What are the essential, absolutely must-have components of a strong statement of purpose or goals essay?
Very simply, you’ll need to include your MAP.
At Accepted, MAP has a double meaning for individuals writing statements of purpose and goals essays. It stands for Motivation, Aspiration, and Perspiration, and illustrates the road you will follow when writing your essays.
Here’s why the MAP is critical to the components of a statement of purpose. The adcom wants to see the connections you make between where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re headed. (We make a distinction between a statement of purpose and a personal statement as far as the MAP is concerned. In a personal statement, your readers will want to know your current location and how you got there, but clear plans for the future are secondary and 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. While growing up, one of your best friends was a recent immigrant from Swaziland, and told you horrific stories of seeing friends and family die of starvation. From spending time with his family, you learned to appreciate the blessing of having a full belly, and you began to learn about poverty and hunger that was happening closer to home, in neighborhoods not far from your own. Throughout high school, you volunteered in a soup kitchen, and realized that this was a population and a cause that you wanted to continue to work with in the future.
- Next, the A–Aspiration: Where are you headed? 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’ve admired good leadership, and seen the damage that results when poor leadership takes control. Most importantly, you have ideas – big ideas, real ideas. You want to enter the not-for-profit space and learn how to help a wider group of needy 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 in the past have you sweated to achieve, really had skin in the game? When have you dedicated yourself to a cause or goal? When have you worked hard to make an impact and contribute?
You’ve volunteered for four years at your local soup kitchen, and also as a paid intern one summer in their office. 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 better choices for themselves and their families. You kept working on a fundraising campaign for the soup kitchen even while you were recovering from a painful injury, out of your dedication to helping the people that you met along the way. You’ve suggested ways to lower overhead and recruited more volunteers to help out, 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 may relate more to a goals essay than to the parts of a personal statement. However, these three elements should also be part of a statement of purpose for grad or other academic program. For example, when describing your motivation, show how your research interest developed, and why it is important to you. For your aspiration, sketch out what you plan to do, including both your current research goals as well as your longer-term career goals. Show your perspiration through your previous academic, research, and professional experiences, explaining 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 this all-important MAP.
Why not check to make sure your MAP will lead you to the destination you seek? Working with an Accepted consultant will ensure that you have all the essential elements for a winning application. Click here to get started.For 25 years, Accepted has helped applicants gain acceptance to top undergraduate and graduate programs. Our expert team of admissions consultants features former admissions directors, PhDs, and professional writers who have advised clients to acceptance at top programs worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, INSEAD, MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern. Want an admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• From Example to Exemplary, a free guide to writing outstanding admissions essays
• Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application, a podcast episode
• How to Write a Goal Statement for Graduate School