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Help Them to Stand Out

Help your son or daughter write a great UCAS personal statement.

It’s likely that writing a personal statement will be the most difficult part of the UCAS university application for your son or daughter. At the end of the day, it’s probably the first time they’ve been asked to write reflectively about themselves. However, taking a positive approach and planning ahead can really make their application stand out. There are many ways in which you can help them.

Remind them to make a head start

Even though the application deadline is still a few months away, January 15 will arrive before they know it. If they get started on it now, they will have time to work through a number of drafts with you before they reach the final one. Plus, they’ll avoid scrambling around in the last few weeks after Christmas.

Don’t take it personally. It’s just a statement

As a parent, you want to remain positive but stay critical as well. You know your child, so you can help them highlight those positive attributes that make them stand out. Encourage them to write about what they think makes them interesting and about any skills they have, which they could use on the course. Don’t get too involved though – remember, it’s still their statement and you are there to help.

Encourage them to ask for feedback

Teachers and friends spend as much time with your son or daughter as you do. Asking them for feedback and ideas may prove to be a great source of inspiration, particularly as their friends may be in a similar position as they are. It may also be worth them showing a first draft to a teacher.

Pulling it together

When they first start making notes, they should probably write down a lot – anything that shows why they’re excited about the course they’re applying for and their reasons for choosing it. They should also list work experience or other activities as supporting evidence to demonstrate why they think they’d make a great student.

Structuring all these ideas into a concise and reflective personal statement of up to 4,000 characters is the next step. A good personal statement consists of the following four key parts:

  • Introduction –  this should consist of a punchy opening paragraph that demonstrates your son or daughter are excited more about their chosen course than any other and that they have a clear understanding of it as well.
  • Middle section – this should include evidence to support what makes them interested in their chosen course. They should also explain why they think they’re suitable to study the course, citing relevant skills and work experience or any activities they’ve taken part in that demonstrate their interest.
  • Final section – this is where they should write about themselves and their personal interests, as well as explain how well they will fit into university life. They may also include achievements they’re proud of, responsible positions they’ve held, and those positive attributes that make them stand out.
  • Closing paragraph – this should be a summarising statement, which leaves the reader with a clear understanding of why they are ideal for the course they are applying for.

Something to remember

Most universities expect applicants to split their personal statements between their academic achievements and their extra-curricular pursuits. Balance, therefore, is key. If the extra-curricular pursuits are relevant to their chosen course, all the better.

Tips for a perfect personal statement

Encourage your son or daughter to:

  • make a head start and try to submit the application before Christmas.
  • use clear, plain language.
  • stay relevant and focused – don’t ramble.
  • be realistic – don’t exaggerate what they’ve done.
  • avoid clichés.
  • stay original –plagiarism will be detected.
  • link extra-curricular pursuits with the course choice.
  • redraft and spellcheck multiple times until it’s right.
  • show their teacher the final draft before submission.

Visit UCAS Website for more information on how to support your child in writing their personal statement.

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