What is a “Statement of Purpose”?
A statement of purpose, in general, is an essay answering the question “why?”. If you are an international student who is planning to study in Canada, a statement of purpose is a powerful tool to communicate your plans and intentions to a receiving party.
Two Types of Statement of Purpose according to use
- Statement of purpose for admissions in an educational institution or program
Colleges and Universities may require you to write a statement of purpose before granting admissions. These educational institutions are often the ones in the big league wherein the “cream of the crop” students apply – therefore, the admissions panel will rely on your statement of purpose to determine if you are a preferred alumna in the making. Through an effective SOP, students can present their edge and convince panelists they are the right fit. Advance programs like graduate programs, doctorate, and research programs will most likely require a statement of purpose.
Here are important information that can improve your academic statement of purpose:
- A short personal background (relative information for your application)
- your academic background
- professional background including part-time, volunteer experience, published work and current research (if any)
- extra-curricular activities (if relevant)
- reasons why you want to study in that specific academic institution or program
- reasons why you think you qualify for the program and school
- cite some examples on how your skills, knowledge and talent can contribute to the institution
- your short term and long term goals
It is important that you proofread your academic statement of purpose before submitting it to your panelists. If you can have it reviewed by a professional in line with your chosen career, it can also help you increase your chances of getting accepted into your chosen program.
- Statement of purpose for your study permit application
One of the key requirements for your study permit application is your statement of purpose that explains the need for you to study in Canada and why you should be admitted in this country. Unlike your academic statement of purpose which you have written to academic panelists, your letter of intent or SOP for a study permit application is addressed to an immigration officer who will determine if you are bonafide to be admitted in Canada. Most study permit applications are approved or rejected based on SOP’s.
Here are some questions that can help you write an effective Statement of Purpose or Letter of Intent:
a. Why do you want to study in Canada? State positive things on why you are choosing Canada. Express genuine intentions, you can use examples based on facts, statistics, your opinion about Canada as a whole country, and/or why are you choosing Canada over USA, UK, Australia and other countries.
b. Why do you want to study in your chosen school and program? Write about your educational background and why you have taken specialization in your field of interest.
c. Are you qualified for that school and program? Explain how this course and program is relevant to you. Your study permit application is accompanied by an acceptance letter – you must state in your letter of intent a brief background of the program you will be pursuing and that you have already been accepted by the academic institution – thus your student visa is the final requirement that will complete your application.
d. Is this program not available in your country? Is there a difference in the outcome if you are taking this in Canada? In this part, you must explain why there is a need for you to take the program overseas. While you can mention comparisons between your home country and Canada, on the contrary, you must not mention negative things about your home country but rather focus on the positive things you can get from studying abroad. You can mention how you are looking forward to new experiences, living in a new city and exploring other cultures, etc.
e. Do you have sufficient funds to support your studies? or How are you going to fund your studies? You must present your financial standings in black and white and how your current financial status is enough to cover your needs. Whether you are financing yourself or someone is helping you financially or in-kind (free rent while studying, food, and other sundries), you must explain it in detail. Contrary to common belief, a large sum of money is not always a basis if your study permit will be approved or denied, it all comes down to having sufficient funds that will not only burden your well-being in times of financial struggles but also to Canada as well.
f. Do you have related work experience? How will this program advance your career? Share your professional background. Talk about your current profession and how completing this program will move you forward in your career. You can talk about skills that you currently lack that hinders you for a promotion, a shortage of certain professionals in your country etc.
g. What are your plans after graduation? Write your short and long term plans. Bear in mind that it is not advisable to express your intentions of migrating in Canada. Even if Canada has a need for immigrants, and even if you are qualified, it best to not mention your intent of staying after graduation since the main objective for your application is to study.
h. What are your ties to your home country? To strengthen your application, you must mention ties to your home country that ensures you will go back home after graduation. Home ties could be families back home, a job offer waiting for you once you return, and assets like real estate and businesses.
i. If you have a study gap of over 5 years, it is worth mentioning why do you want to go back to the academe. Technically there is no age limit in continuing studies in Canada, however study gaps can play a big factor in your application. The way you present a study gap can actually work for you rather than against you. For instance, going back to the academe can help you update your knowledge and skills and bridge any gaps.