Personal Statement

(32 Posts)
ChillySundays Wed 18-Nov-15 00:06:52

Can anyone recommend a service to check a personal statement?

I don't feel capable of helping (well I have tried but not sure) my DS and could do with some help


OP’s posts: |
GloriaHotcakes Thu 19-Nov-15 07:12:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

disquisitiones Thu 19-Nov-15 08:37:47

You mean a paid service?

The personal statement will not have any effect for many courses. The vast majority of university courses make offers based on academic record and predicted grades: if you have the right predicted grades you get an offer.

If your DS is applying for a course which only offers to a small fraction of applicants, then the personal statement may play a role. But I'm not sure that a statement checking service will improve his chances: academics would rather that the statement is honest and in his own words, rather than be smoothed and polished by others. If he goes to interview and academics realise that his PS was significantly influenced by others, this could count against him.

Needmoresleep Thu 19-Nov-15 10:04:47

My sympathy. Dyslexic DD sweated blood on hers, not helped by the fact she had an early deadline and was recovering from a major illness. I think disquisitiones is right though that for many courses people will only pay attention to PS's where the candidate is marginal. That said if you miss a grade or two in the summer you will want the University to be able to reread a strong PS.

As a non academic, inexperienced, mum what helped us was to think of it being scored. A bit like a mark scheme. Search University websites for PS guidance for your subject. Someone will have something clear (I remember Warwick's guidance being good for DS' subject.) Then follow it. If it says three quarters to be devoted to the subject and a quarter to extra curricular then do this. One para on why you are interested in the subject, one or two with evidence that you have taken this interest further. (Reading, lectures, essay competitions, relevent work experience etc.) Then one about non academic stuff. Sport, music, volunteering or other interests, ideally giving evidence of other skills, resiliance, leadership and so on, that will make you a good student, coping with the course and contributing to University life. Recheck that you have covered everything that a University says they have been looking for, so you score as many points as possible. I am hoping that as long as the grammar and spelling is correct and proper paragraphs are used, Universities expect a PS to look like they have been written by 17 year olds and will not be that polished.

One thing I did when DD struggled to get beyond the first sentence was to do a check list of things she might include, based on my knowledge of her interest and experience. Writing something very personal and very important was a huge challenge so a small amount of initial help with structure and content went a long way, as did using guidance from Universities as a template. In the end what she produced after about 17 drafts is far more individual and more interesting than my first check list, but she struggled to get started. The other area of difficulty was reducing it to the right number of characters. Again editing out duplications etc is easier done by someone further removed, though again I was consious of the need to retain her content and voice, whilst cutting down on characters. She also showed versions to others including her teachers and student brother, who were able to give feedback on how it looked to an outsider. What was frustrating for her was that she could see the problems but was wildly hoping someone would tell her what to write instead, which they did not.

There was a huge relief when she finally pressed the send button. Good luck.

MultishirkingAgain Thu 19-Nov-15 11:59:50

It's a PERSONAL statement, not a paid statement. It's a test of how well an applicant can represent themselves in clear, direct prose.

homebythesea Thu 19-Nov-15 13:11:32

It's the school/college's job to do this!

I do know of friends who have checked the PS's of friends' DC's - barristers etc so that might be a route yiu can use? Otherwise you can google "model" PS's for the subject to see at the very least whether it's along the right lines. It's really really hard to keep within the character limit so some finessing will be required. But most important is to show your DC is a suitable candidate so interested in the subject and have something about them outside if schoolwork.

Having said that my DS received offers so quickly after the application went in I think it's right to say that the first look is given to predicted grades NOT the PS. So double check typical offers for the course to make sure you don't waste a space on the form for an unachievable option

ChillySundays Thu 19-Nov-15 14:32:02

Thanks everyone.

I am feeling better about it all - just worrying! Since posting this I asked him if he had seen his friend's PS and how he thought it compared. I asked as this friend has four conditional offers and an interview at the fifth. My DS is applying to the same universities. My DS reckons the PSs aren't much different. He sat with me and we have rewritten bits so they a bit more flowery (like re-phrasing 'I want to study.....' type things)

I went to a talk about UCAS etc and the college said they do not help the students as we might blame them if our precious DC don't get any offers.

He is studying for a BTEC and should in theory if he carries on working hard to get DD*D so grades won't be a problem

Like I said I am worrying so much as he will be gutted if he doesn't get his first choice

OP’s posts: |


Dunlurking Thu 19-Nov-15 15:11:00

Our library had 2 books on writing personal statements which gave encouraging, simple and logical, advice. And ds did what Needmoresleep advises above - divided it into sections with a certain percentage/paragraph devoted to subject(s) and extracurricular etc. He accosted staff at subject stands at open days to ask what they wanted to see on the PS and what proportion should be devoted to what. He even emailed admissions tutors for advice about it he's a little OCD and they didn't seem to mind.

It sounds like he is doing fine. The only thing is that ds ended up cutting what I would have called flowery phrases simply because there was no space for it - the words had to deliver crucial stuff he wanted to say in the most direct efficient manner. He consciously left a little "sophistication" only because he's applying for an essay based course (if that makes sense).

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 19-Nov-15 15:23:05

My DS has just had offers for all the universities he has applied for (3), two RG and one excellent ex-poly. I didn't see his personal statement as it was all done in school, but, this is a boy who has nothing to put on it - no hobbies, interests, sports etc - he just talked about the course and why he wanted to do it. He loves the subject, passionately, and I woild imagine that came across. Hth.

eatyourveg Thu 19-Nov-15 15:54:10

have you looked on the ucas website? they offer some advice and have a template to help students structure it properly. See here

homebythesea Thu 19-Nov-15 16:20:35

went to a talk about UCAS etc and the college said they do not help the students as we might blame them if our precious DC don't get any offers.

This renders me speechless

homebythesea Thu 19-Nov-15 16:24:45

Actually not speechless

It shows why there is little social mobility in higher education

My privately educated DS has had whole days off curriculum devoted to the application process/writing the PS, visiting speakers from good universities spelling out what they are looking for, endless meetings with tutors, heads of department and House staff to fine tune everything......

And then there's your DC with no guidance at all and sadly I imagine that is not unusual. How are parents who are unfamiliar with the system /don't speak English /illiterate meant to guide their children?

talkinpeace Thu 19-Nov-15 17:59:54

DD and her friends all review each others.
They also email them to friends now at uni to review
and the tutors review them

parents are the worst people to do it in her view as we are old grin

but setting up a FB chat to discuss them seemed to work for DD

ragged Thu 19-Nov-15 21:04:01

The personal statement will not have any effect for many courses. The vast majority of university courses make offers based on academic record and predicted grades

^ This. In spades. Just look for obvious grammar-spelling howlers. Even when it matters it doesn't matter hugely, because those are same courses who usually interview. If you must get any extra tuition, I'd get it in interview technique (calming nerves, presenting best side of self and presenting same personality as the person who seemed to write the PS).

thesandwich Thu 19-Nov-15 21:08:56

The unis often give advice in their course info of what to include. The ucas website has great info too. Google for guidance "how to write a personal statement" . Some unis say they offer help with ps for students considering them. Good luck- but is is personal. Passion for the subject is key!

ChillySundays Thu 19-Nov-15 21:21:45

homebythesea To say I was speechless is an understatement!!! Wasn't expecting them to write it for him but a bit of nudging in the right direction.

I didn't go to university and anyway it was all so different when I was 18. I have done a fair bit of reading but I still felt out of my depth. A confidence thing. To cap it all the teacher who is supposed to be providing the reference is off sick. Have told my DS to find out for how long and if any other arrangements are being made.

He has submitted it now so fingers crossed.

Again thanks to you all

OP’s posts: |
senua Thu 19-Nov-15 23:34:22

I went to a talk about UCAS etc and the college said they do not help the students as we might blame them if our precious DC don't get any offers.

I hope they don't employ the same logic with coursework/exam grades.hmm

ragged Fri 20-Nov-15 07:28:35

Presumably Oxbridge have kept to their short intense terms for undergrads because they can get private visitors into their facilities the rest of the year doing intense short courses for mega money (I know loads of people who have done this for decades). I wonder how the income stream goes from there, if it goes to the colleges for pastoral support or into the research facilities, etc.

Since they don't have mega-benefactors like Ivy League, they've found a different business model.

MultishirkingAgain Fri 20-Nov-15 11:38:54

I interview, and use the PS as the basis for a couple of individual questions (the other questions are all standard & the same for each student).

So it depends on the course ... But really, it's essential practice for a lot of things that students will have to do as students, and then on into employment or further study.

It's really good learning to be able to present yourself directly, honestly and in terms of your knowledge, skills, and achievements, as well as your goals & ambitions.

homebythesea Fri 20-Nov-15 12:51:12

Alternatively multishirking learning the skill of writing what the audience wants to hear I'm not saying DS' personal statement was all lies but it certainly was, shall we say, embellished grin

MultishirkingAgain Fri 20-Nov-15 13:09:42

Well he just has to hope that he doesn't get called on that. Is it a good thing to encourage our children to lie?

ragged Fri 20-Nov-15 13:40:54

Spin is okay, it's a modern skill we mostly benefit from.

disquisitiones Fri 20-Nov-15 14:09:25

Spin is okay.

Writing things which are downright lies is not. I catch out a lot of students in interview who claim in their PS to have read certain books, or watched particular lectures, and then have absolutely no clue about their contents.

ragged Fri 20-Nov-15 14:28:39

What's the most popular book they say they read but didn't, disquisitiones?

disquisitiones Fri 20-Nov-15 15:32:49

For mathematics, they often claim to have read books by Iain Stewart or Marcus du Sautoy but then have no idea whatsoever what these books are about.

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