review SOP

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naimulmamun
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Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:51 am

review SOP

Post by naimulmamun » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:58 am

Please, review my SOP. Since I have no undergrad thesis or research paper, I have to deal with a bunch of online material. I am very much afraid of its quality. I will not include the heading of those paragraphs.

1.Introduction/hook:
A few years ago when I was browsing on the internet lazily, I had come through a video with some interesting background where a man with a big mustache was telling something seemed to be interesting to me. Being curious I had switched to the video where the person (Neil De Tyson) was talking about the universe. I can still remember his last words which made me hypnotized, that was-“ So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up- many people feel small, cause their small and the universe is big. But I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.” My feeling that moment; probably I can’t express in words. I went on a goosebump and watched the video 10 times stretched. I was thinking about how my atoms came from those stars? To quest my curiosity, I started to search more about those topics & what I had found that Oh yes, this is my destination, I am born to explore the origin and evolution of the universe.

2. How you prepare yourself:
To prepare for the dream I got admitted my-self in the department of physics at Jagannath University. From the beginning of the undergraduate, I focused on fundamental physics. I keep myself busy to explore the mystery of physics. What intense more was when I came to know a Facebook group named- ‘’Astrophysics and cosmology”. This group worked like a gem to me. I have come to know a variety of topics of different branches of physics through the page. They discuss about-Black holes and it’s formation, accretion desk, event horizon, supernova, Quasars, singularity, supermassive black hole, neutron star, whited Dwarf, dark matter, dark energy, time travel, string theory, multiverse theory, neutrino, CMB and how scientist get the early universe picture by the CMB and many mores which made me amused.
In university, I had come to familiar with the mathematical basis of physics such as Calculus, the mathematical method in physics and computational physics which broaden my understanding of physics. I have also come across the basics such as quantum mechanics, solid-state physics, atomic and molecular physics, nuclear physics, relativity, and cosmology. When I understand that this prescribed syllabus will not enough to make me more proficient, I concentrate on the online course run by the worldwide famous teachers of the famous institutions. At first, I had done a course on Coursera named –“Imagining other earth’’ by David Spergel of Princeton. In this course I have come to know about our galaxy and their formation, parallax to measure the distances of the galaxies and stars, about the Big bang and the Microwave background to get the picture after the big bang, building block of life, how general relativity solve mystery of the solar systems gravitational deflection of light, gravitational microlensing and stability, properties of stars, stellar evolution, how quantum mechanics and optics use to find extrasolar planet, evolution of astrobiology, and Fermi paradox and it’s possible solutions. Most interestingly the course contained some of the interviews of famous theoretical physicists e.g. Freeman Dyson, Debra Fisher, Sean Solomon who are sharing their views and their works on their working topics.
I have then involved myself in another online certificate course offered by ANU x named “Astrophysics: Cosmology” and coordinated by Paul Francis and Noble winner physicist Brian Schmidt. This course plays a major development to me to build my concepts on Astrophysics especially on cosmology. This course was specially designed to develop the concepts detailed to the students. In this course, I have come closer to the detailed about Hubble law, the metric, and how general relativity fit in cosmology, dynamics and the geometry of our universe—R-W metric, Friedmann equation, critical density and density evolution, Theory of cosmic inflation & an interview on inflation from theoretical particle physicist Lawrence Krauss which totally amused & excited me about the mystery of inflation. Then I have came across about the observational cosmology- scale factor evolution and distance ladder, the Hubble space telescope, eclipsing binary distance, megamasers, and maser distances, Tully-Fisher relation, Large Magellanic Cloud, Dark energy, gravitational lensing, primordial nucleosynthesis, CMB, acoustic waves, power spectrum, Baryon-acoustic oscillator, degeneracies, entropy of the universe and another mind-blowing interview of Charley Lineweaver on entropy and the origin & ultimate fate of the universe. This course totally works as a pillar of my understanding of cosmology and also lures me as come to love with cosmology.
Besides these two courses, I have also kept me up to date with physics.org, Nature astronomy, APS, Hubble site.org, Quamtumagazine. I think all those courses and my undergrad strong basic will help me much to do the challenge in graduate studies.

3.progrmming skills :
Since scientist has to work with big data and data visualization to understand the nature of the experimental & observational data, they have to deal with computer programming and simulation. As I am very much interested to build a career on the track I devote myself to develop my programming skills. Although my undergraduate syllabus contained a programming course including C, FORTRAN, and MATLAB, I think those were not up to the mark to deal with. I have involved myself in some project base short course on MATLAB. Those courses contain sine wave generator, conversion between temperature scale logic building, Transportation problem, Numerical computations in MATLAB, Particle swarm optimization in MATLAB Runge- Kutta 4th order method using MATLAB and Python. I have also some practical knowledge of Python. A local best seller book helps me a lot to develop my Python skills. Besides this, I took some project base courses on Udemy and most importantly recently I involved in a Harvard ex course “Python for Research’’ which will be a gem to my future carrier as a researcher.

4.About the university:
I have come to know about the "X''(name of the university) through a review of a current student of ''X''. Being curious, I have browsed their website and astrophysics department. I was amused by the large faculty and their variety of research topics and also their research centers. Since my interest is on origin and evaluation of the universe, I had search professors on my interest. I have found Dr."Y"(professor's name) work on the reionization and the S-Z effect very interested since they help to get the picture just after cosmic inflation through the deep study of the CMB. I am very much interested to work with him.
Besides this, what makes me more interested in "X" is their congenial support to the applicant. I have received a bunch of emails from the grad student liaison and admission counselor and provide me every information I need to apply here.

5.Conclusion:
Last edited by naimulmamun on Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Nishikata
Posts: 175
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: review SOP

Post by Nishikata » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:25 am

your SOP counts at 1300 words. That's way too long. Can you cut it to below 1000 words?
I think most universities has a recommended cutoff of 2 pages or 1000 words limit.

You may be able to trim it by making the SOP more realistic.
Not everyone has a special moment to like physics, so maybe no need for a very detailed story too.

jabennett2194
Posts: 85
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Re: review SOP

Post by jabennett2194 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:24 pm

If the university doesn't have a word count, there is no reason to restrict to 1000 words. You put yourself at a disadvantage if they explicitly don't have a word limit, and you leave out important info because you're trying to be concise.

naimulmamun
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:51 am

Re: review SOP

Post by naimulmamun » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:38 pm

jabennett2194 wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:24 pm
If the university doesn't have a word count, there is no reason to restrict to 1000 words. You put yourself at a disadvantage if they explicitly don't have a word limit, and you leave out important info because you're trying to be concise.
I really concern about the words, since I have to finish it within 2 pages. But I just want to learn about the quality of the SOP and what should I do in it?

naimulmamun
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:51 am

Re: review SOP

Post by naimulmamun » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:39 pm

Nishikata wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:25 am
your SOP counts at 1300 words. That's way too long. Can you cut it to below 1000 words?
I think most universities has a recommended cutoff of 2 pages or 1000 words limit.

You may be able to trim it by making the SOP more realistic.
Not everyone has a special moment to like physics, so maybe no need for a very detailed story too.
I really concern about the words, since I have to finish it within 2 pages. But I just want to learn about the quality of the SOP and what should I do in it?

User avatar
Nishikata
Posts: 175
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2018 6:37 am

Re: review SOP

Post by Nishikata » Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:41 pm

Depends on the university of course, but generally reading an essay that is longer than 1000 words is taking a lot of time so they may just skim it anyway.

being concise does not necessarily mean leaving important things out, most of the times it is the vocabulary, phrasing and structural issue.

geekusprimus
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: review SOP

Post by geekusprimus » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:16 pm

A couple things:

1. Personal stories, particularly from early childhood, are generally frowned upon in a statement of purpose. Follow the guidelines of the school you're applying to, of course, but it should be focused on what your interests are, what your previous qualifications are (generally research, but work with what you've got), and why you're interested in that particular school. Sometimes they might request you to talk a little bit about why you want to go to graduate school, or what your end career goals are, but be concise and save the personal stories for another time.

2. Proofread. There are a lot of spelling and grammatical typos (there, they're, and their, for example, or incorrect/oddly used prepositions). This is the best opportunity you have on the application to brag about yourself and tell the admissions committee that you're exactly who they're looking for (don't say that, though; it looks bad), and a poorly written letter containing grammatical errors not common in spoken English says that you'll have a hard time communicating on a day-to-day basis.

throwaway2468
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:10 pm

Re: review SOP

Post by throwaway2468 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:05 am

geekusprimus wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:16 pm
A couple things:

1. Personal stories, particularly from early childhood, are generally frowned upon in a statement of purpose. Follow the guidelines of the school you're applying to, of course, but it should be focused on what your interests are, what your previous qualifications are (generally research, but work with what you've got), and why you're interested in that particular school. Sometimes they might request you to talk a little bit about why you want to go to graduate school, or what your end career goals are, but be concise and save the personal stories for another time.

2. Proofread. There are a lot of spelling and grammatical typos (there, they're, and their, for example, or incorrect/oddly used prepositions). This is the best opportunity you have on the application to brag about yourself and tell the admissions committee that you're exactly who they're looking for (don't say that, though; it looks bad), and a poorly written letter containing grammatical errors not common in spoken English says that you'll have a hard time communicating on a day-to-day basis.
This is excellent feedback, but I don't think point 2 is blunt enough. This essay alone might very well get you rejected from every school in America you apply to. It is unfair that English is the language of science and that native speakers have a huge advantage, but the fact is your homework, exams, publications, and thesis will all need to be written in English. If you want to get in somewhere, you will need to have someone who is fluent edit all elements of your application (CV, Essay, anything with sentences). If you want to actually do well during your PhD, you will need to improve your written English.

I hate to seem rude but looking back it would have been nice for my professors to have given me equally frank feedback about my research experience. This person's future is on the line, it is important to be clear. Besides, this is a very fixable issue! Have someone edit everything now, and long term work on your writing skills.

naimulmamun
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:51 am

Re: review SOP

Post by naimulmamun » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:49 am

throwaway2468 wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:05 am
geekusprimus wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:16 pm
A couple things:

1. Personal stories, particularly from early childhood, are generally frowned upon in a statement of purpose. Follow the guidelines of the school you're applying to, of course, but it should be focused on what your interests are, what your previous qualifications are (generally research, but work with what you've got), and why you're interested in that particular school. Sometimes they might request you to talk a little bit about why you want to go to graduate school, or what your end career goals are, but be concise and save the personal stories for another time.

2. Proofread. There are a lot of spelling and grammatical typos (there, they're, and their, for example, or incorrect/oddly used prepositions). This is the best opportunity you have on the application to brag about yourself and tell the admissions committee that you're exactly who they're looking for (don't say that, though; it looks bad), and a poorly written letter containing grammatical errors not common in spoken English says that you'll have a hard time communicating on a day-to-day basis.
This is excellent feedback, but I don't think point 2 is blunt enough. This essay alone might very well get you rejected from every school in America you apply to. It is unfair that English is the language of science and that native speakers have a huge advantage, but the fact is your homework, exams, publications, and thesis will all need to be written in English. If you want to get in somewhere, you will need to have someone who is fluent edit all elements of your application (CV, Essay, anything with sentences). If you want to actually do well during your PhD, you will need to improve your written English.

I hate to seem rude but looking back it would have been nice for my professors to have given me equally frank feedback about my research experience. This person's future is on the line, it is important to be clear. Besides, this is a very fixable issue! Have someone edit everything now, and long term work on your writing skills.
please suggest me on which particular points I need to develop or whether I should totally change the SOP and rewrite it. I do not have any thesis or research experience to deal with. I am very much worried about the quality of my SOP. I know that I have to work a lot on it and so I posted it in the group to have better suggestions.Since I do not have any experience, I only write about 2 online courses that I took. I am very much disappointed with your reviews and I know that I have to work on it but what I need some specific points so that I can develop them or rewrite I again.

throwaway2468
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:10 pm

Re: review SOP

Post by throwaway2468 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:50 am

naimulmamun wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:49 am
throwaway2468 wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:05 am
geekusprimus wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:16 pm
A couple things:

1. Personal stories, particularly from early childhood, are generally frowned upon in a statement of purpose. Follow the guidelines of the school you're applying to, of course, but it should be focused on what your interests are, what your previous qualifications are (generally research, but work with what you've got), and why you're interested in that particular school. Sometimes they might request you to talk a little bit about why you want to go to graduate school, or what your end career goals are, but be concise and save the personal stories for another time.

2. Proofread. There are a lot of spelling and grammatical typos (there, they're, and their, for example, or incorrect/oddly used prepositions). This is the best opportunity you have on the application to brag about yourself and tell the admissions committee that you're exactly who they're looking for (don't say that, though; it looks bad), and a poorly written letter containing grammatical errors not common in spoken English says that you'll have a hard time communicating on a day-to-day basis.
This is excellent feedback, but I don't think point 2 is blunt enough. This essay alone might very well get you rejected from every school in America you apply to. It is unfair that English is the language of science and that native speakers have a huge advantage, but the fact is your homework, exams, publications, and thesis will all need to be written in English. If you want to get in somewhere, you will need to have someone who is fluent edit all elements of your application (CV, Essay, anything with sentences). If you want to actually do well during your PhD, you will need to improve your written English.

I hate to seem rude but looking back it would have been nice for my professors to have given me equally frank feedback about my research experience. This person's future is on the line, it is important to be clear. Besides, this is a very fixable issue! Have someone edit everything now, and long term work on your writing skills.
please suggest me on which particular points I need to develop or whether I should totally change the SOP and rewrite it. I do not have any thesis or research experience to deal with. I am very much worried about the quality of my SOP. I know that I have to work a lot on it and so I posted it in the group to have better suggestions.Since I do not have any experience, I only write about 2 online courses that I took. I am very much disappointed with your reviews and I know that I have to work on it but what I need some specific points so that I can develop them or rewrite I again.
My point was not about what you are saying but how you are saying it. Throughout the essay there are many grammar/language mistakes. It 'doesn't read well.' This is not something you can fix on your own, you need someone who knows English well enough to detect mistakes in grammar etc. I can take a closer look at it if you like but it would be better if you know someone personally so they can review your CV too.

Sorry, I should not have used the term English, which indeed can refer to what you are saying. There is a different idea between how well you put together essays and whether or not the language/words/sentences are correct. I understand you are in a difficult spot with regards to what to write about, but my point was not about that. No matter how high your TOEFL is, and no matter what you end up saying or writing about in your essay, the grammar and word structure in this essay is an indication that you are not able to write correct (not necessarily good, but right) English.

Again, don't be too discouraged by this! Short term it is an easy fix.

Mizar
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:54 pm

Re: review SOP

Post by Mizar » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:24 pm

naimulmamun wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:49 am
please suggest me on which particular points I need to develop or whether I should totally change the SOP and rewrite it. I do not have any thesis or research experience to deal with. I am very much worried about the quality of my SOP. I know that I have to work a lot on it and so I posted it in the group to have better suggestions.Since I do not have any experience, I only write about 2 online courses that I took. I am very much disappointed with your reviews and I know that I have to work on it but what I need some specific points so that I can develop them or rewrite I again.
I do not think you need to totally change the SOP, but I agree with the others that you need to focus heavily on your English fluency. Here's your first paragraph, edited by a fluent speaker:
A few years ago I was browsing the Internet when I came across a video of a man with a big mustache talking about the universe. I can still remember his last words: “When I look up at the night sky, I know that yes we are part of this universe, we are in this universe. But perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. Many people feel small, because they are small, and the universe is big. But I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.” Neil Degrasse Tyson’s words in that moment gave me goosebumps, and I watched the video 10 times in a row, all the while thinking how my atoms had come from those stars. I began searching for more information on the topic, and what I discovered was that, yes, this is my destination. I was born to explore the origin and evolution of the universe.
In addition to fixing the grammatical issues, you'll notice the edited version is much more concise. You want to focus on being more concise throughout your SOP. For instance, your second paragraph contains several sentences that are essentially just laundry lists of all the topics you've learned about. While it might seem like a good idea to list everything you've learned, it is a better idea to pick a few of the most important or interesting-to-you topics and find some way of convincing the reader that you have more than just a cursory understanding of the topic. Along these lines, try to work into this paragraph what you can do, not just what you've learned about and find interesting. I know you said you don't have any research experience. Can you briefly explain in your SOP why this is the case? Can you think of another way of convincing graduate programs that you would be successful at research despite not having any experience? What you can do is more important to a graduate program than just what you find interesting.

Can you talk a bit more about Jagannath University? It is likely graduate school committees in the US and Canada haven't heard of your institution (though I don't really know, to be honest). How big was the physics department, and how did you do compared with your peers?

Programming skills: Do you have a GitHub account? If not, set one up and start publishing your code there. Include the URL to your GitHub page in your SOP so graduate committees can see for themselves that you know how to code. Not sure they'll actually look at your code, but at least you would be putting it out there for them to see. This is the area where you actually have some relevant experience, so make sure you do more than just tell your reader what you've learned about coding. Also, rework this sentence: "Although my undergraduate syllabus contained a programming course including C, FORTRAN, and MATLAB, I think those were not up to the mark to deal with." This sentence makes it sound like your undergraduate education was subpar, and you don't want that. Avoid any suggestion that your undergrad education wasn't good enough. A simple recasting of the sentence would do the trick: "My undergraduate curriculum included a programming course that covered C, FORTRAN, and MATLAB, where I learned how to ... Wanting to further develop my programming skills, I took an additional course in MATLAB where I ..."

I hope you find my feedback helpful. You are clearly passionate and committed to your field of interest. I think you deserve to be successful at your dream, so keep working at it.

cat_mama
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:07 pm

Re: review SOP

Post by cat_mama » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:14 pm

Since I'm feeling a little emboldened by the acceptances coming my way, here's my two cents:

Overall:
Like Nishikata said, the SoP is way too long, especially since the bulk of the essay is fluff that needs to go away. My longest SoP clocked in at 1200 words (2 pages, 12 pt, letter paper with 1 in margin). Most schools I applied to had a hard limit of 1000 words, which was about 1.3 pages for me. Also, as geekusprimus said, personal stories/early childhood is definitely a bad idea in a SoP. In fact, Cornell even put "Do not discuss your early childhood" in their SoP prompt :lol:

Content:
I think the entire SoP could benefit from a rewrite. A SoP doesn't need a hook, but a clarity of your goals, your desirable skills demonstrated in your preparations, and any additional cool (relevant) things about you. The "hook" of my SoPs ranged from just a single sentence about what I want to do (I want a .. PhD focusing on ..) to additional 2 sentences highlighting my qualities that I think makes me a good PhD student.
Half or even more than half of the SoP should highlights your desirable qualities without repeating your resume. Focus on specific experiences, with the technical detail summarized into 1 or 2 sentences and the rest focusing on how certain things you did demonstrate these awesome qualities.
Now, if you hold identities marginalized in science AND have done relevant advocacy work that can be tied into being a good scientist, spending 1 paragraph--maximum 2 short paragraphs--detailing your contributions could be worthwhile. Just randomly saying that you hold these identities is probably a negative, which is why I put that AND there.
Conclusion should ideally be about why you want to go to this specific school. This requires a lot of research about the school, the character of research performed there, etc. and is highly individualized, both to the applicant and to the school.



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