The deadline for that UCAS application submission is looming over you…
Yet you still have no idea what to write for your Personal Statement. We feel you! It’s definitely a daunting and arduous process when trying to conjure up what you are like as a student – more importantly, what you’re like as a person. Hey you, take a deep breath!
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to look out for when writing an outstanding and comprehensive Personal Statement that will land you into your dream university!
Do be honest.
“Honesty is the best policy.” Am I right, or am I right? Try to avoid embellishing any qualities, skills or work experiences that you may want to include. For example, don’t make up any work placements that you have not attended if you can’t have someone that will vouch for your completion. Instead, list all the strengths (and weaknesses) about you, and be objective when evaluating them.
Don’t be too vague.
Repeat after me: “It’s all about that competitive advantage!” It would be redundant to include the same washed up phrases such as “I am incredibly passionate about this subject…” Elaborate on the why’s and how’s, and also what have you done in order to gear yourself towards achieving the goals for this particular area of interest.
Do think outside of the box.
The Undergraduate Admissions officers probably have read hundreds of thousands of applications that all include the keywords such as ‘punctual’, ‘motivated’, ‘hardworking’… You get the gist. Instead, utilise buzzwords that are more unique and truly depicts your character, such as ‘innovative’ and ‘determined’ etc. Think of how you could convey yourself in such a way that makes you different from thousands of other students who are applying for the same course as you.
Don’t be eccentric with the tone of voice or the sense of humour.
Be extra careful when you decide to throw in a bit of ‘banter’ and include any anecdotes that may be considered as inappropriate. Being able to ‘neck down a dirty pint’ is not an accomplishment even if it’s intended as a joke (but still impressive though). The admissions officer may not have the same sense of humour as you.
Do proofread as well as get a second (or several) opinions.
Leave out all the embarrassing and totally avoidable spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Make sure you have thoroughly read and double-checked the entire piece before handing it over to your careers adviser, academic tutor and your friends and family. A fresh pair of eyes could always identify small details that you may have missed out.
Yes, it is a tough document to write. Yes, you may get fed up writing it halfway through. But no, you cannot use someone else’s personal statement as a ‘reference’, if you know what I mean. Especially if you have an older sibling who has gotten into University before you, it may be awfully tempting to pull up their work and copy a sentence or two, here and there. Please beware that the penalties are awfully high for plagiarising. At the end of the day, siblings can’t share everything after all…
Do write several drafts.
It is far away from sufficient to only have one draft, as you may want to word things differently and then see how the whole piece flows that way. Instead, write up several drafts, each time tweaking some parts here and there until you’re completely happy with it.