Writing a compelling personal statement is a key part of an application to a UK university and needs to be submitted as part of a UCAS submission for all undergraduate degree applications.
For highly competitive courses such as medicine, the personal statement can be very important in deciding whether an offer is made, as courses such as medicine/veterinary studies are always oversubscribed.
What should a personal statement include?
Overall it should be:
An honest & positive statement written by the applicant
Admissions officers read thousands of personal statements each year and can easily spot a statement that has not been written by the applicant. It is very important they read the statement and believe it is wholly the work of the applicant themselves.
This doesn’t mean to say the statement should not be thought through and well presented, but it should be the voice of the applicant that comes shining through.
Also, being positive in the statement is really important-avoid all negative comments. The personal statement is presenting you as an asset to the university, so avoid criticisms of teachers/parents, negative comments generally, at all costs!
Specifically it should cover:
Why you want to study the course you are applying for
This is critical. A general statement with little reference to the specific course you are applying for will not be viewed very positively.
You can demonstrate your interest in the course in several ways;
- Through your study options chosen already.
- Through work you have personally committed to outside of the classroom;
i.e, relevant work experience gained-paid or voluntary, examples of reading around the subject-beyond the requirements of your previous studies, talking to people who have studied this course, or work in a career related to the course.
Why you are personally suited to this course?
As well as referencing the ways you have shown you have shown an active interest in the subject area (2. above) you also need to show the personal reasons why you think this course is right for you.
This can be demonstrated by showing you recognise the personal attributes that are needed to successfully study this course and be successful in a career related to the course and to then demonstrate that you have these personal attributes yourself.
For example, if you are applying for a degree in Law, you can reference the personal attributes you know are needed to be successful in a legal career and show how you have demonstrated them yourself;i.e, attention to detail, an ability to review a situation from all perspectives-strong debating skills, ability to work under pressure, excellent written skills, ability to communicate clearly (with a client)…
What skills you have developed that show you are a well rounded person with a lot to offer the university.
Key skills to demonstrate here are; team working, strong communication, mentoring, critical thinking-skills that are transferable and show you have lots to offer and are not afraid to love out of your ‘comfort zone’ and contribute to university life.
You can reference examples of how you have exhibited these skills through experiences both inside and outside the classroom.
What your long term goals are:
This is often the hardest part of the statement to complete as many people applying for an undergraduate course do not have a 100% clear idea of what career they hope to progress after completing their course. However, even if you are unclear on the actual career path you wish to take post graduation, it is still a good idea to show how the course will develop skills and knowledge that will be relevant to future study and/or future career aspirations.
For example-you may be applying to study Politics but have no real desire to enter Politics as a career. However recognising where the skills developed on the course might take you is important to acknowledge; critical reasoning (political theory), developed awareness of international political history, debating could all lead to a role in management, marketing, sales, research etc…