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Statement of Purpose - the first paragraph


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Guys,

I need some help urgently please!!! I am tired of changing the first paragraph of my sop (more than 100 times) to get the hook. The UCB gives this recommendation for the first paragraph:

Give a brief introduction to yourself. State what sparked your interest in pursuing graduate school, and what you wish to stu
dy.

I started my SOP with a short explanation of my experience as a childhood that introduced me to the research field (my father was a professor of economics) and finnally I moved to the second paragraph where I addressed the research topic I would like to study and why I needed a PhD for that.

However I have see so many samples of SOP starting out telling the reason why they want a PhD and what research they would like to pursue.

What should be a great start?

Regards

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I'd be extremely cautious about using anything to do with your childhood in the SoP. The general consensus is this is not usually of any interest to the admissions committee. There may be exceptions of course, but from what you've written it sounds as though your first paragraph is really a generic story about how you got interested in the broad field - and that is almost certainly not required.

Without having seen the actual text, my gut feeling would be to cut the first paragraph and start right with the particular topic you want to explore in your PhD. Explain what got you interested in that in particular. The more specific you can be the better.

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I would avoid the childhood story route if at all possible. Lots of people do this, and the admissions committee cares about your research interests now, not when you were a child.

Is there a particular research question that interests you? Writing about what makes you "tick" and get excited about a research problem is a good way to start.

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Thank you for your comments.

I do agree with both and I am very scared of using my childhood in my SOP. The only reason why I decided to use is to explain where my passion and contact with the academic interests starts.

I am a daughter of a retired professor of economics and he used to get me involved in his research what justifies my passion to research. But at same time I am kinda scared that they will assume that I am doing a PhD because I am being pressured to do (which is not at all the case).

Should I still remove it?

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Thank you for your comments.

I do agree with both and I am very scared of using my childhood in my SOP. The only reason why I decided to use is to explain where my passion and contact with the academic interests starts.

I am a daughter of a retired professor of economics and he used to get me involved in his research what justifies my passion to research. But at same time I am kinda scared that they will assume that I am doing a PhD because I am being pressured to do (which is not at all the case).

Should I still remove it?

If it still matters in your life and work then include it but I would assume that you have built off those experiences and gained more interesting qualities. It is strange if your passion for research still is drawn from experiences long ago.

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If it still matters in your life and work then include it but I would assume that you have built off those experiences and gained more interesting qualities. It is strange if your passion for research still is drawn from experiences long ago.

Thank you so much.

I just added a phrase about it as i said to explain how I was introduced to the topic of my research and to the academic worls. Please have a look:

My passion for this issue has multiple sources –my curiosity on this topic, the fact that I belong to a ___________ and the experiences I had during my childhood. As a daughter of a retired professor of economics, I early experienced interaction with academic environment, which drove me to be a research-oriented person.

What do you think?

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My passion for this issue has multiple sources –my curiosity on this topic, the fact that I belong to a ___________ and the experiences I had during my childhood. As a daughter of a retired professor of economics, I early experienced interaction with academic environment, which drove me to be a research-oriented person.

I like it but my view is biased since I included my own background into my SOP.. I would, however, work some more on the structure of the second sentence. Keep it simple and streamlined - I would try and put it like "early interaction, being the daughter, drove me to be a research-oriented person".

Sure It still deviates somewhat from your present situation, which I think is okay, but you must take measures to ensure that the reader follows the lead - ok early experience which led her to being research-oriented and this lead to winning the nobel prize...

Oh I just noticed - my passion for this issue and my curiosity for this topic are just repeating each other. Remove it. They know that you are interested in the issue

Edited by cherub
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Remember also that your first paragraph should hook the readers (admissions committee) to WANT to read more of your essay. However you end up writing your introductory paragraph -- I would start with a bang. Give them a hook to pull them in and make them want you to be in their grad program. Of course, the academic nature of your SOP will be dependent on the school or program. Specifically, one of the schools where I did a visit specifically stated that they don't want to be bored reading an SOP that could sound just like any other grad application essay. They were interested in character, personality, the experiences that make "you" you. I heard the same on another grad visit. So, blend a few of the ideas you get on here, send out your essay for review, and don't be afraid to completely re-write. I did 4 completely new essays before I found one that worked, and it ended up really being ME -- so if I don't get in, I feel like I did my best to represent myself, my strong academics, and why I am a good fit for my desired program -- and I know I did everything I could. Reach THAT feeling, and you'll be proud of your essay!

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