The Statement of Purpose required by grad schools is probably the hardest thing you will ever write
I would guess virtually all grad-school applicants, when they write their first draft of the statement of purpose, will get it wrong. Much of what you have learned about writing and also about how to present yourself will lead you astray. For example, here’s an opening to a typical first draft:
„I am applying to the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at the University of Okoboji because I believe my writing will blossom at your program since it is a place where I will be challenged and I can hone my writing skills.“
How’s that? It’s clear, it’s direct, and it „strokes“ the MFA program, right? Wrong. All of it is obvious and extraneous.The admissions committee knows you are applying to their MFA program because everyone in the stacks of applications they are reading is applying for the same thing. The admissions committee will also know that your writing will „blossom“ there since they feel they have a strong program. Of course you will be challenged – all undergrads going on to a grad program will be challenged, no matter how well-prepared they think they are. And of course the new grad student will „hone [her] writing skills“ – isn’t that the main purpose of the MFA program?
Let’s assume the required length of this particular program’s statement of purpose is 300 words. Well, with this opening you will have used up 15% of your space saying virtually nothing. 15%!
Many will say they „have had a love affair with books“ – that phrase may sound passionate until you’ve read it a couple of hundred times
In fact, not only is this opening paragraph obvious, extraneous, and space-stealing, it’s boring! Imagine who’s reading this and where: five professors „locked“ in a room with 500 applications. Do you think this opening paragraph will command their attention? […]