The personal statement section of the UCAS application is an important part of the process. This is an opportunity for you to tell the universities all about yourself. Some of you may be sat staring at the screen thinking ‘How on earth do I write about myself?’ Don’t worry, I’ve been there. Highlighting all of your best points, skills and aspirations can be a tricky thing to do, but it’s not impossible and I am here to help you.
Before you write
Before you start tapping away at your computer or staring at a blank screen, here are a few things which could help you prepare and get you started:
- Research the course. Before I started writing, I made sure I understood what the course involved and made a note of any modules that I was interested in
- Know the commitment and skills needed for the course and maybe start thinking about the career you are hoping to go into afterwards
- Note down your previous employment, work experience and education
- Make a note of any skills you’ve gained or improved on during your past experiences
- I found it useful to write out a draft and plan of what you want to put into each section before making a start on the actual piece. You can find an outline of the different sections of the personal statement on the university website.
Catch the reader's attention
You want your personal statement to stand out from the crowd. In my opinion, the introduction should start with something that will show them you are a little bit different and that will also show them your personality. The purpose of the introduction is to let the university know why you are excited about the course and to make them want to read more about you.
Why you want to study that course
In this section, it’s your opportunity to tell the university why you are applying for the course. When writing my application, I asked myself ‘What has made you want to apply for the course?’ I found that going straight in the with the ‘why’ at the beginning of the paragraph instantly made it clear to the university exactly what it was I wanted out of the course and my motivations for applying. Keeping your points concise and using simple short sentences throughout your personal statement is a good way to keep the reader engaged and ensure that your point doesn’t get lost.
Within this section I recommend explaining how the course fits in with your future aspirations and how the degree will allow you to pursue these dreams. I used the research I gathered about the course and modules to help explain why I was looking forward to certain aspects. This showed the university that I was already proactive, organised and passionate about the subject, which is a key part of being at university.
Past experiences and education
Next, it’s time to dive into your past education and work experience. This section is all about showcasing how they relate to the course and have inspired you to pursue your specific career path. This is a great way to show off what you have already done and skills you have already gained. Add in any past courses you have done, A levels or BTECS that may be related to the course, or extra courses you have completed outside of college. In my application I made reference to my BTEC and talked about what I had learnt and how this knowledge will be beneficial to certain modules on the course. I was also able to talk about why I enjoyed specific elements of my BTEC and how I was looking forward to learning more about the subject at university level.
After your education I recommend talking about any jobs or work experience you have already had. Now is a really good time to pick up on your skills and show them off. Think about things you may have worked on improving or new skills you have learnt? For example, has your time management improved? Do you have brilliant customer service? Are you good at working in a team? Are you easily able to adapt in situations and think fast? You could also talk about how these fit into the skills needed for the course you are applying for and how you feel they will help you succeed.
Hobbies and interests
It’s also a great idea to talk a bit about the things you enjoy and take interest in, outside of studying. This is where your personality really gets to shine. Do you play a sport? Do you like to write blog posts? Do you play a musical instrument? The list could go on and there are so many interesting things you can mention in this point. As well as showing the university what I’m about, I also used this section to show how my hobbies related to the course. I did this by talking about how I had written and worked with many health and fitness brands and so had experience in the industry. It’s important to show how proud you are of your own achievements.
What you want to achieve
I used the conclusion to show the university what I wanted to gain from the course. I asked myself, ‘Why is it worth your time?’ ‘What would you hopefully like to do after the course?’ By talking about the future, it shows that you’re already thinking ahead and know why it is you want to complete the degree.
Ask friends and family to read it
When you have finished writing it’s a good idea to ask a friend or family member to read through it for you. I found that a fresh pair of eyes can do wonders when you are sat there wondering if you have done enough or wondering what needs to be changed. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family members to read it, read it and read it again until you are happy with the result. A second opinion and a few re writes can honestly help more than you realise!