When applying for a University place, a bold and well considered personal statement is the key to a successful initial application.
As with a resume, the information provided within it must be unique, and set you apart from other applicants when being read, along with thousands of others, by University staff.
There are several key things to consider when preparing to write a University personal statement:
Be sure that this is the course for you
Whatever you do, don’t just opt for a course, because you are struggling to decide, and find yourself running out of time. Explore your options early, narrow them down, and make your final decision well in advance of the application date, to enable you to research, and understand fully the course you wish to apply for.
Know your course
In order to strategically write about your wish to apply for a specific University course, it is crucial that you have learned as much information about that course as you possibly can, and furthermore, that you are one hundred percent sure this is the course you wish to apply for. To be able to write a passionate and furthermore, convincing piece, you will need to be fully committed that this is the course for you.
There are numerous key components that tutors will expect to see incorporated in a personal statement. It is not the end of the world if you do not include all of these, however, in order to be a ‘front runner’ and set yourself apart from hundreds of other applicants, it is wise to follow this guide:
Why is this course for you?
This is your starting block, and the section that will demonstrate your level of interest and background research into the course. You need to be specific about how this course stands apart from any other of its kind, as this way, the tutors will not try to steer you onto another course.
What makes you the perfect student to study on this course?
Remember, there will be possibly hundreds of applicants for this course, with variables in the character of each applicant, playing a huge part in the decision making process for the tutor. You need to be confident and ready to sell yourself in this section, therefore self-awareness, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and understanding yourself as a learner are vital.
What other life-experience can you bring to the course?
Believe it or not, what you participate in outside of school, college and University carries a lot of weight, when it comes to deciding on your academic future. Hobbies, voluntary and paid work, and other social activities and interests can contribute a great deal to your life experiences, which in turn will enrich your academic abilities and potential. Therefore, for example if you want to study History, being involved in archaeological digs as a hobby, will evidence your keenness for the topic throughout your life. Embrace these links to your course, and ensure this enhances your passion for your chosen subject.
How is your chosen course relevant to your chosen career?
Do your research here. To a point, you should already have a reasonable idea where you intend your study to lead you, and what potential job roles you will apply for once you have graduated. This knowledge will demonstrate excellent foresight and professional planning, which quite rightly needs to start developing before you’ve even embarked on your chosen course.
What skills have you developed that can enhance your academic ability?
Again, you will need to think broadly when considering this. A bit like writing a resume, people often forget that certain roles and skills can be validated and translated so that they can be viewed as desirable by a plethora of employers. The same with your transferable skills, for example, if you have babysat a sibling regularly, this demonstrates reliability and commitment to a responsible task, this in turn will translate that you are able to take a grown up responsibility for the undertaking of academic study, and the serious commitment required of you.
What plans have you set out for the long-term?
This does not relate necessarily to the end product, and job you will find yourself gaining, it is far broader than that. You may be bold enough to say that you will be a successful Lawyer, or Accountant, but consider taking that one step further, and demonstrating an aspiration to be running your own practice eventually.
Ensure the content is upbeat and positive
Enthusiasm is always supported by strong, positive prose. Of course, if you have any queries or reservations at all, about your chosen course, you will have the opportunity to discuss these face to face, once you’ve successfully acquired your place. The power of your personal statement will be strengthened by upbeat, positive statements and information.
Consider carefully the overall appearance of your personal statement
Of course, the content is crucially important, but so is the presentation of the piece of work you will be submitting. Not only will you need to convince your tutor that you are the right student for your chosen course, based on all of the above, you too will be demonstrating how prepared and able you are, to submit a well written, well planned, well presented piece of work, on a formal level. The submission of your successful personal statement will be your first opportunity to show off a mature and well-prepared writing style.
So, if you use this advice as a general guide, you can’t really go wrong. Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare, write, and rewrite your personal statement if necessary, is key to being confident about the final piece you submit.
Remember, this is like performing at an audition, and you will only get one shot at it, therefore you only have yourself to blame, if you do not achieve what you set out to when you applied.