How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Visa Application (5 Min Trick)
Planning on studying abroad? Read on to know more about what is a statement of purpose and how to write a statement of purpose for a visa application A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is the most important document that could be the deciding factor on whether or not your visa application gets accepted.
If you’ve been making plans to study abroad, you would have done your part of the research to understand what are the requirements for visa application. Though it may differ from country to country, below is a generic list of requirements while applying for a student visa:
- A valid passport
- Proof of funds
- Passport-size photos
- Acceptance to a designated educational institution
- Application fee payment receipt
- Statement of Purpose for visa application
- English language proficiency examination score
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What is a Statement of Purpose?
A Statement of purpose or an SOP is a detailed description given by an applicant which essays their professional and educational backgrounds, their personality traits and personal story. It also needs to give an explanation outlining the reasons for choosing a particular institution in the specific country, the academic course and the career choice thereafter. An SOP is required to be submitted to:
- The admissions committee at the particular university or college of choice
- Visa centre
This is to convince them to accept your visa application to have your student visa issued. A Statement of purpose for a visa differs from that which needs to be submitted to colleges and universities.
Your Statement of Purpose for visa application should essentially cover these following 3 W’s:
- Who are you?
- What are your academic qualifications and credentials?
- Why are you the right candidate?
An SOP is typically an essay that is 1000-1500 words long and should be written in such a way that it reflects your traits and characteristics. It should be unique and specific to you. So if the content of your SOP is copied from someone else’s SOP, you would risk it being rejected. Several professional writing services provide SOP writing services. Companies like Write Right provide exemplary SOP services with their team of highly-qualified writers.
The importance of a Statement of Purpose
An SOP is not to be mistaken with a Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) or a Biodata. It is a rather detailed story that clearly explains and engulfs your profile including the following points:
- Your life visions
- Your desire to study abroad
- Your career goals
- Your beliefs
- Subject knowledge
- Plans after pursuing a course abroad.
To put it in a gist, a well-written SOP should portray your overall personality and your general outlook. Remember, an SOP is very important as it would be scrutinized by the visa officer and the institution to which you are applying. So take it as an opportunity, like a marketing strategy, where you need to pitch your purpose to the concerned authorities while advertising your story as well as how well you can express yourself with your impressive writing skills.
Needless to say, there would be tons of applications that you would be competing with. In a subtle, yet impactful way, your statement of purpose for visa application should paint a picture of all the reasons why you should be selected over other applicants. You may think that your academic background falls short of the requisite expectations. But even in such a case, there is no need to lose hope. A well-written SOP could compensate for a slight lack in your academics by highlighting your future goals and explaining how ambitious you are.
Statement of Purpose for visa application
Statement of Purpose for visa application is the most crucial part of your student visa application. The Visa officers would only consider your application if your SOP is honest and reflects your true persona and identity explained professionally. If you are planning on studying abroad, it is important to note that most of the countries would require you to write an SOP to be attached to your visa file, like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, and the UK.
Format of SOP
While there may not be a fixed format for a statement of purpose for visa application, it would bode well for you if it is formatted and sequentially written professionally. Below are a few simple pointers that you might need to remember while drafting your SOP:
- An SOP is written in paragraph form. It should ideally be 5-7 paragraphs long with 150 to 250 words per para.
- The use of bullet points is accepted but its usage should be kept to a bare minimum and maybe even avoided altogether as far as possible.
- Follow the general rules associated with essay writing.
- A standard SOP is ideally two pages long unless otherwise specified.
- The maximum font size to be used is a 12 point font and should be double spaced in normal margins. So, a standard SOP would be around 800-1000 words depending upon the font type used. The acceptable length could exceed 1000 words, but you need to ensure that it does not go beyond 1200 words.
- Colourful text, font, and images should not be used. The text should be the default color of plain black and nothing else other than black.
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Structure of Statement of Purpose for Visa
Let us go through the paragraphs as stated below to understand the structure of the statement of purpose. Please note that the below-mentioned structure is not the only way to write your SOP. It is only indicative of how a well-written SOP should be structured.
Start with the top right corner by mentioning your name and your address along with your e-mail address. Below this, on the left-hand side, address the statement of purpose to the visa officer of the particular country for which you are applying.
This is the part where you mention the subject of the matter in your SOP, not unlike the format in which you write a letter or an e-mail. It is a header that needs to mention the subject matter of your statement of purpose for visa application. For example-
- An SOP for Masters
- An SOP for Grad school
- An SOP for MBA
This should be the starting paragraph, but it is not to be confused with a self-introduction. Instead of using it to describe yourself, this paragraph should be used to give a brief description of what you intend to discuss in your statement of purpose for your visa application. You may adopt various approaches to go about this paragraph:
- Talk about your long-term goal and inter-link it with your aspiration of pursuing the course you are applying for.
- Explain your understanding of your chosen field and also elaborate on how you could contribute to the said field.
- In about 2-3 lines give a brief about your background and connect it with your future goals
- To give it more of personal touch you can even mention an anecdote that helped you realize your interest in the chosen professional field which will help. It humanizes your statement of purpose for visa application and the officer might be able to connect with the narration.
- More often than not, students make the mistake of introducing themselves or talking about their childhood in the first paragraph. But it is very important to understand and realize the purpose behind writing the SOP. It is not about narrating a detailed story about yourself. It is all about expressively and professionally sharing your past experiences, your current aspirations, and your plans, joining all these dots in a sequential flow while also trying to convince that you have a contribution to make to their country just as their country will contribute to your growth.
4. Academic Background and details
This is the second paragraph that should summarize your academic background, qualifications, and accolades (if any). It also elaborates on what you have done so far, what you are currently pursuing,
academic strengths, projects done, or any industrial training exposure. If your grades are not that impressive, fret not. Please make sure that you do not particularly highlight any negative aspects in your SOP, without being dishonest in your approach. Do take note that you have to put across your point subtly and give them the necessary details emphasizing the noteworthy aspects of your academics.
5. Professional Experience
The third paragraph comprises your professional experiences. That is if you have any professional experience it should be discussed in the upcoming paragraphs. This helps in establishing your career progression. An impressive career graph is also a great plus point and would add to your positives.
6. Reasons why you choose this particular Course
In the fourth paragraph, you need to list out the reasons for opting for the particular academic course in question. In this paragraph, you should elaborate on the reasons for wanting to join the desired specific course and the different modules that you would be covering during this course. You should also discuss the skills you would be acquiring as a result of the course along with the exposure you would gain in this duration that would help in developing and honing the skills that are required to achieve your professional goals.
7. Career Goals and aspirations
This is the most important paragraph and should be the highlight of your SOP. Here you should elaborate on your near-future short-term goals as well as your long-term plans.
Short-term goal: This mentions your immediate goal of where and what kind of a company you would want to work with right after you graduate from the course post-completion. Do remember to name some good MNCs with a global presence to not limit yourself geographically. Also, make a mention of the designation at which you see yourself working. Simply put, this paragraph should give a brief about the kind of job profile that you aspire to have in your near future.
Long-term plans: This is where you discuss your dream goals and aspirations like where do you see yourself in 10-15 years from the present. Although your plans may change later, you have to give an honest view about what you currently aspire to be or do. Say, for example, you may see yourself working at the top management level of a big multinational corporation or maybe you want to be an entrepreneur and are working towards starting and expanding your own business. You may be planning on contributing to expanding your family business to a global level or you may want to study further, maybe get a doctorate, or even want to become a professor or a researcher.
Whatever your plans may be, it is advisable to briefly discuss your professional goals, principles and core values. But please note that it should not just be about you. You need to ensure that you also mention how you would be able to create a difference while treading on your journey. It is important to be able to portray how you would also influence young aspirants within the industry considering the current industrial and economic scenarios and also guide them to achieve their goals and become better global citizens of tomorrow.
8. Reasons why you opted for this University
In paragraph number six, you should try and convince the specific University about your suitability of candidature. You should discuss the benefits of the knowledgeable faculty, the course curriculum, research and fieldwork, internship opportunities as well as other activities that are specific to the university. Also, make sure that you mention how all of these things would contribute to enhancing your profile as well as how you would be the right fit for their college and how you could make a contribution to them.
9. Closing Paragraph of SOP
In this paragraph of your statement of purpose for visa application, you should conclude by stating your passion, willingness, and readiness to pursue your desired course at the college of your choice. You need to ensure that you sound focused on your vision for the future and emphasize your seriousness to follow your dreams. Also, do make sure that you mention your preparedness to face and overcome the challenges that come your way. This para should reflect your zeal and zest to work hard and succeed with the help of your course and your college and also how willing you are to make a difference to your specific industry and the world at large on a global platform.
Is there a difference between a Statement of Purpose same as a Personal Statement?
A personal statement seems to be quite similar to a statement of purpose, except for a few aspects. An SOP would ideally include a two-page essay about your goals, motivation, experience, extracurricular activities, achievements, and so on. A personal statement on the other hand is a crisp, one-page essay about your experiences, motivation, achievements, and so on. A personal statement is usually more personal than an SOP. So a personal statement should be more elaborate about your goals and aspirations. Whereas an SOP is a much more detailed form of a personal statement.
How to write a great SOP?
Here are the three major steps that need to be kept in mind while writing your SOP:
- Plan your SOP well- The first and foremost thing to be done is to plan your SOP by outlining a structure and accordingly work towards constructing the SOP. A good way to build your introductory paragraph is by quoting an anecdote that piqued your interest in your chosen field. List down relevant pointers and create a step-by-step framework for each paragraph, then elaborate on each of the points mentioned systematically and creatively. Also, most importantly, emphasize your reason for choosing the course and the university.
- Prepare a draft- Before moving on further, ensure that you create a draft and then re-draft your SOP to eliminate errors. Please note that when you also share your learnings from your professional experiences, it shows that you are a keen learner, which is a positive point. Ensure to use active voice when writing your SOP. Try and limit the use of technical terms and jargon. The introduction and conclusion of your SOP need to be clear and concise that communicates your vision. One point to remember, your SOP should always be written in reverse chronological order.
- Review before you send your final SOP submission- It’s always important to review your work before final submission. Reviewing and re-analyzing your work will help to rectify any flaws in the order, flow, grammar, vocabulary, long sentences, punctuation, sentence construction errors, and other errors and issues. Please ensure that your SOP is proofread, verified, and double-checked properly before submission. If possible, try and get a second opinion, maybe from your professor, a senior, or a counsellor.
Here are a couple of tips to write an impactful SOP
- Please DO NOT COPY the content available on the internet and paste it into your SOP.
- Please ensure that your SOP is not too long and limit the number of words to 1000-1500 maximum.
- Keep it brief and concise and avoid going on and on to make your point.
- Avoid simple grammatical errors in the final SOP. Moreover, try to keep the sentences short and simple.
- Please do not cook up stories in your SOP. Ensure that everything you mention is authentic and believable. Your honesty will go a long way.
- Keep the tone of your SOP conversational tone to make it interesting.
- Try to get some expert guidance that will help you to write an effective and impactful SOP.
- You are narrating your story through your SOP so write sentences in the first person and not in the second/third person.
- Make sure you highlight your achievements (academic and extra-curricular).
What to include in SOP?
- Introduction with an anecdote
- Professional aspirations
- Academic goals
- Personal motivations
- Reason to choose the particular course or College
- Extra-curricular activities
What not to include in your SOP?
- Family background
- Informal language or slang
- Irrelevant and unnecessary information
- Repetition of words or phrases
- Long, meaningless sentences
Common mistakes that students should avoid while writing SOP
Here are some of the common mistakes that students generally make while writing the SOP:
- Sometimes students make the grave mistake of taking the SOP too lightly. Please make sure that you give it proper thought and spend enough time writing an impactful SOP. In the eleventh-hour students often make the mistake of copying and simply pasting it as their work. Do not take that risk and ensure you do proper homework for your SOP.
- Creating a weak introduction and conclusion could result in the rejection of your SOP. Try to summarize your academic achievements and experiences in a concise form that reflects your overall personality.
- The use of informal language or slang in your SOP. Ensure that you write your SOP in a formal, professional language.
- Exceeding the word limit by getting carried away with your story and writing irrelevant information will result in creating a negative impression. Keep it professional.
- Submission without proofreading your SOP. Reverification and double-checking are very important.
Writing an effective and impactful Statement of Purpose for visa application requires a lot of time, effort, and thought. However, it also depends upon the way you do your research and homework. It is also quite subjective and the time taken to write the SOP may vary from person to person. But the important thing is that you do not make the mistake of taking it too lightly. This is not like your regular college assignment. A well-written SOP can make or break your dream of studying abroad. And remember, nobody is perfect. Sometimes, it’s a swing and a miss. Yet, you have no reason to give up hope. If your application gets rejected for some reason, you can always try again and this time, do it even better.
Give it your all, work hard, and eventually, the results will speak for themselves. SOP demonstrates an important aspect of your personality- which is your communication. It all depends on how you portray everything. So do not get too bogged down by all the information available online. Be patient, do some research, and spend your valuable time on the right resources.
All the best!
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