- By Jessica Luong
Your personal statement, submitted through UCAS, is an important part of your university application. The quality of your personal statement can make a huge difference between securing a place at university. A common mistake students make is to overlook their personal statement. Universities aren’t just looking for good students who can prove themselves academically – they’re also looking for people who can make a difference in the student community.
It is vital that your personal statement distinguishes you from the many other students who are applying for exactly the same course as you. There are certain things you can do which you can write about in your personal statement to make the university admissions officer really sit up and notice.
Volunteering is a great way to show your dedication to a cause you care about and how you’re willing to work regardless of financial incentives. However, it is common for many students to mention that they have volunteered in their local charity shop – this may not be enough to make you stand out from other applicants. Volunteer for a cause which you’re really passionate about, and then write about why you decided to volunteer for this organisation. If possible, try and link it to your course. For example, if you’re applying to study Geography, you might volunteer for an environmental charity because you feel passionate about environmental conservation.
Showing that you are able to balance your studies and employment is valuable to universities. It suggests you’ll be able to balance your social life with university work. Furthermore, it shows you’re capable of going beyond what is expected or is compulsory. Your employment history does not have to be strictly related to your chosen area of study. This will show that your interests extend beyond your chosen degree. Try and write about the skills you learnt during your time in employment and how you can apply them to your university course.
Doing extracurricular activities shows prospective universities what your interests outside of school are. Popular extracurricular activities include taking part in Debating Society and Sports Clubs. Try and think outside the box - it is advantageous to mention an extracurricular activity which catches the eye of whoever is reviewing your university application process. It is possible to set up your own society in school – get together with a group of friends, find a common interest and ask a teacher at your school to help you out if need be.
Other things worth mentioning in your personal statement are the reasons why you’ve decided to apply for the course(s); aspects of the subject(s) you’re particularly interested in; and what you expect to do with your degree after you graduate. The important thing to bear in mind when writing your personal statement is making sure your prospective universities know what you as a student can bring to the university.