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Personal Statement: how much help did your DC get?

(33 Posts)
Draylon Tue 14-Nov-17 20:50:44

....either from college/school/you.

Am concerned that DS1 will get/is getting way less help than he would have, were he in an academic sixth form, or school sixth form.

His tech has a UCAS officer, who, with maybe only 30-40 DC a year, should be able to give each student loads of assistance, but it appears they 'aren't sure' of what to offer/do.

DS has a group meeting with her tomorrow; I have persuaded him to at least present her with his ideas, but I suspect he'll be up against DC, also applying for the same courses, with crafter, curated, polished PSs, with full professional input.


Kez100 Tue 14-Nov-17 21:43:19

My DD did her own.
They had a course group lecture on the sort of things you cover but all the specifics were left to my DD. she was going for a competitive degree but vocational too, so much was probably based on her interview.

ttlshiwwya Wed 15-Nov-17 10:44:11

Support in my DCs school isn't great either - one group workshop then DC left to do it all themselves with one check by pupil support teacher and final check by head of year (however both cover 200+ kids).

My niece is applying this year and in her school there's been parent meetings, group workshops, one to one meetings with a member of staff who will mentor her thru the process, 4 drafts reviews etc. The mentor has even been sorting out work experience for her to beef up her application. I suspect her own mother will not even recognise her from her personal statement!!!

I'm so glad my DSs applied for courses where personal statements were not that important. I wonder if unis are good at recognising the help someone has with the personal statement?

MaidenMotherCrone Wed 15-Nov-17 10:53:22

DS just did his own and someone at school gave it the once over before he pressed send.

HesMyLobster Wed 15-Nov-17 23:09:48

DD did her own.
I think they did have a “talk” about it at school, as part of a whole UCAS presentation thing.
Then she came home and wrote it, took her first draft back and showed to her tutor who made some suggestions. She edited it, took it back in, got the thumbs up and off it went.

MrsPworkingmummy Wed 15-Nov-17 23:28:06

How much support would you like your child to be given? Personal statements are meant to be completed by the student, and if he/she is struggling to do that, is university really the correct choice?

I have worked in a sixth form in the past, and have also interviewed candidates for the same teaching degree I did - the personal statements are so important to the selection process, and you really can tell whether the student has written it him/herself. (Especially when this is triangulated with teacher references, predicted grades, GCSE results etc)

What your child really needs to think about is the qualities they have that will set them apart from other students. It is always useful for the statement to be tailored to a particular degree course, rather than being wish-washy. (E.g The first section based on the degree they have opted for and why, the second section on personal qualities, work experience etc -this should all be linked back to the degree choice.). Never be tempted to lie/exaggerate either - especially if there is an interview as part of the selection process. We once had a student who claimed they were grade 8 on the violin. The course leader happened to be passionate about the violin and was an experienced/successful player - imagine the persons surprise when they were asked to play part of their favourite piece. They were forced to admit they couldn't play at all!

Quality of written communication is also key - can you child use a variety of sentence types to establish pace, can they use a wide range of challenging vocabulary or ambitious punctuation etc?

MrsPworkingmummy Wed 15-Nov-17 23:29:12

@HesMyLobster That sounds very similar to the level of support offered in the schools I have worked within

pipilangstrumpf Thu 16-Nov-17 07:57:03

How much support would you like your child to be given? Personal statements are meant to be completed by the student, and if he/she is struggling to do that, is university really the correct choice?

I agree with this.

cathyandclare Thu 16-Nov-17 08:04:07

The schools didn't do much for my two, just a read, check through and a couple of comments about moving stuff around. When they'd been written, I helped with trying to get them down to the right length and DH was the grammar police.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 16-Nov-17 08:09:05

Dses do theirs, then checked by sixth form teacher before being sent off.

That's crap about student not capable of doing it by themselves shouldn't be going to uni. Ds had help with his personal statement, now in his second uni year getting a first in all his work throughout.

Don't know why parents are so down in their kids getting help in this competitive world quite frankly. Crazy.

LynetteScavo Tue 21-Nov-17 17:05:57

DS has refused to show me his...he tells me his tutor at college has told him "it's good to go". The tutor has given me lots of advise, and DS says it's been given to them to.i hope he's taken it in.

TBH I couldn't really help DS with it any way.

I don't disagree that it's a good idea for students to get all the help they can from wherever they can, but I do also think they should be capable of doing it in their own.

blueskyinmarch Tue 21-Nov-17 17:08:50

My DDs went to a private school and apart from being given some guidelines they wrote their own PS. I read over them to make sure they hadn't made any mistakes but they decided what they wanted to include in them. I think their tutors gave them the once over too. What sort of help are you expecting?

MargoLovebutter Tue 21-Nov-17 17:10:58

DS wrote his own. I checked it for grammar and spellings and made a few suggestions for extra bits and bobs he might want to include. He finished it off, I checked grammar and spellings again & then the 6th form teacher who provides UCAS support checked it and as she was happy with it, that's what he submitted.

Timetogetup0630 Tue 21-Nov-17 18:00:12

Neither of my two had any help from me at all.
In fact I still haven't seen my sons PS though he did read selected bits to me. He has had two Russell Group Uni offers so far.
Daughter had five offers.

School, good selective Grammar, was quite helpful and suggested how things could be improved.

I have been told Predicted grades are more important. Personal Statement more relevant if called for interview....all depends which course, which University you are applying for.

My Sister in Law seemingly wrote my nephew and nieces Personal Statements, despite never have been to University herself. I am surprised she didn't go to University on their behalf....

inchyrablue Tue 21-Nov-17 18:02:07

DD wrote her own but got some advice on how to trim in to within the character/word limit.

JonSnowsWife Tue 21-Nov-17 18:04:24


I still got accepted into a good university.

Draylon Tue 21-Nov-17 19:02:03

I am amused at the responses that go:

DC was at a private/selective grammar school, only had a couple of lessons on how to write a good PS, wrote it themselves, I checked it for spelling and grammar, suggested a few 'bits'n'bobs'; had it checked by the UCAS adviser at school, only did a couple of drafts, then submitted it'...

In the full knowledge that such a DC has already got 'appropriate' work experience nailed; the panoply of 'extra-curricular' arrayed and that 'the bits'n'bobs' weren't a semicolon replacing a comma.

It's a competitive world. I want my DC to get as much help as I can give him, same as vast numbers of other DC are getting.

Kez100 Tue 21-Nov-17 20:00:48

But if admissions can see through it, is it an advantage?

I have more faith in admissions to know what they are looking for. Perhaps I am naive.

user2019697 Tue 21-Nov-17 20:05:01

Work experience and extra-curricular are irrelevant for most courses.

Polished personal statements in which phrases clearly aren't those of the student stand out.

The majority of courses make offers based on grades and do not use personal statements as discriminators.

Ullathegreat Tue 21-Nov-17 20:13:42

Heavens! It's a learned skill; not an intelligence test, nor a predictor of anything other than knowing how to play the game and sell yourself.

First time around DD's-teacherand--I--basically--wrote--the--damned--thing DD got a little help; she was stressed about her exams, and felt her life depended on getting the PS just right.

Second time around, when she realised she didn't like her course and decided to reapply through UCAS, she knew what to do and didn't even bother showing me what she had written, and received offers in courses where the requirements were higher than her actual grades.

It's a useful life skill, but I don't think it says much about a student's likelihood of succeeding at university.

Also, provided a DC's predicted grades are within striking distance of the course they're applying for, most unis seem to make most students their standard offers -- even if the DC hasn't sailed around the world single handed, setting up orphanages at every stop, volunteering at field hospitals and saving a few whales, while successfully publishing their cure for toenail fungus in a prestigious medical journal.

Timetogetup0630 Tue 21-Nov-17 23:29:24

Ulla LOL.

Needmoresleep Tue 21-Nov-17 23:57:54

And part of the life skill is assessing how important a well written PS is. I think posters are doing kids a disservice by suggesting that the PS is always irrelevant. It's like a CV cover letter for a job. Sometimes it matters, sometimes it does not.

Universities usually make it clear if they use PS' as part of the sift for oversubscribed courses. If so, find all the help you can. A kind MNetter reviewed my daughter's PS for a course that is notorious for putting a lot of weight on the PS. In DDs case she wanted to avoid her PS reading like a typical academic private school product, but was worried about how a very individual statement might be received. (Tip is to read any guidance carefully and follow it closely, as the scoring system is likely to be based on it.)

In most cases it does not matter, but having DC explain why they want to spend three years taking a particular course can still be a useful exercise.

HeddaGarbled Wed 22-Nov-17 00:17:21

Schools are better than FE colleges at this, IME, and some schools better than others. If you don't think the college are doing much, I would recommend picking up the slack.

Meeting the deadlines and the guidelines is more important than writing a devastatingly impressive statement. Do some googling for the structure, interfere if it's inadequate (I would like to study at your university because it's close to where I live; I want to study forensic psychology because I watched CSI and it looked really interesting, etc) and help with proof-reading. So long as these are OK, it's the exam results which will make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

Ullathegreat Wed 22-Nov-17 08:58:57

Needmore I completely agree. It's an incredibly important skill -- possibly the most useful thing DD has learned -- but not all DCs are born with it, or have acquired it by age 17 or 18, so they shouldn't feel inadequate or unworthy if they need a helping hand.

Hedda's comments are spot on. And I do think it's good to demystify the process: most kids get offers in line with their predicted grades if their PSs are half decent, even for over-subscribed courses. I think universities rely more on the exams than the personal statements to weed out candidates (unless your DC is applying in the States, in which case ship her out to climb Everest and have her SMS the PS from the summit).

For students not blessed with a supportive school, the Student Room had some excellent Personal Statements online a few years back; super helpful for structure and type of content required.

Draylon Sat 25-Nov-17 14:14:54

"Climb Everest and have her SMS the PS from the summit"


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