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Revewing and Cutting Down SOP Help

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Is anyone available to take a look at my SOP tonight or tomorrow? My deadline is quickly approaching and I think I'm losing my mind with reading it over and over again. As of now it is too long and needs to be cut by 100 words at least. I'm so bad at editing and keep adding things, argh! And yeah, I have no conclusion yet... :(


I really appreciate any advice you guys can offer!


Text is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ekt1S__yqMMihc5x5MA__xZCuD88jLxN29sfkvSNLvc/pub

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I think you've got a really compelling and interesting SOP here.  My biggest criticism is that I would like to see a clearer connection between the experience in Japan and your proposed field of study (especially as it relates to the specific program(s) to which you are applying).  I think it's there, but it's a little bit overshadowed right now.  Here are the passages I would cut:


I've experienced this both in Fukushima and in my hometown, the burgeoning art city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The establishment of the international art competition, Art Prize, in 2009 has completely changed the atmosphere of the city and has had an incredibly positive impact socially and economically. The Midwest can be a thriving climate for the arts if they are cultivated.


This section comes a little out of nowhere, and I don't think it adds anything to the paragraph or to the SOP as a whole.




In addition to my volunteer work, one of my proudest accomplishments is my time teaching in Japan with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. Living abroad can be challenging but my flexibility, compassion and enthusiasm allowed me to thrive in an unfamiliar environment. The experience introduced me to different ways of perceiving values, education, communication and the arts which has allowed me view my own culture more analytically and objectively. It also gave me the opportunity to put my Japanese language skills into daily use and strengthen my communication skills in general. The skills and abilities I cultivated while living in Japan will be applicable not only to graduate studies but to my future career.


I also don't think this adds much.  I would assume, based on your discussion of volunteering in Japan, that you speak some Japanese.  I would also infer that you gained the skills one learns while living abroad. 


It's not that I think either of these sections are "bad" -- they're just where I would start cutting if I needed to trim 100 words! :)


Good luck to you!

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OK, I'm going to be harsh. 


Lose the first two paragraphs.  They aren't about you at all, except to note that you were there at the time.  They aren't about museum studies either.  It's a long bow indeed from a Japanese earthquake and tsunami to your reasons for pursuing a public administration degree in Indiana.  I think you could tighten up the whole discussion of that experience.


The last two paragraphs could be merged if you cut out all the stuff about the university's ranking and its accomplished faculty.  They already know about their program.


If your application includes a resume, it will tell them about where & when you've worked and volunteered, so you don't need to repeat it here.  Instead, focus on how those experiences influenced your choices and goals.

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I don't think that's harsh at all, margarets! I really appreciate the straight forward advice. I'm definitely having trouble jumping from "this is what I've done" to "this is how what I've done has influenced my desire to attend grad school". I'm afraid it's coming off as more of a cover letter because of this!

Edited by jenmaybe
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