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3 SOP Tips Must-Know (1/3)



After having reviewed hundreds of graduate school application documents, I’ll address several cultural misunderstandings that affect how Taiwanese students apply to Western universities. Though students write perfectly “fluent” English Statement of Purpose (SOP) essays, they still fail to recognize differences i


n cultural values and communication, negatively impacting acceptance rates and future opportunities.


Here, I’ll share three practical tips and explanations for why I suggest writing your SOP according to these values. Consider how cultural values and communication styles differ between Taiwan and the country you hope to attend graduate school in.


  1. Highlight your future professional goals.

  2. Turn your weaknesses into strengths.

  3. Share: What makes you stand out?


  1. Highlight your future professional goals


Believe it or not, you don’t have to have the same major for undergraduate and graduate study. In fact, changing your field is a great reason for going back to school! However, many Taiwanese students spend too much time worrying if they qualify for schools (proven through high scores on exams and university ranking) instead of thinking about their potential. Your past, present, and future do not have to align perfectly. However, there should be clear movement and direction towards your professional goals.


Now, it’s true that having opportunities to train or study under professionals and experts doesn’t equate to your own immediate success. You do have to prove beyond interest and passion that you’re willing to work hard for this degree. Consider that when you move abroad, all of your classmates will be communicating in English. You’ll have to read textbooks, all in English. Presentations will be done, team projects completed, and conflicts confronted, all in English. If you’re going abroad for graduate study, it’s not because you want to choose the easy path.


Then, why go? When you consider your specific career goals–whether becoming a data analyst, a nutrition specialist, or a UI/UX expert–there’s a missing piece that you need to find through additional rigorous training. The more clearly you identify your future career goal, the more quickly you’ll be able to identify what training you need to prepare you for that career path.


Disclaimer: when we mention “goals,” I don’t mean your ideal job. We all have wishes and desires. I can want to join the NBA as much as anyone else, but unless I’m willing to put in the work to have a 3-point shot like Steph Curry, there’s no way I’ll even step on the court.


So, when you reflect on your goals, don’t limit yourself to a job title or company name. These dreams are too small. For your SOP, consider these questions:


  • What impact do you want to make? In your future company, neighborhood, industry?

  • How will additional training enable you to reach these goals?

  • What do you want to do 2-5 years after finishing your Master’s? What about 10, 20 years later?

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If you need help with your grad school application, sign up our 20-minutes FREE consultation.

If you want to practice/improve your English speaking, come and try out our conversation class for free for one week.



Have a nice day!

Cate Shubat

Private Tutor at Thrive English Language Center



Thrive English Tutor Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thriveenglish_tutor/

Thrive English Group Class Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thriveenglish_speaking/

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