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Help needed to review my SOP

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Please review my statement of purpose and give me your constructive criticism on anything that jumps out and is in need of fine-tuning. I would really appreciate your help. Thank you in advance!



Dear Admissions Committee,

Please accept my application to attend University of Washington’s MS in Computational Finance and Risk Management (MS-CFRM) in the autumn quarter of 2016.

I am interested in attending the MS-CFRM program to broaden my capabilities in the science of investing by adding advanced mathematics and programing skills and competencies to my existing knowledge base acquired through academia and working experience. I find the MS-CFRM curriculum comprehensive and challenging and believe I possess the necessary knowledge and skill set to successfully complete the program.

My extensive academic background includes completing the MBA Finance program at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) with a GPA of 3.78 in 2007. In 2009, I passed Level 3 of the CFA exam, and was awarded the CFA Charter in 2010 after meeting the required four years of working experience in the finance industry. The skills and concepts learned through these rigorous educational programs constitute the foundation of my theoretical knowledge base in finance and investment management. In reviewing the MS-CFRM program curriculum, I found many overlaps in concepts taught in the MS-CFRM required courses with the material I learned from the elective MBA Finance courses and the CFA curriculum.

My academic achievements go hand-in-hand with my real world working experience. During the past nine years working at First American Financial Corporation (FAFC), one of the largest title insurance companies in the nation, I have taken on various roles and responsibilities related to the management of the company’s $4 billion investment portfolio. In 2009, after acquiring the CFA designation I assumed the portfolio manager position covering credit and equity sectors of the portfolio.

I am thrilled at the prospect of acquiring new skills and competencies taught via the MS-CFRM courses. In particular, I look forward to learning numerical optimization methods, the development of systematic trading strategies, advanced data analysis, risk management, and alternative asset class investing. In the short-term, my goal is to introduce a risk-based optimization process at FAFC to aid portfolio asset allocation decisions. After graduation I plan to start an investment management company with focus on factor-based investing in emerging and frontier markets. I strongly believe the excellence of your MS-CFRM program will equip me with invaluable skills and competencies essential to realizing my career goals.

As part of the application, please accept my petition for a waiver of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) requirement based on my extensive academic background outlined above and nine years of working experience in the finance industry. A waiver of the GRE will allow me focus on the refresher courses prior to the start of the autumn quarter in 2016.

I regard my admission to the MS-CFRM program at University of Washington as an honor and success and look forward to joining your premier academic community.

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The second paragraph (starts with "I am interested in attending the MS-CFRM program ...." and the fifth paragraph (starts with "I am thrilled at the prospect of ....") can very easily be combined and probably should be. During my first read-through I found myself thinking "Well what do they find so comprehensive and challenging about the program? They ought to elaborate" in the second paragraph and found said elaborations in the fifth paragraph. Also, it might help to name-drop the classes and professors where you'll learn numerical optimization methods, systematic trading strategies, etc. It shows you've done your homework on the program.

Your education and work experience do look good on paper, but those are things that adcomm can learn about you by looking at your resume/CV. What are skills and talents you take pride in? Was there one time you solved a difficult problem or were just all-around awesome? Talk about it. Show in addition to telling. Discuss what you learned about yourself and your career goals, specifically what inspired you to want to go back to school after getting your MBA.

Is there not a separate area of your application where you can petition for a GRE waiver? Unless you were instructed to include it, it just feels out of place in your SoP.

I think you're off to a good start; you just need to shuffle some things around and beef up your education/work experience section.

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