5 Steps to a Stand Out Personal Statement
Writing your university application personal statement is easier when you understand what tutors are looking for
As the first deadline for Oxbridge and some other university applications approaches, would-be students around the country are faced with the daunting task of writing their personal statement.
There’s always a temptation to rush this – it’s the A Level results which matter most, surely? Well, no, not necessarily. Steve Spriggs, MD of education consultancy William Clarence Education, has seen a rise in the numbers of students seeking help to write this important part of the application. “With more university applicants than ever, it’s becoming harder for admissions tutors to distinguish between candidates on grades or academic references alone,” he says. “A stand out personal statement can make all the difference.”
Although writing the personal statement can be daunting, it’s easier when you understand what tutors are looking for. The following five steps should create a personal statement which will get you noticed.
1. Why this subject?
Tutors want to see passion and enthusiasm for your chosen subject. If you’re half hearted about it, you won’t bring much to the course and may well drop out. Try to show that you understand the importance of the subject to the wider world and that you are aware of its relevance to society beyond academia.
2. Why are you good fit for the subject?
A good applicant will have opinions and views on their subject which go beyond what they’ve studied at A level. Mention periodicals you’ve read, blogs you follow, lectures you have attended or texts which have inspired you. Show your commitment to the subject. Mention particular modules or parts of the course that you are looking forward to, and explain why.
3. What are your career goals?
If you’re undecided, leave this part out, but if your course is clearly vocational or if you do have firm career goals, talk about them enthusiastically. Avoid cliches such as “I’ve always wanted to be a psychologist” but do show an awareness of the skills required by your chosen profession, and how you are on the way to developing them.
4. What relevant experience do you have?
If you have some experience which is closely related to your chosen field, reflect on what it has taught you and what skills you have learned. If your work experience is on the face of it unrelated, mention it still but focus on how it has helped you prepare for your university experience. For instance, part time bar work will have taught you self-discipline and good time-keeping, while voluntary work in a residential home will have greatly improved your communication skills and your empathy.
5. Who are you?
This is where you bring in your hobbies, personal achievements and club memberships. Don’t just mention them – show how they have helped you grow as a person. Team captaincy has taught you leadership skills; the novel you’re writing has helped you see the world in a different light; your membership of the chess club has improved your analytical and focus skills.
– Use positive, enthusiastic language
– Provide evidence to back up your claims
– Be honest
– Only include things which will demonstrate something positive about you
– Avoid humour, as it’s so subjective
– Avoid quotes – too many candidates use them and they say nothing about you as a person
“The key is not only to show how the university course will inspire you, but what you can bring to the table personally,” says Steve Spriggs. “Showing passion, commitment and transferable skills through your personal statement will go a long way towards getting the offer you want.”
William Clarence Education is the leading education consultancy service in the UK. With an unrivalled reach into the UK Schooling and University network, we help and advise families from around the world to reach their maximum potential and gain access to the very best of British education.
William Clarence put the student’s needs and welfare at the centre of every programme of study we deliver with a focus on integrity and discretion. Services include UK School Placement, University Placement, Residential Tutoring, Oxbridge Applications, US College Admissions and Homeschooling.
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