UG Students at US and Canada Talk About Writing SOP and LOR for University Admissions

UG Students at US and Canada Talk About Writing SOP and LOR for University Admissions

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Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 25, 2023 15:02 IST

Q. Who should a student ask for a letter of recommendation?

Iqra Khan: A letter of recommendation provides the admission officer with a comprehensive understanding of the candidate. This document helps them form a favourable picture of yours based on your skills, experiences, knowledge and achievements illustrated by the recommender. Most of the students have a misconception that the designation of the recommender adds value to your case. However, in reality, the letter of recommendation holds significance only if it is written by someone who knows you well and has worked with you on some projects. Students should ideally pick someone for whom they have worked on a certain project or are closely associated with them for a substantial amount of time.

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Q. Which aspects should be highlighted in the statement of purpose?

Iqra Khan: In a statement of purpose, the students should highlight their purpose behind choosing a particular course. Apart from that, an SOP must reflect upon your academic journey, projects, assignments and internships or any interesting activity that you have done academically. Connect every point to your career goals in a manner that they show that every step of yours is taking you closer to your ultimate aim.

Further, talk about the country and university that you have chosen. What makes you want to pursue your higher education at that particular university and country? How will that help you in achieving your career goals? All these questions need to be addressed in a way that highlights your achievements.

Q. Which documents are required to apply to a foreign university?

Iqra Khan: Every university application should include a filled-in application form (usually online), school transcripts, test scores, academic CV, a statement of purpose, recommendation letters – one from a subject teacher and another one from a school counsellor, a passport (as ID proof) and a portfolio if you are applying for an art/design course.

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Q. What was your approach to the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation during your application stage?

Vaibhav Chitkara:

For an undergraduate application, a statement of purpose has comparatively less significance than for a graduate application. You need to talk about your participation and achievements in academics and extracurricular activities. Focus on clubs that you joined, your volunteering experience along with what you achieved in your studies. Talk about your goals, and your motivation, and discuss them in relevance to the recent activities that you have done. Essentially, you need to elaborate on what your academic interests are, because, in the end, they are looking to get an idea about why you want to come to their country, and specifically that university.

For letters of recommendation, you do not need to worry about them as students are not supposed to write those. You need to get in touch with your teacher who knows what you have done academically and otherwise. S/he should be a good judge of your character and should be willing to highlight your positive attributes in the letter of recommendation.

For help with university applications, students seeking to study abroad can contact our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors. The comments section below allows candidates to contact us as well. Students may read the FAQs section for more information.


Q. What documents are required for admissions to foreign universities?

A. Depending on the institution and the programme, different international universities may have different documentation requirements. However, the majority of colleges normally want the following records from overseas applicants: a completed application form, academic transcripts, test scores, an SOP, LORs, financial documents, application fees, a valid passport, etc. In order to make sure that all required papers are delivered on time and in the appropriate format, it is crucial to review the unique criteria for each university and programme.

Q. What is an SOP?

A. An application for graduate school or a research programme frequently includes a statement of purpose, commonly referred to as a personal statement or a letter of intent. A brief essay known as a statement of purpose is often written by an applicant outlining their educational history, research experience, professional aspirations, and motivations for applying to the programme. The goal of the statement of purpose is to persuade the admissions committee that the candidate will succeed and is a suitable match for the programme as well as having the necessary training, abilities, and drive. A statement of purpose's format and content might change based on the programme and the applicant's particular objectives and background.

Q. What is a Letter of Recommendation?

A. A letter of recommendation is a statement made by a person who can attest to a person's abilities, credentials, and character. The letter is often used to bolster a graduate school application. Someone who is familiar with the applicant well, such as a previous employer, professor, or mentor, should write the letter. Letters of recommendation may give important information about a person's character, skills, and likelihood of success. They could also give particular examples of the person's efforts or achievements. Letters of reference are frequently requested by colleges and universities as part of the admissions procedure for undergraduate and graduate programmes. Additionally, letters of recommendation could be necessary for programmes or opportunities like fellowships, scholarships, or other sorts of financial aid.

Q. How important are an SOP and LORs for study abroad admissions?

A. For study abroad admissions, the SOP (Statement of Purpose) and LOR (Letter of Recommendation) are both crucial documents. The SOP is a personal statement that describes the applicant's academic and professional objectives, motivations for applying to the course of study or organisation, and pertinent experience. In contrast, a LOR offers insight from a person who is familiar with the applicant's professional or academic achievements and who may offer an objective and favourable assessment. A solid SOP and LOR can significantly influence the admissions decision. The SOP and LOR are both important in presenting the candidate's complete profile. As a result, it is strongly advised that the candidate devote adequate time and thought to both documents to make sure they are well-written and persuasive.

Q. Can I copy someone else’s application documents such as an SOP?

A. Copying a statement of purpose or any other application document for admission to a foreign institution may not be ethical, and depending on the seriousness of the incident, it could result in negative consequences such as having the application rejected, having enrolment cancelled, or having the admission offer withdrawn. It is usually advisable to write original papers and present oneself in a sincere and honest way on applications. It could be considered unethical to use another person's statement of purpose or other application materials. Any kind of plagiarism is not tolerated.

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About the Author
Written by
Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert

Aprant Agarwal is a seasoned study abroad expert at Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in countries that include Canada, the Netherlands, UAE, and Finland. He holds more than 2 years of experience in the study abroa... Read Full Bio


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