and Chicago (my "basic" personal statement was only about 1100 words), I decided to really cut it down for Columbia. Basically, I wanted it to be one page, single spaced. For Chicago, I felt I had more leeway, so I ended up just slightly over two pages (maybe 1300 words). If you've managed to say everything important in 1200 words, don't bore them with fluff.

Re: Statement of Purpose

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:51 pm
by G01
jsd wrote:As someone also applying to Columbia and Chicago (my "basic" personal statement was only about 1100 words), I decided to really cut it down for Columbia. Basically, I wanted it to be one page, single spaced. For Chicago, I felt I had more leeway, so I ended up just slightly over two pages (maybe 1300 words). If you've managed to say everything important in 1200 words, don't bore them with fluff.


I agree. Don't worry about your statement being a little short of the suggestion. Your statement will be graded on content not amount of words. So, if it is shorter and still contains all the relevant information, that is a good thing. It shows that you can express yourself efficiently and effectively using the English language. If you add fluff, you will end up burying the information you want them to notice.

On the other hand, if you statement is much LONGER than the suggestion, I would try to make it shorter. As already mentioned, this will show that you can't follow simple guidelines.

My statements are also ~1200 words. It seems that that is the standard length for most people.