3.5 min read
Prospective students who are applying for admission to college/university/graduate school often require giving a written statement of intention to justify their application for admission. This is known as ‘Personal Statement or PS’, ‘Statement of Purpose or SOP’, ‘Motivation Letter’, ‘Admission Essay’ etc. Alongside academic credential this is an important document for students to express and showcase themselves to get accepted.
What is in a name?
With so many different terms for the same requirements, it is easy to get confused about the requirements. It is understood that this is named differently in different countries. Nonetheless, the terms require more specifications and clarity for admission candidates. Now let’s analyse the terms and find out if those convey meaningful message to the intended users.
Personal Statement (PS)
The term does not give clarity as to what the personal statement is for, it gives partial message about the requirement, a better way this could have been termed is ‘Personal statement for admission applications’. The reason behind the argument is some job applications also require personal statements. Besides, people may require giving personal statements for other reasons too i.e. giving a testimony, written views etc.
Statement of Purpose (SOP)
The same argument related to personal statement goes for this too, it could have been termed better as ‘Statement of Study Purpose’. The extra word ‘study’ gives clearer message to the user that the purpose of statement is study, not anything else. Though ‘Personal Statement of Study Purpose’ could have been the best way to term this.
Again, like the above terms this term does not provide clear message about the required letter. Motivation for what - employment, promotion, success, money, study? The ‘motive’ intended here is ‘study’ and hence ‘Motivation to Study letter’ gives a far better message for the requirement.
Of all the terms currently in use, this one gives the clearest message to the applicants, it literally indicates that it is an ‘essay’ and the essay is for ‘admission’. However, admission- seekers do not take an ‘essay’ requirement easily as it is perceived to be a requirement for academic writing including dissertation, thesis etc. and often struggle to understand the structure and style of it required for potential admission.
So, how to name a ‘Personal Statement’?
Well, all the above terms are long-established in the education field and a new term may not be welcomed by the industry, but if this gives better clarity to the applicants, there is no harm in considering starting using it.
From thorough researches, analysis, assessment, review and in particular experience in working in the industry, it seems sensible to name it as ‘Study Objectives and Future Targets’ statement or SOFT statement.
For the first part of the phrase ‘Study Objectives’, candidates should give personal statement for what, how, where and why elements of study goals. For the second part ‘Future Targets’, they should state their plans after completion of the course i.e. taking further study, contending for jobs, returning to existing employer at higher position etc.
There are numerous guidelines, tips and articles published by universities and educational organisations. The SOFT statement requires the same structures and styles, Dos and Don’ts currently available unless there are specific requirements by any university or application system.
Presenting the SOFT statement with cover page would add additional value and weight to it. The cover page can be designed with the following elements –
|Title||Study Objectives and Future Targets statement|
|Written by||Full name of the applicant|
|Course name||Full name of the course|
|Faculty name||Name of School/Department|
|Institution name||Name of University/College|
There are other ways to name personal statement but addition of more words to it will make it lengthier and it would not sound sweeter, hence the suggestion here is for the ‘Study Objectives and Future Targets (SOFT)’ statement. Unless a better meaningful one is registered, this suggestion might be considered to brand admission personal statement uniquely.
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