It may seem that everyone has been going on about personal statements a lot recently, then again you may be thinking “my personal what?” whatever end of the spectrum you are on, here is a little rundown of the basics when it comes to writing your personal statement.
What is a personal statement?
It may sound like a silly question, but it’s always good to be sure. Basically, your personal statement is a mini essay all about you. It is a positive extract of why you are passionate about your chosen subject and why you would be a great candidate to study it at university level. It’s as much about what you can give to the university as well as what you can get out of it. This statement is received by your chosen university/universities by a member of staff from either the admissions department or the course leader. This is why it is essential that your personal statement it is a well-written piece of work that portrays you in the best possible way. It is also worth bearing in mind that this is the first piece of academic writing your potential future lecturer will see, so it’s important it’s done well. This means writing drafts. Lots and lots of drafts!
How to begin
This was the hardest bit for me, I remember thinking, yeah, that’s great, I know what a personal statement is but how do I actually go about writing it? This can differ quite a lot and is dependent on personal preference, but there is a general structure that you can follow.
I started by jotting down lots of random ideas about the events and experiences I had been involved with on different pieces of paper. This ranged from previous work experience, volunteer work, and events in school where I had been part of a team or practiced roles of responsibility. This led on to the skills and qualifications I had gained over the years.
On a separate sheet, I popped down my hobbies, the things I like to do in my spare time and worked out how these (not all of them) could be related to my course.
The next step is putting pen to paper and getting all of these elements into a well-structured piece of work, remember this means many drafts! I started with why I was passionate about the course I had chosen, what sparked my interest and the acknowledgment that I had the correct skills to carry out the course efficiently. The corresponding paragraphs were used to talk about my hobbies, skills, and previous experiences. And to finish it all up, my future aspirations and passions that studying my chosen interest at degree level could allow me.
Again, the structure can differ, it’s all about what works best for you after all this is a personal piece of work. The UCAS website gives lots of advice on what to include and some of the things you should leave out.
But here are a few things to remember
Don’t start it too late, even if it’s just jotting ideas down. There may be internal deadlines that your school or college will have set which you must stick to.
Ask family and friends if you get stuck for ideas, my parents helped me remember a lot of valuable things that I had forgotten to include. They also make great proof-readers!
You may be applying to more than one university so it is important to remember not to name drop any universities so that the institution reading your personal statement is under the assumption it was written just for them.
Keep a copy of your personal statement, not only is it good to have as a reminder in your interview, it’s a great record of all the good things you have done when it comes to applying for jobs.
And lastly, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, don’t be put off by the amount of drafts it takes, just keep going, it will be well worth it when you receive your offers!