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The key skill needed while applying to study abroad

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By Mr.Jaideep Gupta

The advent of social media, mobile phones and popular flicks has paved way to a new language among students. While the colloquial lingo students’ use makes communication easier, it can prove to be a bane when it comes to writing academic essays. Students now are finding it increasingly difficult to write essays that express their views and purpose in a formal language. A well written essay/SOP can exponentially increase the student’s admission chance in a desired university.

For admission to the university programmes in US, students are expected to write essays on specific topics. The purpose of any admission essay is not to test the student’s abilities as a writer, but to check on his clarity of thought and his perception of the world, and whether his values match with the ones of the university.

More than 75% of the students applying abroad think they have done a good job with an essay, if the content is filled with words scouted from a dictionary. Instead of the focus being on dazzling the admission’s officer by using jargon or flowery language, it should be on highlighting why the student has decided to pursue a specific course in a particular university. In countries other than US, students are expected to write a Statement of Purpose (SOP), where the focus should be on explaining why they intend to study in the country and what they intend to do after completing the course, besides a very justifiable reason for selected the course.

When writing on any topic, students must first organise their thoughts and create a few rough drafts before arriving at the final version. Relevance of the topic to the question asked and coherence between paragraphs is likely to create a favourable impression on the admission’s officer. Students should also make room for co-curricular and extracurricular activities that they have participated in, as colleges are often on the lookout for well-rounded individuals.

Seemingly inconsequential but common mistakes can negatively impact admission chances. The essay is any student’s only chance of enthralling the admission’s officer with his uniqueness. Petty errors in punctuation, spelling mistakes, wrong usage of prepositions or tenses can mar this opportunity. When using quotes or references, special attention should be paid to getting the correct name of the individual quoted. Most university applications are to be filled online in pre-designated spaces within the application form. Hence, the prescribed word limit should also be kept in mind. It is always better if the total number of words is close to the permissible number i.e. neither too short nor too lengthy.

When applying to more than one college, it is vital that the content be customised to suit specific college requirements. Matters that are controversial or could hurt religious sentiments should be avoided. If a controversial topic is unavoidable, it is always safe to keep it balanced. Fresh and diverse thoughts on matters will catch an admissions officer’s attention.

Students can get their essays re checked by their teachers before sending them to the universities. There are also many service providers in the market who specialise in expert guidance on university application essay/SOP writing.

(The author is the CEO and Founder of Univariety, a leading College Admission Planning service)