Writing SOP: 12 Most Common Mistakes That Lead To Rejection – Avoid These In Your Statement Of Purpose

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Secrets and details to writing a successful motivational letter (Some universities and colleges also call it admission essay or statement of purpose also known as SOP. Common mistakes that lead to rejection or permanent backlisting your application that you need to avoid.

We all want our SOP to be the best of all and that is why we put all our efforts in making it one. However, it is not necessary that all our efforts pay off. Hard work is essential, but smart work has its own benefits.

It is better to consider not committing the following mistakes while drafting an SOP:

1. Talking too much about your childhood fantasies

A common mistake many students often make is that they talk about themselves, their education, work experiences or their childhood in the first paragraph forgetting that they are all included in their CV. In some cases, students tend to forget about the purpose behind writing an SOP.

Childhood fantasies when discussed in a graduate application or an MBA SOP make a document less considerable. These can nevertheless be discussed in an undergraduate application. Childhood dreams help you decide what you pursue in your secondary education (11th and 12th grade) to achieve your undergraduate aims by enrolling to a bachelor’s programme.

While making an application to higher education (master’s degree), you need to sound more focused and clear rather than a dreamer. Your goals need to be precise instead of discussing how you ended up developing an interest in a certain field, which works for the undergraduate applicants on the other hand.

2. Not giving it enough time

It is essential to mention all the vital information in a flow that makes sense. Covering the aspects on how one thing leads to another and how it struck you to apply for further studies explaining how it fits into your future plans of achieving your goals, your SOP needs to be drafted with patience not keeping time as a constraint.

3. Beating around the bush and not paying attention to career goals

SOP is a reflection of your previous achievements and future plans. If we focus more on our achievements and less on discussing the career goals, then the admission committee would regard us as someone who is more proud and less focused.

Each and every aspect discussed in our SOP has a defined space of its own. Things need to be explained, but in a way that nothing overshadows anything. Our achievements should portray our strengths and determination while goals are required to showcase our focus and clarity of vision. Both need to be explained in a manner that our candidature seems to be an absolute fit for the chosen course and university.

4. Not taking a second opinion

Always take external help. It may be someone you know or someone who understands your purpose too much to help you in stating it properly in a draft. Write on your own but always take a second opinion, because what’s ordinary for you may be extraordinary to someone else and the same goes the other way round. This can be either be avoided or corrected with a secondary perspective.

However, at the same time, you need to remember that “When You Write the Story of Your Life, Don’t Let Anyone Else Hold the Pen”. If you let anyone else write your essay, it would turn out to be a completely different story, because it is always you who understands your aim in life. Taking help from an industry expert would make a huge difference in your profile presentation. They can help you present your academic strengths and professional desires strongly.

5. Taking too much external help

It is well said, “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Dish”. Referring to a lot of people would lead you nowhere. It would lead to confusions and you would end up with a messier document that could not be able to finalise. Hence, it is always better to take help from a subject matter expert, who knows what to include in your SOP and what not to include in your SOP.

6. Not conducting your research

Write random stuff about the chosen course, university or college, and country in your SOP would not give a good impression. If you talk about your fantasies of studying abroad without any goal or a popular destination you have always aspired to join without giving any relevant reasons for choosing that destination or giving out reasons like college infrastructure or country’s weather conditions or even some familiar people living in the chosen country then the admission committee may consider you to be naïve.

Conducting proper university research on the course curriculum, college faculties, campus facilities, and industrial exposure you might get by studying in the country when related to your goals would bring out your candidature as a more focused one.

7. Writing more or less than the needed (not understanding the value of space and word limit)

Word limit is a very important factor which most of us do not consider while writing. It is essential to understand that time is precious. The people sitting out there to evaluate your profile have a limited time to get this job done. There are thousands of students enrolling to the same course in the same college in a particular country right before the deadline. Evaluating such a huge number of applicants on the basis of their profiles needs both time and patience.

Hence, you should always consider sticking to the word limit communicated by the university. If not, the ideal word limit for any given generic SOP is anywhere between 800–1000 words. Therefore, if you have a lot to discuss, it is better to choose your words wisely and wrap up everything in the least possible words. On the other hand, if you do not have much to describe your profile, then it is advisable that you focus on explaining your goals and talking about the industrial trends with facts and figures.

8. Being too direct or too casual in the beginning and conclusion

Starting your essay/SOP with your career goals is always a good idea, but you should not be too direct while stating your purpose of the application. It is always recommended to start with your long-term goal, as it helps the admission committee in evaluating that you are a focused candidate.

But you should not forget the old saying, “The First Impression is the Last Impression”. The first paragraph, also known as the initial attack, needs to be really interesting. It is essential that you do not come out too strongly on your reader with your life’s objective to make them feel being forced to consider your profile. Use simple and easy language to help them understand what you want to say.

With a captivating opening, you are certain to attract their attention leaving for them no other option than to read it further. Similarly, you should end your SOP stating how your chosen course and institution would help you in achieving your career aspirations. This will ensure that you begin and end your SOP on the same notes with a focussed approach.

9. Using jargons or technical terms more often

Please ensure to use simple language keeping in mind that the people working in the admission committee are not technically sound as per your industry. Using too many jargons would confuse them making them feel disconnected and they may end up losing interest. It is okay to use technical terms a few times just to explain your motives clearly and letting them know that you know what you are planning to do with your life. They should be able to relate to your decision of applying to a particular course and your plan for the future.

10. Referencing a doctor, professor or department in the school of your dream to work with/at

In your third paragraph when writing a statement of purpose where you connect academic and technical goals to your future goals in the program, student tend to make reference to a specific professor, doctor or a department where he or she would like to start have a research study done.

It is a little risky that you may be rejected especially when the professor, doctor you’ve mentioned that you would like to work with him is no more with the institution.

The happy part is, if the specific name you mentioned to work with is still in the institution, you would be likely to be admitted because they would love to see that dream come true.

Common Mistakes that lead to Rejection or Permanent Blacklisting!

Writing SOP

11. Never lie or provide false information in documents

The admission committee expects you to provide information which is 100% true, which is why you are required to submit proofs for everything you have done ranging from your academics to extracurricular activities. If we are unable to provide them with the desired proofs of our endeavors such as academic transcripts and participation certificates for all the activities done, the authorities find us at fault and reject our application. In some cases, they may permanently blacklist our profiles.

12. Never copy your SOP or essay from your friends or the internet

Plagiarism is considered a serious offence in universities abroad. Never copy anything from the Sample SOPs or Sample Essays spread across the Internet or any ex-applicants documents. Copied/plagiarised documents may lead to a straight-away rejection from the abroad universities, which may also result in permanent blacklisting of the aspirant’s candidature. Always write your essay/SOP on your own.

To save yourself from this situation, you might want to refer to tips and tricks for writing a winning statement of purpose.

All the points discussed above need to be considered seriously as they would help you make your application remarkable and outstanding. You may always seek help from the industry experts as they are updated with the latest industrial trends and hence would be able to guide you with what is best for you. With proper research, you can always apply on your own, though when taken professional assistance, you would understand the difference between self-apply and taking help from the outside agencies. In both cases, we wish you all the best for your application!