Schools have broken up for the summer holidays, students are told to work on their Personal Statements ready to be handed in during the first week of term. Students may be planning to get it wrapped up in a day or so, after all what can be so hard about writing a Personal Statement, 47 lines long, about one side of A4 – 4000 characters (including spaces)? Well, plenty if you haven’t prepared enough in advance!
It’s particularly hard if you are planning to apply to a competitive subject or a high ranking university as you need a show-stopping Personal Statement that is clear, informed about your subject choices, articulate about your passion to study the subject and send the right signals that you are ready, academically able and willing to take a step into the next stage of your life as a university student.
Avoid the common pitfalls
You may think you are the only person who is applying for the course but the reality is that if it is a popular subject like Law or Economics or vocationally specific like Medicine or Veterinary Science there are likely to be at least 15 or more students each applying for one space on the course. They will all have the required predicted grades, so your Personal Statement is your opportunity to shine. Remember that the university admissions person who is choosing their students has studied the subject for many years so they will spot waffle and shallow interest a mile off. They are looking for keen students who are genuinely interested in the course, have done their best to inform themselves by reading widely ‘beyond the school curriculum’ (this means books outside those that you are told to read at school) and are offering something unique to bring to the course and their fellow students.
So, let’s get started
Before you get writing, make notes of books you have read, related resources, lectures you have been to, workshops attended, competitions entered etc. Did you agree with the writer/speaker? Why/why not? How did these resources make an impact upon your decision to study this subject?
- What prompted you to study the subjects you are taking at school? What do you enjoy about them and why? Have you become aware of specific skills a subject can give you? For instance, Maths develops strong problem-solving techniques.
- What about work-experience, work shadowing, part time jobs, school events that you have organised? What did you learn, did you acquire new skills, what existing skills did you utilise?
- Sports and social activities: Tutors want you to get the most out of your studies and will expect you to participate in some sporting and social activities. These may also help you to destress at exam time and get to meet a wide range of people from all cultures – part of the university experience.
- Finally, it’s good to reiterate your reasons for wanting to attend a UK university; to learn from your fellow students as well as the academic staff. To be at a culturally diverse and vibrant institution, to be stretched and challenged and to enhance your career prospects. All good reasons to go to university in the UK.
A word of warning! UCAS puts all the UCAS forms and Personal Statements through plagiarism software to avoid temptation to copy and paste the odd sentence that sounds good on the web! Make it yours, make it genuine, make it successful and good luck!
Some resources to help you get started:
UK Study Options provide tailored student guidance on writing a personal statement for competitive university applications. Have a look at what our Personal Statement Package includes.
We also write a number of blogs on Personal Statement writing and the university application process in general, visit our blog page to find more useful tips and information.