Writing your Personal Statement can be extremely daunting – it definitely was for me! You have to produce an essay in which you sell yourself and in the end you are going to be judged on it – either resulting in you receiving and offer or being declined from your chosen Universities.
After staring endlessly at a blank word document titled ‘Personal Statement’ for a painful amount of time, I eventually created a plan for what I wanted to include in it. In the end (after lots of drafts) I was really happy with it and received offers from all of the 5 Universities I sent it to (Sussex, Loughborough, Aberdeen, Bangor & Derby), so I thought I would share with you the thought process I went through and how I changed a blank word document into a personal statement.
Key Questions to Consider?
- What topics does my course cover?
- What Books have I read that relate to my course? (Reading around your subject demonstrates you are actually interested in the course)
- What TV programmes / Films have I watched that relate to my course?
- What skills & personal qualities are important for studying your course (or for University in general)?
- How have I demonstrated each of these skills? (e.g. in work, in particular subjects)
- Have I had any experience in University life already? (e.g. sat in lectures, took part in a programme that involves preparing you for University)
- What Extracurricular (EC) activities do I take part in? – E.g. sports, music, volunteering, tutoring, peer mentor etc.
- Received any awards/grades for your EC activities?
- How long have you done them for?
- How has doing these EC’s developed you as a person?
How to Plan
I found making mind maps was really useful as I would make a mind map for Extracurricular activities and have smaller legs coming off each EC with how long I have done it for, if I received any certificates or awards, what skills I developed etc. as this allowed me to visually see all of them at once. Then, I selected the most impressive few as you don’t have enough characters to list every single thing you have done so you want to ensure you pick the ones that are going to make you stand out and the ones that demonstrate that you are an impressive person.
Next, look on the websites of the Universities you are going to apply to and look topics and content that your course is going to cover as there each University may do slightly different topics. Pick a couple of topics that are covered by all of your chosen Universities. Do some research on these topics: for instance, google a book on it, find an online lecture, a podcast or a documentary or TED Talk video and make a few notes. Try to use a variety of media when doing your research so it demonstrates you don’t just watch TV and have the ability to learn different ways.
Think about the subjects you are currently studying. Have you learnt something in them that can be linked to your chosen University course? Have you created and presented presentations in front of the class – this demonstrates confidence and organisation. If you take science-y subjects and plan to study a Science at University then have you don’t lots of practical work in the lab that has equipped you for what your course entails and improved you knowledge of the scientific method? Make notes.
Do you have a part time job? Having a part time job shows important skills that are essential to studying at University, such as: time management, dedication and commitment
Pulling it all together
Open up a word document and if your notes are scruffy and all over the place then type them up. Then convert these notes into coherent sentences. Link the sentences together and try to put them in an order that flows and doesn’t jump all over the place. Just keep going and remember, you aren’t going to get it right first time – its going to take lots of drafts (mine took about 5) and in the end it will all be worth it! You don’t want to over edit it though as you will lose your personal voice and your personality won’t shine through, so you need to find the balance.
Once you have got your first draft (and believe me your first draft is going to be shocking…but that’s okay) give it to someone you like, preferably a Teacher teaches what you want to study, or if not then someone else, like your head of Sixth Form.
Eventually, you will get to the stage where you are satisfied with it and then is the really scary bit… sending it off! But this is also the most exciting bit! So I wish you good luck, and I hope this helped you, even if just a little Remember, don’t give up!!