Entry to higher education can be highly competitive and a solid academic background is only one of several things that is taken into account when considering applications. Universities and colleges also want to know about extra-curricular interests and evidence students have developed skills which are relevant to the course that they’ve applied for.
The personal statement is the part of the UCAS application that gives students the opportunity to sell themselves and stand out from the crowd. Lots of courses are over-subscribed so it’s not just about getting the right grades. Remind students that the admissions tutor looking at their application knows nothing about them so this is their opportunity to convince them they are the best candidate for their course. Most importantly, this is an opportunity to show the admissions tutor why they want to do their course.
What to include:
- Reasons behind their course choice
- Academic strengths & transferable skills
- Career aims (if applicable)
- Work, voluntary or life experience
- Achievements & interests
- Ensure students give supporting evidence for each point they make
Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts for Students
- Do create a list of your ideas before attempting to write the real thing.
- Do expect to produce several drafts before being totally happy.
- Do ask people you trust for their feedback.
- Do check university and college prospectuses and websites as they usually tell you the criteria and qualities that they want their students to demonstrate.
- Do use your best English/Welsh and don’t let spelling and grammatical errors spoil your statement.
- Do be enthusiastic – if you show your interest in the course, it may help you get a place.
- Don’t feel that you need to use elaborate language. If you try too hard to impress with long words that you are not confident using, the focus of your writing may be lost.
- Don’t say too much about things that are not relevant – if you think that you are starting to, take a break and come back to your statement when you feel more focused.
- Don’t lie – if you exaggerate you may get caught out at interview when asked to elaborate on an interesting achievement.
- Don’t rely on a spellchecker as it will not pick up everything – proof read as many times as possible.
- Don’t leave it to the last minute – your statement will seem rushed and important information could be left out.
- Don’t expect to be able to write your personal statement whilst watching TV or surfing the internet – this is your future, so make the most of the opportunity to succeed.
This document, produced by the University of Leeds is a useful guide for students.
For more information and advice on university applications visit the UCAS website.