Top Tips for Your University Personal Statement
Write for the degree course you want to study
There is no simple formula to write a personal statement for two unrelated degree courses. However, if the courses are similar, such as a Banking degree course, and an Accounting degree course, you can adjust your writing to suit both these subjects. The trick is to not mention the subject(s) by name if you are applying for different ones. The same can be said for universities, don’t talk about the institution if you are applying to separate universities.
Choose your biggest passion
Although if the courses are totally unrelated – you find that you have two passions, media and music and are waiting for A Level results day to make a decision – it can be impossible to write about both subjects well. If this is the case, then you will need to look at your predicted grades, your degree courses and career aspirations if you have them. Once you have chosen a degree course that you prefer over the other, then write about that one in your personal statement.
The most important thing to remember is to ensure your statement suits its purpose; to impress the university, to answer questions, and to representation yourself.
Check your notes
Hopefully, you will have a structured plan before you start writing and this could be in the form of bullet points or an entire page of notes. Regardless of your planning style, the crucial factor is that you have thought about your personal statement before sitting down to write it! Within your notes, you can decide what language you want to use, the style, and goals of your statement.
Once you begin writing don’t forget to check back to your notes! Some students produce a weak statement because they don’t remember to re-read their initial goals. Referring to your plan will also help you if you find that you go off topic, or lose inspiration during writing. If you’re using a Personal Statement Editor, then you may have some prompts to help you on there, too.
Think about the structure of the personal statement
How your personal statement looks and reads is important to universities. It shows admission tutors that you understand how to write effectively and to follow instructions. Remember to address the aims of a personal statement – why you should be accepted on to the degree course, at that university, and why you are a good fit for the subject. The language that you use will also be judged. Avoid text or messenger style of writing and the use of slang, because let’s be fair, that not what universities are looking for in a personal statement.
Never write your statement on the UCAS personal statement page
Students should write their personal statement within a word document where they can check spelling and grammar as well as being able to use a programme they understand. However, after each paragraph, you should then copy your statement back into the UCAS page to see how many lines or characters you have used. Remember you are only allowed to have 47 lines or 4000 characters worth of space. This is different to a word count and can be easily misunderstood. One scenario that can make you panic is that you write this amazing statement and check the line count before submission to find out you are extremely over the limit!
Overwrite instead of underwrite
During the draft process try to write as much as you can and about as much as you can. It is much easier to cut things out instead of attempting to find things to put into the statement. As mentioned above do check your line limit, but if you go over by 10 lines, then you can easily trim this down. A tough job is trying to find something to write about to just make up the limit. Bear in mind that universities want to know all relevant information about you and your studies that help your application. Therefore, don’t fill up your statement with unnecessary information if you are worried about length. Quality is better than quantity.
There is no need to feel that you have to explain any shortfalls or negative aspects of your application – especially if the university won’t pick up on this! Try to be positive and interesting to the admission tutor, tell them about any side projects you’ve done if this will seem more relevant and worthwhile than how you completed your coursework.
Look at the university prospectus
Before writing your personal statement actually read the university website and prospectuses. In most cases, institutions will describe the type of students they are looking for, whether that be innovative, creative or those with academic excellence.
Talk about you
The purpose of the personal statement is for universities to find out about you because the basic information within the application won’t tell them this. Try to include the following: what you like to do in your free time, subjects you study that maybe won’t be graded, sport and leisure activities, hobbies, musical instruments, prizes you’ve won, competitions you’ve entered, languages you speak or side projects you were involved in. You do not need to include everything, but the relevant information will help them form a decent impression about you and your personality.
If you take a gap year then talk about your gap year
Admission tutors can see when a student has had a gap year in between college and university. They will be interested to know why you chose to have a year out and briefly explaining why will help your application. Discuss what you did during that time, why you chose to take a gap year and how it may be related to the course.
If you are considering taking a gap year or applying for a deferred place at university or if you have retaken your exams during a gap year or if you’ve been travelling during your gap year, then you can talk about this too. Write about your plans during this time and why it would benefit you in the long run. Although there is no strict rules about discussing your gap year in your statement so if you decide not to that is okay too. You may still be asked about it during an interview with the university.
Why you want to study that degree course
The vital thing is that you have a good reason for why you want to study that subject. It doesn’t matter it sounds silly or different to your friends’ personal statement; you can work on it later or go into more detail during the admission interview. The best part is that you’re honest. However, if your reasoning is purely due to not doing anything else at that moment then it’s best not to include that! Take a look at some Personal Statement examples for ideas on how to effectively mention your potential degree course.
Admission tutors search for enthusiastic and passionate students because they will be the best fit for the degree course.
Talk about the subject
Write down as much as you can about the subject you want to take. There may be certain aspects or modules that really interest you, or that you understand it is the right step for your career aspirations. All of these reasons are music to the university’s ears because it not only shows that you have done your research but that you understand why you should study the subject.