Personal Statement Question

(28 Posts)
hattymattie Sat 07-Sep-13 17:58:53

My DD is currently preparing her statement for early application. She attended a Law Taster Course at Cambridge - I wondered if mentioning Cambridge on her PS would torpedo her chances at the other universities and whether she should just say she attended a law taster course at a prestigeous university.

Any thoughts?

creamteas Sat 07-Sep-13 18:36:49

It wouldn't make a once of difference to me.

chemenger Costa Rica Sat 07-Sep-13 18:53:26

It makes no difference to us either, other than being evidence of genuine interest.

BlackMogul Sat 07-Sep-13 19:23:58

If she is doing early application is she looking to Cambridge anyway? If so no harm done really. It may show interest but it may also show middle class advantage. Would a very poor child from the north of Scotland (say) been able to do this or would they have had to look at orher ways to demonstrate their interest in law? I think it is a small part of the personal statement and hopefully not the only aspect of the p s showing her interest in the subject.

UptheChimney Sat 07-Sep-13 19:47:18

I really wouldn't mention 'prestigious university'. I teach at a university which is seen as "prestigious", and frankly, it'd put me off. I'd suspect that the applicant is more interested in the show of status than actually learning.

Universities called 'prestigious' (not by those of us who work in them!!!) are at the top because usually we offer research-led, rigorous teaching, expect a lot of students, and want to push them.

Much better for her to write about the rigour of her studies so far, and where she wants to push herself.

teatimesthree Sat 07-Sep-13 19:49:08

No it won't put other universities off. We are glad to get students who are potential Oxbridge material! 'Prestigious university' sounds too vague and also a bit Hyacinth Bucket-esque.

hattymattie Sat 07-Sep-13 20:07:55

Thanks that's very helpful - she got on the taster course through merit and will apply to Cambridge but I felt if she mentioned this on the PS, Durham in particular might reject her.

Sorry I can't spell prestigious. blush

Maybe just write that she was chosen for a place for her merit, then.
Or ask her tutor to put it in her reference?

UptheChimney Sat 07-Sep-13 20:34:26

Don't try to second guess university admissions tutors. She should state that she was selected for the extension course by merit, and where it was. No need for adjectives to describe the university. She should use it as an example of her interest in pursuing her study of the subject beyond the curriculum of her A levels. Just state the facts.

Actually, a ban on adjectives & adverbs in Personal Statements would be a jolly good thing [oops!]

teatimesthree Sat 07-Sep-13 20:41:41

Brilliant idea on the ban, UptheChimney. I would extend it to include the words 'passion' and 'passionate'.

UptheChimney Sat 07-Sep-13 20:49:42

Yes, please!

SlowlorisIncognito Sat 07-Sep-13 20:55:57

Saying a "prestigious university" sounds far to vauge. Just mentioning that it was at Cambridge shouldn't put other universities off, and would your DD really want to go somewhere that petty anyway?

It might also be good to talk about what she enjoyed learning about on the taster course if she has enough characters available. This will also make it look even less like name dropping.

hattymattie Sat 07-Sep-13 21:06:16

Right - I will tell her under no circumstances to say "passionate". She has gone on to discuss the taster course but it's a good idea to ask her referee to mention that it was though merit.

The PS's seem to have to be so much more high powered than when I did mine - about 30 years ago.

Totally. I remember applying for Classics and wibbling on merrily about enjoying museum visits and reading. That'd go straight in the bin nowadays, I reckon.
Tbh, if she's applying this early, most places will assume that's because she's applying to Oxbridge as well, so no need for dissembling.
or just apply to Cambridge now, and add the other choices after Oct 15th

SlowlorisIncognito Sat 07-Sep-13 21:29:33

Personal statements are, as far as I can tell, mostly fairly formulaic. Admittedly, my experience for this is working part time in an admissions office whilst a student and applying for university twice, as well as reading TSR quite a bit during the process. You write about why you want to study the course, what aspects of the subject you are especially interested in, you provide evidence of extra study and reading around the subject and mention any relevant extra curiculars. By this stage you maybe have 3-4 lines left to talk a bit about any other interests you have that aren't so relevant to the subject. Some people like to talk about the skills they've gained from these, but tbh that is not essential and can look silly if there's no evidence to back it up.

The hard part is finding a way to phrase things that doesn't sound tired or cliched.

For the record AwesomeWellies I actually think your personal statement would be fine for classics today, so long as you had specific examples of museums you had visited and enjoyed, and books you had read and what you thought of them.

And yes, when you have read the word "passionate" about 50 times in the last hour or so, it really does begin to grate.

Fairdene Sat 07-Sep-13 21:38:11

What exactly is the 'taster course' at Cambridge? I thought those were the paid for courses held in university buildings and costing several hundred pounds but not part of any access initiative. If your daughter won a place on one of the access schemes take care that she doesn't confuse the terminology with the paid for schemes.

I certainly wouldn't use the term prestigious, absolutely agree about Hyacinth Bucket overtones.

BlackMogul Sat 07-Sep-13 21:40:06

As I understand it, Cambridge taster courses can be accessed by all children in all schools, provided they are chosen by the school to be academically suitable to attend. Cambridge does not do the choosing. My DDs were always told to put on personal statements what they had actually done to show dedication and interest in their subject and that passively going to the theatre or a museum was not good enough in today's competitive arena.

Fairdene Sat 07-Sep-13 21:55:48

There are several courses which could reasonably be termed taster courses, including the several hundred pound courses run out of term time. It might be as well to identify this as a course run by the dept but where schools elect students or as a ST place. The paid for courses hold no particular merit and the cost makes them exclusive, obviously.

hattymattie Sun 08-Sep-13 08:34:05

The taster course was a two day free residential with Trinity College - she had to write a statement about why she wanted to do it, send in her exam results to date plus a recommendation from the school. A brilliant experience for her. We just had to pay to get her there. You're right I need to emphasise that it wasn't a "bought" place.

creamteas Sun 08-Sep-13 09:13:23

The hard part is finding a way to phrase things that doesn't sound tired or cliched

After reading 1000s of UCAS forms over the last few years, I can honestly say there is no original way of saying you want to study something!

Which is why PS carry very little weight with us.

Fairdene Sun 08-Sep-13 09:40:26

In that case don't worry about Durham, skip veiled references to 'prestigious' unis and say it straight: I went to a two day law event hosted by Trinity College, Cambridge where I did/ learned etc. Durham law dept makes lots of offers each year to those who are very obviously likely to be trying for Oxford or Cambridge. The A* was introduced an part of the standard offer in part to deter Cambridge offerees holding Durham as the insurance. It's really not an issue.

hattymattie Sun 08-Sep-13 10:55:55

Thank you so much for your help everybody - I didn't know that about the A* Fairdene. She needs to get cracking on it now - whilst avoiding cliches - very hard to do.

UptheChimney Sun 08-Sep-13 13:29:05

If she's straightforward and herself, what she writes won't be cliched. Unless she thinks in cliches and then TBH, she's not necessarily A* material.

Fairdene's advice is spot on, although she could think about adding that it was a recommendation from her school on merit (based on her marks/school results/essay etc).

DS currently struggling over his PS. No help seems to be forthcoming from his (inadequate) 6th form. He wants to do Maths and wants to apply to Cambridge, he has the necessary grades but lacks the support and preparation of those at more illustrious schools. Not surprisingly for a maths specialist, writing is not his strongest point and he has been looking on the Student room for inspiration.
I think this is a mistake because when he just writes his knowledge and love for his subject shine through. Must tell him to avoid the P word.

Millais Sun 08-Sep-13 13:59:28

DS1 thought this was useful last year

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013fmcn

He also suggested talking to any sixth form teacher that your dc respects and has a good relationship with; especially anyone who left university recently

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