Personal statements: Take the time to write and rewrite until you get it right
From favourite books to volunteering – tell the college who you really are, writes Aoife Walsh
A personal statement is the UCAS applicant's chance to sell themselves to the college and should explain why the institution should choose the applicant.
Applicants should be prepared to write and rewrite their personal statement.
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In the process of writing it, students should show it to as many people as possible and get advice on how to improve it. Whether it's a parent or friend, teacher or guidance counsellor, you do not know where a helpful comment may come from.
A personal statement should not read like a list of what a student has done. While applicants should make a note of everything they want the college to know about them and make sure they include it all, they should try to make it flow rather than reading like a CV.
Applicants should show enthusiasm and it can be helpful to explain what they learned from an experience and how this relates to their chosen area of study, rather than simply listing experiences. They should include work or volunteer experience, academic interests and projects, outside reading and interests.
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A personal statement will go to each institution and course for which a student applies, so it is important to be careful if applying to more than one subject area or more than one institution. For instance, avoid naming institutions or talking about things that are not relevant to particular courses for which application is being made.
Clichés and humour should also be avoided. Applicants should think of this as their first introduction to their course and set a professional or formal tone. As with any application, it is important to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
Students should also ensure that their referee has a copy of their personal statement as that allows them to match the reference to the statement. Additionally, referees may not be aware of all of the student's experiences or interests, so this will really help them.