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Organizing SOP

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:21 pm
by cylon_destroyer
Hello all,

I'm having a little trouble coming up with ideal organization for my SOP for astronomy schools. Right now, by paragraph it's pretty much:
I. Intro/anecdote portraying development of my interest in astronomy
II. Career goals and purpose of applying to the school
III, IV. Explanation of two major research projects I've done as an undergrad.
V. Teaching experience.
VI. Research interests/how these align with the school/faculty of interest
VII. Conclusion

As of now I feel like my teaching experience paragraph(V) is a little out of place... it doesn't flow well into my next paragraph. But I talk about one of my research projects in paragraph VI. Anyway, just wondering how ya'll may have organized your SOP or any suggestions you may have about my organization? BTW the statement right now is ~1000 words.

Thanks! And good luck to everyone else applying this Fall!

Re: Organizing SOP

Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:49 pm
by bfollinprm
I'd only mention teaching experience in the SoP if it adds to the case that you're obsessed with physics/astronomy. In that way, it belongs in the first paragraph. It's more something to put on the CV.

Re: Organizing SOP

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:16 pm
by TakeruK
Teaching experience is a good thing to have, but I also don't think it's what admissions committees really look for when selecting graduate students. If teaching is something you are passionate about, then I would include it so that the committee has a better sense of what interests you and makes you tick as an academic. However, realise that while some people might value teaching, others might feel that time spent teaching is time that could have been spent on research!

At the same time, teaching is part of "broader impacts" which is something that many funding agencies look for, such as NSF fellowships. Teaching is important to me, and I did not mind if a program that really devalues teaching rejected me because of my interest in teaching, so I included a few sentences about my experience as an instructor and TA in my SOP. I didn't get accepted everywhere, but I don't think my mentioning of teaching got me rejected!