Examples Of Statement Of Purpose:

These examples are not models to be copied. Everyone’s Statement of Purpose is unique. Instead, these examples are here to show you how effective editing can improve and transform a flat essay into one that can grab a reader’s attention.

See a detailed example of thorough editing >>

from a student applying to medical school

Original opening paragraph:

The moment I walked into the Pediatric Research Group meeting at Smith Children’s Hospital and listened to the members describe their community projects, my focus returned to a future in medicine. Before the meeting that day I had met with a Smith Hospital Emergency Department pediatrician to discuss the logistics of offering free legal services in the ED. As the Project Coordinator of the Family Support Program, a medical-legal partnership that brings free legal services to hospitals and clinics to create a comprehensive approach to improving health, I regularly meet with various hospital staff to plan and implement the program. After this particular meeting, the ED pediatrician invited me to attend the Pediatric Research Committee meeting with her.

Getting from here to there:

To transform this paragraph into one with a more arresting opening, elements from another part of the paper were inserted to create a new introduction, extraneous information was deleted, and some wording was changed to achieve greater immediacy. Some deleted elements were saved for use later in the essay. The new paragraph is 25% shorter than the old one…spaced saved for use later in the essay to add concrete examples. 

Final version:

My experiences digging latrines in rural Paraguay, building mud stoves in Honduras, and working with youth in the Dominican Republic helped to lay the groundwork for my interest in medicine; however, a meeting at Smith Children’s Hospital with the Pediatric Research Group to discuss their community projects, reignited that interest. As the Project Coordinator of the Family Advocacy Program, I regularly meet with various hospital staff to plan and implement the program. It was this affiliation that led to my invitation to the Pediatric Research Group’s meeting.

from a student applying to law school

Original paragraph from the middle of the essay:

Through my upbringing I was taught the importance of being a well rounded individual. From an early age I was involved in countless activities; however, my parents stressed the importance of actively participating and developing leadership skills in these activities. During my school years I was very active in sports, soccer and softball in particular. Involvement in these sports taught me a number of skills, such as the importance of practice and motivation. As the pitcher on my softball team, I learned how to lead a team and perform under pressure, which I believe will serve me well in law school and my career. Throughout my time at UXXX I have taken on additional responsibilities and played an active role in the activities and organizations I have taken part in. I spent a year serving as the secretary of YYYY and I was a member of the board responsible for programming for the YYYY student community on campus. I have also demonstrated my leadership abilities and trustworthiness through participation in my sorority. I served as my pledge class representative for our chapter bylaws committee. I also took on additional responsibility by serving as the assistant to the vice president, as well as the new member educator for my sorority for consecutive years. In doing so I took on numerous additional tasks, assisted in planning events and was trusted with confidential information. I believe all of these experiences will assist me in my future.

Getting from here to there:

This paragraph is too long and filled with extraneous, distracting examples that do not allow the candidate’s achievements to work for her. It begins with several clichés. The revised version is 30% shorter and concretely focused on the candidate’s accomplishments during her undergraduate years.

Final version:

I have also been active in sports, soccer and softball in particular. Involvement in these sports taught me a number of skills, such as the importance of practice and motivation. As the pitcher on my softball team, I learned how to lead a team and perform under pressure, which I believe will serve me well in law school and my career. At the University of XXX I spent a year serving as the secretary of YYYY and I was a member of the board responsible for programming for the ZZZZ student community on campus. In my sorority I served as my pledge class representative for our chapter bylaws committee. I also took on additional responsibility by serving as the assistant to the vice president, as well as the new member educator for my sorority for three consecutive years. In doing so I assumed numerous additional tasks, assisted in planning events and was trusted with confidential information. I believe all of these experiences will assist me in my future.

from a student applying to a program in public policy

Original paragraphs from the essay’s conclusion:

My passion for life can be seen from my diverse interests and extracurricular activities ranging from sailing to reading groups. These have furnished my life with an abundance of interesting and unforgettable experiences with people from all walks of life, developing my empathy for the less fortunate. Through my experience as a part-time staff at the Ronald McDonald House, my current position with a nonprofit organization and my volunteer work, I am certain that international humanitarian and developmental work is my aspiration.

At Smith School of Public Policy where I plan to apply for the concurrent program xxx/yy program in Public Policy and International and Area Studies, I hope to pursue a course of study involving the results, effectiveness, and economics of policy making in the international arena. While researching other graduate programs this program stood apart as I find learning in service of real-life policy clients as something that mirrors my approach to learning of subjects and I specifically look forward to the ’48 Hour Project’.

Getting from here to there:

Three important things have happened: 1) the order of the paragraphs has been reversed to tie the reasons for wanting to attend this program more closely to the student’s earlier assertions about work experience and academic inclinations; 2) the examples are more concrete, reflect the student’s interests and provide the school with a better sense of the candidate; 3) several clichés have been eliminated and the writing is more vivid and direct.

Final version:

At the John Smith School of Public Policy I plan to apply for the concurrent xxx/yy program in Public Policy and International and Area studies. I hope to pursue course work researching the effectiveness of policies and the laws they generate, such as the United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act, that was created to combat global sex slave labor. The Smith School’s program, especially the in-service field based internships component, will mirror my own approach to leaning and provide me with the best opportunity to grow both intellectually and as a leader.

My passion for life can be seen from my diverse interests and extracurricular activities ranging from traveling to reading groups. These have provided me with an abundance of interesting and unforgettable experiences. Through my experience as a part-time staff at the Ronald McDonald House, my current position with a non-profit and my volunteer work, I am certain that international policy and developmental work will be the most meaningful and satisfying career path for me.

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