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Someone Please.... Please...... critique my SOP. Thanks.

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:40 am
by AnilKamat
I am applying to master program in physics at **** University to work on quantum mechanics. I want my master degree to be the base standing on which I will pursue my Ph.D. and do researches in quantum gravity with an ultimate aim of solving the problems of string theory. I yearn to reach my full potential as an independent researcher in the future. One of my highest aspirations is to become the head of my own research lab at an academic institution. I intend to be a mentor for young students from underprivileged backgrounds and encourage their active involvement in physics research. I also believe that on my way to achieve my goal, I will communicate my interests and manifest my talents which could contribute to the welfare of global scientific society.
It has been my inner desire to pursue a career in physics since my childhood when my science teacher used to tell captivating stories about scientists and their inventions. However, due to unstable social and economic condition of our country, my parents could not let me study B.Sc. in physics. At the end, I had to study bachelor in engineering which is considered to have a bright career in our society. But, now that I have got a chance to study physics I want to do it more than anything. I am fully aware of the fact that I may not have studied many laws and principles of mathematics and physics but with my strong determination and help from my professors and friends, I would cover them. I do believe my bachelor degree in mechanical engineering would help me to understand and approach the physical problem in a different way than usual.
Driven by my strong desire to study physics, even after being involved in engineering, I used to go the library to read higher physics focusing on relativity and quantum mechanics. I used to note down various ideas that came to my mind like “what would happen if …..” and then later at home, I used to formulate them. In addition, from the very first year of my baccalaureate, I started a physics page named “Physics Facts and Discussion” which focuses on discussion of the recent discoveries. Now, we are a family of more than 5000 members.
I have taught as a part-time Physics teacher for four years during sessions in “***** Foundation”. While teaching, my efforts are always to make the class interactive. I try to provoke everyone to participate in the discussion in this way they will have their presence of mind in class. I have always encouraged my students to read the subject matter prior appearing in the class so that we can have intellect discussion on the topic. This method has really helped students as they say. Teaching has really helped me to understand the matters in a more profound way at the same time it has also improved my public speaking and communication skills.
In my third year, I was a prime contributor for designing a badminton playing robot for my college to participate in “ABU Robocon 2015, Indonesia”, fortunately, we received two awards for the design. Furthermore, to get acquaintance with simulation and modeling, I did a one-month internship at **** Pvt. Ltd. The internship was concentrated on learning the basics of CATIA and Particle Method for computational fluid dynamic analysis. The title of our final year project is “Development of Mathematical Model for 2-Pot Enclosed Mud Cookstove and its Experimental Validation” which focuses more on the theoretical aspect of the physical processes. We used “MATLAB” as the modelling tool to combine all the physical phenomenon taking place during the operation of a cookstove. The final model was a systematic amalgam of diverse physical processes like combustion of wood, flow of flue gases, heat transfer and viscosity. Finally, we were able to develop the acceptable model and a revised -paper has been submitted for publication in Elsevier.
I think****** University would be a perfect place for me to nourish my intellect for the accomplishment of my goal because of veteran faculty, their researches, constructive learning environment, use of cutting edge technology and financial support provided. The courses offered like electromagnetic theory (I, II), quantum physics and mechanics (I, II) and field theory, high energy physics, relativity etc. perfectly align with my inclination. Moreover, I look forward to study quantum physics and relativity to do research from the very beginning of my classes. There are many professors whose works are more than appealing. In particular, the researches done by Prof. ***** on quantum mechanics and cosmology are intriguing for me and I want to contribute to them. The work of **** on the Electromagnetic Theory and Modern Physics are other works that attract me to apply at ***. These researches would be a great help for me to enrich my knowledge because I would be with the real researcher who knows very inside of their work. These researches hugely motivate me to do related work in a deeper level. The **** University also provides many unique students-welfare facilities. I really appreciate the Provision of “Division of Research”. It will greatly help me to do my research through its expert service and grant management. Moreover, with facilities like faculty advisor and Students Success Center, I could make a good academic progress and personal development. Similarly, the Student Support Services would help me to reach my goal. It would be a privilege to be a part of Physics department at the *** University and work under the guidance of its wonderful faculty.

Re: Someone Please.... Please...... critique my SOP. Thanks.

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:57 am
by space orca
Here's my take on your SoP. It's important to note that I'm by no means an SoP expert, I'm just going off of what I'm feeling from reading your SoP.

Intro: Coming off very egotistical and overambitious. I'm sure it's not your intent, but people may get the wrong idea if you say things like "reach my full potential" or "manifest my talents" and interpret it as pompous. By emphasizing your desire to be an independent researcher and to lead your own lab, you're also giving off the impression that you do not like to work with others. In an era of international collaborations consisting of you know, 30+ institutions on a project (I know this is more on the experimental side, but theory collaborates too), emphasizing you want to be independent and the, you know, next Einstein "that solves string theory" will probably do more harm to you than impress people. Of course, everyone would like to lead the research they're interested in, but that is sort of a given.

Body: Your anecdote does not really help at all here. By simply stating your teacher's stories about scientists and that you read advanced textbooks and question things, you're not really helping yourself at all. When referring to an anecdote, you want to pinpoint a pivotal moment that turned your interest towards physics. Naturally, these sort of things are also very specific, unlike "captivating stories about scientists and inventions". Also simply stating that you use to read books doesn't help much since it's hard to know if you understood what you were reading. Hence, if you can mention that you took grad courses of the topics you mentioned. If not, I wouldn't mention it. Talk more about the physics page you started. "Provoke" has a negative connotation, you should use "encouraged everyone to participate". Also by saying "your parents did not let you" pursue physics, you're sort of implying you don't have much control of your life.

Conclusion: Most physics programs all teach those courses you listed, so to be impressed by that class catalog is probably not flattering to the university. You need to further emphasize what professors you're interested in and why. What sort of theoretical contributions that they have made that specifically interest you. Simply mentioning something as broad and general as "work on EM Theory and Modern physics attracts me" is really superficial. Actually read a paper or two that they published and go into the details of it and why you think you're a good fit for working with them.

In a nutshell, while it is good to see you have research experience, it is hard to draw the connection between the skills you've learned, and how they might help you tackle something as difficult and ambitious as string theory. Most importantly, you should try to reword a lot of the things mentioned above.

Re: Someone Please.... Please...... critique my SOP. Thanks.

Posted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:51 pm
by AnilKamat
Hello orca ... le&u=22011,

Thank you so much for taking time and effort to read and reply. The comments are really thoughtful and I am working to incorporate them as perfectly as I can. I didn't think of the other meaning that they could convey.

I never meant, in any way, to sound like egotistical and overambitious. Thanks for pointing out.

Even though the anecdote is not about any specific moment, that is how, I think, I grew interest in science and every thing I said is true. I don't know if it's good to write false self-made alluring stories to get admission. I find it difficult. Please comment on how to present the anecdote.

Thanks a lot for everything.