Your personal statement is one of the most important parts of your university application. While your qualifications and total UCAS points are important, your personal statement is insight into you.
This is important as spaces are limited so you need to be able to demonstrate to your chosen university why you should be chosen over someone else.
It is an opportunity to really show off your skills, experience and enthusiasm to your future place of study.
Moreover, it will demonstrate to the university what you bring to the table beyond the academic. Whether that’s years of work experience, hobbies, or interests.
Your personal statement is one of those rare occasions where you’re allowed to talk about your successes, your passions and aspirations with complete freedom.
Obviously, remember your audience. Arrogance and showing off will not make universities warm to you.
Also bear in mind that you only get to write one personal statement, so it not only needs to be your best effort, but generic enough that it can be submitted to any university.
Starting your Personal Statement
The most important thing to remember is be honest. It may be tempting to embellish your skills or experience, but it’s never worth it. Especially as you could be invited to an interview, which means you could be caught out. And should you be accepted; you may have to keep those lies going for 3 years.
Before you start writing, review the prospectuses for the universities you wish to apply to. Familiarise yourself with the course description and identify the qualities, skills, and experience the admissions team would want to see.
Also take notes about any activities, societies or facilities that you are particularly interested in. The only thing to note is you can only submit one personal statement, which means it must be quite generic.
In this instance you can mention the kind of societies etc that you would be interested in joining at a very top level. Rather than naming specific groups.
What to include
When writing your personal statement, include what you hope to achieve from studying at university. A degree is an obvious one, but you need to go further than that.
The learning experience, what you hope to learn from the course, new friends, the ‘university experience’ and the opportunity to push yourself are all good examples.
Next consider what makes you a suitable candidate. If you’re a mature student then you have a lot to offer beyond your qualifications.
Work experience, life experience, professional qualifications and similar are becoming highly respected by universities. They acknowledge that a career brings with it a wealth of knowledge and transferrable skills that school leavers just won’t have.
Moreover, mature students tend to be more insightful, more organised and more worldly than their younger contemporaries. All of which they hope will rub off on them and help to make them better students.
Include relevant experience, skills, or achievements you’ve gained from education, work, or other activities to support your statement.
If you belong to clubs, volunteer, play an instrument, sing or play a sport, talk about that too.
Make sure you mention any relevant formal qualifications you have, what you enjoyed about them and how they benefited you.
How to write your Personal Statement
There is no definitive format to writing a personal statement, although some approaches will work better than others.
The most important thing is to be yourself, be authentic, concise, and enthusiastic.
Strike the balance between standing out, but not being too out there. Humour is subjective and not everyone will get a quote from a book or movie.
You want to be memorable for the right reasons, not because you baffled or offended the admissions officer.
Showcase your skills and experience in such a way that relates them to the course or that the university values the most.
Writing a personal statement is a lot like applying for a job. Just as with a job specification, you need to demonstrate that your skills and experiences meet the requirements set up by the university.
Also, take your time. Don’t leave your personal statement until the last minute as it will need several drafts to get it right. And not exceed the word limit.
You have 4,000 characters – including spaces. Which is around 47 lines of text in the submission form. Most word processing applications like Word, Google Docs, or Pages have a word count so you can keep an eye on the amount you’ve written.
Once you’ve finished a draft, proofread it thoroughly. Read it then read it aloud. Get a trusted friend or family member to check it through for you too. It takes on average three proof reads to spot all the mistakes, hence the need for plenty of time before the submission deadline.
Redraft and repeat the process until you’re happy with it.
Personal statement dos and don’ts
Below is a simple summary of what to do and what not to do when writing your personal statement.
- Be honest.
- Be concise.
- Show you know your strengths.
- Be enthusiastic.
- Include relevant experience beyond qualifications.
- Structure your statement so it’s easy to read.
- Give yourself plenty of time.
- Produce several drafts.
- Ask someone you trust for feedback.
- Lie, exaggerate or embellish, if you get caught out, you’ll lose your place.
- Copy someone else’s personal statement, they are checked for similarities against the personal statement library. If it’s too similar to an existing statement you could lose your place.
- Leave it to the last minute.
- Rely solely on spelling and grammar checkers
- Hold back for fear of bragging. It’s essential you include everything that you can bring to the table.
- Be arrogant – there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Make sure you don’t cross it.
- Negative – equally don’t do yourself down or focus on personal failures. Your personal statement is about what you can contribute.
Getting the qualifications
Obviously, before you get to the personal statement stage, you need to have the relevant qualifications.
If you don’t have the qualifications you need, we can help.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is a leading UK online course provider. We specialise in courses that can help you achieve your academic ambitions, whether that’s studying A Levels or an Access to Higher Education Diploma.
All of our courses can be accessed by an online learning portal so you can start your studies the same day you enrol.
It also gives you the flexibility to balance study with work and family commitments. This takes the stress out of getting your qualification so you can concentrate on passing.
To learn more about distance learning and online courses, visit our blog. To learn more about how Access to Higher Education Diplomas can get you university ready in a year, click the link below.