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Soooo... cutting 2900 words to 500. WHAT?

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I am applying to 7 schools. None of the others have had word counts for the SOP, and so each time I reworked it for a new school, my SOP got a little longer. Now here comes Syracuse, with a 500-word limit. What am I going to do!? I'm either going to have to be very vague or very specific. I can either go into a personal story or my comments about what professors I want to work with, but how will I fit both? I have to choose between a hook and a more thorough discussion of my topic. Any suggestions? Here is the prompt:

This should be approximately 500 words, and describe your general academic plans, including your interests in geography, why you decided to select Syracuse, and what you hope to study here. Specific topics within these areas would be especially helpful. The Ph.D. applicant should identify one or more potential dissertation field areas of interest, and identify certain faculty members with whom you wish to work.

Should I follow it to a T, or keep in more personal parts of my working SOP? I'm a master's applicant at Syracuse, though I've been working on PhD ideas for schools that would accept me only as such, so right now I have a lot about a potential dissertation, faculty, etc.

Thanks for any advice.

-Drinking Tea

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Stick to what they ask for. Research interests, fit, relevant faculty.

And while you're at it, rethink how you could possbily have 2900 *relevant* words to tell an adcom -- that sounds beyond eccessive. It must be 6-7 pages of text, three times what other applicants will write. No reasonable faculty serving on an adcom and reading hundreds of other documents will throughly read a text that long.

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I'm going to post the finished product. Do you think that I should say WHY I chose the faculty? Or will that be obvious? Any other comments? Thanks!


Ok, I chickened out because I know it is maybe sketchy to post your stuff before you are accepted (in case they try to google it? Why? But I got it down. Still wondering about the faculty, and how much I should say about them... I think I'm going to leave it just mentioning them for now. I've sent them all emails connecting their work to mine.

Edited by imisscoffee
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Since I got to see the text before it disappeared: for one, I felt that you had too many references. I'm not sure if the claims you are making are controversial and that is leading to the citations, or if you're just treating this as a regular academic text. If it's the latter, there is no need for the references. if it's the former, make sure the stances you take are accepted by the scholars in the department you are applying to. In many places it seemed like you were presupposing opinions and/or assuming things that one would imagine should be the result of study rather than a point of departure. But since this is outside my area of expertise, I might be completely wrong. In any event, make sure not to alienate potential advisors.

I would advise to be more specific and detailed in the fit areas. Your text in that section was very vague. "students work on fascinating topics" shows much less insight than "X's work on Y is fascinating." One place to cut text to make room for this addition would be the opening paragraph, most of which was too general to truly support your candidacy. If I rememebr correctly, only the last sentence said something personal about you as an applicant, and that could be fused into the second paragraph.

Good luck!

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