The idea of writing the personal statement can make any student scared, nervous or stressed. These, as well as others, are normal emotions to feel during the UCAS application. As part of this anxiety and stress at university, individuals tend to begin to worry about whether they have ‘done enough’ or ‘done the right things’ either before their application or regarding their personal statement.
Students aren’t required to pass specific tests, gain certain marks, attend events or open days before they start their statement. Each university or subject degree course may ask students to have specific things to gain admission onto their course, but this can differ, and usually doesn’t stretch farther than holding the right grades, although some universities may also have some sort of admissions test.
Students are not required to attend an open day before writing or submitting their personal statement. Yes, attending open days will help candidates either narrow down or make their decision regarding their university choices, but it won’t necessarily help you write your statement. Many individuals may feel that it helps them make a choice on what institutions to select as firm and insurance offers, or offer them inspiration, whereas others encounter no problems if they don’t attend an open day.
Unless your degree course entry requirements state that candidates need to hold work experience or have a placement to gain admission, there isn’t any need. A lot of university students enter higher education straight from sixth form or college, and many of them do not have any work experience at all, let alone a placement that is relevant to your degree. Having work experience in your chosen field will help, but it will help you decide if that subject is for you and whether you enjoy working in that area more than getting you a university place.
You should never lie in your personal statement; it will only come back to haunt you or affect your application. Students don’t need to have certain hobbies to get their university place, and they certainly won’t have to conduct certain extra-curricular activities to receive an offer. Universities want to know who you are as a person and will only ask you about all of these events and activities you ‘did’ during a university interview and it will backfire. It could also make you look worse in the interview if the admission tutor asks you about a certain aspect of your personal statement that you lied about, and then you can’t answer the question successfully.
It is true that universities love students who have independently researched the subject area that they are applying to. Reading up on the subject beforehand not only shows a deep and true interest but also how that you can independently work and read on your own, as you can see in many personal statement examples that are available online. However, it isn’t a necessary requirement for prospective candidates applying to university. If you have the time and want to read journal articles, or information online relating to the degree courses you have chosen then that’s great! But if you don’t get round to doing this task – it isn’t essential!
When students begin researching universities and degree courses and getting an idea into their head about attending university, it can be easy to focus on your favourite institution. This isn’t ideal, especially when it comes to writing your personal statement as it will isolate the other universities or higher education colleges on your list. Most individuals will have at least one insurance offer on their UCAS application – you should plan for all scenarios – and only addressing your firm choice within your personal statement may lead to not receiving an offer from your insurance choice, so be sure to manage your university offers well.
Insurance choices are vital for any candidate applying for university. There are many scenarios that can play out, and your plans can change at the last minute. Results day may come round, and you could find out you didn’t get the grades you needed for the firm offer, or that you need to re-sit and re-take certain A Level courses. Also, it could be that you visit an open day in the summer after submitting your application and you no longer wish to go to your first choice.
Research all possible universities and higher education colleges before you write your personal statement so that you can cater to all of them. Write your statement as if you are addressing them all at once, and talk about the subject, and why you want to study that area, but don’t go into too much specific detail about a single course or particular university.
If you are thinking about studying an English Literature degree, you can discuss modules that are similar or featured in all of your separate degree courses. But don’t talk about modules or specifics if all of your university choices don’t have them.
One important thing that prospective candidates need to do before they write their personal statement is to speak to the personal tutors and teachers. Try to set up a meeting with them to discuss your strengths and weaknesses in that subject. It doesn’t need to be a long meeting, but just a few minutes for them to tell you things that you may not necessarily know. Also, it isn’t necessary to speak to teachers in subjects that you are not going to carry on at higher education level or mention in your statement. For example, if you are currently studying Geography, Film Studies and Media at A Level and want to study a Film and Media degree course at university, there is no need to gather extra information from your Geography teacher. As you won’t talk about that subject in detail within your personal statement, or mention it at all!
Your teachers and personal tutor will have an understanding of how you work, and what level you are throughout the course. Therefore their input can be valuable to include in the personal statement. You wouldn’t need to quote or reference them per say, but you can take on board their notes. If your tutor tells you that you have been quite determined throughout the two years, and they believe someone who can overcome obstacles, then you can write about this in your statement.
The majority of sixth form schools and further education colleges will have a few members of staff, or a department focused on careers or the UCAS application. Your personal tutor will most likely introduce you or steer you in their direction during the autumn term for your UCAS application. Don’t evade going to see them, or speaking to them other than for technical issues regarding your UCAS application. They can prove helpful in answering questions about what universities want to hear, give you information about certain degree courses and universities, as well as aid you in the actual process of applying online.
Your school or college have implemented these members of staff to help students during the stressful time of applying to university. Use their skills and expertise to improve your UCAS application and personal statement as that is what they are there for!
If there are areas of the personal statement that you think you will struggle with or practical elements that you don’t understand write them down. Prospective candidates should write all their worries and questions down and then speak to their personal tutor or careers advisor about them. During UCAS application season, especially towards the deadline staff will try to help the majority of students who need extra support. Therefore, if you find out the answers in plenty of time before the deadline, and before tutor’s and advisor’s time is limited, you can receive the support you need.
The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t understand how to submit your personal statement days before the deadline is due and panic. Or that you’re not quite sure how to structure your statement and find that you have procrastinated for weeks and feel stressed attempting to write it. Students can also read all of our helpful sections regarding the personal statement to get an idea on what to include, how to structure and helpful tips on the personal statement.
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