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In the question about choosing research ideas to include in a statement of purpose, JeffE advised how to write the last paragraph of the SOP:

How does my department fit your research goals? (If the rest of your statement is well-written, the reader already knows the answer to this question, but you also need convince the reader that you know.)

What should I really say here, without having repetition? This is the sum up part, which doesn't need to explain again, and should be short. I would add that this part also needs to raise the emotion of the readers. They have used their rationale enough in the main part. Whether I succeed in satisfying them or not, I have already tried my best, and there is no need to prove that I'm good anymore.

Or, as JeffE says, I need to convince the reader that I know I'm good*. My preference is to make the scarcity here, because the feeling of losing is one of the most strongest emotions. However, when I have the draft proofed, it is highly criticized that it is hubris, or at least unnecessary. I have given my rationale, but no one respond. Here is the draft:

To sum up, I hope that If I get admitted, I will be a valuable asset to the lab, the department, and the university. I will be a new researcher with a compelling plan to maturing the theory; a new student who can enrich the diversity of the X department; and a future scientist working to accomplish the Y school’s vision: create a better world.

So:

  1. How to write this part?
  2. Should I use this part to raise their emotions?
  3. Should I use scarcity to raise their emotion?


*Emboldening is only to emphasize the needed words, not to be hubris.

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    as JeffE says, I need to convince the reader that I know I'm good — Please don't put words in my mouth. You need to convince the reader that that your decision to apply to the department is well-informed. Don't simplify that down to some abstract notion of "goodness"; ain't no such thing. – JeffE Nov 1 '15 at 23:18
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How does my department fit your research goals? (If the rest of your statement is well-written, the reader already knows the answer to this question, but you also need convince the reader that you know.)

This is the sum up part, which doesn't need to explain again, and should be short. I would add that this part also needs to raise the emotion of the readers.

No, this is not the sum up part. No, this part does not need to raise emotions. This part needs to explain why my department in particular fits your research goals. For example:

  • Your research interests are a good match with a particular research group or individual faculty member(s) in the department. If that's the case, name the faculty/group and explain why you and they are a good fit. Do not simply claim that you're a good fit; provide specific, credible, technical evidence.

  • The department has (access to) specific equipment or other resources that are necessary for your research interests, and that you can use well. For example, maybe you need a robotics lab, or easy access to a supercomputer, or well-established connections with industry or specific funding agencies.

To sum up, I hope that If I get admitted, I will be a valuable asset to the lab, the department, and the university. I will be a new researcher with a compelling plan to maturing the theory; a new student who can enrich the diversity of the X department; and a future scientist working to accomplish the Y school’s vision: create a better world.

This paragraph is fluff. It says nothing about you, nothing about the department, and certainly nothing about how the department fits your research goals. Delete it.

  • hmm, aren't the two bullets the exactly part for thing I might work in the future? If I'm willing to spend time to apply to the department, I should make sure that the thing I might work in the future should match the department. I just feel that after doing precisely part 3/first bullet, I have nothing left to say, and therefore need a conclusion. I thought that your meaning of this is for a conclusion. – Ooker Nov 2 '15 at 13:31
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    Most of the statement should address your potential for research in your chosen field. But some part of your statement should specifically address your potential for success at the department you are applying to. Although they are clearly related, these are distinct issues. Ideally, you should give the impression that you are applying to department X because it best serves your well-developed interest in area Y, and not that you are interested in area Y because that what people do in department X. – JeffE Nov 2 '15 at 14:49
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    In particular, your answer to the question "What are you interested in working on in the future?" should not be "I would like to join Prof. Sprout's research group in computational gardening." but more like "In the future I plan to continue working on important questions in computational gardening. For example,..." You should describe the research you would like to pursue no matter where you land, because that's how mature researchers talk about their research. – JeffE Nov 2 '15 at 14:56
  • You don't really need a conclusion, but if you want one, keep it short and to the point. "In summary, I believe that the PhD program at X would be an excellent fit for my ongoing research efforts." – JeffE Nov 2 '15 at 15:00
  • I see. I think your comments are actually answer me thoughtfully. I think you should put them in the answer. – Ooker Nov 2 '15 at 15:10
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Your draft paragraph says nothing specific about the department or lab beyond the "create a better world" vision statement, and it says nothing specific about you beyond that you can enrich diversity. (Every applicant hopes to be a valuable asset and feels they have a compelling plan.) If your paragraph were swapped with another applicant's, in many cases nobody would notice the mismatch.

I'm not convinced that's a problem. Your statement needs a conclusion, and this is a conclusion. Writing a better concluding paragraph will make at most a small change in your chances of admission. If the rest of your essay is compelling, then this conclusion won't ruin it. If it's not compelling, then the last paragraph is too late to save it. If you have the time and energy, it could be worth trying to write the perfect conclusion (one that is specific to both you and the department), but you should keep in mind that this is a minor form of fine-tuning.

Should I use this part to raise their emotions?

I don't think this will be effective. Reading statements of purpose just isn't a particularly emotional activity. Usually, committee members are skimming through them looking for the important information and ignoring fluff, and anything that looks like an attempt to manipulate emotions will count as fluff.

Should I use scarcity to raise their emotion?

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by using scarcity. Are you talking about raising fears that you are a scarce commodity and they might lose you to another department? That doesn't need to be addressed, and it can look like hubris. Most applicants just aren't that unique: there may be dozens or even hundreds of roughly similar applications. (Of course everyone is unique and special as a human being, but this uniqueness isn't necessarily apparent in or even relevant to graduate admissions.) The failure mode is usually not "oh no, this amazing candidate is lost to us forever" but rather "oh well, let's accept a similar student who was almost but not quite as promising".

To the extent your application is unique, that will be readily apparent and you don't need to emphasize it. To the extent it is not unique, trying to raise emotions with impressions of scarcity will look arrogant or out of touch.

  • I'm not so sure about your meaning in the last sentence of the next to last paragraph. I can guess the meaning, but the grammar is strange to me. What is "almost but not quite as promising version"? – Ooker Nov 1 '15 at 18:29
  • I edited to clarify. When I said "version" I was thinking of similar applicants as different versions of the same basic pattern, but that was a little cryptic. – Anonymous Mathematician Nov 1 '15 at 18:38

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