Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby blackcat007 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:22 am

this is really pissing me off.. some schools like UF have kept a word limit of 500 words even charter limits.. I am really finding it difficult to explain my transition from engineering to physics in that limit, so inorder to fit my SOP.. I removed the spacings between paragraphs. I also changed every 'and' to '&' in order to decrease the number of characters and wrote the numbers in numerical form, like two-> 2. also changed first to 1st and second to 2nd.. (It reminds of the poem I studied in primary school- "Little drops of water, and little grains of sand, made the mighty ocean and the pleasant land")


Now my SOP looks like one single long paragraph. :oops:

will this put a bad impression? I thought bad indentation is better than incomplete transition story.

what do you guys say?

Mataka
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:05 am

Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby Mataka » Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:03 am

Well it's hard to tell without actually seeing the letter, but the way you describe it, the presentation of your SOP looks like ***. I think you should try to really change your SOP such that both the presentation and the content looks good.

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby blackcat007 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:34 am

Mataka wrote:Well it's hard to tell without actually seeing the letter, but the way you describe it, the presentation of your SOP looks like ***. I think you should try to really change your SOP such that both the presentation and the content looks good.

well I managed to change all the "&" to and .. but somehow divided into 3 paragraphs. lets try on!!

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grae313
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Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby grae313 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:04 pm

Absolutely do not use & instead of and, and it's much better to avoid using 2 instead of two and even to avoid using contractions excessively. If they're putting a 500 word limit on something it means they don't want to read a lot of crap, so keep it short and sweet but you still need to write with a little class. Putting in numbers and ampersands is almost as bad as putting u for you--it looks trashy.

pqortic
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Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby pqortic » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:40 pm

the changes you mentioned don't make too much difference. you should drop a paragraph or two or shorten all paragraphs. some applications have sections for research experiences or publication, so you don't need to talk about research in your SOP.

Mataka
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:05 am

Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby Mataka » Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:06 am

so you don't need to talk about research in your SOP.


I would not take that advice, but I don't know maybe that's just me. I think that if you want to talk about only one thing it should be research. That's pretty much the only thing that does not speak for itself and it is most likely the only thing that makes you unique (courses are pretty much the same for everybody, they must read like 100 SOP of people explaining why they go form eng. to physics (and ultimately I'm guessing everyone has the same reason), everyone talks about their passion for physics and how they want to get a phd to get a faculty job and do great research ... but research experience vary a lot from one applicant to another).

mike164
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Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby mike164 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:03 am

After obsessively trying to condense my Columbia sop to 500 words for the past 2 hours (Its 3.50 a.m in Boston), I finally managed to do it. My situation is still worse. I earned my undergraduate degree in engineering and I am currently pursuing my Masters in physics. Now I am applying for PhD.

Here are my suggestions. if you think it is useless, just ignore it.

1 paragraph - Do not start philosophically. Do not talk about your childhood. Just state your current educational status and state what you would like to pursue further and the reason for your change.

2 paragraph - Your interest and motivation in a particular field (summer schools, seminars etc., ) 5 lines

3 paragraph - your academic accomplishments in engineering (5 lines)

4 paragraph - Your research in engineering and in physics (if you have done any). Discuss just the main focus of your research and mention any notable publications That should do it. Some people elaborate excessively on the laboratory work they have done (I learned spin coating, I know how to handle a femtosecond laser, I have done fabrication). They fail to understand that laboratory work is different from doing research.

5 paragraph - future plans and conclusion (this should be easy)

This should get you down to 500 words. I might be wrong. May be someone who is applying to Columbia can shed more light on this issue.

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby blackcat007 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:45 am

Thanks to all for their replies :D.. I finally managed to condense my SOP to their limit, without resorting to unofficial short forms.

I followed a similar sequence as told by mike. also I chucked out some of the descriptive words like instead of "we had rigorous tutorial sessions "we had tutorial sessions"..

matonski
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Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby matonski » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:20 am

Oh crap! I didn't realize there was a 500 word limit to Columbia's essay. I already submitted mine. It was about 750. What other schools have 500 word limits?

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: Whats's up with these 300-500 words?

Postby blackcat007 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:57 am

matonski wrote:Oh crap! I didn't realize there was a 500 word limit to Columbia's essay. I already submitted mine. It was about 750. What other schools have 500 word limits?


don't worry, i had mailed Penn State with this same question.. (even PennState has this 500 words thing) and here is what they replied :

Please feel free to go beyond the suggested limits. If you run out of space in the text box, you may upload your personal statement as a separate document in our admissions system at https://apply.phys.psu.edu/grad.
sounds quite flexible :D




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