The personal statement is your opportunity to talk about you, and why you want to enrol on a particular course. Applying to university if you’re 21 or over isn’t unusual, but how can you best make that life experience shine through?

As a mature student, your personal statement will still cover the same basic things as any personal statement: evidence of your interest in, understanding of, and enthusiasm for the chosen subject.

You may also have a lot more life history to fit into your statement than the average school leaver. So, think carefully about which aspects of your past experiences best suit the course and type of university you want to apply to. 

If you’re ready to begin your personal statement, read our top tips on what every applicant should include. 

Rob Evans – Head Of Admissions, University Of Sussex

‘As with school leavers, we’re trying to build a picture of where the applicant is coming from – and the difference for someone applying some years after leaving school is the question of "why now?"'

Five things to include in your personal statement

1. Answer the question ‘why now…?’

Explain why you've decided to change direction and apply to university at this point in your life. Makes some notes to reflect on things like why you didn't choose to go to university immediately after school or college, or why studying later was part of your plan. Think too about how you have changed and developed. Whatever your reasons for studying now, you’ll need to explain those in your statement.

2. Demonstrate your personal progression

Tell them why it makes sense for you to study now. Why is a degree the logical next step for you? You could talk about:

  • your work experience
  • training courses
  • interests and hobbies
  • your general reading

And say how you would make further progress through your studies.

If your primary goal is to train for a new career, show you’re aware of the specific challenges of that career, and that youve researched it before you apply.

Browse our subject guides to sign up for subject-specific statement tips, and more.

3. Talk about your life and work experience

This is where you have the advantage as a mature student.

Student Recruitment Officer at the University of Liverpool, Louise Carr, says:

Mature students will have much richer life experience they can bring, and that doesn’t necessarily need to be work experience, but also life experience. If they can say why it’s relevant for the course, that’s also helpful.

Try and relate any jobs and hobbies you mention to the course you want to study – even if that’s in relation to transferable skills like time management or communication skills.

4. Show you understand the time commitments of degree study

Any evidence of formal study helps to show the admissions tutor you're capable of studying and learning. Mention night school, Access to HE courses or on-the-job courses in your statement, even if they’re in a non-relevant field.

Student Recruitment Officer Louise Carr says:

Whether it’s a free course or a seminar or webinar they’ve attended, all those experiences can be drawn upon and used as examples to show they have the initiative to find out more about their subject of interest.

Juggling other responsibilities such as family, childcare, part-time work or travel can put extra pressure on mature students, so also show you understand the commitments of studying for a full or part-time degree.

5. Keep your statement story honest – and personal

You might have fewer tangible reasons for applying to university as a mature applicant than simply training for a new career.

65 year old Peter White is a retired programmer who decided to fulfil another ambition and apply for a fine arts degree. Pete successfully wrote a very personal statement about his journey that included his career, personal interests, the development of his painting and drawing, the constraints of his family circumstances, and his reasons for applying.

Don’t be afraid to tell the truth about you and your story.

Ready to get cracking? Read five things everyone should include in their statement here.

Ana Ghaffari Moghaddam – Third Year Law student and careers coach, University of Liverpool

‘Definitely try and play on experiences – whether it be work experience or life experience that you’ve had – and try and incorporate that within your personal statement.’
  • Do address why you want to study at this stage in your life.
  • Do talk about your life and experiences so far, in relation to what you want to study.
  • Do show you understand the commitment required to study for a degree.
  • Don't underestimate everything you have achieved so far – most of it is relevant.
  • Don’t forget to ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are.
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute – take your time to think about all your past experiences.

Final thought

Director of Admissions at the University of Stirling, Shona Barrie, concludes:

Mature students will have much richer life experience they can bring.

These experiences can really make you stand out from other applicants, so highlight those transferable skills in your personal statement and be proud of what you’ve done so far in your life.


Louise Carr at the University of Liverpool adds:

Mature students are usually great students because they have drive. They’ve made a dedicated choice to perhaps make a change in their career or their life to go to university.

So, what are you waiting for?

Don't be tempted to copy

UCAS scans all personal statements with the Copycatch system, to compare them with previous statements.

Any similarity greater than 30% will be flagged and action could be taken against you. 

Find out more