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'I was never a computer savvy' - SOP TO GET ADMISSION in A MASTERS' of DATA SCIENCES PROGRAM

bobifrank 2 / 6 2  
Feb 15, 2016   #1

I was never a computer savvy. In fact, the first time I used a computer somewhere in 2001 as a teenager I was really scared to blow it. We never really had access to computers in my country XXXX at that time. We paid 2$ for an hour at the internet café and it was a luxury. Later, most schools had a computer room and we would learn basic Microsoft office for 30 minutes each week, with a terrible excitement.

I wasn't really sure I would have any interest in computers as an adult let alone programming. I moved to Ukraine to study economics for my bachelor's degree and bought my first computer with the money I made working in restaurants. Other than music and language I found a new interest in political economy while at university.

After a year teaching English and working for a talent agency in China, I was awarded the KDI School global ambassador scholarship to study public policy in Seoul, South Korea.

Public policy is a subject I am really passionate about. Although most of my siblings made it to college, our parents were working class people with no high school education. I come from a poor country were the government fails to provide basic public services to a population that lives mostly on less than a dollar a day.

I wanted to study development economics and understand why countries like South Korea achieved such progress with such speed while my country remained underdeveloped.
An essential part of my studies was statistical analysis. It quickly became a great interest of mine. I took a quantitative method class then an econometrics class designed for PHD students. I understood the persuasive power of data. It wasn't just speculating on a theoretical level it was testing and letting the data speak the truth. I was fascinated. If we were to change lives for the better with policy, it was crucial for me that we had quantifiable proof that what we do can work. My master thesis was research on panel data testing the correlation between energy policy in sub-Saharan Africa and energy poverty. I used programming with STATA to analyze a set of data from 24 countries with energy consumption as the dependent variable. The result of my research showed a positive correlation mostly, as my hypothesis suggested. I had earned a new passion.

However, my one-year scholarship program in Seoul wasn't enough for me to explore data science as much as I want.
I want to know more about data science to be able to work on broader topics including in the private sector. In the interim, I have started exploring R, logistic regression and other subjects online. As a policy analyst I am mostly interested in the quantitative analysis of policy issues. If I want to be convincing in my research I need to excel at data analysis. That is why I want to continue my education in data science.

The program offered by SMU covers exactly all that I'm curious about: data collection, data management, inference and even data mining.
I wasn't fortunate enough to be on the labor market in Korea but I believe a master's in data sciences at SMU will increase my chances in an industry I'm really passionate about. My ultimate goal is to have a doctorate degree in public policy and educate new generations of Africans on efficient methods of handling policy matters.

I recently moved to the U.S. and I can feel data science is more than a promising field. Not only is it applicable to public policy but also marketing, IT business, Healthcare and many other industries. As an African man I look forward to a century where data sciences can be used in order to make better policy both in the private and public sector. I am more than happy to be a part of such a revolution in business analysis and decision making.
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Feb 16, 2016   #2
Franklin, I will try to put this as gently as possible. What you wrote is not a statement of purpose, it is a personal statement. Those are two different essays. The personal statement is used, normally, for college applications, while the statement of purpose is mainly used to apply for masters degree applications. The overall content of the essay that you presented does not contain any relevant information towards a masters degree application. It is more geared towards a college application. Therefore, and I really hate to say this, you have to write a totally new draft. One that will allow you to better represent your qualifications as a masters degree student. I know, you are wondering how you are supposed to do that since you got this application draft so wrong. There are actually a few pointers that can help you sort this out.

1. Just summarize your college education. Discuss the point after you graduated when you realized that you need to gain higher studies and training in order to succeed in this line of work. \

2. Analyze and present your most important reasons for wishing to continue with these studies. Note your future career plans at that point, regardless of the fact that you do not have any actual work experience. By actual work experience, I mean that you have yet to acquire professional credentials in the field.

3. Even though you lack real world work experience, I am sure you had to undergo some sort of internship program in order to complete your college degree, present that as it will help to at least offer an idea as to the kind of hands on exposure in the field that can help you succeed in this field.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 16, 2016   #3
I like your informal writing style, and I think some readers at admission offices will also appreciate it.

Put a $ sign in front of the amount: $2.

Use 'number agreement' in each sentence:

Later, most schools had a computer room computer rooms and ..
...our parents were working class people with no high school educations

I moved to Ukraine to study economics for my bachelor's degree and bought my first computer with the money I made working in restaurants.---------There is something great about the simplicity of this sentence and its implications about how much you appreciate computers and how hard you worked to learn.

Public policy is a subject I am really passionate about. This sentence is not very strong, because it is an unsubstantiated claim. It's better to show people your interest by discussing issues in public policy which you think are important.

As an African man I look forward to a century where data sciences can be used in order to make better policy both in the private and public sector. --- This sentence has potential to be great, but it's important to connect the end of the sentence to the beginning. Show what an identity as 'African' has to do with that interest.

What if you had to express the main idea of this essay in a single sentence? What would you type if you could only use one sentence to express your purpose? This essay needs a sentence like that. It is too much of a story, and the reader wonders about your real purpose. I think the purpose is not to have a particular degree or be in a particular profession -- but instead, to make a specific difference in the world.

: )
Hiddengrace 6 / 118 68  
Feb 16, 2016   #4
Hi Franklin. I see that you are getting some good feedback here and I thought I'd give you my input as well. It feels to me like you've thought a lot in detail about what led you to be interested in this subject/ program. That's okay, but you're missing an opportunity here to showcase yourself in a positive light. I hate to say it, but admissions committees don't care that much about how/ why you became interested, but rather what you've done with that interest. Your first two paragraphs do give a little background information about you, but it feels unimportant to me- they're not really saying anything about you that shows the admissions people what a successful student you'll be. It's completely extraneous and unnecessary. In fact, saying you aren't computer savvy ( no "a" needed there) and weren't sure about your interest will hurt you more than it will help you.

You mention your public policy scholarship so briefly! Those are the kinds of accolades and achievements you should be highlighting. Even if the achievement wasn't in data science you can still connect them. Think about how being successful in public policy will help you to be successful in data science. Or how that influenced your interests/ goals regarding data science.

I wanted to study development economics

I think this makes a good starting point for your revised SOP. Most of what comes before that is irrelevant. It connects both public policy and data science, and expresses your passion and goals for data science. What you have after this paragraph is okay, but I think you need to discuss your goals more when it comes to data science and utilizing that within the realm of public policy. Discuss some concrete things. You discuss the slow development of your country- think about how this education will give you the tools to change that.

Right now you're just kind of listing reasons why you're interested in this program, but you need to portray more than interests. You're saying, I want this degree in X so that I can be good a Y. I'm not sure that will be looked on very positively by the admissions committee. You need to show passion and your goals for data science all on its own.

Some things to think about:
Why this specific program at this specific school?
Why are you a good fit for it?
How have your previous experiences prepared you for this education?
What skills, talents, characteristics, etc... have prepared you to succeed in this program? How will they do this?
What are your plans? What are you going to do with this education?
What kinds of problems do you aim to solve with this education?
OP bobifrank 2 / 6 2  
Feb 16, 2016   #5
I made a few modifications. really struggling with this because it's really a new field i want to join. but I really want this.
justivy03 - / 2,366 607  
Feb 17, 2016   #6
Franklin, as I read through your essay, I see a few contributors already helped you out with it, however, you are still hungry for more

insights, I also notice that you took the corrections and remarks into creating a more sustainable essay.
Now, what I think is that you are the type of student who will never settle for less and will always look for better, is not the best,

options in order to further your knowledge and taking masters in a field that is very new to you is such a bold move.

What I suggest is do what you do best, satisfy your thirst for the best education and continue to learn.
I always believe that learning is a process that does not involve a cycle, its a flow instead. A flow that you have to swing with and

the smoother, the flow, the better the rhythm of leaning gets.

I would like to focus your attention to the last two paragraphs of your essay and kindly find my corrections below;

- I believe mastering theseto master the aspects of data sciences
- with more involvement in more and more industries, from healthcare,
- IT business to name but a fewa few industries .

- in many spheres makes it difficult for African businesses
- and government officials to operate in the global economy.
- I am more than happy to be athrilled to be part of
- such a revolution in business analysis and decision making.

There you have it Franklin, I hope my remarks and few insights on your essay helped.

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