Help and advice about personal statement for university application. Please?!

(25 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

Struckbylightning Tue 11-Jul-17 17:34:53

My dd is working on her personal statement atm. She wants to do Politics and International Relations. Her first choice of uni is St Andrews, but their course is called International Relations. She emailed them to ask if she could write a kind of supplementary statement tailored to them but they replied in the negative saying that her statement should be aimed at them alone and if it mentions 'politics' they will assume they are not her first choice and she will be turned down automatically.

On the other hand if she doesn't achieve their entry requirements or changes her mind, her Personal Statement will not be relevant to anywhere else.

Does anyone have any experience of this? Or advice? I'm sure in my day -old gimmer- it wasn't this complicated?....

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ragged Tue 11-Jul-17 18:06:13

StA don't sound like a nice place to go to, imho.
I'd be crossing them off my list for such nonsense, but presume your DD is made of sterner stuff.
So her other 4 choices are all "politics"?
I guess it's a test in creativity. How can she talk about political structures and why she wants to know more about them, without using the word politic*

Struckbylightning Tue 11-Jul-17 23:07:05

Thanks ragged, I think she is getting a bit put off StA's as all their communications with her have been a bit 'off' verging on rude, it's just that the course itself looks amazing. Most of the other uni's call their courses Politics and International Relations. It's just that apparently she can only submit 1 personal statement which has to cover all. So yes, I guess it's an exercise in creative writing to talk about why she wants to study at that university to study that course without being too specific.

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MotherOfBeagles Tue 11-Jul-17 23:25:41

I work in a sixth form and part of my role is going through the ucas process with about 150 of my own students.

What stA has said is pretty typical tbh and not that unusual. It's a very fine line between being specific and general and it's really hard work. What I'd advise at this point is just to write your statement, get down what you want to say and don't worry about the finer points quite yet. Most applications get going around September so she has some time to fine tune and help make her mind up about being certain for courses to apply for etc (you'd be surprised how many change their minds about choices later on).

Honestly the best thing she can do is just write, get it all down. DO NOT delete anything. If she decides to change anything cut and paste it into another document. It may sound daft but keeping all your old points/sentences etc is a huge help in defining and refining what it is you are trying to say.

Also, most important bit is just try not to panic or over think. Do your best to get the best version of you across and in the end if you mention politics then you mention it. In the end if you've shown a good enough version of yourself they'll overlook it.

Also if unsure contact UCAS or use their website there is a TON of stuff on there that helps with statements and is really good.

Good luck!

Struckbylightning Tue 11-Jul-17 23:33:55

Thanks mother, that's really helpful.

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MotherOfBeagles Tue 11-Jul-17 23:41:36

No worries I remember how horrific it was doing mine and they are really stressful things. Just got to keep reminding her that all they want is to find out about her. What is she interested in, what has she done, what has she learned and how is that going to make her a good student. I always say to my students imagine an irritating 4 year old reading it and saying at the end of each sentence "but why?" Over and over again. Why are you telling me this? Why is it important I know this about you?

The best ones I've ever read just exude excitement and interest in what they are applying for that's all they want to see in the end.

She'll be fine and it'll be over with in no time!

sendsummer Wed 12-Jul-17 07:42:26

I would add that at this brain storming stage that if she thinks that the St A course looks amazing she should write what makes the structure and modules exciting for her and how it links with her interests and what she wants to study. She should then check the other courses on her shortlist and make sure that at least some of what she writes applies to those other courses particularly her top choices.
BTW I hear that St Andrews put a lot of emphasis on the PS


Struckbylightning Wed 12-Jul-17 16:37:17

Some great advice here, thanks. I have no memory whatsoever of doing a ps or going to open days. I just picked 1st 2nd and 3rd choice and crossed my fingers. Or maybe I'm remembering it wrong?? The more she finds about St A's the more off-put she is though. She saw a thread on here last night about 2nd year accommodation which has out the wind up us a bit!

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Addley Wed 12-Jul-17 16:46:49

Bit cunty and insecure of them IMO. So what if they're not her first choice? That kind of attitude was what put me off Durham. Complete opposite of my first choice - they repeatedly advised that although they were looking for x in a personal statement, they understood that other universities might be looking for y, and that candidates wouldn't be penalised for doing y to a reasonable extent. But if DD wants St Andrews, I guess she's going to have to take their slightly cunty views into account.

Addley Wed 12-Jul-17 16:50:00

And even if they are a student's first choice, what makes them arrogant enough to demand students risk not getting offers from their backup unis?

boys3 Wed 12-Jul-17 18:56:59

Assuming this is the course there

the University itself appears to quite happily refer to politics. She could always hedge her bets and use the word political smile

Struckbylightning Wed 12-Jul-17 20:27:17

I know, it IS cunty isn't it. I guess they and Durham are kind of elitist.

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offtofeedthesheep Thu 17-Aug-17 15:24:22

Can I ask where else your daughter is looking at?

My DD is also applying for Politics and International Relations and we are looking at squeezing in a few more visits before application goes in.

Struckbylightning Thu 17-Aug-17 16:31:51

I think her favourite is now Birmingham but she's also interested in Lancaster. Exeter is very good too, but too close to home!!

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offtofeedthesheep Thu 17-Aug-17 18:14:53

Thanks! Birmingham is on the list, not heard her mention Exeter but that is the other end of country for us!

DD favourite is Aberystwyth followed by Cardiff. Still to look at Nottingham, UEA and York. I'm finding it very stressful!!

Struckbylightning Fri 18-Aug-17 09:22:17

Yep Cardiff is supposed to be good. Sorry you're finding it stressful. I'm just leaving it up to her, it has to be her choice and she's well clued up on it all. My dd uses a forum run by current students, it includes reviews by students who are there at the moment and rates places by cost of living and whether or not there are library fines etc. I think it's called The Student Rooms. She's found it very useful.

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sadusername2 Fri 18-Aug-17 11:06:12

Durham do a politics course. At least they allow you to submit a different PS to the one you send to other universities. They understand that some universities have different requirements i.e. Not interested in extra curricular stuff.
My daughter managed to mess up her application though and sent Durham the version which was for a course that combined politics with something else. Not surprisingly she wasn't offered a place!
She was told the sa

sadusername2 Fri 18-Aug-17 11:08:14

shocksame thing by St Andrews, politics not interchangeable with international relations. I think they said she'd be wasting a choice, but it didn't come across as rude.

Scribblegirl Fri 18-Aug-17 11:12:57

I did politics (admittedly started uni 10 years ago!) and I applied for straight politics at all my choices except Oxford, where I was applying for History and Politics. As I hadn't done Politics at A Level (6th form didn't offer it) I weasled in the History bit by reference to how my previous study of history had ignited my excitement in Politics. If your DD has done a Politics A Level, could she use that as a way to include the Politics section and how that feeds her enthusiasm of IR?

senua Fri 18-Aug-17 11:20:24

OP, I have pm'd you.

Struckbylightning Fri 18-Aug-17 11:26:35

Yes, saduser, a friend of hers was told the same by Durham, which was what prompted the original question. What a shame your dd sent the wrong thing!
Scribblegirl, she would have loved to have done Politics A level but we live in Qatar and unfortunately Politics and RE are banned there. Oh and sex Ed. Which a whole other thread!

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LornaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-Aug-17 11:35:27

We're just sending this over to higher education at the OP's request.


IGotRainedOn Sat 19-Aug-17 08:16:10

I'm really surprised by this. I'd understand if they said they preferred it if the concert rated on IR but to say that they wouldn't accept any mention of politics seems very harsh. It's the type of thing where students from less advantaged backgrounds would be unfairly disadvantaged IYSWIM

If they have rules like this then they should be clearly spelt out on their website.

IGotRainedOn Sat 19-Aug-17 08:17:50

Typo concentrated

Struckbylightning Sat 19-Aug-17 17:28:00

I know, and it has indeed put her off St A's. Their loss!!

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