71

Such information would be relevant. The real trick would be to keep such a paragraph short and to the point. As such the question would be a good draft of such a section. I have two comments: I would not start the second sentence with "as you know". If a committee member did not know, you make her or him feel ignorant. It is good to avoid invoking negative ...


58

I'd shorten and tone it down if I were you. Being a researcher involves a lot of sitting in other people's talks, so we all know that lectures are boring. But we still do it, because those are an excellent chance to socialize. We might just pack a paper to read in case it gets too boring. So your statement makes you look a bit like a loner. And being able to ...


51

In brief, even after imagining that text's language cleaned up, the problem is not about "emotion" but about lack of verifiable substance. As in @aesmail's good answer, insubstantiated claims, or, worse, claims which appear to be counter to any documentable reality, are at best unpersuasive. For example, unsupported claims about the quality of one's ...


41

The culture regarding the academic titles is quite country-specific. In some countries (e.g. Germany) academics are more often referred to by title and surname, Prof. Famous, even in a classroom. In some countries (e.g. UK) students will address their lecturers by their first name, but refer to them by their title and surname in official writing. However, ...


39

There is a wonderful quotation by Bertrand Russell that perfectly sums up the nature of emotions in academia: Nothing great is achieved without passion, but underneath the passion there should always be that large impersonal survey which sets limits to actions that our passions inspire. [1] You should definitely show a sense of inquisitiveness, drive, ...


37

If the conference is well-known enough, then it isn't necessary to name the keynote speaker, because the conference will be recognized regardless. If the conference isn't well-known in the field, name-dropping is going to come across crass and not very helpful. So in either case, I don't see any advantage to name-dropping.


33

I have done graduate admissions for my math department. I am a "pure mathematician" but my department is just the math department: there is no formal separation between pure and applied. Others can speak for themselves, but I always find honesty refreshing, and the idea that a prospective PhD student does not want to pursue an academic career does not ...


32

A statement of purpose is forward-looking. It is not meant to be, to paraphrase Wordsworth, "recollections of early childhood." I don't really care why you decided to study mathematics when you were seven years old, nor do I care about some generic quote from a scientist that inspired you. I want to know what you might want to study as a PhD student, and why ...


31

It's definitely a good idea (in fact anyone in your situation should do so), I have seen plenty of people around me in my graduate school who had done so. There even exist professional services specialized for this task (it's a pretty big business in some countries). Regarding your concern that the jury might think that you have been "cheating", forget ...


30

I wish scaaahu had put that comment in an answer so that I could up-vote it. Perhaps it will help you to know that I started the Ph.D. at age 56. It wasn't in a top ten university, but neither am I ashamed of my alma mater. Admissions committees are interested in potential for research and teaching. Show those and, with your background, you will get ...


30

In addition to aeismail's answer, and to stress his point a bit further, you should probably not do this. There are a number of reasons: It provides only very weak support for the story you are trying to sell ("This conference was really quite good, because ... at least one important person attended when they paid all costs for her/him."). Really, there are ...


28

Be as specific as possible. Do not bluff. Remember that admissions committees are looking for strong evidence of research potential. One of the markers of that potential is a deep interest in your intended research area. For that reason, it's important to describe your potential research interests in specific and credible detail. Why are you interested ...


27

No, you should not put the university logo in the letter. You are not representing your university in an official capacity in a statement of purpose, and therefore using the university's logo would be inappropriate, as you would be suggesting an official imprimatur for your work.


26

I think about English grammar and prose like personal grooming. If you are going to a big event where you need to make a good impression, it's fine to ask people to help make sure your clothing is well-chosen and being worn perfectly. Likewise, it's fine to ask people to help make sure your words are well chosen and don't have any distracting errors. A ...


25

I recommend that you put the information you gave us in your statement of purpose for a PhD application. At least for a US-style statement of purpose (which is usually about two pages) I would not suggest abridging the story you told us. Rather I agree with @scaaahu that your story is extremely compelling, much more so than what one normally reads in these ...


25

What I'll write is based on my experience with mathematics Ph.D. admissions in the U.S. How far it generalizes beyond that may depend on the circumstances. (I'd bet much of it would still apply to a research-based master's program in computer science, but perhaps not to an MBA program.) Note that U.S. graduate programs in math primarily take students who ...


24

First, I am sympathetic to your dislike of sitting in classrooms, at scheduled times, for artificially limited intervals, and too-often lecturers/teachers who add little to the textbook, or even to their own notes... and are possibly non-interactive as well. Or, as in k-12 in the U.S., often far more concerned with crowd control (not their own fault) than ...


23

Depending on the program I would keep it between 1.5 to 2 pages. I framed mine to answer the following questions: Why am I applying to this school. What are my research interests. Previous academic accomplishments. Previous professional accomplishments. Personal story of triumph (optional, I talk about having to drop out of high school to support my family)...


22

If the writing style in your statement matches the writing style in your question, you should just do some creative revising. Cut the fluff and write more concisely; for example: Currently I am applying for a LLM programme at SOAS and am having certain difficulties while writing the required personal statement. According to their guidance, the statement ...


22

Because the people who worship famous scientists usually aren't the ones who've done actual science. Generally their main scientific experience comes from books marketed to a general audience. You do not want to be lumped with that crowd, because it shows you don't know what you're getting into.


22

I can't speak for all mathematics graduate admissions everywhere, but when I was on the admissions committee for my department (UGA) we generally did not take the statements of purpose all that seriously. Most statements of purpose are indeed a bit dull and similar to each other. The particular question "Why do you want to become a research mathematician?" ...


20

As others have said, the main problem of that letter is not its emotionality, but the lack of content and the presence of unnecessary details. Let me analyse a few example sentences: College XY has best undergraduate mathematics department of the university of XY. According to whom or according to which criteria? IITX is built upon the basement of the ...


19

I would recommend against mentioning e-mail contact with faculty unless you've had a substantive interaction, one that leads you to believe they would remember you and support your application. In particular, you don't want someone on the admissions committee to mention to a colleague "So, I hear applicant X has been in touch with you; what was your ...


19

Actually, I kind of disagree with @TheHiary... I don't think you should put negative statements about yourself in your cover letter. While they do not want to only here how awesome you would be, they do want to hear how, and why, you would be totally awesome working for/with them. You can look up some tips and guidelines about writing a cover letter here. I ...


19

In my opinion you should not "go negative" at all in a statement of purpose. A vivid description of what turned you off to a previous program seems only to give those considering your admissions case something concrete to worry about, whereas just saying that you lost interest and have since regained it (and then talking extensively about the second part!) ...


19

All good advice. In addition, may I suggest that a statement of purpose should answer the question, what will you do if they admit you? It should be future-oriented. What are your goals and what are your plans for getting there?


18

Of course this is a good idea. Plenty of non-natives write excellent English, and getting your work proofread by a native English speaker is always a good idea, if possible. It's not as if you are asking the native English speaker to write the text for you?


18

Good question. I worked on graduate admissions at my math PhD program (at UGA, in the US) for several years, and after a few years off I am the new Graduate Coordinator, so I will shortly be wading through a sea of applications and personal statements. Here is how I see things at the moment. I'll modify my answer if upcoming experiences change my mind. ...


17

At least in computer science: Yes, but. What admissions committees are looking for in your application is strong evidence of research potential. One of the indicators of research potential is the ability to write about your chosen field in its native language; not just technical terms, but their proper usage and context. In particular, if you are ...


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