Create a winning Personal Statement

Report
Alan Bullock Careers
[email protected]
for Wiltshire College H.E. Convention
24th April 2012
20 SLIDES – 1 MINUTE EACH
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TO PASS ON ADVICE FROM A WIDE RANGE OF
COURSES AND UNIS
TO HELP YOU START PREPARING A STATEMENT
THAT WILL DO JUSTICE TO YOUR ABILITIES AND
POTENTIAL
TO TRY AND HELP YOU SECURE A PLACE ON YOUR
CHOSEN COURSE
Already know what you want to do at uni?
→ go ahead and start developing ideas for your
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statement
Don’t know what you want to do at uni ?
→ try ukcoursefinder.com (150+ ideas)
→ or try my Degree Course Menu (396 ideas!)
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Got ideas but not certain yet?
→ thinking about what to put in your statement will
help you decide what suits you best
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Maximum 47 lines and 4,000 characters
including spaces
Do it in Word first
Use pt 12 Times New Roman
Use paragraphs if you can, but you can’t
underline, indent or use bold or italics
Only one statement for all 5 choices, so it’s
much easier if your 5 choices are similar
(except 5th choice for Med/Dent/Vet)
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Most courses will read it
It’s especially crucial for:
*High-demand courses
*Vocational courses
*High-demand universities
“When you get 1500 applications for 75 places, then frankly it’s down
to the personal statement”
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Many unis (like Southampton or Cambridge) look at
your application holistically, so every bit counts,
including the personal statement
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Even if they don’t look at it when you apply, they will look at
it at ‘Confirmation’ if you don’t quite get the grades
History admissions tutor:
“An inspired personal statement can sometimes swing us to
offer a place to someone whose predicted grades are slightly
lower than those we ask for”
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For vocational courses some unis SCORE the statement
against their selection criteria (e.g. some schools of medicine,
physiotherapy, radiography, occupational therapy etc)
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Exaggerate
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Waffle (“admissions tutors have a waffle detector gland”)
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Plagiarise (you will be caught)
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Use posh vocabulary you wouldn’t use in real life
“It was in Year 10 that my love for Maths came forth”
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Repeat yourself
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Start with “from a young age” or “since I was a child”
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Make spelling or grammar mistakes
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Don’t bother researching into what’s needed
Be YOURSELF
 Focus on WHY you want to do the course
 REFLECT on the skills, interests, experiences and
qualities you will bring to it (academic and personal)
 Try to convey enthusiasm for learning and a passion
for your chosen course (but without using the word “passion”)
 Find out what the uni is looking for –
*Use UCAS ENTRY PROFILES or uni websites
*Go to OPEN DAYS and ASK them!
 Then use the “5 minutes in Starbucks” method not
the “Gobbledygook” approach to writing it
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Which courses said the following?
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If you talk about babies, you’re likely to be
rejected!
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DON’T MENTION SPORT!
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All sport and no science will NOT impress!
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Don’t try and find examples of a model statement
and copy it
Most of all, we want people who are enthusiastic
about the course
Tell us why you want to study the subject and show
that you have some of the skills to be successful
Tell us what you THINK not just what you DO
If an adult has helped you write it, we can tell
Don’t give us a load of old flannel
Less is more
Don’t waste space, just get straight into it
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The personal statement is your one chance to
SPEAK to the admissions tutor
It’s a pleasure to read a statement where the
applicant’s own voice comes over clearly
If you’ve had relevant experience, we want to know
what you LEARNED from it (i.e. REFLECT on it)
If you’re applying for a joint course, we want to
know about BOTH subjects
If you’re applying for deferred entry, what are your
gap year plans?
Don’t use lots of exclamation marks!!
If you’re dyslexic, don’t hide it
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Give us a well-written summary of why you want to
study the subject and your relevant academic and
personal skills and qualities in 3 paragraphs
And don’t try and impress us with quotations
What you say in your statement may come up in an
interview, so you must be able to justify it
We want to know what makes you tick
Tell us something that makes you stand out
But don’t be too quirky – some admissions tutors
like it, some don’t, so it’s risky
We like you to be different – but not TOO different!
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You need to convince me why YOU want to study
my subject and why I would want YOU in my
seminar group
We don’t want vague, gushy statements like – “I
genuinely believe I am a highly-motivated person”
– don’t say it, SHOW IT!
Steer away from talking about obvious background
reading – if I see “Freakonomics” mentioned in one
more Economics personal statement, I’LL SCREAM!
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Why you want to study this subject/course at uni
and what has inspired you
What you enjoy about your school/college
subjects - and how they have prepared you with
valuable knowledge or skills for your degree
Any relevant reading beyond the syllabus
Any extra-curricular achievements or interests
that are relevant to your degree OR that just show
you will be a well-rounded student
Work experience, other relevant experience,
career or gap year plans – if appropriate
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“I like to see a 50/50 split between academic interests and
personal interests”
“We want at least 70% academic interests and no more than
30% personal interests”
“Don’t spend more than the last 20% of your statement on
those extra-curricular activities and skills which make you a
‘rounded’ person”
BUT…
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Don’t use up too much space talking about your science
subjects, as it won’t make you stand out (BSMS – med school)
For vocational courses, it may be right to focus more heavily
on your experience
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Natasha: UCAS Entry Profiles & course
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Rhodri: SPIDER DIAGRAM
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Maria: LIST OF HEADINGS → then under
websites → SPEECH BUBBLES
each, write what comes naturally in a
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS → then hack
away at it to get it down to 47 lines
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Marianne: “The necklace approach”
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Kreena: “Use your own personal style –
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Lorin: “Tell your story and add your own
don’t be fake!”
ingredients and your personal touch”
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“It’s hard when you’re faced with a blank
screen and 47 lines to write, so don’t think of
it in those terms……
……either focus on the first paragraph OR
write without trying to keep it to 4,000
characters…...
……it’s much easier to edit something that’s
too long than to aim for the right length in
your first draft.”
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On the UCAS website you will find:
A MIND MAP
A WORKSHEET
&
A VIDEO
at
ucas.com/students/applying/howtoapply/personalstatement
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Before deciding whether to include something
in your statement, apply the
SO WHAT? Factor
Do get advice from teachers, careers advisers,
friends, parents or unis, but remember whose
personal statement it is
IT’S YOURS…SO IT NEEDS TO SOUND LIKE YOU!
Do tell your referee about anything important
that you would like them to include in your
UCAS REFERENCE

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