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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Motivational letter for Phd in Mathematics

    Hi to everyone!
    It's the first time I write on this forum, even if I've often looked on it for comments/questions. I am applying for a Phd and I have to write a motivational letter. I am not a native English speaker, but I find my proficency satisfactory.
    I wrote this letter, but I got a reply that it contains many errors. I've read it carefully but I've not found mistakes. Maybe some error in some grammatical construction?

    I thank you a lot!!


    Dearall


    Iam XXX, currently a XXX at the XXX, and I would like to apply for the XXX Series PhD program in Mathematics at the University of XXX. Withmy educational background and experience, I strongly believe that Iam suitable candidate for the program.

    Ihave always had a great passion for mathematics. The aspectwhich was, and still is, more seductive to me is the unique interplaybetween rigor and creativity which characterizes it. The maininstance has been when I learned that, in order to solve some veryhard conjecture about varieties over finite fields (at the time, myidea of geometric object was rather naive, but I was aware of theexistence of a wider class of objects) Grothendieck managed to gluetogether arbitrary commutative rings in order to define the rightnotion of geometric space. With this at hand, not only the problemturned out to be solvable, but it was also possible to formulate andsolve arithmetic problems in purely geometric terms.



    Duringmy studies, I was an active student. I have been professor aide inproblem solving sections in Abstract Algebra for two years. Myresponsibilities were to solve various problems about the topic forstudents and to supervise students learning. Furthermore, I was amathematics tutor. I gave private lessons in Basic Mathematics,Analysis, Abstract Algebra and Linear Algebra to undergraduatestudents of mathematics as well as other fields. These experiencesimproved my leadership, responsibility and creativity. I have alsogiven talks about topics in Algebra, Geometry and Algebraic NumberTheory and educational lectures in General Mathematics andArithmetic. All this gave me the opportunity to increase my skills inorder to speak in front both of a wide heterogeneous audience and anacademic one.


    Lastyear I applied, and was accepted, for a PhD at the XXX. I immediately accepted a subject concerning theextension of Milnor's K-theoryto Arakelov varieties, driven also by the idea to move to France.Shortly after I realized that my first choice, XXX, the one whichhad been indicated to me at first, was actually the right choice andthat it has been a mistake not to follow that advise. In any case, Iwon't consider this year as a total waste of time: besides thepersonal experience of living abroad alone, I had the opportunity toexpand my scientific background by being introduced to new things,such as algebraic K-theoryand Berkovich analytic spaces, by maintaining up-to-date knowledgeabout research lines in geometry and number theory and lastly bydeepening my background knowledge, for example by getting tounderstand and appreciate the ideas and techniques behind thesolution of Weil's conjectures.


    TheGeometry Group in Padova has a distinguished research status. Theresearch level is international, the environment is stimulating, andthe projects are extremely interesting. In particular, I am excitedby the idea of pursuing the research line undertaken in the lastyears by Profs. XXX and XXX as well as by some of theirstudents in order to establish good reduction criteria for varietiesover finite extensions of p-adicrational numbers. I believe that I will be a positive addition to theteam, fit well in the organization and be a useful member of thecommunity. Since your programs perfectly match my research interestsand profile and in view of my curriculum and background, I believethat I am an ideal candidate for a place and I would be honored to beaccepted as a PhD student.


    Thankyou very much for your time and consideration.

  2. teechar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Motivational letter for Phd in Mathematics

    I started correcting your letter but soon had to give up. Write it in simpler, clearer and more direct sentences. I do realize it contains technical (mathematical) jargon, but nonetheless, it's still difficult to follow.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Motivational letter for Phd in Mathematics

    Quote Originally Posted by elzaku View Post

    Dear Admissions: (Or: Dear University of XXX:)

    Quote Originally Posted by elzaku View Post
    I am a XXX at the XXX, and I would like to apply to your XXX Series PhD program in mathematics. With my educational background and experience, I believe that I am a suitable candidate.

    I have always had a great passion for mathematics. The aspect that interests me most is its unique interplay between rigor and creativity. The main instance was learning that to solve some very hard conjectures about varieties over finite fields, Grothendieck glued arbitrary commutative rings to define geometric space. At the time, my idea of geometric objects was rather naive, but I was aware of the existence of a wider class of objects. With this new knowledge in hand, the problem not only turned out to be solvable. It also became possible to formulate and solve arithmetic problems in purely geometric terms.

    During my studies, I was an active student. I was a professor's aide in problem-solving sections in abstract algebra for two years. My responsibilities were to solve problems for students and to supervise students' learning. I also tutored. I gave private lessons in basic mathematics, analysis, abstract algebra and linear algebra to undergraduates of mathematics and other fields. I have also given talks about topics in algebra, geometry and algebraic number theory and educational lectures in general mathematics and arithmetic.
    [new paragraph]
    During this time, I've done [or, if you're not doing it anymore, say: I did] a good deal of public speaking to diverse audences. And through these experiences, I've learned a good deal about leadership, responsibility, and creativity.


    Last year I was accepted for a PhD at the XXX. [This means XXX gave you a PhD. Is that true? Or were you accepted as a PhD candidate?] I delved into the extension of Milnor's K-theory to [Are you sure you mean "to"? You might want to say "of" or "concerning."] Arakelov varieties.

    [Delete all this: driven also by the idea to move to France.Shortly after I realized that my first choice, XXX, the one whichhad been indicated to me at first, was actually the right choice andthat it has been a mistake not to follow that advise. In any case, Iwon't consider this year as a total waste of time:]


    Besides the personal experience of living abroad, [delete "alone"] I had the opportunity to discover new concepts, such as algebraic K-theory and Berkovich analytic spaces, maintain up-to-date knowledge about research lines in geometry and number theory, and deepen my background knowledge - for example, by learning to appreciate the ideas and techniques behind the solution of Weil's conjectures.


    The Geometry Group in Padova has a distinguished research status. The research level is international, the environment is stimulating, and the projects are extremely interesting. In particular, I look forward to pursuing the research line undertaken by professors [Only capitalize "professor" if you make it singular and put it before both names. Either say "professors Smith and Jones" or Professor Smith and Professor Jones."] XXX and XXX and some of their students to establish good reduction criteria for varieties over finite extensions of p-adicrational numbers.
    [space]
    I believe that I will be a good addition to the team, fit well in the organization, and be a useful member of the community. Since your programs perfectly match my research interests and profile, and in view of my experience, I believe that I am an ideal candidate and would be honored to be accepted as a PhD student.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    See my comments below.

    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 07-Jun-2016 at 12:40.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Motivational letter for Phd in Mathematics

    Hello, Elzaku!

    Here are my comments:

    Your grammar is better than most native English speakers - MUCH better. But it's true that you have a lot of serious errors, including:

    - You've combined a lot of pairs of words to make single words. Don't do that!

    - You sometimes forget to put spaces before new sentences.

    - You also have a habit of capitalizing common nouns. Again: Don't. For example, "algebra" is not the name of a person or place!

    Those would give you a low or failing grade in most English classes in the English-speaking world. There are also some content problems:

    - Your section on your mistake in going to France is not relevant and makes you seem flaky. It's a fine thing to discuss candidly in a spoken interview, but it doesn't belong in an application letter.

    - This is much too wordy, and that is a cruel way to treat addmissions staff who receive mountains of application letters every year.

    Here's a trick I use when I write. After I've finished writing an article, letter, essay, or story, I go through it THREE TIMES to shorten and simplify it. Is a phrase really needed? Is there a smaller word I can use? Do I really need this adjective or that adverb? Are there long sentences that should be two short sentences? Am I getting to the point?

    I hope that helps. Best wishes on your PhD quest. You obviously know your math!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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