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Personal Statements Kirsty Alexander, Reach Project Officer University of St Andrews.

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Presentation on theme: "Personal Statements Kirsty Alexander, Reach Project Officer University of St Andrews."— Presentation transcript:

1 Personal Statements Kirsty Alexander, Reach Project Officer University of St Andrews

2 What is covered: What a Personal Statement is Recommended content and structure of a Personal Statement Writing your Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts

3 The UCAS Three: Academic Grades Reference Personal Statement

4 What is a Personal Statement? Comprises one third of your application It helps you to make your application stand out It is a piece of work that is as important as any you have done so far

5 What makes a strong Personal Statement? Engagement with the subject/department A commitment to and understanding of the subject area/profession Themes/areas of interest – relate to university course e.g. department specialisations (use department websites) Indication of key debates/ ‘hot topics’/new research – personal views on these? Wider reading beyond school texts – invest in a first year text book?

6 What makes a strong Personal Statement? Motivation for choosing the subject Career plans – general, not specific (e.g. not future Prime Minister) Personal experiences Personal interest/curiosity e.g. interest in how things work? How politics affects ordinary people?

7 What makes a strong Personal Statement? Evidence of interest in the subject School subject choices – why are they relevant, any specific projects Reach project! Relevant extra-curricular activities Occasional events – work experience, internships Academic attainment Prizes/recognition of academic qualities

8 What makes a strong Personal Statement? Evidence of responsibility/transferable skills Position of responsibility e.g. prefect, mentoring, leader of organisation, first aider Independent work – projects Group work – committees, sport, drama, Communication skills – public speaking, drama Commitment – membership of organisation including sports, art, music In all of above – what skills have been gained, how these have been exercised and how can you use these at university or for the subject you want to study

9 Things you must avoid: Lack of in-depth awareness of subject Indication that you’re not committed to a particular subject e.g. when applying for different courses Focusing on one subject if you are making joint applications e.g. if Philosophy and German must link the two together and ensure relevance between them Mentioning a university by name e.g. ‘I’ve always wanted to go to St Andrews…’ Detailed description of e.g. school trips/extra-curricular activity only – must link it back to the subject Unsubstantiated claims (I want to be PM), jokes/humour (may not be understood) or abstract/irrelevant stories (When I was young I always wanted to be a princess, but now…) Plagiarism!

10 Practical first steps Treat it as a job application Take a couple of pieces of paper & jot down all the things you feel you might like to include Gather together all your certificates, papers and notes Do not expect to complete it quickly - take your time, draft ideas etc. It ought to take weeks to perfect Talk to your teachers, parents & friends already at university Draft in a Word document – do not write your Personal Statement into your UCAS application. Only copy and paste carefully once you are completely happy with it

11 Practical first steps Start during your summer break (October 15 and January 15 deadlines) Be aware of your own school deadlines Think carefully about why you are applying to Higher Education Check course requirements and details Draft a statement and read it over and then read it again Get someone to read it over – ask them if it represents you correctly

12 How to make a good impression: Don’t repeat material already on the application form Take care with the layout - make the most of what you’ve got Do not start every sentence or paragraph with 'I' Unpack and expand on things e.g. “I am a prefect” Don’t finish up with a long list of unrelated hobbies Be positive and enthusiastic Don’t ramble, or pad it out Take care with your sentence structure and check your spelling and grammar

13 Deferred Entry: Use your Personal Statement to prove to admissions officers that you will be doing something constructive with your time Work/travel in an area relating to your chosen course will earn you “brownie points” Remember that deferred entry is not always available on some popular courses - always check with the University first!

14 Reference: Parent power – ask the school to provide a reference for your child from a teacher who knows them Submit your UCAS application as soon as it is ready – teacher has longer to write a properly crafted reference Provide the teacher writing your reference with a list of relevant activities, personal qualities or other important information about yourself that you would like them to mention in your reference Ask to see your reference before it is sent off – check that it refers to you, mentions things about you and does not contain the wrong name – demand no ‘copy and paste’ job

15 Reference: Highly important part of the application – value/importance often underestimated by teachers Applicants sometimes rejected on the reference Important in differentiating between candidates Personal – indicates referee thinks the candidate is worth spending time over Academic capabilities including predicted grades, prizes, class comparison Extra-curricular activities especially school-related – this means the applicant does not have to go into detail on these in the Personal Statement Evidence of personal qualities

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