Statement of Purpose

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Steps to Success: Writing a Winning

Statement of Purpose
For students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Steps to Success

Personal Statement (PS) vs. Statement of Purpose (SP)

Steps to Success

Personal Statement (PS)
One way to think about PS is that, in general, undergraduate programs are interested in you as a person and what you may offer to enrich their overall university community.

Steps to Success

Statement of Purpose (SP)
SP describes your “brain,” the scientist you have become and will grow to be. You are now the scientist and any personal information should be related to your scientific approach and how you will enrich the scientific world. Steps to Success

Becoming a Scientist
Your Research Is Your Purpose
Avoid Childhood Kindergarten-High School

“The big questions — how to control a cell’s function, how to interfere with a cell becoming a cancer, how to stop heart disease — are still out there to be answered. The key is bringing fresh ideas along with new tools and technologies to the same old problems.” —Mike Teitell, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Steps to Success

Who Reads Your Application?
Each department has its own review process. Science Faculty: Your future community. “When you recognize your interdependence and changing nature, you no longer see yourself as separate from another person, and this is the foundation for building stronger communities.” —Susan Smalley, Neuropsychiatric Institute

Steps to Success

Who Should Proofread Your Application?
• Advisors and Professors • Faculty letter writers • People from different disciplines • Each other: The stronger they are, the stronger you are.
Steps to Success

"Nanotechnology is in our watches, cars, hospitals and it shuffles information around. But it's also about therapies and new ideas — the next big thing that's going to change the world in 20 years." —Jim Gimzewski, Chemistry and Biochemistry

WRITING STRATEGIES
Trust Yourself & Dream Celebrate your work in your SP! This the fun part.

Steps to Success

Imagine
• • • The “Wow” Factor Did an article or book inspire you? Read the faculty’s research, then contact them.

An artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. (NASA/MAXIM)

Andrea Ghez, Astronomer, answered one of astronomy’s more important question by reporting that a monstrous black hole resides at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Steps to Success

Be Free

Free Write
Do not expect your first SP draft to be perfect. Keep writing, put it away for a few days, and edit later.

Be Forgiving
Steps to Success

Tooting Your Own Horn
Now you decide not to tell anyone?

Steps to Success

Format / Content
• You must think of yourself as a scientist. • Every paragraph should somehow be related to your research area, interest, experience, and future. Steps to Success

Metaphors/Themes to Link Ideas
• Let images that flow throughout your SP.
• • • • Steps to Success… The chemical structure of water… Themes Linked Images

All should be related to your interests and research
Steps to Success

Personal Information
• Personal information should be minimized, if not eliminated, if not relevant to research. • Do not compare the content of your SP with friends applying to social sciences, humanities, law, medicine and health related programs. Steps to Success

Extenuating Circumstances
“Extenuating circumstances that may have resulted in less than ideal academic credentials for graduate school.” Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, Assistant Dean, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences http://career.berkeley.edu/Article/041112b-so.stm

Keep this Brief
Steps to Success

Spin ~ Spin ~ Spin
• Make what is negative positive.

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What to Include
Weak vs. Strong

Steps to Success

Avoid Excuses
I had to work two jobs to support my family because my father was injured. My grades...
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