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First Draft SOP with 500 word limit

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Hey there! I had some extra time this week and started to write my SOP for one of the schools I am looking at. Right now I have 450 words and only have a 500 word limit. Is anyone willing to read over and help me out? Thanks for the help!


Immediately out of high school, I joined the United States Air force. A year into my training, I sustained an injury which caused me to leave the military and return home. After another year of working and settling the chaotic events from my release, I read The Grandeur That was Rome by J.C. Stobart, which led me to rediscover my passion of history and enroll in ***** College in February 2013 as a history major. My first semester I took the normal general education classes, but The Economic System (ECO101) and the ensuing interest in economics drove me to take a minor in Economic Policy Analysis.


Through my undergraduate work, I developed an interest in Modern European History, specifically Germany, Economic history, and Nationalism and Totalitarianism. In HIS300W, I developed a paper on the Buffalo Cooperative Economic Society (BCES) and how the economic environment from 1929 – 1961, effected the closure of the society. After a year of primary research with the accounting books and balance sheets of the BCES, editing with Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) members, and working with Dr. *****, I presented the paper at the Regional PAT Conference at Fredonia University in April 2015. As of this moment, I am working with Dr. ***** in order to develop the paper for publishing and the National PAT Conference in Orlando in April 2016.


Currently, I am working on an independent study on 20th Century German Economic History and writing a Senior Honors Thesis on the destruction of the German economy due to World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. Both of these projects are in cooperation with Dr. *****, of the history department, and Dr. *****, of the economics department. In order to develop my ideas and theory, I have been reading the works of Dr. *****, Dr. *****, Dr. *****, and Dr. *****. Despite only starting to establish my ideas, I have discovered that the Treaty of Versailles was not the sole factor that led to hyperinflation, instead the treaty was an expedient.


***** University is an ideal fit for my research interests because of the exceptional level of scholarly work and heterogeneous mixture of European historians. I have briefly been in contact with Dr. *****, but I have had more in depth contact with Dr. *****. Both professors and their scholarly work, fit my interests and eventual goal for my doctoral work. After talking with several students, the environment of the university is helpful, talented, and diverse with ideas.  I believe that I can effectively contribute to the environment and my skills will only develop further from attending ***** University.

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  1.  It seems like you might be telling them a lot of things that they could see elsewhere on your application. Is there a CV included in the application? If so, try not to replicate information, because the space in your SOP is precious. It seems like all but the first sentence of your second paragraph could be somewhere else in your application, but this depends a lot on what you get to include.
  2.  You are giving a lot of information, but not really saying much about yourself or your interests. Why do you like the subjects you are interested in? You mention a specific course piqued your interest, but what about it?
  3.  You say "Both professors and their scholarly work, fit my interests and eventual goal for my doctoral work.", but you never actually described your interests or goals, you just listed what you had worked on or are working on. You should be more explicit about your interests, goals, and how this makes you a good fit.
  4.  More of an introduction would be good. Personally, I used a (brief) introduction as a place to talk about my goals. Your SOP starts rather abruptly.

p.s. Are you really applying for Fall 2015 (i.e. to start in Fall 2015)? The application season is over at this point...

Edited by MathCat
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My advisor told me to start abrupt because I have only 500 words to play with and need to get into how my undergrad work developed my plan for grad work. I'll play with it a bit and see what I can change up. Thanks for the help.

P.S. No I just messed up. I'm applying for fall 2016.

Edited by history_geek
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I rather like the gist of the intro, though I feel like it's too long for a 500-word essay. It's certainly too detailed. However, my two main thoughts are as follows:


1. Your third paragraph gives too much detail in places where it's not necessary and not enough where it is. You don't need to list the names of the authors of books that you read, that really just sounds like name dropping, and not of the useful kind. On the other hand, I'm missing a "so what" conclusion to your finding -- how does this affect what we think? how did you reach your conclusion? what's the evidence? tell us something! 


2. I am missing a paragraph that talks about your current research interests, both on a global level and in detail. What do you want to study in grad school, and why is it interesting? You mention your minor in Economics a few times. If it ties into your research interests, you need to paint a clear picture of how. If not, then you shouldn't be talking about it. Either way, the level of detail you give now again has the "too much but not the right kind" feel to it. 


There are some small nitpicky things about the prose that it's too premature to discuss, so I'll leave them, but you should have someone read this carefully for style, too. 

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