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    SOP for Canada: Guidelines for Student Visa & Top Universities

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    Sugandhi Sood

    Study Abroad Expert

    What is an SOP? Statement of Purpose a.k.a SOP is a 1000-1500 word long essay giving information on why you are applying to the respective program and institute. The SOP highlights 3Ws i.e Who are you, What are your academic qualifications, and Why you are the right person for the course. Institutes often check Statement of Purpose to judge how strongly your profile is aligned with the program you are applying to.

    SOP for Canada - What is Different & Important?

    Unlike in other countries, an applicant has to write an SOP for both Canadian universities and a student visa. SOP for Canada student VISA application is different from the Canadian University application, addressing different aspects and fulfilling different requirements.

    • Statement of Purpose for Canada VISA application is an essay wherein you need to explain why Canada, academic profile, post-study plans, reasons for selecting the particular university, and course.
    • Applicants reapplying for a Canada student visa should address the same in their SOP for visa essay.
    • Canadian Universities often ask for three short essays or/and a short video(s) justifying your application. The questions can also require you to submit three photographs with a short description around them.
    • SOP for Canadian universities should go beyond what you have already mentioned in the admission application. It should rather portray your uniqueness and reflect on your most pertinent experiences.
    • Furthermore, ensure that your SOP for the chosen program, such as SOP for Law in Canada or SOP for MS in Canada caters to the program curriculum and your expectations from it.

    Of the two, SOP for Canada student visa is of greater importance as it can make or break your chances of studying in Canada. So let’s start by discussing that in detail.

    SOP for Canada Student Visa

    Canadian visa officers do not call every applicant for a visa interview; the majority of applications are accepted or rejected based on their Letter of Explanation or SOP for Canada student visa.

    An ideal Statement of Purpose for Canada visa should address all required questions at the same time to reflect your individuality. Remember the introduction matters, you want the visa officer to read beyond the first paragraph.

    While writing an SOP for Canada student visa, ensure that you cater to five major questions below:

    1. Why do you want to Study in Canada? Here you don’t just have to address why you want to pursue higher education in Canada, but also why you are choosing Canada over the USA, UK, Australia, etc.
    2. Why have you applied to this particular university in Canada? Don’t just focus on the university’s rankings and reputation. Talk about how the particular Canadian university is suitable for you in terms of program choice, curriculum, affordability, etc.
    3. Which program do you want to study and why? Mention your choice of program (complete name not short form), talk about your motivation and genuine interest in the chosen program.
    4. Do you have a gap year? Remember to address this question carefully and thoroughly as Canada is strict about gap year(s). Explain what you did during your gap year in detail.
    5. Are you going to return to your home country? Don’t mention anything about staying in Canada. Emphasize strongly on returning to your country and state reasons and long term plans.

    In addition to addressing these questions, it is recommended that students provide a response to the following elements as well:

    • How are you going to fund your studies in Canada? Whether you have a scholarship/sponsorship or your parents are going to fund your studies, mention that in detail. Attach affidavits, letters, and bank statements referring to financial support.
    • Do you understand all your responsibilities as an international student? Students planning to work part-time and off-campus can do so for a maximum of 20 hours/week, during an academic semester.

    All applicants are recommended to ensure that their SOP for Canada visa is a strong essay, highlighting your goals, expectations, and financial availability. Check out the Sample SOP for Canada Student Visa

    SOP for Canada Universities

    Statement of Purpose at Canadian universities is more personal compared to SOP for Canada Student visa. While each university’s approach towards the Statement of purpose or statement of intent may vary, there are a few elements that all Canadian universities check in an applicant’s essay:

    • Academic Scores: Universities give extra emphasis to academic scores, especially in the case of business & engineering programs. So if you are applying for such programs, talk about your academic grades and experience to get an edge.
    • Community Culture & Volunteering: While it should be included in every PG applicant’s SOP, those applying for programs like social service and public administration should prioritize it.
    • Work Experience: At Canadian universities like UBC, UToronto, it is mandatory for PG applicants to have relevant work experience of at least 2 years.

    Applicants must ensure that they stick to a specific word count as Canadian universities are quite strict about it. Download a sample SOP for Canadian Universities.

    Statement of Purpose for University of Toronto

    UToronto doesn’t require an SOP for undergraduate programs. However, its graduate programs require an essay and a 10-min video essay. There is no fixed pattern or question for either as every year, the university comes up with something new.

    For instance, in 2019, U of T’s Rotman admission written essay was related to the ‘spike factor’ and video essay was an interaction with the admission committee.

    Essay Question:
    "Our admitted students stand out by doing interesting things in different walks of their life ( both personal and professional) — something we describe as the ‘spike factor’; What are the things you identify as key elements which demonstrate Passion/ Grit/ Resilience/ Innovation/ Drive/ Ambition and more?

    You don’t have to limit yourself to just one aspect of your life, it can include multiple aspects outside work and education such as hobbies, volunteerism, awards, entrepreneurial ventures, sports, and the arts.

    Upload 3 'spikiest' pictures for you and use the SOP to tell us why you have chosen these particular images to illustrate your ‘spike factor’. ( Up to 1000 words)

    Reflection Question:
    State 4-5 attributes or characteristics that best describe you. (3 to 5 words)

    Video
    The video interview component guarantees face-time with the Admissions Committee and thereby, giving you a chance to showcase your personality, characteristics, passions, and values.

    Tip: For the video interview, be as genuine and unique as you can be. Whereas, for the written essay, be as creative as you can be. For SOPs for MBA in Canada, click here.

    Statement of Purpose for University of British Columbia

    University of British Columbia is one of the few Canadian universities which require an SOP for both undergraduate and graduate programs. For UG programs, UBC’s personal profile requires answers to 4 questions such as:

    1. Describe for us “Who are you?”. How would your friends, family, and/or members of your community describe you as an individual? If possible, include something you feel like is your biggest achievement and state why. (maximum 250 words).
    2. What is important to you and why? (maximum 250 words).
    3. Describe up to 5 activities that you have actively pursued or the accomplishments achieved in one or more of the following areas. Highlight the nature of your responsibilities within these activities. (50 words per description).
    4. Elaborate about one or two activities listed above that are significant to you. Please explain the role you played and key learnings from the process. You will be asked for a reference who can present your case in this respect. (maximum 350 words).

    For the PG programs, the Statement of interest includes a small essay, wherein you have to address your

    • specific academic area of interest
    • previous educational experience
    • expectations from UBC graduate program

    Refer to any prior citations, publications, or experience in your chosen field of interest. Such elements will separate your applications from others.

    Tip: While writing an SOP for UBC, remember to emphasize your academic background and accomplishments. UBC is amongst those universities that prefer students with exceptional grades.

    Statement of Purpose for Queen’s University

    At Queen’s statement of purpose is not mandatory, but recommended. If you decide to write an SOP, remember it solely focuses on your non-academic elements. The statement of intent for Queen’s University comprises two portions- a questionnaire and an essay.

    Questionnaire:

    • List any of your awards and distinctions that you have received in the last 4-5 years. Briefly explain each one of them in about 200 characters.
    • Identify any extracurricular activities and the total number of hours you have devoted to each one.
    • List any part-time/full-time paid or unpaid work you have done in the past 4 years.

    Essay: One extracurricular activity or employment opportunity, describe the impact of this experience and the greatest learning outcome from this experience.

    Tip: Even though the Statement of Purpose for Canada is optional, admission officers at Queen’s expect you to submit one.

    Sample Statement of Purpose for Canada 

    This is an actual SOP of a student who is currently studying in Canada:

    Introduction
    I, [Student’s Name] S/o Sh. [Father/Mother’s Name] comes from a middle-class family residing at [State,Country]. My father and mother both are engaged in agriculture. I have a younger sister Ms. BNG, who is studying in class VIII in [Name of school]

    Academic Background and Language Proficiency:
    I passed Class X from [Name of school] with [CGPA Obtained] CGPA in 2016 and Class XII from [Name of school] with [Percentage obtained] in [Chosen subject/stream].

    I am a keen sportsperson and participated in different sports like Basketball, swimming, and Judo. Along with sports, I won laurels in co-curricular activities namely Painting, Essay Writing, Spell Bee, Public speaking competitions, debates, and quizzes. I participated and won many competitions for which I have received Certificates of excellence, merit, or participation according to the achievements.

    I visited the USA for a short period of around 26 days in 2016 where I gained 23 days of Astronaut training experience from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, and completed training offered by HSA tutoring under the aegis of Cambridge University for Commerce subjects like Business Organization, Accounts, and Economics.

    I have done IELTS in 2018 with an overall band score of 6.5. I scored 6 each in listening, reading and writing, and 7.5 in speaking module.

    Why Automotive Business Course?
    I am born and initially brought up in Greece and had developed a passion for racing cars since my childhood. With a business acumen inherited from my father and love for automobiles also as an innate trait, a course mix of automobiles and business is like something specifically cut out for me. I am an avid learner and aspire to make my career with my passion, hence when I came to know about a course in the Automobile business, I jumped at the opportunity.

    The Automotive Business study program at Georgian College, abbreviated as the AUBU program offers general business and specialized automotive education is providing me an in-depth knowledge of this industry. The Automotive Business School of Canada is actively supported by the automotive industry which is apt for providing hands-on experience in this industry. I incline to set up my own business in the automobile industry in the global market for which I cannot ask for a more suitable course than this.

    Why Canada and Georgian College?
    I have experienced international education in my childhood due to which I opted for a worldwide recognized degree program in Canada. The Canadian education system is excellent and ranks among the best in the world. Canada is a multicultural country that provides internationally recognized degrees. It has one of the best business and automotive education courses offered by Georgian college with the backing of the Automobile industry. The dynamic and vibrant characteristics of the country match my nature. In order to become future-ready, I have decided to pursue my further education at Georgian College as studying there will give me international education and exposure.

    Financial Status:
    My parents are engaged in agriculture and also receive earnings by leasing the land and property owned by my family. The annual income of my family is around CAD _____. I have already opened a GIC account with CAD 10,000/- to take care of boarding and lodging expenses for the first six months after my arrival in Canada and submitted my second year’s fee at the college. My parents will be supporting my education in Canada.

    Post Study Opportunities:
    India is a growing economy and is a labor-intensive market. In the last five years, the automotive industry in India has seen a boom. Commercial vehicles reported the maximum number of sales followed by two-wheelers and four-wheelers (passenger vehicles) respectively. After the successful completion of the Automotive Business course, I would like to go for a career in the automotive business. As it is there is no dearth of opportunities in this fast-growing field. This field offers a well-paying career after completion of specialized education.

    My father has a prosperous and well-established financial status in India, though I am destined to inherit that yet I want to make my career in the automobile industry. I have my roots and family in India and have a dream to do something great for my country after getting a world-class education.

    I know that studying in Canada requires a lot of discipline and dedication. I am a law-abiding citizen and a very responsible individual.

    I request you to give me an opportunity to study in Canada as that will help me in realizing my dreams.

    FAQs

    Ques. Is Statement of Purpose (SOP) for Canada Student visa mandatory?

    Ans. The Canadian Visa Officers consider a statement of Purpose/Statement of Intent as extremely important and a simple glance at the document must convey all the strong points about your application as they do not have too much time to spend on one application. Furthermore, it must be written objectively without concealing any fact and should not contain any false information. Check out the sample SOP for Canada student visa

    Ques. How do I write an SOP for Canada?

    Ans. An SOP for Canada should comprise of five significant elements:

    1. Introduction/Personal Information
    2. Academic Qualification
    3. Why this specific course?
    4. Why this specific institution?
    5. Short and/or long-term career goals

    In addition to these elements, students can also include any important detail(s) they want to highlight to the committee.

    Ques. What are the salient features of a statement of purpose for Canada?

    Ans. Some of the salient features/guidelines of a statement of purpose (SOP) for Canada are:

    1. The SOP must be well-drafted and written by the applicant himself.
    2. The information supplied should be true and if the need arises can be supplemented through the evidence.
    3. All the aspects that can affect the visa outcome should be covered.
    4. The document should be categorized in subheaders and different paragraphs making it easier to understand in lesser time.
    5. The SOP has to be written in English and the level should match the proficiency level of the applicant.
    6. All the points should be explained in a concise manner effectively.

    Ques. Do international students need to submit an SOP for PhD in Canada?

    Ans. Yes, international students are required to submit a statement of purpose for PhD courses to study in Canada. Compared to an SOP for UG and graduate courses, your SOP for doctoral programs for Canadian universities should be between 1000 to 2000 words, discussing details of your previous work, planned research projects, etc.

    Ques. Should I include my English Proficiency language test score in my SOP for Canada?

    Ans. Yes, it is advisable to mention your TOEFL/IELTS score in your statement of purpose for Canada.

    Ques. Can my Statement of Purpose for a Canadian university help me secure a scholarship?

    Ans. No, Canadian universities do not consider your Statement of purpose or other essays while allocating scholarships. This is because majority of international scholarships in Canada are awarded on the basis of the academic merit of the applicants.

    Ques. Do I need to get my statement of purpose for Canada student visa attested?

    Ans. No, you do not have to get your SOP for Canadian visa attested by anyone. 

    Ques. Should I explain my study gap in my statement of purpose?

    Ans. Yes, your SOP for Canada, especially the one for a student visa should include a genuine and valid for your study gap. Canadian immigration committee, as well as universities, are quite flexible with study gaps taken by students. However, any false information will result in rejection.

    Ques. Why is a statement of purpose for Canada student visa important?

    Ans. Canadian High commissions generally do not have a practice of calling the applicants for personal interviews for granting study visas and the documents presented by the applicant are the representation of the applicant in front of them for taking the final decision. In view of this, the study visa SOP works as a vital document and works in place of personal presence.

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