4What is a Personal Statement? Comprises one third of your applicationIt helps you to make your application stand outIt is a piece of work that is as important as any you have done so far
5What makes a strong Personal Statement? Engagement with the subject/departmentA commitment to and understanding of the subject area/professionThemes/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?
6What makes a strong Personal Statement? Motivation for choosing the subjectCareer plans – general, not specific (e.g. not future Prime Minister)Personal experiencesPersonal interest/curiosity e.g. interest in how things work? How politics affects ordinary people?
7What makes a strong Personal Statement? Evidence of interest in the subjectSchool subject choices – why are they relevant, any specific projectsReach project!Relevant extra-curricular activitiesOccasional events – work experience, internshipsAcademic attainmentPrizes/recognition of academic qualities
8What makes a strong Personal Statement? Evidence of responsibility/transferable skillsPosition of responsibility e.g. prefect, mentoring, leader of organisation, first aiderIndependent work – projectsGroup work – committees, sport, drama,Communication skills – public speaking, dramaCommitment – membership of organisation including sports, art, musicIn 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
9Things 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 coursesFocusing on one subject if you are making joint applications e.g. if Philosophy and German must link the two together and ensure relevance between themMentioning 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 subjectUnsubstantiated 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!
10Practical 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 includeGather together all your certificates, papers and notesDo not expect to complete it quickly - take your time, draft ideas etc. It ought to take weeks to perfectTalk to your teachers, parents & friends already at universityDraft 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
11Practical first stepsStart during your summer break (October 15 and January 15 deadlines)Be aware of your own school deadlinesThink carefully about why you are applying to Higher EducationCheck course requirements and detailsDraft a statement and read it over and then read it againGet someone to read it over – ask them if it represents you correctly
12How to make a good impression: Don’t repeat material already on the application formTake care with the layout - make the most of what you’ve gotDo 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 hobbiesBe positive and enthusiasticDon’t ramble, or pad it outTake care with your sentence structure and check your spelling and grammar
13Deferred Entry:Use your Personal Statement to prove to admissions officers that you will be doing something constructive with your timeWork/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!
14Reference:Parent power – ask the school to provide a reference for your child from a teacher who knows themSubmit your UCAS application as soon as it is ready – teacher has longer to write a properly crafted referenceProvide 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 referenceAsk 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
15Reference:Highly important part of the application – value/importance often underestimated by teachersApplicants sometimes rejected on the referenceImportant in differentiating between candidatesPersonal – indicates referee thinks the candidate is worth spending time overAcademic capabilities including predicted grades, prizes, class comparisonExtra-curricular activities especially school-related – this means the applicant does not have to go into detail on these in the Personal StatementEvidence of personal qualities