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Degree of Personal-ness in SOP?

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:04 am
by coffeecoffeecoffee
Reading through the samples in Asher's Graduate Admissions Essays, I was shocked at how personal and "story time" the essays were.

Is this the style we should strive for?

Currently, my SOP is just an explanation of my strengths without any anecdotes about "when I was a lad..."

Re: Degree of Personal-ness in SOP?

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:59 am
by twistor
Write a narrative that best expresses your reasons for graduate study and don't worry about what other people are writing.

Re: Degree of Personal-ness in SOP?

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:11 pm
by secander2!
I think the other thing Asher stressed was to RDGDQ (Read the Gosh Darned Question): if the prompt is asking for motivations, then I guess you can get a bit mushy, if not, it might be best to focus on hard facts. I guess Asher would be out of a job it all you had to do was write an explication of your research and achievements (and also, there are people going to grad school in things other than science), so it's no surprise that the book focuses on Personal Statements with a lot of personality. However, even considering this, there are a few examples which are just plain descriptions of the research the candidate did.

Personally, maybe because I went to a liberal arts school, I wanted to write a mushy quasi-philosophical essay about my motivations for studying physics, however, I feel like I might be shooting myself in the foot by doing so. If you can keep it mostly objective, it's probably better than a sappy SOP. That being said, I would imagine that if you can genuinely convey that you love the subject, it might be even better. Of course, provided all that can be done in the context of RDGDQ. So that's my 2 cents...

Re: Degree of Personal-ness in SOP?

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:15 pm
by twistor
Why be objective? Your statement of purpose outlines your reasons for pursuing graduate study. It is supposed to be subjective.

Your transcripts, awards, publications, grades, etc. all provide an objective ranking of your skills. The SOP is your time to list your personal motivations for wanting a Ph.d.--don't waste it reiterating the information on your transcripts.

Re: Degree of Personal-ness in SOP?

Posted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:38 pm
by Helio
The SOP basically shows them that you have put some thought into it and if you can write a coherent text, but generally it is a pile of BS. I mean do you honestly think that they will "this essay is better written than this one, so we wil accept the one with better essay." As has been said in other posts it is a bunch of BS, as long as you don't royally screw it up you should be fine.

on another note:

I am note sure of it depends on the quote either cause most of them have the same prompt or prompt means the same thing. the whole prompt itself is pretty mushy to honest most of the time

Re: Degree of Personal-ness in SOP?

Posted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:24 pm
by coreycwgriffin
I will admit mine is a little sappy. But it's sappy in a unique way, I'd like to think. Seems like everyone started theirs with, "WHEN I WAS LITTLE I LIKED PHYSICS BECAUSE I USED TO PLAY PHYSICS GAMES WITH MY TOYS," where as that's totally not true with me.