I'm applying for MS in Mathematics. My grandfather was Math professor and my uncle is also Math professor. Such family background was one of my reasons to study Mathematics and I was wondering if I can mention my family background briefly at introduction in SOP?


Can you? Sure, it's not wildly inappropriate.

Do I recommend it? No! This is a 1-2 page document where you state what your purpose is (hence the name). It's not a time to talk about your childhood, why you were inspired to study math, or what your favorite type of helicopter is. It's where you talk about what you've done so far and what you want to do next.

You may have to talk about your personal situation -- usually to explain a bad semester, etc. And it's fine to state a few interesting details about yourself (especially if you have significant achievements outside of math, or a non-traditional background, etc.). But listing the professions of your family members is neither necessary nor interesting.

  • "...or what your favorite type of helicopter is." seems unnecessary. The OP is talking about dear family members, not helicopters. Nov 27 '18 at 11:45
  • Agree it is a bit of an exaggeration ("reductio ad absurdum"), but I don't think it's disrespectful.
    – cag51
    Nov 27 '18 at 14:45
  • Could you explain more about "talk about your personal situation"? I do have a bad semseter and I want to know how I can explain such matters in SOP. Thanks
    – tazobird
    Nov 27 '18 at 17:17
  • Anything that's relevant or interesting is fine. You can introduce yourself, state your hobbies/achievements, explain anything that you did that was especially noteworthy, give any mitigating factors for bad semesters/test scores, etc. Anything that you would feel comfortable saying face-to-face to your boss is fine. This is just not the time for "therapy", childhood issues, or boring stories. If you would cringe saying it to your boss's face, don't say it in your essay. (Your motivation to study math isn't cringe-worthy, but it's not something your boss would probably be interested in)
    – cag51
    Nov 27 '18 at 18:10

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