Damian Fidler, Head of Higher Education at Nottingham College explains the importance of a well written personal statement…
There is just under a month to go until the UCAS deadline which means there is still time to put together your personal statement if you haven’t already done so.
Damian Fidler, Head of Higher Education at Nottingham College shares some top tips for putting together an effective personal statement, including how to include all your key points, avoid repetition and ensure your application stands out from the crowd.
Before you begin writing…
Make a note of all your ideas and everything you would like to include. It’s easier to refer back to this when you are writing the real thing. Remember, the character limit is 4000 (47 lines) so planning is essential to make sure you cover everything you want to say.
Write a draft first and then look back through it, checking for ways you can reduce the word count and also for any spelling or grammar mistakes. The best way to save words is by checking back through your draft, making sure you haven’t repeated yourself.
Time to start writing…
The first section of your personal statement should be an introduction. Here you should outline why you are wanting to apply for the course and why you want to commit to studying the subject in detail. Remember, your statement is seen by all the institutions you are applying for so don’t mention specific names. Please avoid over emotive clichés here: Admissions Tutors at Universities have read and seen all manner and every phrase possible about this being a lifelong dream!
2. What makes you suitable for the course?
This section should form the main body of your statement, and depending on the type of course you are applying for then it’s advisable to include a number of key things.
If you have previously studied subjects that are relevant to the course you are applying for then you should discuss these here. Think about why you chose them in the first place, what you have learned and how they will help you with university level study.
Applying for an academic course?
If applying for an academic course you need to demonstrate how you have gone beyond the work required of you inside the classroom; for example are you undertaking an extended project or have you done any extra work or reading?
Applying for a creative course?
If applying for a creative course talk about your passion and interest for the subject and any work or projects you have been involved in. For example you may want to mention performances you have taken part in, competitions you’ve entered or work you’ve had published.
Applying for a vocational course?
If you are choosing a vocational course then talk about what experience you have (paid or voluntary) to demonstrate how you are engaging with the profession you wish to pursue a career in. Think very carefully about how the work experience you have (even if it’s is from a different field) and how this applies to your course. Perhaps in terms of supervising others, time management and organising workloads.
It is also important to demonstrate some knowledge of your chosen career sector if possible – this might be specific examples where you have learned about polices or practice in work or through study itself.
Remember: Admissions tutors will know all about the course you are applying for and the sector you are hoping to qualify in so try to stick to explaining how you have developed skills and applied your knowledge.
3. Hobbies and interests
In order for admissions tutors to get a well-rounded picture of you then remember to mention relevant hobbies and interests. Whilst it’s important to mention these, this section should be kept brief, ensuring you pick examples that can help you stand out from other candidates in a positive way. Demonstrate how you can balance your course with other commitments and as above, try to tease out the skills you have developed through hobbies and interests as opposed to merely describing what you have done.
Summarise your key ideas and reiterate the skills, interests and experiences you have already discussed. Demonstrate how studying this course fits into your future plans and how this course will help you reach your future goals and aspirations.