Personal statement tips: help your child write a punchy personal statement
Mistakes can slip into even the most polished UCAS applications. As one of TiC’s most experienced personal statement tutors I thought I’d share some advice with you. Here are some simple personal statement tips to make sure your child submits a punchy personal statement that sets them apart from the crowd.
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement is a 4000 character application to university that is submitted through UCAS (the UK’s university admissions system). It’s a cover page for students to showcase themselves and prove why they should go to their chosen university. It gives them a chance to highlight their skills and experiences. Essentially allowing students to answer why they are best person for the course and why they stand out in a good way.
First thing to do is help your child brainstorm:
- Why are they choosing the course
- Why are they passionate about the subject -> articles, lectures, projects
- Experiences -> DofE, NCS, Young Enterprise
- Hobbies -> sports, creative, music
- Work ethic
Now it’s time for your child to combine all these brainstormed ideas into sentences and to rearrange them in a logical order. Remember, the tone should be positive and excited!
Firstly, writing a punchy opening paragraph. They should start with why they are passionate about the course, why they are excited and, show they know exactly what the course entails.
Second, why should the student be accepted. Start with specifics about the subject; referencing academic literature or specific online lectures or podcasts will make your child really stand out.
Then your child can move on to showing they have the skills required for the course. Go on the admissions websites for your child’s chosen universities and/or subject. Make a long list of the qualities that they require from prospective students, for example ‘communication’, ‘analytical skills’, ‘leadership’, ‘essay writing’. Then help your child link their experiences and achievements to these skills. For each skill that is referenced in their personal statement, there must be evidence on how they have gained/used the skill.
Thirdly, being personal and unique. Here your child should show that they will be able to fit into university life as a whole. This section can include hobbies but only if they are relevant to the course your child is applying to and the skills they would need at university. For example: writing ‘I like baking with my friends every weekend’ is irrelevant whereas, writing ‘I am a keen baker and wanted to find other bakers at my school. So I used my initiative to start a baking society. This developed my leadership and planning skills as I had to organise events, encourage communications within the society and, organise resources for us to use.’ shows so many more of the student’s positive attributes.
The first draft won’t be perfect so encourage your child to start writing their personal statement well before the deadline. Encourage them to keep editing and improving it. You could even proof read it for them or hire one of our personal statement tutors to help them out!
Here are some things you want to be thinking about when you proofread their statement:
- Being concise: the personal statement is a very short piece of writing to get across a large amount of information. I always tell my students to try and convey as much as possible in the smallest number of words. An easy way to do this is to read a sentence and for each word ask: does this word add anything to what they’re trying to say. No? Then it’s a waste of a word and should be deleted. Classic examples include: ‘however’, ‘moreover’, ‘as such’, ‘in consequence’, ‘given this’.
- No cheese: it’s very easy for students to get carried away with how much they love a subject. But It’s far better to be objective and be able to write cleanly and quickly. Make sure they get to the point. Admissions tutors will appreciate a personal statement that’s easy to read and has no cliches.
- Cut out the lies: don’t twist the truth. This is especially important for courses with interviews. Honesty is the best policy! Why not test your child on specific parts of their personal statement; this will check their knowledge. Encourage them to be authentic.
- Check for grammar and punctuation mistakes – these can easily degrade the quality of your child’s application.
Follow these personal statement tips and your child will stand out for the right reasons. For more help visit the UCAS website.