Personal Statement Vs Statement of Purpose: If you are wondering what the difference between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement is, you are not alone. Many who plan on applying for study abroad have this question in their minds.
While the Statement of Purpose (SOP) includes a two-page essay about your motivation, goals, experience, extracurricular activities, and so on, the Personal Statement shares most of the same features.
On the other hand, a Personal Statement is a one-page essay about your motivation, goals, and achievements. A Personal Statement emphasizes the real you as opposed to an institutional profile so it should provide valuable insight into your career aspirations and motivations.
In this article, we’ll explain what the Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement is so that you make an informed decision during your application process.
First of all, it is important to understand the difference between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement: the statement of purpose contains what you hope to achieve by pursuing your proposed course, while the personal statement contains information about yourself, who you are.
A Statement of Purpose:
A statement of purpose is an essay that universities ask you to write during the application process. Students must state their purpose for applying for a course at a particular university. The SOP states the candidate’s life, his motivations for taking the chosen career path, and his goals.
It states the candidate’s background, his goals, and how ready he or she is to pursue a particular course at a particular institution. Therefore, a candidate should discuss the past incidents that have influenced your career path in a specific domain wherein you aspire to grow by joining a course/college.
The personal statement you write for your application to college or university provides you with the opportunity to describe to the admissions committee why you are interested in studying a specific course or subject, as well as to showcase what skills and experience you have related to the course or subject.
In this essay, you should show you are capable of the program and explain why you want to apply. After exhibiting your competence in the field and why you want to pursue it, if space remains, you can discuss areas other than academics in the field which you have selected to study. It can be about volunteer service. You should explain how that activity or experience has prepared you better for your studies.
Tips on How to write a Stellar Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement
Statement of Purpose:
- Put Your Future Goals into Consideration
In statements of purpose, you are often required to state your future goals (academic, professional, or both), and describe how this particular program will allow you to achieve them. Thus, it is crucial that you clearly explain in your essay how your ambitions relate to the field you aspire to enter and the program to which you’re applying.
Consider what you hope the program will do for you academically and professionally. For instance, if you are applying for a master’s program in computer science, you may mention your plans to become a freelance web developer after abandoning your career as a real estate agent.
Moreover, make sure you explain why this program will help you. Perhaps you are attracted to the program’s emphasis on internships and believe those will make it easier for you to enter the professional world upon graduation.
- Obtain your facts about the Program and Its Professors
If you are considering applying for the program, you have likely already done some research, but you should dig even deeper so that you can highlight the aspects of the program that interest you.
Here are some examples of features you could write about:
- Professors with whom you wish to work
- Classes you hope to take
- The program’s emphasis on a certain topic, idea, or skill
- Any other attributes of the program, such as its small class sizes, its emphasis on group projects, its contests, or competitions in your field.
- Internships, networking events, and/or other professionally oriented events offered by the program or school
Note that it’s best NOT to mention these things in your essay:
- The program’s selectivity or acceptance rate
- The program’s ranking
The best place to start your research on a program is simply to consult its official website since this will tell you everything you need to know about the requirements, the areas where it focuses, who it’s geared toward, and so forth.
Additionally, we suggest you visit sites like Grad Cafe, Reddit, and The Grad Cafe to get the inside scoop on the program you’re applying to.
- Focus on How a Good Match You are for the Program
In graduate programs, applicants need to demonstrate that they can study what they want to study and fit well with the program’s focus and faculty members’ areas of expertise.
This is especially important for candidates applying to doctoral programs since they will probably be working one-on-one with a professor on a major research project or dissertation.
The following are examples of what you can include in your Statement of Purpose to demonstrate your “fit” for the program:
- A professor whose study areas and knowledge align with your research interests, background, and/or abilities
- The academic or professional focus of the program and how this matches your future goals
E.g., maybe you hope to work with a professor whose research areas match the general topic you want to write about for your dissertation.
- Focus more on Your achievements
A statement of purpose is not just about goals and fit but also about your academic and professional accomplishments.
It is best not to repeat what is on your undergraduate transcript or CV/resume, so be very specific about what you have achieved and how it has influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree in this field.
- Tell a Story
A personal statement is less formal and more personal, so it’s essential that you tell a compelling story. In other words, there’s more room for creativity with a personal statement than with a statement of purpose.
Your personal statement is one part where you can really use your creativity. For instance, it doesn’t have to follow the traditional chronological conventions.
In your creative statement, use imagery, metaphors, dialogue, and colloquialisms, and write a little less professional than you would in your formal statement. So go ahead and tell that joke, or share that quirky story!
Make sure you don’t go too far with informalities, and that you still stand out as a serious applicant who is a good fit for the program.
- Concentrate on your Personal Motivations:
Because the personal statement can be more personalized than the statement of purpose, it is best to use this space to talk more about your personal reasons for applying to this graduate program in particular.
Make sure to consider your motivation for applying to grad school and for studying in this particular field. Don’t simply focus on grad school in general, but also on the specific program you’re applying to.
- Discuss explicitly on any challenges/weakness you have overcome
The graduate school personal statement is an excellent opportunity for you to discuss any weaknesses you may have in your application or obstacles you’ve overcome in the last few years. These challenges could include struggles with your job, school, health, money, etc.
You could say that your undergraduate GPA wasn’t that high in your freshman year because you were struggling with living away from home and not knowing anyone at college. In your personal statement, you could say you joined the basketball team in college and made friends that way.
The challenge you write about should be presented in a positive manner. This will show the grad admissions committee that you can overcome challenges on your own and can work hard to be successful.
Conclusion: Personal Statement Vs Statement of Purpose
A Personal Statement is different from a Statement of Purpose. Despite the fact that both essays are geared towards making the admissions committee want to admit you, they both contain different information.
We consider this article to have covered the subject adequately. By now we are sure you should be able to write a standout statement of purpose or personal statement without mixing things up.