If you’re planning to go to university, you need to register with UCAS, the organisation administering the university applications process.
You apply for university places through its online system which you need to register to use. After completing your personal details, university and course choice, you are required to prepare a personal statement, your pitch to the selected universities, justifying your course choice and why you would be the ideal student to enroll with them.
Writing a personal statement is an integral part of your UCAS application but the thought of writing it can be daunting. Don’t put off writing it until the last minute, though. Your personal statement is one of your biggest shots at selling yourself and proving to your course leaders how much you want to study!
Before you start, it is important you visit www.ucas.com or the university website and thoroughly understand their entry requirements. This can help you tailor your personal statement to address the course requirements. It can be difficult to know where to start – you may feel as though you don’t have enough to say or have all the right things but are struggling with formatting. The first step you should take is to write down any piece of information you may think is useful. You don’t have to put them in any particular order but just making a list of the skills you possess, your reasons for applying, and any relevant experience is a great way to get your thoughts flowing.
What should you include in your personal statement?
Outline your reasons for applying
• Let your admissions tutors know what your goals are and what has persuaded you to pursue your studies in in this particular chosen area and at the chosen institutions
• Show them your passion, positivity, excitement, focus, commitment and drive for the subject as well as why you have chosen higher education as an option
• Outline your strengths and unique selling points and how they relate to this course
What interests you about the subject
• Outline what has inspired your choice of course demonstrating you have a full understanding of the course and profession you’ve applied for.
• Describe what key aspects and features draw you to the subject. It’s never a bad idea to show off a little bit of knowledge about the field you have chosen to study so that the admission tutors can see that you’re the right fit.
• Write about what makes you compatible with studying your chosen course
• Discuss the subjects you have studied, the knowledge and skills you have gained through them and their relevance to the course you are applying for. Discuss any major pieces of work, any prizes and awards
• Include any previous courses you’ve done, work experience and voluntary activities that are relevant or make you stand out. Highlight the skills and capabilities that you have picked up throughout these work experience opportunities.
Some other things you can include are:
• Traineeships and Apprenticeships
• Any volunteering you may have done
• Work placements or summer jobs/internships
• If you have had any position of responsibility at school or outside school
• If you have helped other students in the school
• For every skill/quality you mention, show evidence of how, when and where you gained it
• Don’t just list what you have done, give details of any lessons learnt and how this will benefit your future studies
• Outline any research you have carried out to justify your understanding of the subject (any journals, blogs, YouTube videos, open days, careers advisory service visits, UCAS Exhibitions, Summer School….)
• To show your social side, outline some of your extra-curricular activities and how it fits in with your chosen area of study
• To demonstrate you’re a well-rounded person, highlight your sporting, clubs, charitable activities, musical activities, relevant travelling experiences, life achievements and hobbies and find a way of selling the transferrable skills they present and their relevance in making you a well-rounded university candidate
• Any awards and activities such as; Duke of Edinburgh, National Citizen Service, vInspired Awards, Step Together and the Crest Awards – linking these to universities’ entry requirements
• Any major event in your life that helped mould your character and how that relate to your course choice
• Summary of what you hope to achieve from the course and your future career plans are after the course
• Re-emphasise your key strengths, skills, interests and experiences
• Conclude by showing your genuine engagement and enthusiasm to embark on this next phase of your career journey and the dreams and life ambitions it will help fulfill
Tips for writing the Personal Statement
Now that you know what to write, you will want to know how to write it! It usually helps to write everything into a separate document before uploading it to your UCAS application for the sake of arranging and editing your content though bear in mind the 4,000-character or 47 lines limit.
Keep it personal
Whoever is reading your application is looking for your own individual experience of how and why you came to the decision to apply to University. Feel free to add your own individuality but try not to go overboard with the humour in case it flies over the heads of the reader!
Follow a structure
Though there are no particular rules for creating your personal statement, it helps to keep everything in a neat and linear order so it’s easier for the reader to follow. Try to include only your most relevant experience for the sake of sticking to your character limit if you’re running out of space.
As much as you may want to send off your application after its first draft, it’s paramount you check it and check it again! Be on the lookout for any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes that might have gone amiss. Get a careers advisor, relative, friend or tutor to check through it and give you any pointers and make some edits until you are 100% happy!
If you’re really struggling to find the right things to say, ask one of your tutors and advisors for help. UCAS has a brilliant personal statement builder that is designed to help you structure and format your statement and there are plenty of other helpful tools online. Writing your personal statement can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these tips!
Keep it simple and professional
• Short, concise sentences written with simple natural English – no flowery vocabulary
• Positive statements and no negative statements
• No mention of university names or specific degree titles – just mention the general theme or area of study
• Original content – no plagiarised sentences or statements copied directly from the internet/friends
• Avoid excessively used clichés and humour
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