The Perfect Personal Statement?
If you’ve ever searched the depths of the internet to find tips on how to write your university application personal statement, then you’ll know that there’s plenty of advice out there. You'll find hints, tips, guidelines and worksheets designed to aid you in your quest to produce 4000 characters, delightfully and delicately arranged to guarantee you a place (or at a least an interview) at your dream university, on your dream course.
If you’re looking for the 'perfect' personal statement though, this piece of advice is probably the one you should start with...
The template for the definitive personal statement doesn't exist, so stop looking for it!
This doesn’t mean that your own personal statement can’t be the perfect fit for your application and for your university choices - it absolutely can. But what you shouldn’t get bogged down with is worrying that you haven’t followed every single top tip out there.
It takes Google 0.75 seconds to pull up almost 8 million ‘Perfect Personal Statement’ search results (way to go, Google!) but believe me, it’ll take you an awful lot longer than that to go through them all and condense all that advice into a coherent personal statement that has the desired effect. And that’s not counting the amount of time you’ll waste being distracted by pictures of cats...
A far better plan is to just concentrate on a few top tips and a few things to avoid, which we have handily condensed for you right here!
What do you want to do, and why?
The basic purpose of the statement is to tell universities why you want to study their course and why you’d be good at it. Don’t get bogged down in all of your extra-curricular activities and forget to tell us what you actually want to do!
Do your first draft without a word count
This might sound odd – surely you need to keep to a limit? Well yes, you do eventually, but initially you’ll benefit from just writing a load of thoughts down in some form of vague order that gives all the reasons why you’d be a fantastic fit on your chosen course. When you’ve exhausted your list, take a character count and then you’ll know how much you need to cut down. You’ll find it easier getting rid of stuff than putting it in.
Make it readable
Paragraphs add to your character count, but they also make it much easier to read than a wall of text with no breaks. Universities will read hundreds of statements, so help us out and make yours a little easier to digest.
Get the technical stuff right
Spelling mistakes, grammar errors, little slip ups; these are all avoidable and show a lack of attention to detail, which in turn can make us question how much effort you’re going to put into our course. Get the statement proofread by someone you trust before you press ‘submit’.
Use all the resources available to you on UCAS
UCAS have worked really hard to make sure their systems make it as easy as possible for you to get the technical bits of your statement right. Check out their handy step-by-step guide available here.
DON’T start with a quote
We want to hear your words, not someone else’s. Even worse is a random quote with no explanation: ‘We must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy!’ Lovely, but what does that say about YOU? It's easiest just to avoid quotes all together.
Don’t waste space explaining things that are already on your application
Universities reading your UCAS form will know what you’re studying at college, so don’t tell us you’re doing 3 A levels in History, English, Art etc. Apply the ‘so what?’ principle: what have you learnt from these A Levels that make you a strong university candidate?
Don’t get too much advice
Asking several people for input can do more harm than good. If you take everyone’s advice on board and make all the changes they suggest, your statement can become generic, confusing and not at all personal to you. Get any help that your college offers, and when it’s finished get it proofread, but make sure that the statement is ultimately ‘yours’.
And don’t copy. Ever!
Certain sentences will inevitably turn up in more than one personal statement. We expect this, and it isn’t a problem. But UCAS have a sophisticated method of checking the originality of all personal statements submitted to them. If they find too many similarities with other statements they have on record, they will let all of the universities you have applied to know. Don’t be tempted to lift some paragraphs from the sample statements that are scattered around the internet. It’s just not worth it.
At Wrexham Glyndŵr University, we see thousands of personal statements during the course of a cycle. They are varied, interesting and often unique - and that’s the way it should be. Don’t try to make yours too perfect, just make it perfect for you.
We can’t wait to read yours soon!
Written by Andy Phillips, Admissions and Enquiry Manager at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.