When applying to university, a good personal statement can really help to differentiate your application from the potentially hundreds of others you’re competing with. It’s your opportunity to sell yourself to university admissions tutors and demonstrate to them that you’re focused and committed to the subject you’re applying for.
Many applications are let down by poorly considered personal statements so it’s well worth spending some time carefully contemplating the impact of your statement in order to maximise your chances of making a successful application. Writing one can seem like a daunting task but with a little preparation and planning it need not be. Choices shares some tips to consider when compiling yours.
Have a plan
Before you begin, jot down some key points that need to be included in your personal statement. These could include your motivation for choosing the subject, your career aspirations, details of relevant work experience (paid or voluntary), placements, evidence of your strengths and details of your personal qualities or skills.
Key Ideas and Drafting
Jot down key ideas about the main points you with to cover and write an initial draft. Ask friends, family and tutors to read through your personal statement and provide you with honest and constructive feedback. Quite often, they’ll think of relevant things about your abilities and experiences that you may have overlooked.
- Who or what influenced you to study your chosen subject.
- Why you decided to apply for this subject.
- What aspects of the subject you enjoy most.
- Any experiences and qualifications you have that are relevant to your application.
- Your future intentions and goals.
Once you have some key points to work with you may want to organise these into 4 or 5 paragraphs. Your statement should ‘flow’ so that the key points come across clearly. Use short sentences and try to be as succinct as possible.
A good personal statement should:
- Provide the admissions tutor with relevant background information about you.
- Reflect the distinctive style and characteristics of its author – admissions tutors are not seeking to admit clones.
- Explain why you have chosen that particular subject and supply concrete evidence of your enthusiasm for it.
- Show that you are positive and motivated.
- Include some reference to your future plans or careers aspirations. This is important if you are applying for a vocational course, but don’t worry if you aren’t sure what you want to do when you leave university.
- Be written in clear and concise English.
What Admissions Tutors will be looking for
Admissions tutors like to see some evidence that the applicant has made an effort to find out about their chosen subject, for example, through work experience or shadowing if it is a vocational course. Also, they will want to see evidence that the applicant is capable of study at degree level. You may want to demonstrate that you have thought about how you will organise your time effectively, particularly if you have other commitments.
They will also expect you to use reasonable grammar, syntax and punctuation. Ask someone to check your statement for you if you don’t feel confident about this
Some Dos and Don’ts
Bear in mind that you if you are invited to attend an interview you may be asked to talk about things you have written in your personal statement, so don’t write anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about in an interview.
Ramble or fill the space with irrelevant information. Holby City might be your favourite TV programme or maybe you once played a sheep in the nativity play at primary school, but does the admissions tutor really need to know this? Make sure the information you provide is appropriate and relevant.
Don’t forget to spell-check your statement before sending it.