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What is the difference between the statement of purpose and background sections?


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Well I know there obviously some differences..but there seems to be an overlap.

Heres the background question:

Please describe your background (academic and extracurricular) and experience, including research, teaching, industry, and other relevant information. Your space is limited to 4000 characters and must be answered here.

And the SOP:

Please give a Statement of Purpose detailing your academic and research goals as well as career plans. Include your reasons for choosing the College of Computing as opposed to other programs and/or other universities. Your space is limited to 4000 characters and must be answered here.

So does the SOP not want my previous research? I thought that was one of the main components of a SOP..How in the world am I supposed to come up with 4000 words for both of these sections?? I have a SOP written, but I think I may have to take out some things because of this ... I thought I had a lot more time for this application but just found it its due Dec 1!! I'm scared I may miss the deadline :( . I'm good at writing, though, so if I find out exactly what the differences between these two sections are, I think I will be okay..

Thanks!

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SOP can and should refer to previous research, but the focus is more about where you're headed as opposed to where you've been. Obviously what you've done informs future plans. The point is to expound upon what you'd like to do (research- and careerwise) and identify faculty with whom you might like to work.

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Just in case you didn't notice, it is 4000 CHARACTERS for each, not 4000 words. I know this school (if it is the one I am thinking) wouldn't take anything more than that, space included. Actually, even though Microsoft Word counted mine as 3999 characters including all spaces, it still told me I got more than 4000. If you already have a generic SOP with about 1200 words, you should be able to work from it without too much major changes.

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SOP can and should refer to previous research, but the focus is more about where you're headed as opposed to where you've been. Obviously what you've done informs future plans. The point is to expound upon what you'd like to do (research- and careerwise) and identify faculty with whom you might like to work.

Thanks! That makes sense.

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Just in case you didn't notice, it is 4000 CHARACTERS for each, not 4000 words. I know this school (if it is the one I am thinking) wouldn't take anything more than that, space included. Actually, even though Microsoft Word counted mine as 3999 characters including all spaces, it still told me I got more than 4000. If you already have a generic SOP with about 1200 words, you should be able to work from it without too much major changes.

My friend just informed me :(. He said he had 8000 characters and I freaked out because I thought I was way behind with only 1400 (words). Until I realized I somehow have ~9000 characters! So I have a lot of chopping down to do!

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