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SOP for Master of Science in Advanced Methods & Data Analysis


Iris_viva 2 / 8 2  
Dec 28, 2018   #1
I am applying for this master program and deeply appreciate your help to proofread my essay!
There are no specific requirements for SOP of this program. However, I am afraid I write this essay in such a large amount of words that the admission would get tired and bored.

Below is my essay.

Statement of Purpose



Inspired by my freshman study of user behavior in social media, I decided to study statistical methodologies for sophisticated data analysis in the future. Thus, I have taken multiple statistics and programming courses and conducted a variety of relevant research projects during my undergraduate studies, which have well prepared myself for the advanced studies in your program. Given my keen interest in Social Statistics and academic research, I am applying to the Master of Advanced Methods and Data Analysis at University of XXX. I believe your program would be a crucial stepping stone towards my future career as a research scientist in corporate innovation labs.

My aspiration to engage in statistical analysis is rooted in my freshman study on users' location sharing behavior on social media. In this study, I was interested in how social media have inspired people, especially those of my generation, to share moments of their daily lives and to reveal personal information to others. In particular, I focused on undergraduates' location-based information sharing behavior on WeChat, the most widely used social networking service in China. Sample data from the responses of 46 undergraduates in my university were collected through questionnaires. According to the bar charts produced by Excel, the dominating factors in users' self-disclosure behavior lied in their level of extroversion and desire for social connectedness among peers, which verified my initial assumptions. However, it was unexpectedly discovered that such behavior was also driven by people's longing for the optimized image in others' impression based on the results. It came to me that there may exist other ignored explanatory variables due to the unsystematic methodology for data analysis. Therefore, I have determined to master statistical methods systematically in my following undergraduate studies since then, and your program would largely deepen my knowledge in data analytics.

My undergraduate modules have allowed me to understand the fundamental statistical theories and to perform the analysis by relevant programming languages. To begin with, on the basis of linear algebra and multivariable calculus modules, a series of statistics courses have exposed me to a wide range of probability distributions and statistical theories, including those of hypothesis testing and linear regression. Particularly, the course of Linear Statistical Models has provided me of a deep understanding of how regression models extend from continuous variables to categorical ones and how Bayesian methods could be applied to analyze generalized linear models. The rigorous curriculum of your program allows me to acquire a holistic and comprehensive training of statistical analysis-to develop my skills in experimental design, to advance my ability to draw statistical inferences and to practically apply statistics to consulting activities. Furthermore, I have mastered a variety of statistical programming languages including R and Stata through multiple programming projects. Specifically, I am proficient in building, interpreting and visualizing regression models by practice. In order to comprehend the computational algorithms, I explored the numerical approximation methods in the course of Numerical Analysis. Your program would hone my expertise in statistical computing and develop my ability from technical and non-technical aspects through the Applied Statistics Capstone, which could substantially contribute to my future career as a research scientist in data science.

In addition to the methodological training in statistics, I am particularly interested in the possible specializations and interdisciplinary research projects provided by this full-time master program. First of all, it has long been an important one of my research interests to answer cardinal questions in social science by statistical methodologies, starting from my previous study of users' sharing behavior on social media. Accordingly, I intend to pursue the specialization in Social Statistics. Apart from this specialization, I am attracted by the abundant seminars and numerous cutting-edge research projects led by the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (CSSS). Among these social science researches, I am especially impressed by Prof. X's work in human mobility based on GPS data. It is of great interest for me to study cluster analysis and topological data analysis by measuring human activity spaces. Additionally, the flexible course-selection mechanism at the University of XXX makes it possible for me to pursue the Data Science Graduate Option offered by the eScience Institute. This option could further strengthen my foundation in data analysis from an integrated perspective of database systems and statistical learning. These sequences of courses and fascinating research opportunities would empower me to investigate my research interests in social statistics with the combination of my research skills acquired from previous research projects.

My previous research experience in machine learning and data pricing have laid solid foundations for further research at the graduate level. I carried out my first research project in machine learning under the guidance of Prof. X in our Department of Mathematics. By predicting infantile patients' hospitalization expenditures, I deeply understood the advantages and disadvantages of different multi-class classification algorithms. I next demystified convolutional neural networks by studying the semantic segmentation of overlapping human chromosome images. These research projects not only deepened my understanding of machine learning by programming in Python but also enhanced my capability of doing research collaboratively. Currently, I focus on my final year project to develop an effective pricing model for queries of private data, which derives from the question in my mathematical modeling competition. For this project, I have systematically learned relational databases and mastered SQL database skills. My model has been deeply influenced by the non-arbitrage pricing framework established by Prof. X in her project of XX. Therefore, I am immensely looking forward to joining her research team to develop my data pricing model further. To sum up, the diverse specializations and rich research opportunities convince me that your master program would be an excellent match for me and enable me to contribute to the discipline of data science.

With regard to my career plan, I intend to become a research scientist in the statistics research labs of technology companies. Earning the Master of Advanced Methods and Data Analysis would advance my career goal with thorough methodological training in data analytics as well as a wealth of opportunities provided by University of XXX. Your program would enable me to have close contact with the leading scholars in relevant disciplines and expose me to the most cutting-edge researches. During the program, I plan to conduct a graduate Research and Development (R&D) internship in my summer vacation to accumulate practical experience through end-to-end analysis. After graduation from my master program, I would pursue the joint Ph.D. degree in Statistics and Machine Learning in light of my dual concerns of statistical theories and machine learning algorithms. Of great interest to me are the topics of recommender systems and computational advertising. I expect to explore these areas during my Ph.D. program and to engage in the fields of advertising and media consumption analytics in the statistics research department of corporate innovation labs.

To summarize, I believe that my persistent passion for data analytics, my strong academic background in statistics and machine learning, and my research ability would enable me to succeed in graduate study and research of your program. Lastly, I am sure that the excellence of your program, along with my capabilities and motivation, would lead me to my destination-seizing the opportunities for human development through data analysis and realizing them eventually.

Holt [Contributor] - / 8,607 2499  
Dec 29, 2018   #2
Iris, the essay is suffering from an over abundance of information coming from you. Mostly because you are being pretty detailed about your research experience, which may not be a good thing. Writing an educational biography will not benefit your application because, by the time I got to the 4th paragraph, I found my attention wandering from your paper already. It gets too boring when the paper is highly technical. Rather than constantly explaining how you conducted research, keep it simple. Tell the reviewer what the research was about, what methodology was used, and the results.

Keep it short. Pick your 2 most notable research accomplishments. Describe why these 2 particular research papers were of importance to you. It would be beneficial if your research has been published before because that adds to your importance as an authoritative researcher in your field. That can also help to increase your "professional experience" which seems to be lacking in this essay. Were all of these research completed during your undergraduate course?

Can you explain why you have not had any professional research experience yet at this point? If you can, then you will be able to establish that the importance of completing this MS course lies in your ability to enhance your career opportunities over the next 5 years. You may want to explain why you do not have any corporate research experience yet. Normally, an MS student will have had at least 2 years professional experience prior to enrollment. So you are an exception to the norm and you have to indicate why that is.

Your last paragraph, which touches on that does not sound convincing to me. There is also no need to mention your undergraduate thesis mentor in the essay. Not unless he is going to be one of your referees in which case, the mention of his name in the essay will be beneficial to your application.
OP Iris_viva 2 / 8 2  
Dec 29, 2018   #3
Great thanks for your advice, Mary! I also worry readers would get bored for such a long essay, but I am still confused for some parts of your feedback and hope for your reply.

Firstly, I understand that I give too much detailed information for my research experience, especially in Paragraph 2. I would definitely abridge the content of this paragraph. However, apart from this paragraph, I only introduce my other researches in Paragraph 5 and summarize each of them in 1 or 2 sentences. But you still feel the content of researches is superabundant?

As for the publications, I have shown them in my CV. Do I need to emphasize it again here (since there has been much content here ><)?

Yes, the supervisor mentioned is one of my referees, but he is not the mentor of my thesis. (Am I misleading readers here...?) I include this information because I am afraid readers would question whether these are independent researches or supervised ones. If the latter, they might want me to clarify.

Secondly, about the lack of professional experience here, I do have an industrial internship before. However, this internship experience has little relationship with the major I am applying here. Neither my desire to apply for this major is motivated by it, nor my future career is connected to it. So I don't know where I could place it in this essay. Since this university also requires me to submit a personal statement, I prepare to place my internship there to explain why I change my major a little bit. Would you think it could be okay? At this point, I would acknowledge that I didn't have related corporate experience before because I focused my efforts on research. But given that my future career is actually academic, would the absence of work experience in SOP be a disadvantage?

About my conclusion, the last sentence is actually written from my heart, but it still seems unconvincing to you after reading the whole passage ...><... Would you give any advice for me to modify my conclusion since I wish to have a strong ending paragraph?
Holt [Contributor] - / 8,607 2499  
Dec 30, 2018   #4
Iris, your personal statement is enlightening and engaging, but it lacks a statement of realization on your part. The statement of realization should be an idea that you have that emanated from the time you spent trying to help the elderly claim their money. The idea should tie-in with the course offering at University of Washington and allow the reviewer to see how your professional interests, social interest, and change of career path motivation all combined to lead you the university. You could try to summarize the first 3 paragraphs into a single compressed / concise paragraph that clearly shows the motivation for your interest in a change of career. The realization that you have should lead you to mention what you plan to do about the problem and how the training at the university will help you achieve that professional goal. Your essay is strong when it comes highlighting your work with the socioeconomically disadvantages, but falls short of the "how you may have overcome various obstacles or aided others in surmounting such challenges" portion. How did you help the elderly during the time you indicated? How did your idea to help them evolve into this interest in a different career path? Why do you believe that this plan is something that you should pursue? You have a good start here, but I feel that you have missed out on certain important elements of information that can help your essay stand out.
Alao0702 6 / 13  
Jan 19, 2019   #5
1.) My responsibility as a financial adviser to investors enabled me to maintain active communication with clients..............
2.) Overall, these research experiences have nurtured............
3.) whose excellence ... of this career objective - YOU SHOULD REMOVE THIS, IT MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THE WHOLE SENTENCE.
OP Iris_viva 2 / 8 2  
Jan 19, 2019   #6
Thanks for your suggestion! However, regarding your first advice, the logic of the sentence seems unnatural to me-"the responsibility enabled me to do ......."
For the last one, I agree that the concluding sentence is bad-written but I cannot come up with a strong conclusion. >< Would it be better to rewrite the sentence as " which would facilitate the achievement of my career objective"?
Holt [Contributor] - / 8,607 2499  
Jan 20, 2019   #7
Iris, you have to strengthen the reference to your research skills. It isn't just about the topic of the research and what drove you to research it, but rather, the way the research project increased your skills as a researcher. Expand on the discussion by offering an explanation of the methodology, what you discovered, and what the end result of the research was. This has to somehow relate to the masters course you have decided to pursue to prove that you have the foundation to complete the complex research requirements of this course.

Your long term career goals to not relate to the relevance of your current studies because you indicate an immediate desire to complete a doctorate in this field. The doctorate will require at least 5 years of professional experience after you complete the MS course. Revise that section to focus on your professional progression, as you envision it to be over 5 years instead, closing the plans with a reference to a doctorate.

As to the reference to the professor in your paper, ensure that he will be your referee in this application. There is a high possibility that he will be called upon to verify your claims in this essay so if he is not willing to defend your application, it is best to omit his name in the presentation.

The application is somewhat strong, and could be highly competitive if relevant corrections are applied to the presentation. As I am not sure about what you wrote in the other essays related to this application, it would be best if you review the content for any duplicate mentions as that is not something that will help your application. This is good enough for now. Hopefully you can make it even better in the next version.
OP Iris_viva 2 / 8 2  
Jan 20, 2019   #8
Great thanks for your feedback!
Regarding the research section, I didn't show a detailed discussion of my research projects partly because of the word limit. Another reason is that I have fully listed my methodologies and results on my CV so I think it might be redundant to repeat the same information on this essay. What do you think then?
Holt [Contributor] - / 8,607 2499  
Jan 20, 2019   #9
Take the research and methodology reference our of your CV and place it in the relevant essay section. This isn't about what is convenient for you to write but your ability to adjust and follow the prompt instructions. Revise your CV to remove the gap created by the moving of the research and methodology information.

The reason why you have to move those information here is clear. It relates to the discussion requirements. Shorten the presentation to suit the word count. That is what you are expected to do.

I realize it is inconvenient for you since you already prepared the CV hoping it would lessen your application paperwork. However, you need to be prepared to make adjustments to suit the university reviewer requirements. It is about what is convenient for the reviewer.

You are the applicant, you must aim to make a good impression, and that starts with you showing that you are able to follow the rules and deliver on the provided instructions.

Other applicants have lost their chance to attend their first choice university simply because the failed to follow the rules. Don't be one of those technical casualties of the application process.


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