Know yourself first to choose right career
Many Indian students go through their academic careers without a clear understanding of why they are doing what they are doing, and what they would...
Many Indian students go through their academic careers without a clear understanding of why they are doing what they are doing, and what they would want to do in future and why. Their choice of a course or subject is often based not on aptitude or interest but on peer or parental pressure and a vague perception of 'job prospects'. Their choice of a college or university too is rarely based on academic considerations. Several students also end up doing courses in some institution or the other because they cannot get into courses and institutions of their choice. Institutions of higher education too lack a distinct identity that sets them apart from others. Given this broad framework of Indian higher education, it is not surprising that Indian students feel cornered when they are asked to justify their academic choices and explain their professional goals. Students applying for admission into graduate or research programmes (MS, MBA, PhD) in American universities are required to write a 'Statement of Purpose' (SoP) explaining why they want to do that programme, and in that particular university, and how they think they are qualified to do it. Indian students often find writing such a statement an insurmountable problem because it demands introspection and an honest assessment of one's aptitude and attitude�abilities seldom tested in the Indian context. An SoP is the written equivalent of a personal interview. Its objective is to know the person beyond the mark sheets and score cards. Through the SoP, the institution seeks to a) understand you�Who you are, What did you do, What do you want to do and why, and Where do you want to it and why b) evaluate you�How do you compare with others, How you are different from others, How you are better than others and c) judge you�your Ability, Suitability, and Sincerity. The objectives of SoPs are similar to those of Personal Statement, Application Essay, and Cover Letter. SoPs generally follow two formats: closed format, where the institution prescribes the format as well as the broad outline of the content. The open format SoPs are more difficult to write because the applicant has to decide on both content and format. If you are writing an open format SoPs, the following guidelines about the mechanical aspects are the most reliable: - Length: Not more than two pages (800-1000 words) - Font: Simple, professional (sans-serif) fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana) - Font size: 12 - Line spacing: Double throughout - Margins: 1" on all sides - Page size: A4 / Letter - To highlight: use Bold / Underline Before attempting to write the SoP, check if you have satisfactory answers to the following questions: - What is your educational goal? (degree and field) - What is your professional goal after you complete this degree program? - What is your long-term professional goal? - What academic preparation have you already completed? - What do you need to learn to achieve your goal? As you can see, writing an SoP demands clear, logical thinking, a frank self-appraisal, and lucid expression. So, forget about the graduate programme and the American university, and write the statement, first of all, for yourself. Write something that is honest and sincere. Write it the way you like, something that has integrity, and which says something important about you. This write-up can then become the basis for an excellent SoP. Eventually, even if things don't turn out the way you hope, at least you will have the satisfaction of writing something that is difficult but highly rewarding. Next week, we will look at how to write a successful SoP.