Via Scoota : The task seems simple enough. Summarise yourself in no more than four thousand characters, including spaces.
In addition to an academic reference and predicted grades from your teachers, entry into university requires a statement about you, written by you. To do this well you should first understand why it is needed and then what to include.
When you make a new friend, not just a colleague but a friend, you do not rely solely on a superficial understanding of their likes and dislikes. You endeavour to know more about them, their character, their strengths. When you apply to a university you are that new best friend and the university uses your personal statement to better understand you, particularly those things about you that are not summed up by exam grades.
Your personal statement is where you must stand out from the crowd. Decide, what impression do you want to make? Are you a hard worker, passionate about music, enjoy challenges or maybe last year’s tiddlywinks European champion? Whoever you are must be reflected in this focused piece of writing.
Your personal statement should explain why you want to study the course. There may be many reasons or just one. Explain what motivated you to apply for that course at that university. Endeavour to find a very personal way to demonstrate this enthusiasm. What inspired you? How, if at all, has your present studies challenged you? From where do you get the energy and determination to brush aside those difficulties and setbacks that we all face from time to time?
There must be some synergy between you and what you want to study. Wanting to study mechanical engineer becomes a tall order when you and mathematics are clearly poor bed fellows. Your enjoyment of your existing studies is an obvious way to demonstrate your suitability. So where possible, discuss aspects of your A-Levels, BTec or Baccalaureate that have excited you.
Do not be shy at showcasing the things that you have done particularly when they support the argument that you are passionate and determined. As a budding journalist, do you regularly read the local or even a national newspaper, contribute to your school magazine or volunteer in your local newsroom? You might also consider briefly discussing any relevant long term career plans. Are you considering reading for a doctorate in the subject? The real question is, to what extent is your desire just a pipe dream?
When writing about your experiences do not just state what you have done. Explain what you personally gained from what you did. Be reflective. How have these experiences reinforced your passion and desire to learn more? Remember that the reader is interested in you and not the group or team that you were part of; notwithstanding how you may have directed, lead or been influential.
The person reading your personal statement has many questions that need answers. Whilst you will not know for sure what they are, your statement must do its’ best to answer them. Typically, to what extent will you add value to the department, to the university? Do you have the temperament to succeed on the course if the going gets tough? Anybody can say they are strong and resilient, your challenge is to cite examples to prove that you are.
For most students, this personal statement will be the first time they will need to summarise themselves in glorious technicolour. Writing a personal statement often seems like a simple exercise, much like mining for gold. The difficulty is in uncovering the treasure.
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