Truthful university applications(39 Posts)
Wondered what you, or your child, would have said if entirely honest?
I love the comment (comments section) from the retired admissions officer. Brilliant.
Personal Statements would be much more fun for everyone involved if they could be brutally honest.
My dd3's could read something like this.... I loathe essays so ditched essay subjects early on. Why waste time writing an essay when a couple of sentences will cover the salient points. I love maths but can't just say this as I am forced to write at least five more paragraphs. Please could I solve an equation instead of wittering on about nothing?
I wonder if she would get an interview? Tempting....
We had one once that read: I have been to a great many Open Days and carefully considered all the courses on offer in this field. I am now confident that I want to do my Master's at Nottingham Trent University.
Great, but our course was at a totally different institution!
DS was guilty of naming a couple of impressive books on his subject that he had read, but actually hadn't. When I pointed out to him he may get questioned about them at interview he rushed to buy them and speed read half of one of them, until luckily his offers came through with no interview involved.
DD1 wrote her PS in 45 minutes on the train. It was a long Eng Lit in-joke. A serious lit geek might have picked up on half the jokes. She needed to explain to me that she wrote sections about her favourite poem in the meter of the poem and using the same rhyme scheme. She added some pretty snarky bits at the end about mentoring younger pupils despite their annoyingness. At no point did she say why she wanted to read English. It was a sort of dark, withering anti-PS.
Oxford got the joke.
One of our Law applicants wrote extensively about wanting to study Law as he was sick of paying solicitors to defend him and he wanted to do it himself....
We didn't offer him a place but someone else did
DD's would go something like this;
Look I don't know if I'll even go to university, I might, you know, be busy in Hollywood.
But just in case I'm not, can I come and study something?
Is she applying for a drama course Eric?
My 14 year olds ds's future PS will read - I like maths, coding, computer games and worrying my Mum with an interest in hacking. Do you have good food on campus as this is my number one requirement?
I read a lot of personal statements written by French candidates applying to university in England. Things that crop up frequently in first drafts (though perhaps worded a touch more diplomatically - not always, however!):
I really, really want to study in England as I live in terror of prepa.
I really, really want to move to London and reinvent myself.
I want to study this subject as it is the best compromise between my parents' expectations (and they are footing the bill) and what I really want to do.
My son's PS for mech eng would have looked like that without a lot of nagging and help from various people Littleham. He's just had to do another for his Erasmus application and tried hard on the net to find how little he could get away with writing.
I see his point. 3 or 4 sentences are relevant the rest is just a creative writing exercise.
my child's would have said I've done the work experience because you want it but all that really taught me about being a doctor is that you expect me to jump through hoops. I get a kick out of helping people so I can do that. I'll talk as much bullshit as you want if you'll just give me an interview.
*It was a long Eng Lit in-joke. A serious lit geek might have picked up on half the jokes. She needed to explain to me that she wrote sections about her favourite poem in the meter of the poem and using the same rhyme scheme. She added some pretty snarky bits at the end about mentoring younger pupils despite their annoyingness. At no point did she say why she wanted to read English. It was a sort of dark, withering anti-PS.
Oxford got the joke.*
'Jokes' are a high risk stategy.She was lucky, she could just as easily have pissed them off
DD was warned that it was risky. Head of English thought it brilliant and said it was a very clear expression of her personality. Her personal tutor was horrified but was overruled. Either, her PS could have been screened by a general admissions bod at one of her choices who wasn't an Eng Lit person and would simply find it incomprehensible. Or, it could have come across as 'too clever by half'. She has offers from all who have replied so far and the Oxford tutor who asked her about the lit she mentioned in her PS was quite tickled by it- and this is a person who is clearly happy to spend hours with DD1's brand of sardonic wit for the next three years.
for many courses a personal statement doesn't really matter very much. Oxford is one of the few places that care and a "too clever by half" personal statement based on showing that you have studied a particular piece of literature would go down well especially if it was not part of the normal a level syllabus. Oxford doesn't generally mind a bit of arrogance, although talking about the annoyingness of younger students might have been a step too far.
I wouldnt describe that as a "dark withering anti PS " though it sounds more like knowing your market.
One of DD1's friends from school wrote a very similar sounding personal statement for English Lit at Oxford - using the exact style of various authors for separate paragraphs. A different college however - probably a good thing!
As someone in admissions for English, I would say that particular ploy has reached peak pastiche.
Peak pastiche is an excellent phrase Eric,, thank you. I wonder if DS can work it into his ps next year (he doesn't yet know what subject it will be for, but it strikes me that it's a very versatile phrase, and will do well anywhere ).
Me, honestly, something like
"I'm told going to university is very good for my future, but I can't imagine ending up anywhere other than living under a bridge."
My brothers' would have read
"We want to put in minimal effort & keep taking lots of drugs."
Love 'peak pastiche'!
DD's PS was more subtle than my description. I can't do it justice because I'm just not enough of a lit geek and wouldn't know a rhyme scheme if it bit me on the bottom. DD's BF wrote a similarly controversially odd PS (more of a stream of consciousness/absurd mind dump) and she's got a Cambridge offer.
And to be fair horsemadmom the girl I'm talking about became a scholar - but I'd counsel caution with those sorts of ps, they could easily go horribly wrong.
Very true! If you ever want some diversion, read some of the PSs by subject on TSR- some of them are absolute howlers. Earnest, gauche and cliche.
My DS was a different kettle of fish with his PS. His first draft was something like...
'I'm applying for Music because I hate reading but would happily play guitar all day. My main ambition in life is to play guitar all day. '
His final draft was just a more eloquent version of the same. 4/5 offers received and happily playing guitar all day at his 1st choice uni.
I wonder whether our dc would get offers if they told the blunt truth without all the gilding? Much easier to read and process quickly.
My eldest would have said something along these lines. I'm looking for languages, myths, legends and foreign travel.
There is definitely an argument for making the PS even shorter.
Gosh - I didn't see the final PS DS submitted but it was pretty prosaic compared to some described here. It started somewhat along the lines of "The reason I like History is....." With minor tinkering I believe that is what went in.
No chance of peak pastiche with him . He can be devastatingly straightforward about things and his view was, he liked history and he was going to tell them why. Job done.Where's the xbox?
Where's the xbox (he can speak in proper sentences )
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