Personal Statements

(26 Posts)
dietstartsmonday Tue 11-Sep-18 17:59:20

Hi all
My DD is now year 13 and the school don't seem to be doing alot about personal statements for uni applications
DD feels she has nothing to put in one and is quite stressed about it all
She works part time so I am sure some of those skills can be spoken about but what else does she need?

We have been trying to get her a volunteer placement relevant to her course but this is proving hard.

Any advice would be appreciated

OP’s posts: |
ragged Tue 11-Sep-18 18:03:20

What course is she applying for?
I bet there are lots of examples online.
I imagine look at the examples & break them down into generic parts. They might look like:

Why I want to study X
What has made me like X
What I hope to gain from learning X
What challenges I expect from studying X, and why I want them
How I have tried to prepare for studying X

Bit about other things in life (hobbies, work experience)
Other skills I have or have gained (& how they will help me with learning X)
How I see X fitting into my long term plans & future

Other things I like and can do and the type of personality I have (& how that will help me great at X)

BubblesBuddy Tue 11-Sep-18 18:16:40

The main thing is why you want to study your subject. What have you read about it? What interests you about the subject? What have you done to support your application for this subject? Target the subject rather than skills from working. They really want to know why they should offer you a place and if you have a genuine interest in the subject.

dietstartsmonday Tue 11-Sep-18 19:24:18

Thank you I hadn't thought about looking for examples on line.
She is applying to study psychology so I tell her to do some reading around the subject.
She is studying it A level so should know what she needs to be doing the school just don't seem to be offering any guidance

OP’s posts: |
MarchingFrogs Tue 11-Sep-18 19:24:43

Has she looked at the websites of the universities in which she is interested? There is usually advice for writing a PS there. There will usually be a talk on the subject (or at least including it) at the universities' open days as well.

dietstartsmonday Tue 11-Sep-18 19:40:37

Will tell her to have a look there. We have three open days coming up so will make sure we get to those talks

Thank you

OP’s posts: |
jeanne16 Tue 11-Sep-18 19:50:57

Tell her to go on the Studentroom. There are lots of personal statements for every possible subject. She should read a number for psychology though she must make sure she doesn’t copy any.


Heartshapedfairylights Tue 11-Sep-18 19:58:34

As above.
Also, what has she read, watched (TED talks) attended (lectures) to show her interest plus what SHE THINKS about them.
For example, I attended this lecture about blah blah. This led me to wonder about blah blah so I researched blah blah...

Serin Tue 11-Sep-18 20:11:04

Is she doing a relevant EPQ? She could talk about that too.

dietstartsmonday Tue 11-Sep-18 20:14:01

Some more brilliant ideas thank you. She has lots of ideas and opinions on the subject I think she is unsure how to put them together
She is having a look at some examples now
No epq

OP’s posts: |
LIZS Tue 11-Sep-18 20:18:36

UCAS website has some video guides which may help. The important thing is to focus on what she has learned and become interested in, bringing in any relevant reading, courses/modules, work or volunteering experience. Don't just tell them about the books or bring in anything not directly relevant or that she cannot talk about further.

shirleyschmidt Tue 11-Sep-18 20:53:58

Really good advice given above. I also think if your daughter has a uniquely personal anecdote/experience (just a couple of sentences) to paint a picture of what sparks her interest in the subject, it would help her to stand out among the other applications.

prettybird Wed 12-Sep-18 12:26:55

Ds started his PS explaining what had inspired him to study Politics and International Relations, putting into the context of my his mum's South African heritage and the interest he had then developed in Nelson Mandela, progressing on to the UN.

He then included examples of both school (DoE, Young Enterprise) and sporting achievements as illustrations of why he would cope and thrive at Uni.

FatherBuzzCagney Wed 12-Sep-18 13:51:08

Hi OP, ex-admissions tutor here. For some reason I've never understood, most schools tell pupils to include details of their hobbies, volunteering, holidays, paid jobs. Unless it's obviously relevant to the application (eg someone is applying to study theatre and has been involved in acting, or they are applying for nursing and have done relevant voluntary work) then no admissions tutor gives a flying bollock about any of that.

You read a PS looking for why they are applying to the programme and for evidence of interest in and engagement with the subject such as books they've read or (though this is less impressive, obviously) talks they've watched. I don't know anyone in university admissions who even reads the other stuff in a PS, except (very importantly) for any information on mitigating circumstances and/or disability. You have hundreds of the things to read so as soon as you get to the 'I play cricket for my school/am doing DoE/have a job in Asda' you just skip to the next section in the hope there's something relevant there.

We're not looking for information about life skills or personal development (again, unless its relevant to the degree), we're looking for (a) why this subject, (b) evidence of interest in subject, inlcuding which bits of the relevant A level(s) have interested you and what reading etc beyond the A level you've done, (c) evidence in the PS that you can write accurate English (unless dyslexic).

Piggywaspushed Wed 12-Sep-18 20:50:13

buzz, this matches what I tell my students. But the UEA website says different : they say they want to hear about hobbies , jobs etc and specifically mention this as essential in a PS.

... whcih worries me as my DS has no hobbies...or job... or interest or motivation !

purplegreen99 Wed 12-Sep-18 22:31:45

Some of the open days we've been to have had talks about writing the PS or there have been handouts available.

The advice dd was given by her school was that PS should mainly be about showing that you have a strong interest/enthusiasm for your subject, a good understanding of what the course will involve, and the right qualities to see it through. So reading, hobbies, work experience, etc can all be used to demonstrate that you have these qualities.

A friend of dd's is applying to study psychology and has done a couple of free FutureLearn or Coursera courses. She also volunteered in a care home, just chatting to people with dementia, but it's given her something extra to talk about on her PS.

Decorhate Thu 13-Sep-18 07:36:17

From what I have gleaned so far, the importance of a PS very much depends on where you are applying & for which subject. If the university doesn't interview, the student has the right predicted grades and the course is not massively oversubscribed, it probably won't be looked at.

Buteo Thu 13-Sep-18 09:10:33

We found the Imperial College video guide to writing a PS helpful:

Needmoresleep Thu 13-Sep-18 10:50:07

First step - find out how much weight is given to the PS. For a surprising number of courses, it will barely be read. However for others, especially oversubscribed courses which dont interview, it might be very important indeed.

If your daughter is applying to one of these courses print off the University guidance. It will be detailed. They want applicants to tell them about themselves.

Then follow it. Respond to each skill/characteristic they are looking for, evidence it and explain why this means you are right for the course and the course right for you.

Also read Student Room threads from previous years to see if you can get more of a take on what Universities are looking for.

PS' for popular courses will be scored. So follow the guidance and tick their boxes. If you have a few extra words add in DoE but otherwise dont worry. Do add in mitigating circumstances, perhaps in the form of overcoming diversity. 'I managed to focus and get great GCSE results despite my parents splitting up.' type of thing.

Different universities will be looking for slightly different things but there will be overlap. If you are applying for a different courses some places will allow supplentary statements.

But in the main, PS wont matter much and it can be treated as a development exercise. Experience of writing about yourself and identifying pertinent achievements coukd come in useful for future job applications.

FatherBuzzCagney Thu 13-Sep-18 11:57:39

Completely agree that importance of PS depends on where you're applying - how selective they can afford to be, basically. But the best thing to do is to assume that it will be read and may make a difference, so focus on the subject, and your interest in it. And as Need says, it's useful practice in writing about yourself for an application to something.

The UEA guidance is odd piggy, and I'd put good money on that having been written by an admin person, not an actual admissions tutor. It has some terrible advice - admissions tutors in most departments don't give a shit what an applicant "is like as a person", as long as they're not likely to be a danger or serious irritant to staff or other students (and that's more likely to come out in the reference than the PS - "Overall, we are pleased with the progress Tarquin has made in settling in with us after the regrettable series of incidents at his last school, which were doubtless just youthful exuberance, and his rates of attendance and submission of work are definitely improving"). Departments can have hundreds of undergrads in every year, so it's not as if we're all going to get to know each other really well - the person who is admissions tutor may never meet or see any work by most of the people they admit. And the days when anyone outside sports science/management took a positive interest in sporting achievements listed on a PS are long gone. A PS that spends too much time talking about sport is likely to signal to an admissions tutor that this is a person who will be spending most of their time rowing/playing football and not much time studying, so it can be enough to get an application rejected for a very competitive programme.

The real indicator that the UEA guidance was not written by an actual admissions tutor is the inclusion of the phrase "have a passion for your subject". Anyone not involved in the academic side of admissions can't begin to imagine the depth of loathing admission tutors feel for that word on personal statements. I've read probably north of a thousand personal statements that begin "I have always had a passion for [subject]" or "My passion for [subject] was first sparked by [childhood event]". The proportion of applicants who actually have something approaching a passion for a subject is tiny - and they tend to write a more original PS.

ragged Thu 13-Sep-18 15:45:41

This looks like a great resource, lots of example personal statements.

In PS Surrey recommends talking about passion for the subject. So does Leeds, Essex, Greenwich, Plymouth, Hull, S. Wales, Southampton...

Piggywaspushed Thu 13-Sep-18 16:35:02

That's really interesting buzz. I shall tell my DS (and my students ) to avoid the passion phrase. Probably won't be a problem for my DS , who could easily write I have a passing interest in... sigh.

cestlavielife Thu 13-Sep-18 16:46:33

Check.with school.they must have had students going to uni before? They may well.have a programme of sessions on personal.statements running in next few weeks or later . There should be an allocated tutor...
If they don't then suggest they bring someone in from outside to run a session for yr 13.
School.has to give reference as well. So they must have someone in charge of applications . I wld be surprised they are really not advising and supporting?

ErrolTheDragon Thu 13-Sep-18 18:46:23

I guess ideally they don't say they have a 'passion' for their subject - they should try to prove they've a serious interest in it.

titchy Thu 13-Sep-18 19:04:58

Those examples say to SHOW your passion, how you've gone above and beyond the curriculum, explain what you've learnt etc. Not to say 'I am passionate about x Studies' if that makes sense.

Mostly not read anyway!

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