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I have a friend whose fit paragraph, in my estimation, was very poor. She talked in generalities, i.e. being excited to learn from an "illustrious" faculty. She mentioned looking forward to studying with a creative writing professor who was a big name but whose work had nothing to do with her proposed intellectual interests, especially considering she was applying for a PhD and not an MFA. The rest of her SOP and grad school package were awesome. She got in.

I also have a friend who had an amazing fit paragraph. He was able to synthesize the work of three faculty members and show how it had influenced specific projects of his, like an honors thesis, and his general intellectual trajectory. It showed very thoughtful research into the department. The rest of his SOP and application were also awesome. He got in.

That both of these people got into the same "top 5" program tells me that the fit paragraph, while maybe one of the final deciding factors between two otherwise extremely similar applicants (unlikely), it's not that important if the rest of your application is good. Everyone has things in their package that make them uneasy, I just feel that if the fit paragraph in your SOP is one of the main ones, then you're probably in good shape, so don't worry too much.

Edited by rosales
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That both of these people got into the same "top 5" program tells me that the fit paragraph, while maybe one of the final deciding factors between two otherwise extremely similar applicants (unlikely), it's not that important if the rest of your application is good. Everyone has things in their package that makes them uneasy, I just feel that if the fit paragraph in your SOP is one of the main ones, then you're probably in good shape, so don't worry too much.

Hey, I'll take any encouragement I can get! But seriously, thanks for the anecdote; its easy to forget that in many ways the little things might not matter, even if they REALLY matter to me.

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This was relevant to me, as one POI basically guided the construction of my present SOP heavily and offered detailed critique, etc. Their program's awesome, and he is also a major reason why I'd love to be in their program. So, obviously, I emphasised my year-long correspondence with him alongside research fit, etc. I did not quote anything, just stressed how instrumental this relationship was to my desire to be there, etc.

am in the same position but don't know if they'd still take me! did he predict your chances??

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Nobody is going to "predict" anybody's chances. At best, what people in our position may hope for is a reasonable comment as to whether we present a good fit for a particular department. And that's assuming the POI has taken enough interest in you to think about this.

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  • 6 months later...
if you want me to PM you examples from my successful SOP's, I can
Could you Pm me please? I am having trouble with this section because I am an international student with very limited access to my POIs' works. I only have a general sense of their research areas. And I am working on making the best of what I know of them.
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Hey, sorry I actually haven't been on here for months. It's actually easier if you PM me first rather than posting it here since I only check a handful of threads when I do come over here and this usually isn't one of them. So, in sum, still happy to help but PM me rather than posting in this thread. :)

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