Personal statements: dos & don’ts – Which? University

Your personal statement is your chance to
tell the university or college you want to go to, why you’d be great for their course.
Every year admission tutors see thousands of personal statements. So, how can you make
yours stand out from the crowd? The
best personal statements tend to be ones where an applicant can effectively communicate to
us and bring a sense of themselves to the applications. I think the thing that really stands out with
personal statements is that the applicants has used evidence of their own achievements
to support anything that they are saying about their ability. And that’s what I’m really
looking for. I am looking for richness, detail, and evidence. Don ‘t be ashamed of really
being positive about yourself, and your achievements. More than anything, you are looking for an
application that is truthful and honest to the person. I think the best thing is to see
somebody who has a small amount of knowledge of the subject but really enjoys what they’ve
understood. What’s important to remember is it’s an opportunity for you to really shine,
and promote yourself. What we don’t want to see in a personal statement is any kind of
negativity, whether that is regarding yourself and your achievements or whether that’s towards
maybe a teacher, or a tutor or somewhere else elsewhere. Avoiding cliches in your personal statements
is a good thing to do if you can do it. My kind of pet hate is the cliched first sentence.So
, the classic computer science example I have is where a student says something to the effect
of, I got my first computer when I was ‘X’ years old. I am not sure why they want me
to know that, but it doesn’t really demonstrate much. It’s almost sort of phrase I joke, ever since
I was a foetus, I have always had a deep passion for medicine. And the reality of it is that’s
probably not the case. Almost every applicant appears to be passionate about whatever subject
they have applied for, and of course it is important that they are enthusiastic about
that subject, but how many teenagers do you know that usually use that kind of language
to describe it? So it feels very false. And the other thing is probably more for parents.We
do find sometimes parents really want to talk through their personal statement with their
son or daughter which is great. But when too much influence comes to bear,and they start
drafting it with them, or indeed for them, we start hearing the voice of a 55 year old
rather than a 17 year old, and actually we want to hear the voice of youth. I’d say also not to make a
personal statement that is too abstract or quoting your favourite lines of a poetry or
various other bits of literature. Your personal statement should be a really,
really positive document that really emphasizes how good an applicant you are, and what you
got to offer an institution. Basically being honest, and drafting it well,
taking time, being thoughtful, and those kinds of thing are really good basis for personal

10 thoughts on “Personal statements: dos & don’ts – Which? University

  1. "Ever since I was a fetus I had a deep passion for medicine" omg I just died that very moment

  2. Whew, time to "stand out"… along with the thousands of people who watched this video…

  3. Is my personal statement good enough?
    A major determinant in my choice of engineering is the application of the problem solving process to affect others’ lives in the real world. The ability to turn a mathematical problem into a solution that visibly improves the world around you is something few other fields can achieve. I believe that engineering will allow me to transfer my problem solving skills acquired through theoretical work in mathematics into more applicable options, in other words using mathematics constructively to make useful things come true.

    I am particularly interested in mechanical engineering. I find thermodynamics to be a very interesting topic because of it's delicacy and requirement of deep understanding and the importance of its consideration in the functioning and efficiency of machinery. I also find stress analysis to be quite interesting, as it answers the question of why certain shapes and structures can hold things better, giving me a better understanding of the shapes of certain bridges and buildings and why they are suited for their functions. Electronics engineering is an area I find useful as it combines well with mechanics to create a powered and controllable solution to many problems and tasks. I have read and studied Mark Hughes’ book “the Beginner’s Guide to Mechanical Engineering” which allowed me to attain a deeper knowledge and understanding of these topics.

    I am very keen on problem solving, which has motivated me to take my coding skills as a hobby beyond the GCSE level, as I have found the problem solving aspect of programming to be very captivating. I have also taken the AS Challenge in physics and am currently preparing for the Physics Olympiad, this has helped me to transfer my skills in physics to another level than school and had a more creative approach to problems that really allowed me to think outside the box, a much needed aspect of engineering.

    I have undertaken a football coaching course, I found it very helpful in developing my leadership and planning skills, as we had to plan training programs that would help children improve their skills as well as walk them through the programs and correct mistakes. I have also volunteered as a STEM ambassador in my school, motivating children into the areas of science and mathematics. I have found that this really improved my communication skills as I undertook projects with children and guided them on the way through. These are all skills that I find very important in pursuing an engineering career, as they provide the foundation for working in a team and managing big projects.

    I am a fishing enthusiast. I enjoy the challenge of thinking of a strategy to land as much fish as possible. It is usual for me to try out a change in weights or line thickness and see their effects on the number of fish caught.

    I wish to take my engineering degree to postgraduate level, and possibly hope to achieve a phD in an engineering related field. I also wish to create more influence with my degree for example, by starting an engineering firm or designing, marketing and selling

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