Why a Statement of Purpose

If there was one requirement for admission to the MPA Program that I struggled with the most, it would be the statement of purpose. I can’t remember the actual number of days it took me to write it, but I do know that it felt like an eternity to fill two pages explaining my intentions for pursuing an MPA degree. The brevity and substance of the work posed a serious challenge, which not only required so much thought but also due time.

Looking back, I’m glad that it’s part of the admission requirements because it helped me really think about how an MPA would be helpful in my career and assess the main drivers of my decision to forego work and go back to school.

The statement of purpose asks basic and straightforward questions: Why an MPA? Why here and why now? It sounds simple yet daunting at the same time. I have found my answer to these questions to not only be helpful but also essential in guiding my decisions during recruiting and even within my own MPA experience.

From time to time, I read over my statement of purpose and reassess where I was to where I am today and whether the steps I have taken thus far are consistent with what I planned to do. In my response, I talked about my short term and long term goals and the overall trajectory I would like for my career to take. I discussed the values that I hold dear and that will never be up for compromise. I set lofty goals for myself and aimed high.

This exercise reminds me of time capsule activities I used to do back in college as part of retreats and workshops I attended. At first, I found them to be cheesy projects looking for a grand purpose to support. How naïve was I! Even though I haven’t been in the program for that long, I relish my statement of purpose because it reminds me of why I’m doing what I’m doing and the goals I have set for myself. So many things have happened from when I wrote it to the present time, which can make me forget about the big picture. In a way, it is like figuring out one’s true north.

Writing a statement of purpose is no easy task. It shouldn’t be. But I would assert that it is worth all the time and effort. Overall, I think the statement is designed to encourage us when we feel like we are at a loss and to remind us of our reasons and values in making such an important decision.

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