sop word limit

skk
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sop word limit

Postby skk » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:58 am

Hello all,

It seems like some schools explicitly state the word limit on sop such as 1000, 1200, 1500, etc, while others simply state the limit on the size of the file to be uploaded. Of course, the content is more important than the quantity, but for those writing one, number of words is an issue to be considered, since short ones might show that one is not strongly interested in the program while long ones might be tiring to read. It would be helpful to hear your comments on it. :)

Thanks.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: sop word limit

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:40 pm

I'm staying around 1000 words myself. In general, say what you feel is important and don't worry too much about the exact length. Just revise it and keep asking yourself what is important and what isn't.

-Riley

spoiledscientist
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Re: sop word limit

Postby spoiledscientist » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:47 pm

Mine is around 450 words. I feel I said all I have to say, and if I write more it will only damage things.

schwiss
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Re: sop word limit

Postby schwiss » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:58 pm

I have about 1200 words, and have to tune it down for some schools suggesting less. Luckily my latex/perl magic makes customization pretty easy :)

negru
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Re: sop word limit

Postby negru » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:01 pm

Going for about 1100 myself

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:21 pm

977 for mine

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: sop word limit

Postby WhoaNonstop » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:55 pm

Mine differs a little for each school, as one of my paragraphs briefly details what I feel is the most engaging research/field at each university. However, my Princeton letter is around 986, just under their 1000 word maximum. =P

-Riley

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satyad18
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Re: sop word limit

Postby satyad18 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:02 am

650-700 words for me.

CarlBrannen
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Re: sop word limit

Postby CarlBrannen » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:14 am

I can't even imagine writing the same SOP for all the schools. For example, at UT Austin I'll mention that I was born there, and the building it's in was named after my mother's math professor (R. L. Moore). At Stanford, I'd have to say that a reason for attending there is the hope I could catch a glance of Condoleeza Rice. Caltech is attractive because of its small size which reminds me of my alma mater. Etc.

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:30 am

The way I've gone about doing my SOP is, via LaTeX, writing a generic (i.e. applicable to each university) section about myself, research experience, grades, etc. Then I create a separate document in which I allow LaTeX to reference that section, and then include information specific to that school. This means I only have to write about the general stuff once. It looks a little something like this


\input{GeneralInfo}

Considering my research experience and area of interests outlined above, <Insert University> became super happy fun time for my brain!

schwiss
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Re: sop word limit

Postby schwiss » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:26 am

HappyQuark wrote:The way I've gone about doing my SOP is, via LaTeX, writing a generic (i.e. applicable to each university) section about myself, research experience, grades, etc. Then I create a separate document in which I allow LaTeX to reference that section, and then include information specific to that school. This means I only have to write about the general stuff once. It looks a little something like this


\input{GeneralInfo}

Considering my research experience and area of interests outlined above, <Insert University> became super happy fun time for my brain!


I did this too. I have separate .tex files for header (since some schools want their name/department, my date of birth, etc), intro, then the main body of the sop, and lastly the ending paragraph illustrating fit for the particular school.

Then I create the sops with a simple Perl script that takes the structure-tex, checks if customized files exist for that school, and uses a general default file if not (to make sure I can still have a complete sop even if I run out of time to customize them all). For the most part I only customize the header and the ending paragraph, but it's good to have options.

rims
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Re: sop word limit

Postby rims » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:14 pm

Am I the only one writing everything in Word? Do you think it is necessary to use latex instead? Of course it's not mandatory, but considering the fact that everybody is using latex, it might look like I didn't take my statement seriously enough...

schwiss
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Re: sop word limit

Postby schwiss » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:25 pm

rims wrote:Am I the only one writing everything in Word? Do you think it is necessary to use latex instead? Of course it's not mandatory, but considering the fact that everybody is using latex, it might look like I didn't take my statement seriously enough...


For SOP latex is definitely not necessary, although it makes customization easier. I chose it mainly because, being paranoid, I wanted to have sop in version control system and non-plaintext just sucks for that purpose.

Edit: Also, for many other texts latex is extremely superior compared to word, so I think it's best to get used to it as early and as much as possible.

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:39 pm

schwiss wrote:
HappyQuark wrote:The way I've gone about doing my SOP is, via LaTeX, writing a generic (i.e. applicable to each university) section about myself, research experience, grades, etc. Then I create a separate document in which I allow LaTeX to reference that section, and then include information specific to that school. This means I only have to write about the general stuff once. It looks a little something like this


\input{GeneralInfo}

Considering my research experience and area of interests outlined above, <Insert University> became super happy fun time for my brain!


I did this too. I have separate .tex files for header (since some schools want their name/department, my date of birth, etc), intro, then the main body of the sop, and lastly the ending paragraph illustrating fit for the particular school.

Then I create the sops with a simple Perl script that takes the structure-tex, checks if customized files exist for that school, and uses a general default file if not (to make sure I can still have a complete sop even if I run out of time to customize them all). For the most part I only customize the header and the ending paragraph, but it's good to have options.


To elaborate a bit more on what I'm doing...

Since I'm interested in 2 different fields of research and applying to schools based on these 2 fields, I've created 2 different intros (plasmaintro.tex and particlesintro.tex). With an intro tex file and general tex file all I have to do is finish off the SOP with school specific information. At one point I was using a python script I wrote to find my tex files, compile/run pdflatex. But now I just use a macro in TextMate to compile and run all of my files. All of my SOPs look like


_____________________________

\input{particleintro.tex}
%\input{plasmaintro.tex}

\input{generalinfo.tex}

I heart Cornell sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much because....



_______________________________

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:48 pm

rims wrote:Am I the only one writing everything in Word? Do you think it is necessary to use latex instead? Of course it's not mandatory, but considering the fact that everybody is using latex, it might look like I didn't take my statement seriously enough...


All real physicists use LaTeX.

On a more serious note, the only reason I used LaTeX was because it eliminates the necessity to edit 10 different documents any time I decide something needs to be changed. For example, say I decide to re-word the section of my SOP that describes my research experience. In LaTeX I just edit my single reference file and then run my macro that compiles all of my documents. With Word, even the smallest change requires that you open 10 separate documents, change them and save them all separately.

Also, I can totally see myself doing a final check before submitting an SOP, finding an error and fixing it but not thinking to make the same changes in my other documents. Using LaTeX in this way forces my documents to be consistent.

pqortic
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Re: sop word limit

Postby pqortic » Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:53 pm

HappyQuark wrote:With Word, even the smallest change requires that you open 10 separate documents, change them and save them all separately.


why 10 separate documents? you write the SOP in one word file and each time edit part of it. I use word 2007 maybe the new versions that you use works differently!

negru
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Re: sop word limit

Postby negru » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:19 pm

If you're desperate enough you'll tailor each essay to best suit each particular school. For each of my schools I'll emphasize a different aspect of my research or courses, so that the profs I name at the end seem like natural fits.

I've already completely wasted half of my semester with the gre's, might as well waste the other half with my essay.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: sop word limit

Postby WhoaNonstop » Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:02 pm

negru wrote:If you're desperate enough you'll tailor each essay to best suit each particular school. For each of my schools I'll emphasize a different aspect of my research or courses, so that the profs I name at the end seem like natural fits.

I've already completely wasted half of my semester with the gre's, might as well waste the other half with my essay.


I don't think it's being desperate. By changing the essay a little bit, it helps me to study the research available at each school. Each of these edits shouldn't require much, except you actually reading about a few areas you're interested in at each school. Making these small changes should come easy if you're truly interested in the school. "Hey this research seems to be most engaging to me and this is why..."

-Riley

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:30 pm

pqortic wrote:
HappyQuark wrote:With Word, even the smallest change requires that you open 10 separate documents, change them and save them all separately.


why 10 separate documents? you write the SOP in one word file and each time edit part of it. I use word 2007 maybe the new versions that you use works differently!


I have a different SOP for each of the schools I'm applying to and you should too. In general your SOP should include at least some information directly addressing why you are applying to that school. So what I'm referring to is if you tuned each of your SOPs to the individual schools but didn't feel like constantly re-writing the general info that isn't school specific, your only option in word is to copy pasta that info into each separate document. Also, if you decide that any of the info in any of these general sections needs to be changed, you need to go back through all 10 documents separately and edit them. In LaTeX all 10 of my SOP documents reference a single general info file so when I edit that, it edits all of my documents in less time than it takes to open MS Word even once.

negru
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Re: sop word limit

Postby negru » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:25 am

Oh yeah and some schools specifically say they want pdfs and not word files. For compatibility reasons. Might as well make them all pdfs. Plus, after many years in which reading exclusively focuses on research papers, word really begins to look very amateurish and simply very ugly whatever the context.

axiomofchoice
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Re: sop word limit

Postby axiomofchoice » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:17 am

For those of you who use latex, what kind of formatting do you use? I assume it would be article, but do you use the latex's default wide margins? It admittedly looks better, but at the risk of my SOP appearing to be very long. Or do you use narrower margins?

CarlBrannen
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Re: sop word limit

Postby CarlBrannen » Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:48 am

Here's the outline tex file I'm using for SOP. I'm sure others have better. I've used the letter form, but with narrower margins:

http://brannenworks.com/sop.tex

An advantage of tex is that it allows both hypertex references and nice looking math.

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:13 am

HappyQuark wrote:
pqortic wrote:
HappyQuark wrote:With Word, even the smallest change requires that you open 10 separate documents, change them and save them all separately.


why 10 separate documents? you write the SOP in one word file and each time edit part of it. I use word 2007 maybe the new versions that you use works differently!


I have a different SOP for each of the schools I'm applying to and you should too. In general your SOP should include at least some information directly addressing why you are applying to that school. So what I'm referring to is if you tuned each of your SOPs to the individual schools but didn't feel like constantly re-writing the general info that isn't school specific, your only option in word is to copy pasta that info into each separate document. Also, if you decide that any of the info in any of these general sections needs to be changed, you need to go back through all 10 documents separately and edit them. In LaTeX all 10 of my SOP documents reference a single general info file so when I edit that, it edits all of my documents in less time than it takes to open MS Word even once.


I left the formatting pretty much the standard TeX. My file, sans actual content, uses the following format verbatim

__________________________________________________________________
\documentclass[12pt]{paper}
\pagestyle{plain}
%\usepackage{setspace}
%\doublespacing
\usepackage[left=1in,right=1in,top=1in,bottom=1in]{geometry}
\title{Statment of Purpose}
\author{Steve McQueen}

\subtitle{Columbia University}
\begin{document}
\maketitle
\input{PlasmaIntro.tex}

\input{Generalinfo.tex}

Based on my research interests.........

\end{document}


__________________________________________________________________


Well, technically speaking most of the preamble is in a style file, SOP.sty, that I created but once again that was just so I could make all my SOPs as uniform as possible.

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HappyQuark
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Re: sop word limit

Postby HappyQuark » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:50 am

HappyQuark wrote:977 for mine


I was just about to submit my SOP to UCSD and after looking up the department specific SOP requirements, I discovered that they want the SOP to only be 1 page and 650 words. Booooo!

http://ogs.ucsd.edu/admissions/applicat ... c-sop.html

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: sop word limit

Postby WhoaNonstop » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:09 am

HappyQuark wrote:
HappyQuark wrote:977 for mine


I was just about to submit my SOP to UCSD and after looking up the department specific SOP requirements, I discovered that they want the SOP to only be 1 page and 650 words. Booooo!

http://ogs.ucsd.edu/admissions/applicat ... c-sop.html


I have one of those applications with a text box that only allows you to enter around 500 words.... What a party.

-Riley




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