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Statement of Purpose Personal Training Sessions

Applications for the SOP Personal Training Sessions has now closed. If you wish to be added to our waitlist, email us.

Participants for the Personal Training Sessions must attend the Write Your Way Into Grad School workshop. 

Description of program 

Sign up for the Statement of Purpose (SOP) Personal Training Sessions, led by Dr. Emma Burris-Janssen, Generalist Writing Specialist at Caltech's Hixon Writing Center. This program consists of both individualized support and access to resources to help assist you with writing your SOP.

Who can participate?

This program is open to students doing undergraduate research at Caltech via SURF, WAVE, Exchange, LIGO/SURF, NASA/JPL, or GROWTH. There are a limited number of spots available in our sessions. If the number of interested students exceeds our availability, we will be prioritizing Caltech SURF and WAVE students. 

Why join the personal training sessions? 

The Statement of Purpose is an important part of your graduate school application. Many students struggle to write a strong Statement of Purpose because they rely on the same writing strategies that got them into college, which are not appropriate for writing this new document. Others struggle to get started, since the pressure is high and the work may seem daunting. These training sessions will get you through the hardest part of the process: producing a good first draft of your Statement of Purpose. You can then share your draft with mentors and peers for further feedback and development, with plenty of time to revise before your application is due.  

Training Schedule

Part 1: Group meeting 

Attend the Write Your Way Into Grad School workshop on Tues, June 15th. (The workshop is open to everyone, even those not participating in the personal training sessions.) This workshop will provide an introduction to what makes a strong Statement of Purpose. 

Part 2: Warm-up 

Complete the provided materials for self-guided brainstorming activities to develop ideas and a plan for writing your Statement of Purpose. 

Part 3: Personal training 

Participate in two, one-to-one, 1-hour meetings with a Hixon Writing Center Writing Specialist.  

  • Meeting 1: Share your brainstorming packet and develop an outline and plan with the guidance of a writing specialist.  

  • Meeting 2: One week later, return with a rough draft and talk with the same Writing Specialist about how to further develop and improve it.  

Part 4: Follow up with mentors and peers 

We will provide guidance for how to seek and respond to further feedback from your mentors and peers.