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I've been getting feedback for my SOPs and it's left me a bit frustrated. From the advice I've seen, it's better to make it a solely research document... but I also just got feedback that I was essentially boring adcomms out of their skulls. How do I hook my readers without being gimmicky?

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I don't know if this will help, but this was my experience when I started writing my SOP. I started first by asking a simple question, "What does it mean to be a historian?". I talked about how in high school, we never really focused on history as more than just dates. But when I entered college and attend my first conference where I saw so many well-known historians in my field, I realized that history was my passion. I even discussed the hardships of almost quitting while writing my thesis but that being a testament to my strength as a student and to the professors who were pushing me to succeed. I talked about what I want to research and why I felt that it was so important to the contribution of history. Talking about your accomplishments are very important, but that committee is wanting to know more about you than just research. 

Here are some questions that were given to me and helped me write my SOP:

Why do you want to study history? What experiences, whether events or not, made you want to become a historian? Does learning history have an impact on the way you see the world? Does becoming a historian allow you to change the perception of how history is taught? How does your research add to what is already there? 

This may or may not help you. But those comments in the other post are the total opposite of what I was taught.

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Just wanted to give an update on what I ended up doing: 

In 1914, the society section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that “Regardless of nationality, the young girl rushes along the crest of the wave, absorbing American life, not only through her mind, but through the very pores in her skin.” In my doctoral work, I want to characterize and explain how Italian-, Greek-, and Russian Jewish-American women “absorbed American life” while tethered to ethnicity, both in their own self-understanding and white Protestant perception. While most scholarship focuses on immigrant women’s place in the culture of capitalism or the domestic sphere, I want to focus on young women’s presence in public space, opening up a broader question: how did old-world obligation and new American life affect female choice?


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