By Lydia Hasan
- 4000 and 15!
I remember these two numbers well, 4000 being the character amount I was trying to meet, and 15 the day of January I had to finish it by.
Yes, personal statements can be daunting, tedious and a bit of a pain to write, but they can be the key to getting that University place you dream of.
Here are 5 simple things I wish I had been told when I was applying to University and writing my personal statement. These simple steps I'm sure will make the whole process easier and more likely to guarantee you that spot at a top university!
The opening paragraph is ultimately the most important bit as this can be the key to whether or not the Uni carries on reading your statement or not. If you imagine a Uni administrator sat at a desk with a huge pile of statements they have to read through, they’re not going to have time to read them all word for word the first time round. They usually just glance at the introduction to see if it can advance to the ‘yes’ pile, in which case they will read the whole thing in detail. So really make sure you make your opening sentences punchy and memorable.
2.) Know your course:
You are writing this statement in order to persuade a Uni to accept you onto the course of your choice, so you need to show them that you have just as much passion for the subject as the lecturers that teach it do!
3.) Depth over breadth:
Similarly to the above point, when talking about the subject you wish to pursue, it’ll be much more effective if you focus in on 1 or 2 key aspects rather than trying to talk about everything. For example, if you were applying for a History degree, don’t try and suck up by squeezing in every historical topic you’ve ever learnt at school and how much it all fascinates you. It’ll be much more effective to choose 1 or 2 historic events and pinpoint how learning about them really made you gain a passion for the subject and the desire to continue studying it at Uni.
4.) Make it personal:
After all, it isn’t called a personal statement for no reason. You need to include things you have done that make you suitable for this course: A-Level subjects, extra-curricular activities, and hobbies can all be linked to your degree in one way or another. Also, the fact that you tell the Uni all the stuff you got up to during 6th form will impress them as they will see you have good time-management skills, which will prove useful once you are a Uni student.
5.) Word count and grammar:
One of my most infamous habits is rambling and never taking a breath when I talk – you can’t write a personal statement like that though! Try and write really concisely so you stick to the word count, and also proofread it yourself, (or get a parent, friend or teacher) to check for crucial grammar and spelling errors. This is especially important if you are applying to a humanities or arts course, in which they’d want to know from the start that you had good writing skills in order to succeed on their course.
If you follow all these tips then you’ll be well on your way to getting that dream University place.