September is fast approaching, which means new starts for a lot of people, whether it’s your first year of University, finishing GCSEs, or the beginning of sixth form college. However, one of the biggest changes is entering your final year of A-Levels, and potentially applying to University. If you are in this boat, you will of course know about having to write that dreaded personal statement. But it doesn’t have to be! I may not be an expert but I certainly have some tips and tricks as to get your personal statement going, with a few ideas for inspiration.
The UCAS website gives you space for 4000 characters (including spaces), or 47 lines of text, it’s not as much as you’d think. So, prioritize! Through each section, which I’ll break down below, write a list of all the ideas you believe are applicable, and narrow them down to the most unique; you want your personal statement to be memorable to those reading it. It’s always good to plan out your statement as a starting point.
Nobody can say for sure how you should phrase you’re opening line, but I will say it’s more important than you think. Like the first chapter of a novel, if it’s not good, what’s the point in continuing to read it? Your first sentence should be thought provoking and interesting, however it’s wise to avoid the use of rhetorical questions, or an attempt at a comical opening. This personal statement is about you, so make sure you emphasize that, although best to not start with a cocky remark or the word “I”, it probably won’t get you very far. Neither will copying someone else’s opening, even if you do think it’s perfect, this work must be purely your own, so just start on a positive note and you won’t go far wrong.
Although the universities you apply for may give the course a different name, chances are you’re generally applying to a very similar subject/subject area. So, say what you want to study, in general terms, and why you want to do so. If you have any anecdotes about your childhood or a particular subject you studied at school, now is a good time to use it. However, it’s crucial not to name drop; you may think Leicester will provide the perfect course for you, I wouldn’t blame you, but actually stating specifically why you’d like to study the course at Leicester is a big no no! There are potentially five different universities reading your personal statement so don’t be too specific, it may harm your chances of getting multiple offers.
The Education Explanation:
Now you’ve explained the course you wish to take, it’s a good time to describe how your educational history will help you whilst studying your chosen university course. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this has to be completely straightforward, so think outside of the box! For example, imagine you’re planning on studying Spanish at university, of course you need a Spanish A-Level, but what about that Maths A-Level you’re also studying for? Mathematics could give you particularly strong critical thinking skills, meaning you have developed a very systematic approach to translating pieces of Spanish text. There’s no point linking two subjects for the sake of it, but often the skills you’ve acquired from other subjects can easily overlap.
The “Show-Off” Section:
You now have a chance to tell the universities all those extra things you do, outside of your academic life; this can be anything from hobbies you pursue, work experience or volunteering you’ve undertaken. Although it’s important to explain why you enjoy these activities, it’s equally so to discuss how these pursuits have equipped you well for your course, and overall university life. For instance, taking on a lot of extra opportunities, besides academic ventures, suggests a good sense of time management, meaning you can contribute to the university by not only succeeding within your course but also by being involved in university elections, sporting societies, volunteering schemes etc.
It’s about time you wrapped this up, so it may be a good idea to show you’ve thought about a future beyond university, hinting at a possible career aspiration after graduation. Don’t worry, this isn’t set in stone, the universities understand this is a long way off, but it does prove you have a contentious and logical thought process behind your chosen degree. End your personal statement on a high!
So there we go, hopefully I’ve expelled some of my wisdom onto you, and you feel a little more prepared for writing your personal statement. You have lots of time, so don’t panic, just keep an eye on the clock; no point leaving it until the last minute. Seek advice from tutors and get in a few drafts before final submission, even if it’s just to check your spelling and grammar, it’s really worth it!
Overall, just be honest, be unique and be positive. I’m always around in the comments if any of your questions have gone unanswered; best of luck!
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!