Some applicants to grad programs go the route of being very very focused on a specific topic, and others go straight for the Big Questions. The Statement of Purpose entry below, from Patchi at My Middle Years, takes the latter route. Impressive.
Below this one is prime example of a groveling SOP, from Academic Crossroads.
I am applying for admittance into the _______ Graduate Program at University _________. My main interest is studying the origin of life and molecular evolution. You may be wondering why I'm applying for a physical sciences program instead of a biological sciences one, but I am convinced your program is the right one for me.
I have been interested in the origin and evolution of living things for many years and I chose my undergraduate biology department with particular care. My professors were quite knowledgeable, even though most classes were given by TAs (which were not that bad). However, when I expressed my interest in studying the origin of life I was informed that I needed a Noble Prize to be taken seriously. I was not discouraged by this information, and it has led me to apply to your program.
I am convinced that the scientific studies in your program are the kind of research that gets the people in Stockholm to reach for the phone. I would be especially interested in working with Dr. FSP, as her work in ________, __________, &_________ are particularly favourable to the Noble Prize. Not many women have been awarded the Noble Prize and I believe people are starting to notice. Tides will change and I need to be ahead of that wave.
As we celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday next year, I hope to be enrolled in your graduate program and on my way to the success I need to fulfil my dream. With a graduate degree from University _________ I am sure I will be making contributions to our knowledge on the origin of life before Darwin turns 250!
from Academic Crossroads:
"Meaningless! Meangingless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" -Solomon in Ecclesiastes
With these words, Solomon (who is most often cited as the author of Ecclesiastes) announces the consequences of obtaining wisdom. Solomon is also credited with authoring the majority of the Proverbs. Therefore, I announce my application to the Biology Department at FSPU where I will conduct a systematic meta-analysis of all evolutionary biology work in order to offer support to fundamentalist Creation Science programs around the globe.
While I have absolutely no background in college-level biology, I have had a fascination with science since the womb. My lab skills are impeccable as I duplicated Mr. Wizard's experiments flawlessly in my kitchen by the third attempt. I still retain the knowledge that if you want to remove an ice cube from a water glass with a string, then it is best to position the string on the ice and sprinkle salt. My electronic set and LEGOs represent my favorite toys as I systematically followed the instruction to produce the desired result. I have also experimented with plant watering frequency extensively and found that plants watered less than once a month tend to die rather rapidly.
I developed an interest in my present research when I moved to the Bible Belt where people convinced me that evolution was a conspiracy theory advocated to advance the gay agenda. Knowing of my instrinic interest in science, people continually told me to study biology to provide sound apologetics for Creation. In college, I chose instead to study Literary Criticism because I cry at the sight of a caged animal but have been unable to find gainful employment outside of the retail sector and food service. I consider my employment history to represent God's judgement on my previous career path.
I desire to attend FSPU because of the presence of Extremely Famous Professor, a leader in evolutionary biology. By connecting within a Very Distinguished Department, I will be able to observe lab practice critically to detail the many limitations of the methods and errors in the data analysis. Moreover, I will have unparalleled access to EFP's publication record and data behind those publications allowing for a strong meta-analysis that will further accent the lab's methods and errors. With the results of this research, I can establish that like everything that has time to live, it is now time for evolutionary biology to die.
I sincerely think that I can make a strong contribution to the community at the University of ScienceWomen and look forward to hearing from the Department of Ecology soon.
10 months ago