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First Draft of the SOP

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Hi all,

I'm a student from India applying to UIUC,Berkely,MIT etc. and this is the early version of my draft. I ask all of you to read it and give me tips and comments on how to improve/change it. I'm applying to Electrical and Computer Sciences as my intended graduate major.




here's the link : https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6ngyOe8T5xsT25rOGluMV9oQU0/edit?usp=sharing

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Call me out if I'm wrong, but my first impression of this statement is that you focus too much on the past and how it led you to where you are now. I didn't see anything about your current interests and what you plan to do with the degree. Why do you want to go to Graduate school? Who are you interested in working with in a particular school? I would cut the first half and start with the "In India..." sentence. Even so, you may want an intro paragrpah that summarizes (briefly) what you will be talking about.

I'm outside your field, but that is my two cents.

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I agree with Dedi that there is way too much about your past and that there is no information about what you want to do in graduate school. Also, I feel that your paragraphs are just jumping from one past experience to another without a clear connection between them, except for the fact that they mention various stories that are loosely connected to electrical engineering. However, I don't get a sense that you are trying to form any kind of thesis statement.


In my opinion, I think you should change the start so that you clearly state your research interest and your goals for graduate schools in the very first paragraph. Then you should use the middle of the SOP to provide evidence for past success and tell the story of how you became the researcher you are today. However, I would focus this only on recent years (i.e. since University) and thus delete almost everything before the sentence that begins with "When it came to choosing a department in my current university..." You might want to use some ideas/themes from what you wrote before (i.e. a shift in your interests from theory to experimentation) but I would not start with that. I might add one or two paragraphs to further expand on some academic and/or research experience in University. But the really important part of the SOP--the part where you explain your goals in a PhD program, what problems you are interested in, what you hope to achieve, and why the UC Berkeley program can specifically help you reach these goals--is still missing. This is the main argument you are trying to make/explain in your SOP so I think your entire SOP should be motivated by these questions and in particular, I would say the second half (or at least the final 1/3) of your SOP should be fully dedicated to this.


A few more small things as well: 1) don't say negative things about anything in your SOP (e.g. your statement on the "dry lectures")--if you prefer X over Y, always write it as "you like X because blah blah blah" instead of "you don't like Y because blah blah blah"); 2) watch your English idioms; overall your English is very good but phrases like "break the solution" is not an English idiom/phrase; 3) avoid using a "fancy"/more obscure word when a more commonly used word will do (for example, you use "ambling" when a word like "walking" would have fit just as well since you don't need to use the very specific meaning of "ambling" for the story/sentence to work); and 4) it's a "Daniell cell" (two L's)--also I was very confused about this story because I am not sure why you were mortified that your teacher covered the concept two months later in class.


Finally, I would advise you to change the title to something much more simple. I used "Statement of Purpose" (or "Statement of Purpose for TakeruK") for all my titles. In my opinion, some writers can pull off a fancy title but I feel like the title you chose does not fit your statement of purpose very well. Maybe once you have refined your SOP to make a stronger statement, then you might be able to think of a nice fitting title. However, until then, I think it's much safer to just use a generic title like "Statement of Purpose". 

Edited by TakeruK
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