Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Googling the Statement of Purpose

I have recently been informed by a fellow MFA candidate that when you google "statement of purpose, mfa" or "sample statement of purpose, creative writing" you get ME.

I was shocked.

This might mean that the traffic to my Statement of Purpose posts is higher or that they've been linked back a lot. Or, in all likelihood, it means that there are very few samples of statement of purpose on the web for creative writing programs. Not sure why that is. A year after I applied and was admitted I posted my sample online. It's still up there if you want to see it. It's so personal that I doubt anyone would want to steal it outright and the pattern/tips I followed are still available online courtesy of Vince Gotera.

I'll leave it to Vince to get into the particulars, no need to repeat them here, but essentially a statement of purpose in creative writing is formatted like an essay (not a letter) and it states why you want to intensively study writing. And if you know what specifically you hope to do during your tenure as a student -- more often this applies to students who are seeking Ph.D.s in writing or who are returning to grad school after a long time in the work force -- you'll want to state your specific goals you hope to achieve as a student. I cannot repeat enough how unimportant your SoP is compared to your writing sample. Worry about your writing sample first, your SoP second.

My colleague and classmate who told me that my blog appeared at the top of the search engine list is gunning for a spot in a Ph.D. program -- which I'm sure she'll get. I doubt she found my example as helpful as someone who is applying to a masters program would but I wish her well on her SoP writing. And I direct all Ph.D. applicants to take a look at M. Ramirez Talusan's posted statement of purpose which is much more academic than mine.

Why do so few people post their statements of purpose? I have no idea. It's not like it is a text that you will ever use again. No one publishes their SoP for money or fame. If you're afraid that someone will rip off your SoP then clearly it's not personalized enough to your circumstances and interests; nor is is firmly rooted in your writing style. One can't "buy" or "rip off" another's SoP. Consider this: you are putting a SoP in front of career professors; they know when a student's writing style or ability suddenly shifts. And students with red flags don't get admitted. So post your damn SoP and help some clueless but diligent people out.

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