You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resourcesβ€”including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

This refers to your seniors and mentors who are currently in or were in the position you aspire to reach, working in your domain of interest.

​danger​ Before you send out the emails to them, spend some time wording it carefully. The people you reach out to are probably in graduate school themselves, working 60 hours a week. And yours would also not be the only email request they receive.

So, take the time to do the first few reviews yourself (or with the help of a close friend) before reaching out. In your email, the following topics should be conveyed clearly: interest in studying abroad, relevant past experiences, and the request. Below is a sample template:

Hi Neel,

How are you? I’m sure you must be drowning in classes and assignments. What is something you learned recently? I would love to know. I recently came across your article on the day in the life of a graduate student, and devoured it! You probably know, but I’m applying for a Master’s in Electrical Engineering myself now and couldn’t have read it at a better time.

I knew I wanted to study abroad within the first ten days of my summer internship at University of Waterloo, Canada. The stereotypes that I un-learned and people I met will always have a lasting impact on me. But choosing the universities to apply to and nailing down my specialization took more time than I thought. I’m sure you must have gone through something similar.

I spent a week writing the first draft of my SOP; writing for 30 minutes every day. I also spent the next two weeks editing it by reading through some amazing samples online. However, to truly make it insightful and strong, I need help from seniors like you that I look up to, who also specialize in a similar field.

I know you’re busy, and really want to respect that. Let me know if any of the following options work for you:

  1. Sending me your SOP so I can use that as a guide

  2. Sharing some important guidelines in writing one

  3. (Most preferable!) Reviewing mine and adding your comments as feedback. If I’m being overly ambitious, it could even be all three :)

Best regards,

Siya

As you reach out to people, it is important that you keep track of your emails. If someone does not respond back in ten days, it is absolutely OK to send them a gentle reminder.

A lack of response doesn’t always mean a lack of interest.

Sometimes, people are just busy.

Finally, when you share your essay with them, please do it via Google Docs or a similar collaborative tool, so they can easily add comments to it. Reduce friction from their end as much as you can.

Review by Good Writers

You can follow a similar process as before here, except the kind of input you receive from a good writer would be different from the kind of input you receive from a subject-matter expert. You need an essay that conveys your purpose and portrays your written skill. When you reach out, mention that you specifically want them to critique the diction of your essay.

​danger​ Finally, don’t reach out to everyone you know at once. Assess the quality of feedback the other person can provide first. Are they an amazing writer with limited time? If yes, you should probably reach out only after you’ve reached version six or seven of your draft. You want incremental input to improve, not a storm of input at once. And even after you receive all their input, assess if it makes sense before incorporating it.

A lot of students want to know when an SOP can be called complete. We know you won’t like this answer, but the truth is: it will never be complete. However, the best practice is to get it reviewed by three to four people and review it yourself half a dozen times. Keep it ready at least a week or two before your deadline. In the final week, simply revisit it every few days and make minor corrections.

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