What is a personal statement?
A Personal Statement is a supporting document in your application to study at a university or college. It’s your chance to say why you’d like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience you have that show your passion for your chosen field. A chance to stand out in the crowd!
What to write about?
You’re telling admissions staff why you’re suitable to study at their university or college. It’s important to remember you can only write one personal statement – it’s the same for each course you apply for. So, avoid mentioning any universities or colleges by name. If you’ve chosen similar subjects, talk about the subject in general, and try not to mention courses titles. If you’ve chosen a variety of subjects, just write about common themes, like problem solving or creativity.
A few tips to stand out:
Make it relevant – remember: there’s a character limit (you have 4,000 characters and 47 lines). Don’t waste space on details that have no relevance to your chosen course and career path.
Show how you’re unique – through your own examples, independent research, and personality. Present a good balance of academic and extra-curricular credentials – but don’t feel like you have to include hobbies if you don’t have any.
Make it engaging (whilst avoiding clichés) – lines like ‘I was born to be a dancer’ are definitely not unique, and generic clichés like this might risk mildly irritating the admissions tutor.
Think outside the box – let’s face it, no one wants to read through thousands of English students talk about how Shakespeare opened their eyes to poetry. Avoid the obvious, and think laterally.
- Have a strong introduction, remember the aim of introduction is to keep the reader interested and keen to continue reading.
- Talk mainly in 1st person narrative.
- Show your interest and enthusiasm for the subject beyond curriculum.
- Be specific about what has motivated you to choose that subject. Have you attended any talks, read books or watch documentaries?
- Give details rather than just mentioning them, i.e "I am fascinated by Brian Cox documentaries on the origin of universe and the possibility of existence of life on other parts of Solar system."
- Explicitly link an activity with specific generic skills. Leave it to the reader to be judge of how that activity has enhanced your skills, through the way you have detailed the activity. “Having been part of cricket team throughout secondary school, has made me realise the importance of team work is generally”, no, you just have an idea why teamwork is important, not "generally"!!
- Emphasize on the significance of your subject by having a 3rd person observation/cliche in your introduction. “ The issue of plastic in oceans wouldn't have been taken seriously if it wasn't for Planet Blue and similar TV watch documentaries”
- Use conversational language, stay formal.
- Use overly emotional / overenthusiastic language.
- Give A-level subject marks as they will be included in the references that school provides.
- Talk about A-level courses in details (it's ok if you touch upon your preference e.g “you prefer theoretical over applied physics or other way around”).
- Talk about irrelevant part jobs you had during summer/weekends. “a part time job at a catering company helped with boosting my confidence, enhanced my skills in interacting with people and performing well under stressful situations”
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