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margarethale

SOP Readers - Helping Out Fellow Applicants

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(I'm very new to gradcafe but one of the things that really impressed me with this forum is the sense of camaraderie that it genuinely seems to foster. With that in mind...)

I've seen a lot of applicants on this forum looking for opinions on the Statement of Purpose section of applications. While I know a lot of people are hesitant to post their own SOPs on such a public forum (which is completely understandable), I've also seen a number of people volunteer to serve as editors for fellow applicants' SOPs provided that the documents are sent in a private message. I thought that this would be a good way to kind of consolidate the gradcafe(rs) who are willing to read and edit each others' SOPs.

Anyway, the spirit of this thread is to make it easier for applicants to find someone who's up for lending a helping editing hand when it comes to one of the most stressful (and subjective parts) of the application process. If you're up for helping out a fellow member's application, add your name to this list.

B) (sunglasses to hide my fear that everyone else on this forum is going to think this is a terrible idea)

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I would be happy to help - of course, I did not get into all of my applied schools (1 straight acceptance, 1 waitlist turned acceptance to a top 20 school), but I do feel like I learned from the process. I would assume that my edits would be taken as just a small addition to the other professors and such who would also be offering comments.

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Wow, thanks for starting this thread. I am one of those who didn't make it through this year, and was wondering how to ask for help on this for the next time around. Thanks for reading my mind, and for everyone's generosity - something you'd almost expect at this point by this great crowd, but super appreciated, nonetheless.

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I'd be glad to read SoPs!

Also, if anyone wants to read mine, PM me and I'll send it to you via email or PM. I had friends let me read theirs, and it was helpful. I've mentioned so much of my personal details at this point, you all could find me if you wanted to. Then I'd bake you cookies and make mojitos, so really, finding me might be a fun idea! B)

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I would be glad to help. I also would be more than happy to send my SOP/WS/whatever-you-want if you think that it would help spark some new ideas. Disclaimer: I applied to 9 schools, was rejected from 4, waitlisted at 1 (I eventually turned them down) and accepted to 4.

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Wow, it's spam city in here. Hopefully a moderator can come in here and clean this shit up. I reported one of the posts, so let's see what happens!

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Wow, it's spam city in here. Hopefully a moderator can come in here and clean this shit up. I reported one of the posts, so let's see what happens!

Whew! That was pretty bad. Hope I caught everything.

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I would be happy to help out anyone looking for edits and/or feedback.

Following Fiona's lead, I'd also be happy to send around my SOP as an example. Honestly, if I hadn't been able to read sample SOPs in the lead-up to my own application process, I would have been just lost. Can't but pass on the favour!

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I can also offer to read! More for style than anything else, but I'm always willing to help :)

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I would personally love help from experienced SoP writers -- I'd particularly love to read examples! I know there's a really specific way to do it. If anyone's willing to share theirs, please let me know! Thank you so much!

Also, I have no idea what I'm doing, but for style and whatnot, I'm happy to read anyone elses!

Edited by sunshan

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I'd be glad to read SoPs!

Also, if anyone wants to read mine, PM me and I'll send it to you via email or PM. I had friends let me read theirs, and it was helpful. I've mentioned so much of my personal details at this point, you all could find me if you wanted to. Then I'd bake you cookies and make mojitos, so really, finding me might be a fun idea! B)

I will be sure that you will be baking and mixing a lot next year.

As for SOPs, I'd be incredibly curious to read someone's. I have never really read anybody else's SOP before. They are so intensely personal, though, it would seem like some sort of violation or something.

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Wow, as a first-time applicant with no idea what she's doing, just reading this thread has almost brought a tear to my eye. You guys are so amazing. :wub: You'd better believe I'll be taking some of you up on the offer of reading your SOP. I've never read one before and having a few examples would be wonderful.

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If you check my blog here at gradcafe, I posted my SOP in its many forms and explained what was wrong with each of the earlier versions and what worked on the final one:

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I will be sure that you will be baking and mixing a lot next year.

As for SOPs, I'd be incredibly curious to read someone's. I have never really read anybody else's SOP before. They are so intensely personal, though, it would seem like some sort of violation or something.

Excellent! I will hold you to that, sir.

I can send you mine, if you're curious. Seeing as we'll be cohort mates, the personal nature of the SOP is pretty much trumped in relation to the personal nature of the six person windowless closet office.

Edited by Fiona Thunderpaws

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Folks, you should be showing your statements of intent to faculty to get their opinions.

To create a draft you are proud to show off, it should be:

- for the MA - maximum one page

- for the PhD - maximum two pages

Then discuss in this order:

- your research topic and methodology

- why you are interested in this and why it matters

- your preparation for this to this point

- what faculty you would work with in the department and your ultimate career goal

That's it. No bravado, no flattery, no ruminations on your theory of whatever, no long-windedness or jargon. Direct and concise. Profs have dozens of these things to read and will get frustrated if you are not direct and down to earth.

AND the main thing: write your statement to convey what you would bring to that graduate program, that you are showing signs of intellectual independence, and that you are the one to get that research done and make that department look really smart for having taken the risk of admitting you to their program with tons of funding.

Edited by Prof. Susan

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If you check my blog here at gradcafe, I posted my SOP in its many forms and explained what was wrong with each of the earlier versions and what worked on the final one:

Thanks for sharing. The subsequent drafts are much, much better than the earlier ones (in terms of what admissions committees apparently want to see). In fact, it wasn't until the third draft that I realized that we actually share several specific interests. You are a very good writer, but unfortunately these SOPs are severely limited by space.

I think the best advice that I can give to people preparing their stuff now, is keep it very focused -- try to construct a single narrative: how your undergradate work informed your MA work (if applicable), and how that work will inform the work that you will do as a doctoral student.

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Kudos to all of you folks and a bit thanks from someone starting this phase of the battle!

I suppose I'll be messaging a few of you privately. I have handfuls of questions and my head's spinning, doing summersaults with my stomach, and then jumping off into 15 different directions right now.

It seems that I'll be relying heavily on my SOP and writing sample to get into these programs. I'm determined to get into one of the highly competitive toppers (top 20ish), but I'm one of those applicants finishing up their undergrad and wondering what I can get without any research experience! (But that's discussion for another thread.)

Thanks everyone!

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Folks, you should be showing your statements of intent to faculty to get their opinions.

To create a draft you are proud to show off, it should be:

- for the MA - maximum one page

- for the PhD - maximum two pages

Then discuss in this order:

- your research topic and methodology

- why you are interested in this and why it matters

- your preparation for this to this point

- what faculty you would work with in the department and your ultimate career goal

That's it. No bravado, no flattery, no ruminations on your theory of whatever, no long-windedness or jargon. Direct and concise. Profs have dozens of these things to read and will get frustrated if you are not direct and down to earth.

AND the main thing: write your statement to convey what you would bring to that graduate program, that you are showing signs of intellectual independence, and that you are the one to get that research done and make that department look really smart for having taken the risk of admitting you to their program with tons of funding.

If I were applying for this upcoming application year, I would print out this post and hang it above my desk. And I would do exactly as it says.

Write a draft following these instructions. Then write a completely new draft following these instructions. Then write a third and a fourth. Then combine the best features of all drafts, whether that be one paragraph, one sentence, or one word.

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I'm resurrecting this thread to see if there are any volunteers still available (i.e. still active in this forum). I'd love it if there are any folks who were already accepted into PhD programs who'd be willing to read my current SOP draft. I've been going through stages of feeling good, terrible, great, hopeless about it. I've got some other readers locally, but I'd like some fresh, unbiased eyes on it.

Anyone still around and willing to do some good Samaritan work?

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