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  1. Upvote
    zellos reacted to Postbib Yeshuist in SOP mistakes: what to avoid   
    I'm going to offer what may or may not be useful advice, so...

    I'm willing to bet the committee doesn't even look at your transcript beyond a verification of your GPA. Heck, it takes me 5 minutes to figure out my own and I took the darn classes. How on Earth could they even begin to divine what all that mumbo-jumbo means? I take that to mean you're in no better or worse shape than anyone else. If you feel that you got passed over, it's more than likely NOT because you left out the names of your classes. I'm under the impression (and several professors have confirmed this) that the classes you took are less interesting to them than a sense of whether you "speak the language" and how you got to that point. When you write about your project, do you convey that sense of "I know what I'm doing and I don't have to mention a bunch of names to prove it"? Is your interest in the topic personal enough that you'll stick it out? Why do you want to study this? Why are we the school to do it at? Who here is going to help you and how are you going to help them?

    A boring recitation of what you did can be a death knell in my opinion, especially if you don't stand out from everyone else who's applied and provided a list. I handled my "qualifications to do research" section by crafting a kind of personal story of how I studied this with that professor but also supplemented my studies with this other prof and how it informed my ongoing decision to follow my current project. I spoke briefly about how my lackluster performance in the MDiv was offset by a solid GPA for my ThM. BUT, this was barely two paragraphs (if you put it all together) and was definitely interwoven with the overall "story" of my SoP.

    In the end, my strong sense of this is that your transcripts are only important for your GPA. The names of the classes you took are meaningless to the committee if you can't talk about your project with a commensurate level of competence (not saying you can't, mind you). Spend too much time talking about the names of classes and profs and you'll shorten the amount of time you can talk about what you plan to do (and bore profs who are now reading the 100th SoP in two weeks). Certainly mention why you're qualified, but keep in mind that taking a class in no way qualifies you to do more advanced research. The knowledge and understanding you synthesized from the class is what matters. One can take a class all day with Cornell West, for example, and still come out just as dumb as he/she went in. Your SoP needs to stand out. If it's interesting and engaging and keeps the profs' interest, you're in great shape. If it bores them with lists of achievements, you're in trouble. No matter what you provide, they've seen more impressive résumés. What they're looking for is "will this person be someone I can stand to have in my office weekly for the next 5 years?"

    PS the name of the class is nowhere near as important as the name of the prof. "I studied with Cornell West" is a far more important sentence than "I took 'History of the Civil Rights Movement from 1962-1963' and 'The Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr' and got A's in both." (And please note that I totally made all that up, so don't kill me if I said something wrong.)

    PPS I'm not suggesting that the OP is aiming for a "boring" SoP, just that too much information can sink an app far faster than not enough. Boredom is your #1 worst enemy.
  2. Upvote
    zellos reacted to anxiousapplicant in SOP mistakes: what to avoid   
    Wish I had seen this six months ago! Great advice. All the crap websites I read about SOP's never are clear about what to really write in an SOP and what to express... It's a learning process in itself, I guess.
  3. Upvote
    zellos reacted to Chimeric Phoenix in 2015 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results   
    Going to join the club of willing to take questions from current applicants.
    You can find all my details in previous posts, but in summary: low undergrad GPA (very low science), decent MS GPA, and good GRE scores.
    Good Luck!!!
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