There are many factors to consider when writing your personal statement. There is no such thing as the perfect personal statement but there is such a thing as the right personal statement.
A personal statement is used to answer one simple yet important question. “Why should the admission tutor give you the space over somebody else?” There are great ways of answering that question without sounding like you are blowing your own trumpet.
Below is a simple list of things to consider / include when writing your personal statement:
• Your story
The admission tutor is going to want to know why you’re applying for that course and what has led you to this point. It is a good idea to give the admission tutor an idea of what your personal story is without going into great detail. This is particularly important if you are applying for an over subscribed course, as evidence of motivation is key (coupled with Evidence of proactivity – see below).
It is also good to let your personality shine through your personal statement. If you present yourself to be likeable, then your application will go further.
• Strike balance, above Wikipedia, below expert.
The trick of really impressing the admission tutor is to demonstrate you’ve really done your research. Mention technical jargon or phrases that the experts would commonly know, but the casual researching student would not likely come across. For example, specific medical conditions or economic terms such as “seigniorage”.
Getting this right is the easiest way of convincing a person that you really know what the course / vocation involves and they will be more willing to accept you.
• Details sell a story
Like above, providing details makes a story more convincing. Saying that “I learnt team skills” is less convincing than “I believe a team leader must keep the objectives in perspective and settle team disputes”. Also, if you have actually got an example of where you have used this, mention it as well as the outcome. It’s worth the use of characters.
• Evidence of proactivity
The “right” person for the job or the university space is always the person who gets things done no matter what. At this age, the best way to demonstrate this is to show where you have been proactive. For example, “I arranged a work experience…” or “I contacted the General Dental Council to discuss…” Naturally, be prepared to talk about this at interview but you will jump head and shoulders above your competition.
Also, if you have done anything impressive like write / publish any work or created a successfully trading business, these are things that speak volumes of your time management skills and dedication.
• Transferable Skills – Totally showboat
In all activities, there are skills which you will have picked up that can be applied in other areas. You can introduce the skills you’ve learnt at work experiences, or charity projects or even travelling while you mention them in your personal statement.
Students generally find it difficult to sing their own praises and sadly sell themselves short. This is a mistake! This is your time to shine. Showboat away.
• Work experiences / Academic A-Level Choices
Work experience and other extra curricular activities are becoming expected on a personal statement. Students seem to miss the point of these and mention them as though it was a tick list, and fail to mention what they’ve learnt.
The same is said of the choice of A-Level subjects. Most students mention their A-Levels in some poor attempt to link it to the university course. This is unnecessary. Talk about your A-Level choices if, and only if, it is relevant to why you’re applying to do that course. Don’t try and link Mathematics to Medicine or English to Engineering.
But most importantly, elicit what you have learnt and things you can bring to the university.