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Thread: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

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    Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

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    I am at my wit's end with my SOP. The writing style of my first SOP was fairly creative. I have since realized that is NOT what PhD programs prefer. I have completely rewritten my SOP to be very to the point and to focus on research. I sent it to an old professor of mine to review and give me his opinion and he tore it to pieces. He said now my statement sounds "flat", "not artistic" and "uninspired'. He also said I used the word "I" too much and that ad coms are going to believe me to be narcissistic. I find it almost impossible to not use "I" in a 3 page essay that is all about me and why I want to get my PhD. He also takes issues with me using adverbs. For instance, saying "I am deeply interested in "fill in the blank type of" research" is terrible to him.

    I don't know how to make my SOP less flat, more artistic, and more inspired when every single thing in my essay that sounds halfway creative he thinks I should strike from the essay altogether. I feel like I'm going crazy.

    Is it worth it to send my SOP to some type of company that can review it? If so, which one? Several of these companies online have sample SOP's and they're TERRIBLE, which makes me think there is no way I am paying them to review mine. Anyone know of a company that would actually do a good job?

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    My advice is to get a second opinion from another professor. It sounds like some of his preferences are just that - stylistic preferences. You certainly want to convey your passion in a believable way without getting too creative in your descriptions (it's all about balance), and you want to ensure your writing is professional and error- free, but your professor isn't your only (or even primary) audience. If his feedback doesn't seem right or isn't clear, see if someone else is willing to give you feedback and what common input you receive. I would not pay for a service. I am in the process of revising my own statements and tailoring for each program, and I've only asked for feedback from those who know me. Remember that you don't need to drive yourself crazy including *all* of the advice you receive, as the statement should still represent *you* in the end.

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    I am also writing a personal statement now. I have found former professors helpful in reviewing my statement and have not needed to pay for any services.

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    Quote Originally Posted by ElizaSells View Post
    I am at my wit's end with my SOP. The writing style of my first SOP was fairly creative. I have since realized that is NOT what PhD programs prefer. I have completely rewritten my SOP to be very to the point and to focus on research. I sent it to an old professor of mine to review and give me his opinion and he tore it to pieces. He said now my statement sounds "flat", "not artistic" and "uninspired'. He also said I used the word "I" too much and that ad coms are going to believe me to be narcissistic. I find it almost impossible to not use "I" in a 3 page essay that is all about me and why I want to get my PhD. He also takes issues with me using adverbs. For instance, saying "I am deeply interested in "fill in the blank type of" research" is terrible to him.

    I don't know how to make my SOP less flat, more artistic, and more inspired when every single thing in my essay that sounds halfway creative he thinks I should strike from the essay altogether. I feel like I'm going crazy.

    Is it worth it to send my SOP to some type of company that can review it? If so, which one? Several of these companies online have sample SOP's and they're TERRIBLE, which makes me think there is no way I am paying them to review mine. Anyone know of a company that would actually do a good job?
    Of course you'll be using the word "I" in a statement designed to inform someone about you. I echo earlier advice to find another person to review your statement.

    That being said, I think there is something worthwhile in what your old professor is saying, and it's based on the idea that your statement should "show, not tell". Don't spend your time describing yourself as "deeply interested in X" - not because of the adverb, but because it's not credible. Instead of *claiming* that you're deeply interested in X, convince me that you're deeply interested in X by showing me evidence of that deep interest. Has that deep interest led you to sit in research workshops at the local university? If so, what workshops did you attend, and what did you find interesting about them? Has it led you to read recently published journal articles or talk to active researchers about what they're working on? If so, tell me about them. Has your interest led you to pursue research assistant positions? Tell me about them.

    Without that kind of evidence, your self-description is just meaningless words.

    And I'll also agree with the general idea that "creativity" isn't that great. Like, I don't need to read an introductory paragraph or two that talks about how pearls are formed by way of an irritant, and that they represent the triumph of individuals over adversity. And just like that pearl, you have faced adversity and OVERCOME to be the polished applicant you are. Skip the pearl talk and just tell me about you.

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    I just want to second everything Rando said.

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    I'm not applying for an accounting degree program though.

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rando View Post
    Of course you'll be using the word "I" in a statement designed to inform someone about you. I echo earlier advice to find another person to review your statement.

    That being said, I think there is something worthwhile in what your old professor is saying, and it's based on the idea that your statement should "show, not tell". Don't spend your time describing yourself as "deeply interested in X" - not because of the adverb, but because it's not credible. Instead of *claiming* that you're deeply interested in X, convince me that you're deeply interested in X by showing me evidence of that deep interest. Has that deep interest led you to sit in research workshops at the local university? If so, what workshops did you attend, and what did you find interesting about them? Has it led you to read recently published journal articles or talk to active researchers about what they're working on? If so, tell me about them. Has your interest led you to pursue research assistant positions? Tell me about them.

    Without that kind of evidence, your self-description is just meaningless words.

    And I'll also agree with the general idea that "creativity" isn't that great. Like, I don't need to read an introductory paragraph or two that talks about how pearls are formed by way of an irritant, and that they represent the triumph of individuals over adversity. And just like that pearl, you have faced adversity and OVERCOME to be the polished applicant you are. Skip the pearl talk and just tell me about you.
    This is the exact advice I was going to give. Let me add a little to it, but seriously this is spot on.

    I understand what it is like to receive harsh feedback, and feedback from professors are normally harsh, particularly in terms of a review (which is basically what they were doing). In attempting to be straightforward it sounds like the prof was too blunt. Just a heads up, you’ll be getting this for the rest of your academic career, and it always kind of sucks.

    The issue with adverb use is that it doesn’t say anything. “This research will contribute to the field of marketing by providing a deeper understanding of the processing of new information by infants.” Is a much weaker of saying, “How infants process new information provides direct evolutionary evidence into knowledge transfer and can improve on the current information processing model proposed by INSERT CITES HERE and further explained by INSERT NEWER CITES HERE.” Do you see the difference?

    On to your specific questions. First do not be too discouraged by your profs comments. The initial feelings will quickly subside. That being said ensure that you give yourself a day or two to process what they really mean. Don’t look at the comments for at least 24 hours and allow yourself to feel mad/sad/useless/whatever other emotions come up. That’s normal. Second have someone else read their comments. They might be helpful in getting you to better understand what the prof meant, hopefully we did some of that here, but having someone actually read all of them will really help you to process them better. Third definitely get a second opinion, but don’t get someone who will just tell you it’s great. Get someone who will rip it to shreds. See where the communalities between the two reviewers are and make the changes that will make your SOP great.

    DO NOT PAY ANYONE TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR SOP. Those services are not run by PhD students or havers, they are run by people trying to make money off of lowly applicants. That being said, DO consider paying an editor to check for grammar and strength of writing. I’ve used an editor on every paper I’ve written. They are great and will ensure that you put your best foot forward. They can be expensive, so see if you have any friends from undergrad who were English majors who will do it for you for cheap (I use a family member).

    One closing thought. When I submitted a first draft of a paper to my co-author I was egstatic. I thought it was great and I was excited for him to make some minor changes. What I got back was a sea of red and 95% of the paper needing to be redone. You’ll get better with time. We’ve all been there and are pulling for you. You’re in the final stretches now, don’t give up! Good luck!
    Til now I always got by on my own
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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    Thanks for the replies everyone. Yes, getting harsh feedback does stink, but I'm not personally offended or upset by it. I am just struggling to understand how to make my personal statement "artistic" and "inspired" while still being very matter-of-fact and professional.

    One thing that I struggle with - I want to get my PhD because I've worked as an adjunct professor for a while now (in addition to working as an auditor). Like many people, it was the idea of teaching that initially made me interested in the PhD. But unlike other people, when I found out about how much research professors do I wasn't scared away, and when I read some examples I could see myself writing and performing this type of research. I've also been told by many professors that I should consider my PhD based on some of my personality traits (ability to manage my time, ability to read and digest large amounts of information, questioning nature). But I feel like in the SOP they're looking for some big moment that led you to wanting to get your PhD (and I feel like this is reiterated on this message board to some extent) like attending some conference or performing some type of research on your own. Maybe the fact that I don't have anything like this to say in my SOP speaks loudly enough and means I shouldn't have the opportunity to get my PhD - I don't know. But I'm also scared to even mention anything about me teaching and enjoying it because I've heard Adcoms will not take your research interests seriously and will paint you as a candidate that is only interested in teaching. This is really just me venting and I don't expect anyone to have a solution to me feeling this way - its just a glimpse into the mind of a person slowly going insane during the SOP writing process - haha. But if you do have thoughts you think would be helpful I would love to hear them.

    Anyway, I am currently getting an opinion from another professor and plan to use both professors' critiques as well as the valuable information I have learned on this forum to improve my final draft. Thank you everyone so much for the words of encouragement!

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    Assuming you've taught a wide array of accounting courses, you could say something like as you were prepping for "advanced accounting class" you were doing some research into xyz accounting issue and you got intrigued by it, and it led you down the rabbit hole of research. Then you can transition it into the types of accounting research you're interested in, and how you want to approach research etc. .. In the process of researching for your courses, you reached out with current professors that you know, and one thing led to another and talking with them really ignited your passion for the latest and greatest academic research in accounting.

    Basically, use your life experiences (as Rando has said) to paint a narrative and tell a compelling story (you've already painted some of it in your previous post, you just need to expound on it)

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    Re: Paying Someone to Review my SOP? (Accounting PhD)

    I would be leary of going too artistic with your SOP. You want to be creative, but there is also kind of a form that schools are looking for. They want to be able to quickly skim your SOP and get an overall idea of what they can expect from you.

    As someone who has sat in on application review sessions, I can tell you that they are not looking for an A-HA moment. They're not looking for a, "and then my eyes were open". Rather they are looking for a concise coherent path to a PhD. They want you to weave a clear picture of why you want to pursue a PhD, and that picture should only be related to research. I can't state that enough, everything in your SOP should point to research. Talk about your past experiences, but in relation to how they will interact with your specific research goals or caused you to think about research differently.

    As evergreen noted, you can swing your teaching experience into a research focus rather simply. Don't let anyone tell you that you don't deserve a PhD because you don't have a moment where you realized that research was the thing. For me I realized that I hated my job, I hated my job prospects, and I hated the idea that if I stayed with it for one more year, I would be stuck in it for life. That's what got me interested in pursuing a PhD. The research interests and excitement came later as I learned what getting a PhD really meant.

    The unfortunate fact of our lives is that teaching is a four letter word. Personally I think that a desire to teach should have a huge impact on your desire to get a PhD, but saying that will hurt your application chances. Keep teaching talk to a minimum, but keep that drive alive. Teaching is a huge part of our field and for the majority of us (who won't end up at top research institutions) it's a huge part of what we'll be doing. Good luck!
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