If you’re applying to university, you will need to write a personal statement. If you’re applying through the university itself, they may ask for a variation of a personal statement or one itself, often with a word limit. If you’re applying through UCAS, you’ll need a personal statement with your application and there’s a character limit of 4000 words or 47 lines. This can seem intimidating, but it isn’t as daunting as you may think.
A personal statement is an introduction to you. It’s your first impression to the places you’re applying to. It’s an important part of your application, but it isn’t talked about much. There aren’t many tips on how to make one, especially to make one stand out, so here are my tips on how to make a personal statement.
I applied to university last year, both through UCAS and through university websites. Making a personal statement for UCAS can seem scary due to the character limit and their advised limit of 500 words. Of everyone in my class, none of us thought we could get to 500 words, most of us claiming we weren’t exciting enough for that many words. I can guarantee you, everyone’s exciting enough for 500 words, even if you don’t feel it.
One place I applied to split the personal statement up, asking specific questions such as ‘why do you want to study here?’, or ‘What’s something interesting about you?’, each having a very strict character limit of 250. That’s why I would say to have your UCAS personal statement easy at all times so you can adapt it to those kinds of applications.
Here are some things I found helpful about the structure-
The first paragraph should be a brief introduction to you. How did you get into the subject? Be as passionate as you can while keeping this brief. My best advice is keep it to four lines, maximum.
The second paragraph should be about your current education. If you’re in college, write about your experience on the subject based on your college experience and what achievements you’ve completed in college, all relevant to your subject. If you’re in sixth form, write about your subject and your relevant achievements you’ve gained throughout sixth form. For example, I wrote about the shows I worked on in college and what I gained from those experiences.
The third paragraph should be your experiences and achievements about the subject outside of education. If you don’t have any, don’t worry about this, just skip this step. For this section, I wrote about theatre experiences I had outside of college, even if they were from before I started college, I put them in. Big up yourself. Show off what you’ve done.
The fourth paragraph should be about you. Do you have any hobbies? Put them in. They have subliminal messages, so keep that in mind. Do you like running? It shows you’re active. Do you like writing? It’s seen as you can keep up with work. Put it in. Tailor them to your subject. For a production arts course, I put in that I run, I write, that I play piano and do grades. It showed that I’m active, I’m creative and do work, and I can read sheet music. Be smart about what you put in, because they will look for the messages your hobbies give. Put in experiences you’ve had outside of your subject. You went to a club? Put it in. It shows you keep busy.
The fifth chapter should be a summary. Try to be as passionate as possible. Say why you want to study your subject in higher education, but keep it brief. Four lines maximum.
With that structure, here are some things to remember:
This is what I learnt about personal statements. I hope that this has helped, even just a little! It’s a tricky thing to do, but remember that the most important part is to be you. Hype yourself up but stay true to yourself. Being patient is especially important. It’s hard. Be patient. You’ll get it perfect in no time. Through my experience, it took me three months to get it right, but it worked. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, as long as you get it in before the deadline, it’s perfectly okay. Rushing it won’t get it perfect. Being authentically you is the best thing to do when writing a personal statement.
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