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How to write a personal statement

Wednesday 4 October 2017, First year

by Robyn

How to write a personal statement

Relevant to
Robyn
A personal statement is what sets up an accurate portrayal of your character to universities. It’s one of the most important things you need to do, and it’s one of the things that your application relies on, but it’s not too difficult to make it perfect.
 
You don’t need to pour every single thing that’s on your mind into those 4000 characters, but it’s a good way of discussing where you are in your knowledge of your subject, where you want to take that knowledge and any past experiences you have had. And believe me, when you’re passionate about a subject, 47 lines is not enough to tell them everything.
 
A few tips for what to write about include:
 
Why you chose to apply for that particular course.
Write about your interests, what you love about the subject you’re studying. If you want to study Biology, go on about your dream to study plant life in the Amazon Rainforest. If you’re studying Photography, talk about your love for the endless possibilities that Photography can provide you with. The possibilities are endless with this paragraph. If you’re passionate enough to apply for a course at university, you’re passionate enough to write about why you love it.
 
Why are you interested in the subject
Maybe don’t go on about how you’ve always dreamed of going to Manchester because of the amazing takeaways. Talk about your interest for the subject, how you’ll stay invested in the course despite the struggles and the stresses of a professional environment. Talk about the different facets to your course. If you’re studying Psychology, don’t just talk about one aspect of it. Open your mind, explain how much you’d like to understand every approach, every different way of understanding one thing, (though some of them can be quite bizarre).
 
Why you are suitable for the course
Prove to them that you won’t spend the entire course lying on the couch eating popcorn and skipping lectures. Prove that you’re interested, tell them what you can offer. Let them know if you have an open mind, if you’re willing to accept alternate theories and processes. University is experimental, and they want someone that can keep up with it. Talk about different qualities you have. Were you a prefect in high school? Let them know your roles and responsibilities that will help you on the course. Were you in a band or a sports team? Let them know that you can work in a team and follow along with the ideas of others. All of these qualities build you as a person and as a potential candidate.
 
Do your current courses or areas of study relate to your chosen course?
Now, I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here, but applying to a French Language degree might not be the best thing to do if you’ve never even spoken the language before. (Though if you do that, I admire your spirit and wish you the best of luck). Make sure you at least know the basics of what you’re planning to study. Even though you’re going to learn, you at least need a base knowledge of what you want to study, and they are going to want to know what you already know. Talk about what modules you have studied. If you’re studying Art, tell them what mediums you have worked with, what artists you are inspired by. Tell them what you know, but keep it truthful. Don’t go talking about how you worked on the Empire State Building in an architecture class. Your tutors will assure them that what you’re saying is wrong. (Unless you did actually work on the Empire State Building. If you did, talk about that. That’s interesting.)
 
Have you taken part in any other activities that demonstrate your interest in the course?
Have you taken part in a football workshop with the Barcelona Football Team? Have you visited galleries and artist talks from prestigious artists? Have you worked with Professor Brian Cox? You don’t need to have done any of these, but anything relating to your course that you have previous experience with, for example playing in an orchestra if you’re doing a Music degree or volunteering at a youth theatre group if you’re doing Drama or  Performing Arts. All of these examples show that you are dedicated to the course and you will thrive once the course is over if you decide to turn it into a career.
 
Skills and Achievements
Have you won a Nobel Prize? Have you won a trophy for being an outstanding rugby player at your local team? Have you had any responsibilities in and around college or school. This can range from being on the school or college council to popping around with a biscuit tray at your school’s parent’s evening. Anything helps, and anything shows that you’re willing to help others. Think about things that you’re proud of. Universities want to know that you’re not just a carbon copy of the next person, that you have real thoughts, real feelings and real pride in the things that you do. If they think you’re an interesting person, they’ll have much more consideration for you. Tell them what makes you unique.
 
A personal statement is important. Be yourself, but be careful with adding jokes and quotes, don’t be offensive in any way. People have different senses of humour. It’s an official document, but it doesn’t have to be too posh. Just be yourself and don’t worry if your first draft isn’t perfect. Just go to your tutor for help, and they’ll help to guide you in the right direction. Use UCAS templates and informational videos to help you in writing your personal statement, because you only get one shot.