As a college student, you’re likely to be used to writing on all kinds of different topics- often whether you like it or not. However, writing a personal statement requires a different set of skills altogether and will probably push you out of your comfort zone.
Your personal statement is your chance to demonstrate exactly what makes you stand out, why your chosen university should sit up and take notice and why you are a great choice for the course in question. Sounds easy enough? Think again. It’s time to stop staring blankly at your computer screen and kick-start your personal statement-writing by following the steps below. After all, the sooner you begin, the sooner it will all be over!
1. Create a mind map!
It’s easy to get carried away with ideas (or fear) and try to dive straight into writing a whole personal statement from scratch within a couple of hours. Okay, it’s done, but how does it read? The best personal statements are the products of careful planning and, all importantly, organisation. Take a step back and create a mind map of all your achievements, experiences and key skills. If they are relevant, link them to how they will aid you in your chosen course. Make sure you have taken a note of all your accomplishments, however minor you think they are, as you never know which of them will leap out and appeal to the reader. These headings will therefore help you to create a structured document, which will be easily accessible to the reader.
2. Why have you chosen this course?
Your mind map will prove particularly useful in this aspect of the personal statement. Although it may seem obvious, one of the most important points to remember while writing a personal statement is that you must refer to the degree you want to study throughout. By doing this you should be answering fundamental questions- for example, why you should be selected to study this course and what attributes or experience do you bring with you? Your experience or qualities can be as simple expertise gained while studying subjects at school, or while working during summer holidays. By linking a skill with your chosen degree, you highlight your awareness of the requirements of the course and the content covered, which may make you stand out from other applicants.
3. Think about your style
When writing your personal statement, keep it simple. It is easy to go overboard and demonstrate your extensive intellectual vocabulary with every chance you get. However, this can over-complicate a sentence and simply make it harder to read. When writing your personal statement, bear in mind that the reader will have to plough through tens and hundreds of documents like it and will not have time to figure out what you are trying to say. It’s always good to illustrate your personality, however, especially when writing about yourself; an enthusiastic yet professional tone tends to work well.
4. Don’t copy!
Let’s be honest: there are thousands of personal statements online for the public to use as guidelines. It is always useful to have a look at other peoples work for ideas, but make sure you do not copy it. A personal statement is about YOU and therefore should differ from everyone else’s efforts. UCAS screen all personal statements and if they find strong similarities between statements they won’t be pleased; it could have a negative impact upon your application.
5. Finally… Get at least one person to proofread your work
Although you may have read your personal statement one hundred times and finally feel ready to submit it, make sure you ask someone else to read over it first. A fresh pair of eyes could spot even the smallest of mistakes, suggest improvements or remind you of additional qualities you have which you may have forgotten! Small mistakes on personal statements can hinder your acceptance to university as they suggest that you are careless and lack the ability to pay attention to detail. However, if you have put in the time and energy, and asked loved ones to tear your work apart (lovingly), you’ve nothing to fear- go forth and show them what you can do!