How to write a personal statement for a University course application
A personal statement is an essential part of a University course application. In this article we will guide you through the process of identifying the information you want to include and putting that into a document. Words by Sarah Gill.
10th February 2012
A personal statement is an essential part of a University application. Not only is it required by UCAS but it is also your main opportunity to speak directly to the admissions officer about why you deserve a place on their course. You might be applying for a learning disabilities course, social work or any kind of health and social care related programme, but you will still need an excellent personal statement to accompany your application.
Writing a personal statement from scratch can be a real challenge, especially if you’re trying to start with the first sentence and write continuously from beginning to end. Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks will help you to focus on the message you want to convey and to reduce the number of unnecessary ‘waffly’ sentences that can creep in when writing something like this.
Start by drafting out your ideas
A personal statement for a university application has one specific job to do for you. It has to convince the admissions board that you deserve an interview! If you’ve never written a personal statement before, whether for a university application or not, breaking it up into smaller tasks is the best approach to take. You can control the amount of information about yourself you want to highlight and ensure the points you make are relevant and coherently presented. Start off by making a list of the points you want to make, and backing them up with the skills and experience you have. Real world examples of how you achieved the things you’re claiming to have achieved are essential to give context to your statement. Vital elements to include are:
- Your main goal / outcome you want from the course
- Your motivation for taking the course
- Why you want to pursue a career in this area
- Your recent work experience
- Any voluntary experience
- Academic qualifications achieved / studying for
- Skills you have that would be useful in your eventual career path
Give your personal statement a voice
It’s really important that your personal statement speaks to the audience you’ve written it for and that it speaks with a voice that is your own. Write in your own style and don’t try to be overly formal by using words that don’t suit your vocabulary. Obviously you can’t go to the opposite end of the scale and write in a very informal way, but somewhere in between is perfect.
A personal statement is just that - personal. It needs to put forward a convincing statement that encompasses all the points you listed earlier in a cohesive way. The admissions officer should read it and feel as though you are talking directly to them about why you are unique and deserve an interview for a place on the course.
Talk about your goals with passion, enthusiasm and commitment rather than in a solely informative way. While it’s important to write accurately, conveying your passion for the profession you want to train in is key to a good personal statement. If you find it hard to know where you should start, begin by simply putting the points you want to make into a logical order and start building words and sentences around them.
Proof read and re-write where possible
Once you have a draft version of your personal statement, you need to proof read it and check you’ve included all the information you think is necessary and in an order that makes sense. Accurate grammar and spelling are essential, and if those are not your strong points get someone else to proof read it for you. I would always advise against posting your personal statement online as plagiarism can be an issue. If your personal statement is not 100% original and written by you, then your application could be disqualified and by posting it online you are opening yourself up for others to plagiarise your work.
Ensure you open your personal statement with an attention-grabbing sentence that entices the reader into reading more about you. Try not to write lists of your qualities or achievements as this doesn’t really tell the reader anything about who you are. Incorporate your achievements and experience by relating them to your goal and by giving examples throughout your writing.
Once you’re happy with it, leave it for a day or so then come back and read it again when you have a clear head. You will see new insights and changes you want to make before you finally submit it.
To read more about CV and personal statement writing, check out these links: