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What Admissions Tutors look for: The Personal Statement

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1 What Admissions Tutors look for: The Personal Statement
Sally Raby Education Liaison Manager University of Bradford

2 Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
UCAS Universities and Colleges Admissions Service Handles all undergraduate applications Apply online General information: Apply online via the UCAS website. Need to register – usually through your school/college. UCAS process your application and forward it onto institutions you’ve applied to.

3 UCAS: some important points
5 choices Deadlines: 15th October: Medicine/Veterinary Science/Dentistry/Oxford/Cambridge 15th January: all other applicants Choices You will have up to 5 choices on your UCAS form -fee - £5 for one choice, £15 for more than one choice,. Don’t have to make 5 choices, but obviously more applications make, higher chances of getting in (however, don’t apply to somewhere don’t want to go to) Can apply for more than one course at an institution, but only one PS statement so ideally should be a link between these courses e.g. Sociology & Criminology rather than Sociology and Engineering! Enter choices in alphabetical order, not order of preference Students have “invisibility of choice” – uni only sees the courses you have applied to at that institution – other choices blanked out. Deadlines V. Important. For those of you applying through schools/colleges, make yourself aware of your their internal deadline. Don’t leave it until the day before the UCAS deadline. Applications received after these deadlines will only be considered if there are vacancies. If applying to very competitive courses important to get your application in early Art & Design applicants – slightly different application system – two deadlines. See your tutor/UCAS website for further details about this.

4 Personal Statement 4000 characters long (including spaces)
Should be in 12 font In paragraphs – easier to read Don’t repeat information already on your form Sell yourself Don’t make things up Think about who you are writing for Some general hints & tips about your PS: Only have 47 lines on UCAS form = 400 characters in Word document – not very much space – don’t waffle, need to be succinct and to the point. Defaults to 12 font – can’t write it in smaller font to get more in. Should be in paragraphs if possible – easier to read. Don’t repeat information – e.g. which school you go to, list subjects you’ve taken etc. Above all, this is your chance to sell your application to the admissions tutors. A lot of courses don’t interview students now, so v. important to make a good impression with both your PS and your reference.

5 Comment from an admissions tutor:
“Personal Statements are incredibly important at all stages of the Application process. They generally present the basis for deciding course offers and aid in the selection of whom to interview. “Furthermore, personal statements will also determine the nature of questions during the interview. “Perhaps the most important role of the Personal Statement is that they are re-evaluated should a candidate narrowly miss a conditional offer and they may tip the balance in your favour at such an important stage.”

6 Personal Statement: Opening
Should clearly reflect: Why you are interested in the course Motivation Enthusiasm Commitment to the subject (e.g. extra reading/related experience etc.) Career ideas (if you have any) Need to start off by explaining to the admission tutor why you want to do their course, what your motivation is for studying it. (e.g. because you love the subject rather than how much money you could earn!) Want to see some enthusiasm/passion for their subject area – you’re going to enjoy studying it for the next 3/4 years.

7 Personal Statement: Academic Skills
Are you studying the subject for which you are applying? What do you love about it?/particular units/topics you enjoy/extra reading you have done etc. What generic academic skills have you developed from other subjects you have studied? Obviously the main reason to go to university is to study your subject. Admissions tutors want to know that you have the academic skills to cope with the course. Don’t just list skills – give evidence If you’re applying for a brand new subject that you’ve never studied before, talk about outside reading you may have done in your own time etc

8 Personal Statement: Some academic skills
Well organised Problem solving Logical thinking Evaluation Analytical Research Presentation Meet deadlines Investigative Working independently Essay writing skills

9 Personal Statement: Interpersonal Skills
Evidence of skills you have developed through: work; full-time, part-time or voluntary Society membership, Duke of Edinburgh etc. Involvement in sport, music etc Summer Schools, Taster days Its important to show admissions tutors that you are a well rounded person who will fit in on the course/university. Your transferable skills are a good way of showing this, Again, don’t just list things – back your skills up with evidence

10 Personal Statement: Social Work
Experience of working with children, young people or families is essential. 35 hours of work experience in addition to any placements through school or college and within the last 2 years. How long have you undertaken the work Your roles and responsibilities Reflections on the ways in which your experience has helped to prepare you for working with children, young people and families. Its important to show admissions tutors that you are a well rounded person who will fit in on the course/university. Your transferable skills are a good way of showing this, Again, don’t just list things – back your skills up with evidence

11 Personal Statement: Nursing
Knowledge, Insight and Commitment Interpersonal skills – teamwork, communication, time management Evidence of voluntary or paid work Evidence of the qualities needed Demonstrates awareness of the some of the challenges ahead.

12 Personal Statement: Clinical Sciences
“Students need to demonstrate that they have relevant health care experience and that they possess the personal qualities needed for a future health professional. Examples from their life should be provided that demonstrate they can take responsibility, work in a team and they have social and cultural awareness. “They should also indicate their motivation and insight into the profession that they are hoping to progress into and evidence their commitment, achievements and hobbies. The key is to reference; examples must be concrete, do not expect the admissions tutor to second guess.”

13 Personal Statement: Some Interpersonal Skills
Responsible Communication Independence Efficiency Confidence Trustworthy Co-operate with others Time management Self-motivation Teamwork Using initiative

14 “Mentoring/Community Work required me to be sensitive to the needs of others and provided me with the opportunity to develop my own self-confidence and independence.” “My active involvement in sport/music (or whatever) has provided me with the opportunity to socialise and also to develop my own self-confidence and ability to co-operate with, and learn from, others.” “Experience in balancing the often conflicting demands of work, academic study and family life.” – evidence of time management and organisational skills

15 There’s my Saturday job
I work in a shop and, if I am honest, I do so because I need the money. True, I have learnt some useful things: How to fold sweaters faster than customers unfold them

16 “My job in retail has improved my understanding of the business world and has given me valuable experience in time management and customer relations”. Good example

17 Gap year Include reference to: Initiative taken Current status
What you will be doing What you expect to gain Indicate relevance to course/courses applied for If you’re applying to deferred entry, you need to give the admissions tutor an idea about what you will be doing during that time. Its ok if you’re taking this for financial reasons and are spending the year working (develops good transferable skills). If you’re going travelling – talk about initiative you’ve used to plan/fund your trip, What you will be doing ( a rough idea) What you (and the university) are going to get out of it. – increased confidence, enhanced interpersonal skills etc Is what you’ll be doing related to your course? If so talk about this relevance.

18 Hobbies and Interests Link to course if you can
If not, shows you are a well rounded individual Say why you enjoy what you do and what you have gained/learned from it

19 Personal Statement: Conclusion
I have enjoyed my time at school/college and look forward to the challenge of studying for a degree and to developing my own independence by attending university.

20 Fine tuning (1) Avoid a simple listing format: demonstrate that you can write in clear, concise, grammatically correct sentences and that you represent an attractive proposition for university entrance.

21 Make your application relevant to all choices
Fine tuning (2) Make your application relevant to all choices Do not alienate an institution! Don’t name a particular institution in your PS

22 “I own my own pony and I exorcize him daily.” Equine studies applicant
Fine tuning (3) “I own my own pony and I exorcize him daily.” Equine studies applicant Check your spelling! Get other people (parents/teachers/tutors/careers adviser etc) to read your statement – other people can sometimes pick up on mistakes you’ve missed.

23 Fine tuning (4) “My mother and I frequently attend dog shows where we have won many prizes.” Animal Science applicant

24 Personal Statement: Dos and Don’ts
Say why you want to study the course Refer to your current studies – what you enjoy & why Mention positions of responsibility Be reflective Show your statement to other people Talk about work experience etc. Check your spelling/grammar Make sure it has a concluding paragraph Don’t Refer to experiences that are too long ago Mention experiences without stating the skills you have gained Lie Apply for too many different kinds of courses Write a statement which makes your choices look random and not thought through

25 Thank You For Listening! Good luck. Any questions?

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