Statement of Purpose for MS CS
Hey guys, could you please critique my SOP? I am applying for an MS in CS with an Electrical/Electronic Engineering Background. Thank you.
My parents encouraged me to take the STEM path to become a doctor. A couple of years later, while I loved the STEM field, I had no interest in studying medicine. I became enamored in Physics and Mathematics and enrolled in the Electrical/Electronic Program in my alma mater, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
In KNUST, I found the Computer Science courses, most of which were programming-centric intriguing. It was my first time encountering anything Computer Science related. Practicing then was a struggle, but I spent a reasonable amount of time in the college library, which was the only place I had access to a computer. While elementary and a small subset of the broader field, learning to code was interesting because it gave me creative freedom to build solutions. Frustration sometimes came into play, especially when I made mistakes. Still, it was refreshing that each topic I picked up, although primarily theoretical, had a logical step to reaching many possible solutions. My university did not have a Major and Minor system, so it was not easy to go all-in on my newfound penchant for Computer Sciences. However, I continued to tutor myself and gained proficiency in C, C++, and Android. I then wrote the source code of my end of program project dubbed "the Taximeter" in C with this knowledge. The taximeter was a hardware alternative to ride-hailing systems for drivers who could not buy smartphones.
Despite my growing interest in this field, I faced a daunting reality right after graduation. The local job market was saturated. There were very few openings even for the more experienced graduates in the CS field. As the first of 4 children, I had to look out for an impecunious family. Incidentally, I was one of only three (3) graduates from the College of Engineering to be presented with an offer from Schlumberger, the leading Oil and Gas service company, during their recruitment of Field Engineers for overseas assignments. Given the circumstances at the time, the scarcity of well-paying jobs, and the quality of the extant jobs, I looked no further and took the offer. It was the best decision I could make at the time as it afforded me the chance to provide enough at a very critical moment. Having moved abroad to the remote deserts of Saudi Arabia, I worked each day under very asperse conditions of the elements. Often there was a lack of internet connection or even cell network for communication. With all these conditions, decisions had to be made rapidly and without consultation to ensure business continuity. Hence, I learned to think on my feet to provide and implement solutions. I often spend time researching through existing research papers and case studies to design the optimal solution for the client and implement these solutions without fail. While the field from which I gained my experiences is not like the CS field, these experiences themselves will prove very germane to succeeding in Graduate School. I capitalized on the many free courses provided on personal development. Time management and general leadership were recurrent themes of these courses, which I went through and tried to emulate not only in the workplace but also in my personal space. The teams I collaborated with mainly were locals and some expatriates like myself. Through these experiences, I learned to work together in very culturally diverse teams to achieve set goals, overcome difficulties, and solve conflicts amicably.
Last year, as the pandemic raged on, I was fortunate enough to participate in some evolutionary algorithm courses. What stood out for me mostly was Genetic Algorithms. Working on complex optimization problems to derive the optimal fitness functions through several iterations piqued my interest in the CS field as it did in my Undergraduate days. I started to broaden my reading scope to more related subjects leading me to Computational Theory and Machine Learning. Since then, I have been immersing myself in these topics, and I am eager to contribute my quota to expanding and implementing these fields into the lives of the average person. Even though I have performed well in my current role with Schlumberger, I am now increasingly seeing myself live vicariously and unable to follow the path that interests me. It is for this reason that I chose to switch career paths and head into Graduate School for a Masters in Computer Science. Deciding on where to settle on in the broad CS field was no trivial task. Setting aside the juvenile penchant I had for introductory CS courses at the start, I began to read and get abreast with the more recent research areas. Consequently, I started to see clearly that despite the burgeoning of the software age almost at the expense of hardware and contrary to popular belief, we are still far from reaching the potential top of computing. I became especially interested in the base limits of quantum computers and how best we could improve algorithms and increase the general efficiency in computing. Coming out of a non-CS field, the prospects of delving into this research and the probable outcomes in improving education, healthcare, and even significantly reducing human aided premature mortality such as traffic accidents in the near future makes me genuinely excited for what is to come.
Combing through Graduate School programs, I looked to find the right combination of schools and programs that would be a good fit for the research areas that interest me and where I could contribute to the best of my ability. I settled on Arizona State University (ASU) mainly for the unique categorization of their areas of specialization and the true diversity of the population. I am particularly enthused by the works of Professor Siddharth Srivastava on the design of efficient algorithms to aid in complex decision making under uncertainty. Getting admitted to ASU would play a significant role in placing me right in the middle of this research and help propel me towards achieving my set goals. The quality of the education would go a long way to help me find my feet in the industry after graduation. I am confident I would be more than a number for diversity and inclusion and contribute tremendously in discussions bringing a fresh mind out of the field. With a tendency to ask questions without fear, I can continue searching for novel solutions with my colleagues.
In times past, I managed to set time aside to teach junior and senior high school students in my community in Zebilla in preparation for their end-of-school examinations. It was a way to give back to the community where I grew up and part of my desire to raise the kids' level of intellect. Although I certainly could not raise their grades to compete with the national average given the little time I had, I succeeded in preparing them for their examination. Many of these students expressed their gratitude when we met, which fueled my attempt to start a virtual teaching school when the pandemic forced most schools to close. The project eventually failed after several tries due to funding and the absence of pervasive internet connectivity. Still, it indeed reminded me that the desire to help will always be there.
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Please reserve this total essay for your personal statement if one is required for your application. It does not contain the correct information for a statement of purpose. So it cannot be used as an information source for that intention. However, you maybe able to insert the university choice paragraph in a reformatted manner in the statement of purpose. Since you did not specify if you are applying for admission to a work experience related, thesis required, or direct from college M S course. I will assume you are applying directly from college. Why? You do not have any work related discussions in your personal statement.
For such a statement of purpose, the focus has to be on your academic achievements and publications, culminating in a presentation of your 5 year career plan in relation to your advanced studies interest. That will be the purpose element of your presentation.