Is your son or duaghter struggling with their personal statement as they complete their university application? The latest tips from UCAS will enable you to give them a helping hand.
With the January 15 deadline fast approaching, UCAS has released these ten top personal statement tips for anyone applying to university or college.
Christmas is a great time to put the finishing touches to the statement, which could be the only piece of written work admissions professionals see before making a decision.
The writing should show applicants at their very best and following these ground rules should get you (or your son or daughter) off to a great start.
1. Express interest in the subject and show real passion
UCAS adviser Ross Sanger said: “My major tip is to really show your ambitions and desires for wanting to do the course. In other words, putting across your passion in as much detail as possible. At the end of the day, you need to be doing something that you really like.”
Beverley Woodhams, Head of Central Recruitment at the University of Greenwich, said: “If you completed an extended project, briefly summarise its focus and what you learned.”
You can show how you have acted on your interest in particular subjects by attending extra-curricular activities or events. Talks at the Royal Society or local university are good examples of where someone has taken their passion beyond the school gates.
2. Go for a strong opening line to grab the reader’s attention
Mr Sanger said: “A punchy opening line will call attention to your application straight away.”
3. Relate outside interests to the course
Karen Martin, Marketing Communications Manager for Admissions and Student Recruitment at the University of Dundee, said: “For example, playing a musical instrument shows sustained commitment and/or the ability to manage your time effectively between juggling school study and music study.”
Ross Sanger adds: “There is an employment section on the application where you can put paid employment down so they can get an idea of whether you have been doing anything towards the course. The statement allows you to elaborate on what you have learnt and particularly why you want to do the course.”
Think beyond university
4. Think beyond university
“For courses with a high placement element and a specific career at the end applicants must show a strong knowledge of the role of a professional in that career,” said Ms Martin.
5. Get the basics right
Ms Martin added: “Check your spelling and grammar before submitting the application. Admissions selectors are assessing your ability to write an essay to university standard. Think about your paragraph and sentence structure.”
6. Don’t try to sound too clever
It’s important to use language you are comfortable with so as not to lose the focus of your writing. Ms Martin said: “Try not to go too far and use words you wouldn’t normally choose, to try and sound more ‘academic’. For example, an ‘incomparable orator’ is more naturally described as ‘having an aptitude or interest in public speaking’.”
7. Take time and make it your best work
Applicants’ personal statements help institutions identify suitable candidates, especially in the most competitive courses. Rushing will mean mistakes and not provide you with enough time to get it checked over by your parents or teachers.
8. Don’t leave it until the last minute – remember the 15 January deadline!
The deadline for most courses starting next year is 15 January 2012. While that may still seem like a long way off, it is never too early to start drafting your personal statement.
9. Get a second opinion
“If you want your personal statement to sell your abilities to a university, it is quite nice to get feedback from parents or family members on how they see you and the right words to describe yourself,” said Ross Sanger.
10. Honesty is the best policy
Every personal statement is checked against a library of those previously submitted to UCAS, sample statements, and other sources. Any statement showing a level of similarity of ten per cent or more is reviewed by members of the UCAS Similarity Detection Service Team.
Beverley Woodhams said: “Be honest and enthusiastic. Don’t make exaggerated claims as you could be questioned in some detail at the interview on the things you claim.”
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