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When to start writing SoP

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I'm hoping to apply to policy school for 2011 fall. Deadlines for most schools are between Dec - Feb. Would like to know:

1) How soon should I start

2) what is the best way to go about it - write the 1500 word SoPs and whittle down or the other way around?

3) Any other ideas?

Thanks all!


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This is coming from my own experience.

1. I started writing my SOP the first week of July, then I finished some time in September I think (possibly October). Everything was submitted in November that I'm sure of. It's really up to you on how long you want to spend. I went through many drafts with at least 5 people proofreading the same draft until I arrived at something that everyone thought was great.

2. I decided to write the entire thing, then whittle it down to what I needed. I found that process to be easy.

3. Good luck!

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My plan is -

My applications are due between the end of November and the beginning of January, so I'll start working on the SOP in August, to be done in October, while also finishing my Writing Sample during that time (final, polished, reviewed by numerous people to death, drafts should be done by October 31st at the latest!). Since I'm applying to 16 schools total (13 PhD and 3 MA), and each SOP has to be somewhat unique (slight shifts of focus, why that school, etc.), this is expected to be a long and arduous process.

I'm going to write the long version, and then cut for the programs that request less than 2 pages (I don't think I have any of those, but just in case).

Overall, I think it's best to begin as early as possible - I've found that my current research is actually going to significantly affect my SOP and how I approach it.

Good luck!

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  1. Start now so you have plenty of time for drafts! I definitely started in July. My apps were due in Dec. At least in my case, the more I worked on my SOPs, the better they got, so starting early was essential.
  2. 1,500 words sounds good. The more material, the better for when you're closer to your deadlines and need good stuff to polish. Just separate your ideas so they're easy to sort through later -- you don't want a daunting, complicated web of material to edit, and that wouldn't be easy for anyone to read anyway.
  3. Revise revise revise! And if you decide you want to write a whole 'nother SOP a month or two from now, do it! No fear.
Edited by Jae B.
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