Writing a Statement of Purpose (SOP) for IIM / IIT / NMIMSAnisha Mukhija
What do we look for in an SOP?
The SOP (Statement of Purpose) is your opportunity to explain why you wish to pursue the MBA course and how it will help you to attain your career goals. A description of your background and why you wish to pursue an MBA is important too.
The SOP can help to not just explain your reasons for the choices you make and your future plans, but also act as an important differentiator, showing the admissions committee that you are ready for the next step in your career. This is important since if you are not able to justify your choice for an MBA, your chances of making through will reduce.
Panelists expect the SOP to be a statement of goals and future plans, without asking you to stick to only particular aspects (as, for instance, an essay might do). This is your opportunity to describe why you are taking the decision to apply to the program, and how the program can help you to achieve your goals. Showcasing worthy goals is the first step in this endeavour. Just a promotion or a move to a different company is never going to be a worthy goal, and will invite only more questions & eventually create a bad impression among the panelists.
Dig deep and identify the real reason why you are ready to spend more than 20 lakh Rupees to pursue this program. Here you should also have a strong reason for why NMIMS, they specifically ask about
What do you want to achieve?
Why is it better than where you are now?
How can the MBA help?
While the SOP should be an expression of what you want to achieve, it also needs to talk about your key achievements and differentiate you from other applicants (professionally – never bring in personal aspects into the SOP).
What skills do you have that make you a fit with your future goals? What are your key achievements and how do they make you a good candidate?
These are some of the questions you must think through.
Finally, a critical point – ensure that your SOP is well written. Content matters, but so does style. A poorly written SOP which is mundane, difficult to read, or riddled with grammatical or spelling errors (even minor ones) will take away substantially from your candidature.
Highlights of the SOP:
- Your key achievements that make you unique
- Your strengths that are reflected in scenarios
- Your professional goal and how XYZ College enables to reach there?
- Write simply, not in a flowery and complicated manner.
- Write in a straightforward way.
In other words don’t be subtle or cute. Write in a clear and logical manner. If you have to be creative, that is fine, but do so in a straightforward way. These people are really interested in your vocation. They don’t want to read something that is in the form of one act plays nor do they want to read three adjectives per noun. They want you to be direct and straightforward.
- Be clear in what you are saying.
Make sure you are logical. Explain yourself with great clarity. Finally, most important of all, be specific, not vague. Don’t say – ‘My grades were quite good’ but say ‘I belonged to the top 5% of my class’. Don’t say – ‘I am interested in sports’. Say ‘I was captain of my hockey team’. Don’t say ‘I like poetry’. Say ‘I did a study of Shakespeare’s sonnets and wrote a twelve-page bachelor’s degree dissertation on Imagery’. Don’t say – ‘I want to be a Supreme Court Judge, that is why I want to go to law school’. Say things like ‘I was an apprentice in a court’ or ‘I often went with my father to the courts to listen to cases’ or ‘I wrote a legal column for a school newspaper’. That is being specific.
5 Quick Tips:
- Grab the spotlight: Let your personality shine and show what is unique about you through your statement of purpose.
- Share your experiences: As a non-traditional student, you can enrich your academic studies and those of others by sharing your life experiences and wisdom. Talk about your journey – the hurdles, triumphs and lessons learned.
- Express your passion: Describe why the program inspires you. Explain what you’re interested in learning and how you think the program will help you achieve your ambitions.
- Show instead of telling: Use sensory details, concrete nouns, active verbs and small moments that symbolize larger personal truths. Suddenly, your description of objects, actions and feelings spring to life.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the program: Identify particular paths of study that appeal to you. Characterize your fascination with a professor’s research or your interest in a particular theory or school of thought