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SoP - Division and Closure. Political Science--IR... Please Help!

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Thanks in advance for your consideration and responses everyone!


So I'm applying to a wide variety of programs 5 in the top-tier, 3 in the middle and 2 in the bottom. I've constructed what is a solid SoP... but the opinions of certain professors I've asked to review it disagree on what should be included as well as its division.



- Unique hook relating to what triggered my past/current and probable future research transitioning into a brief background of my specific subject matter (10%, 1st paragraph)


- Description of the specific problem I attempt to analyze and address in my research (5%, 1 small paragraph) 


- Actual process in which I've gone about researching my interests. My collaboration with my mentor (a well-known professor who is co-authoring and co-presenting with me in the near future) and some of our more critical findings. Elaboration on our approach and its potential consequences transitioning into the importance of the theoretical and practical findings. (20%, 2 paragraphs)


- How my research has helped me develop the prism through which I appreciate IR as well as the values I have and intend to place in all of my research. (15%, 1 paragraph)


-   A special collaborative project with multiple research institutions identifying my commitment to pursue novel means of shaping the scholarship in my field. (10%, 1 paragraph)


SECTION DIFFERENT FOR EACH INSTITUTION - enough room to mention 1 or 2 POIs and how their interests and contributions are similar to mine and why I want to work with them. Identify similar program priorities as well as beneficial, associated research institutions where I could grow and my contributions would be valuable. (35%, 2 paragraphs).


- Closing few lines, TBD, can't figure out a way to do this nicely.



  • My undergrad gpa was bad... ok more like garbage. I do not mention it all because all of my contributions have come from my MA with an excellent record of success. I actually don't mention my MA gpa either. Thoughts on not addressing an obvious problem? I don't want to take away from flow.
  • I also received a few substantial awards and recognitions for my work. Upcoming publication, upcoming conference (maybe 2), scholarship headlined by an important person... All of these are mentioned on my CV so I wasn't sure if it was necessary to mention it. Could I highlight it, yes! And I could do it without being arrogant? Hopefully. It would just add another 200 words to what is already an SOP of 1000 (including section for each school). 
  • How the hell do you close without sounding unprofessional or anticlimactic?  
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I wouldn't mention your ugrad gpa as it isn't really relevant at this point and your MA gpa is on record so I wouldn't go into it.  I'd also agree that since all your awards, publications and conferences are on our CV it isn't really necessary to go through them all.  As for the closing I'm having the same struggle.  Everything I try just sounds blah and kind of ruins the flow of the sop.

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Hey Ciarrai300! Thanks for the response. Well, we can only hope that this is something everyone will struggle with and consequently our concerns and our final decision will not end up being too problematic.


I think people generally share similar struggles with their opening. There is no right or wrong answer and anyway you do it can be perceived as boring or cliche. I'm just hoping that there is enough meat in the middle of my SoP to have already gotten my file thrown into the right pile by the time the reader gets to the conclusion.  

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I am not sure if this will help on the closing issue, but I returned to my "hook" and explained how it influences my future. My intro was centered on saving an endangered language program at my public HS. I closed by indicating I was proud of that success but now after some time in the world, I understand other languages are becoming extinct from this earth (not just HS curriculum) and that student's whose ancestors spoke that language carry a cultural weight I've never had to experience - either they learn it or shoulder blame for the cultural loss. And so, I would like to participate in the preservation or renewal of those languages.


I think the intro sounds less cliche if you can show whatever story you told had a profound effect on your life. Not in just a 'I want to study this' way but in an 'I want to act this' way. How does the story bring you full circle as a person? The closing of that circle is your conclusion... If any of that makes sense.

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