What are the essential components of a strong statement of purpose essay?
Very simply, you’ll need to include your MAP: your Motivation, Aspiration, and Perspiration.
At Accepted, MAP has a double meaning for individuals writing statements of purpose and goals essays. It illustrates the road one should follow when writing one of these essays.
Here’s why MAP is critical to the components of a statement of purpose. The connections you make between where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re headed constitute the flow of your narrative. Ultimately, the statement of purpose is forward-looking and talks about where you’re headed. In a personal statement, you might build the story of how you got to your current location, but clear plans for the future are usually not required.
MAP the parts of your personal statement
Let’s start with the M – Motivation
What makes you tick? Why have you made the decisions you have made? Why do you want to go into your chosen field?
You’re passionate about feeding children in poverty-stricken families or communities with food insecurity. When you were growing up, one of your best friends in high school was a recent immigrant from Swaziland and told you horrific stories of seeing friends and family members die of starvation. From spending time with his family, you learned to appreciate the blessing of having had what you needed as a child. Your friend’s life experiences instilled in you a wish to learn about poverty and hunger. You learned that closer to home, in neighborhoods not far from your own, people were experiencing hunger and hardship So, in high school, you volunteered at a soup kitchen to help others and learn about individuals living with adversity and lack that you had not known. This experience brought you to a deeper realization that your purpose in life needed to be intricately involved with a cause that raised others and elevated the quality of life of those less privileged, with the aim of continuing to work toward sustenance and equity in the future.
Next, the A – Aspiration
Where is your bigger vision? What do you aspire to achieve after you complete your degree, both in the short term and the long term?
You want to feed the world. You know it’s a lofty aspiration, but you’ve already seen the benefits of baby steps through volunteering at a local soup kitchen. You have ideas – big ideas, real ideas. You want to enter the not-for-profit market and learn how to help a wider group of people gain access to healthful food in a sustainable way. You’ve worked hard to make connections with leaders in organizations that do exactly this, and you plan to bring your skills and ideas to such a place after you earn your degree.
Finally, the P – Perspiration
When and how do you really have skin in the game? How have you dedicated yourself to your cause or goal? How have you worked hard to make an impact and contribute to the well-being of others?
You’ve volunteered for four years at your local soup kitchen and also worked as a paid intern in its office one summer. You’ve seen how food insecurity and lack of access to resources weakens an already fragile family structure, making children less able to learn in school and parents less able to make good choices for themselves and their families. You worked on a fundraising campaign for the soup kitchen, out of your dedication to helping the people you had met along the way. You’ve suggested ways to lower overhead and recruited more volunteers to help, including bringing in someone to present workshops on job hunting and interviewing skills. You’ve made a difference.
MAP in your statement of purpose
These examples of MAP relate to a “goals” essay. These three elements should be part of your statement of purpose for graduate or healthcare-oriented academic programs. How did your research interests develop from your prior experiences, and why is this research important to you?
For your aspiration, sketch out what you plan to do, including your current research goals as well as your longer-term career aspirations. Show your previous academic, research, and professional experiences. Explain how they have prepared you for graduate study.
Even in the era of app-based directional guidance, don’t begin to write your statement of purpose or MBA goals essay without the MAP strategy.
Dr. Mary Mahoney, PhD, is the medical humanities director at Elmira College and has more than 20 years of experience as an advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. She is a tenured English professor with an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD in literature and writing from the University of Houston. For the past 20 years, Mary has served as a grad school advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. Want Mary to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!