It seems as if my SOP is too short. Can anyone tell me what to add?

Yiiiiii
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:24 pm

It seems as if my SOP is too short. Can anyone tell me what to add?

Postby Yiiiiii » Sat Nov 19, 2016 1:29 pm

Hi, :D :D :D :D

I looked at the posts about SOP on this forum. It seems to me that everyone's SOP is quite long. Roughly 1.5 pages and 800 words.
Mine is only 500 words. It is approximately a full page. I am quite worried about being under-sized. Do I really forget to mention anything? Or what should I add into my essay??

I paste my writing below. Can anyone please critique?
Thanks!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

========================================================================

My name is ABC, and I am a fourth-year physics student at the University of EFG. What fascinates me most in astrophysics are black holes and stars. I would like to research their origin, properties, and impacts to the surrounding systems or the universe, preferably using both the general relativity and the quantum field theory in curved spacetime. The department of astronomy and astrophysics at XYZ University is a world-leader in its field. I believe that it is the best place for people like me, who want to be an active researcher and a future professor in astrophysics.

I became very interested in massive astrophysical bodies shortly after the news from LIGO. Even ordinary people now know that a merger of two black holes generates gravitational waves. However, the cause of the conditions that will allow supermassive black holes mergers is not clear. Under the supervision of Prof. A, I spent a whole summer researching on the dynamics of supermassive binary black holes at the inner parsec-scale. It was a beneficial experience, from which I learned about the galactic dynamics of gas disks, simulation of fluids using smoothed-particle hydrodynamics, and high-performance computational skills like parallelization. It made me choose astrophysics for graduate studies.

Astrophysics about black holes and stars is complicated and comprehensive. Despite being challenging, it allows me to combine my interests in math and quantum physics into astronomy. I have been doing research about quantum physics in chemical systems with Prof. B for more than one year, with a published paper, a poster presentation at a local conference, and a manuscript awaits submission. Techniques I am using in my research to solve time-dependent Schrödinger equations can also be applied to the quantum process in the stars with some modifications. My electives in advanced math can help me with many kinds of analytical study. Also, I gained a determined attitude from doing research and having full course-loads at the same time, which is necessary for everyone who wants to be an elite researcher in general.

I think XYZ university is the place where I can learn and research what I like. It has many appealing types of research that I would be excited to work on. For example, Prof. X’s research on gravity through black holes and neutron stars is exactly my favorite field. Prof. Y’s study about the high-density and high-field strength physics due to neutron stars also matches my interests well. The research of galactic evolution and nucleus in the department is also a fantastic continuation of my summer research project.

Choosing to do a Ph.D. degree is a life-changing decision. I am confident that XYZ university can lead me to the career that I desire. I want a life of exploring the unknown, which would be about the beauty of astronomy and astrophysics, skills of independent research, and the attitude of being passionate and critical. People recognize XYZ university as one of the best institutions in the world. Behind the glory is the sweat of hard workers. Getting a Ph.D. degree from here is not easy, but I would be very glad to accept this challenge. Thank you for your time and consideration.

===========================================

End. Again, thanks for the helps!! :D :D

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: It seems as if my SOP is too short. Can anyone tell me what to add?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:56 pm

In terms of content, I think you are on track. You discuss your research and interests well. You could expand on your SOP further and write more about what your individual contributions to your past projects were. This will help the committee knows what kinds of skills you have. For example, with Prof. A, it's not clear to me what you mean by "researching on the dynamics of..." Did you run computer simulations? Did you do theory/math? If it's simulations, did you write the code? Used someone else's code? Made any edits or modifications? I think the best use of the remaining 200 or so words would be to make it very clear what you did.

But keep in mind that some schools do want a 500 word SOP so save a copy of this one too.

Secondly, I think there are some issues with the style of your writing. If you are at a school with an English writing center, I recommend that you take your essay to that center and discuss your writing with them. If you don't have this resource, maybe you know someone who can help tutor you? As an example to what I mean, I will point out a couple of places where your writing is awkward:

1. Passive-voice sentences like "What fascinates me most in astrophysics are black holes and stars" sound better in the active voice, for example, "I am fascinated by black holes and stars" or something like that. You don't have to always use the active voice, but for the first paragraph, I would recommend starting in the active voice. In astronomy, I feel like most scientific writing is in the active voice, but you can use the passive voice for effect in some situations.

2. There are some unnecessary sentences and words. These extra sentences or words weaken your essay by distracting from your main point. For example, the first sentence is not necessary. Your name will appear everywhere in the application. You could put your name in the header of the document in case someone prints out your essay and then it gets separated from the rest of your file. But it's not a good way to begin an essay.

3. There are some words that are used in an awkward way. That is, there are some words (particularly adjectives) that might have connotations that create a judgement you may not intend. For example, you say "Even ordinary people now know that..." This makes you sound like you think less of non-scientists. I don't think you really mean this. I think you wanted to convey the fact that this is exciting news that everyone, even those not studying science, heard about the LIGO discovery. So, consider rephrasing this sentence!

Yiiiiii
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:24 pm

Re: It seems as if my SOP is too short. Can anyone tell me what to add?

Postby Yiiiiii » Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:21 pm

TakeruK wrote:In terms of content, I think you are on track. You discuss your research and interests well. You could expand on your SOP further and write more about what your individual contributions to your past projects were. This will help the committee knows what kinds of skills you have. For example, with Prof. A, it's not clear to me what you mean by "researching on the dynamics of..." Did you run computer simulations? Did you do theory/math? If it's simulations, did you write the code? Used someone else's code? Made any edits or modifications? I think the best use of the remaining 200 or so words would be to make it very clear what you did.

But keep in mind that some schools do want a 500 word SOP so save a copy of this one too.

Secondly, I think there are some issues with the style of your writing. If you are at a school with an English writing center, I recommend that you take your essay to that center and discuss your writing with them. If you don't have this resource, maybe you know someone who can help tutor you? As an example to what I mean, I will point out a couple of places where your writing is awkward:

1. Passive-voice sentences like "What fascinates me most in astrophysics are black holes and stars" sound better in the active voice, for example, "I am fascinated by black holes and stars" or something like that. You don't have to always use the active voice, but for the first paragraph, I would recommend starting in the active voice. In astronomy, I feel like most scientific writing is in the active voice, but you can use the passive voice for effect in some situations.

2. There are some unnecessary sentences and words. These extra sentences or words weaken your essay by distracting from your main point. For example, the first sentence is not necessary. Your name will appear everywhere in the application. You could put your name in the header of the document in case someone prints out your essay and then it gets separated from the rest of your file. But it's not a good way to begin an essay.

3. There are some words that are used in an awkward way. That is, there are some words (particularly adjectives) that might have connotations that create a judgement you may not intend. For example, you say "Even ordinary people now know that..." This makes you sound like you think less of non-scientists. I don't think you really mean this. I think you wanted to convey the fact that this is exciting news that everyone, even those not studying science, heard about the LIGO discovery. So, consider rephrasing this sentence!



Hi TakeruK,

Thank you so much for your comment! You are very helpful!
I indeed consulted the English Writing Center on-campus. But there were many problems they didn't point out (maybe b/c they are not in the field of physics). So I really appreciate your help.

I revised the second paragraph a little. What do you think?
====================================================
I became very interested in stars and black holes after the news from LIGO. People discovered that a merger of two black holes generated gravitational waves. However, the cause of the conditions that will allow supermassive black holes mergers is not clear. Under the supervision of Prof. A, I spent a whole summer researching on the dynamics of supermassive binary black holes at the inner parsec-scale. I studied about the galactic dynamics of gas disks, and did simulations using a smoothed-particle hydrodynamics code which was fully created by me. The code was written in Fortran90, parallelized using OpenMP, and run on a computer cluster. This fantastic experience made me choose astrophysics for graduate study.
====================================================

I agree that there are many unnecessary sentences and repetition in meanings. Thanks for point out. I will evaluate each sentence.
But would it be harmful if my essay is less than a page? Say if I only write the content that I put and add no more detail..... Is it going to be damaging?

Again, thanks a lot.
English is an entirely foreign language to me. I am neither familiar with the North American style of writing. Sorry for making my stuff hard to read :oops: :oops: :oops:

tman1027
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:54 am

Re: It seems as if my SOP is too short. Can anyone tell me what to add?

Postby tman1027 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 6:06 am

Its also important to remember that you don't necessarily need to introduce yourself in your sop. The committee has your entire application so they already know who you are and where you went to school.

Yiiiiii
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:24 pm

Re: It seems as if my SOP is too short. Can anyone tell me what to add?

Postby Yiiiiii » Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:13 pm

tman1027 wrote:Its also important to remember that you don't necessarily need to introduce yourself in your sop. The committee has your entire application so they already know who you are and where you went to school.


Great thanks.
I was thinking that I must make sure they know who I am. But if it is as you said, then I won't worry about it anymore.




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