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Personal statement question
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sashagabadon · 18/10/2020 09:24

Dd has more or less finished it - 4680 characters so a bit of editing required as it should be 4000 ( is that right?)
She has written two main sections. Why she wants to study the subject she is applying for and secondly her personal achievements / work experience / why she’d be a good student etc.
My question is what goes first in the PS?
I think her personal stuff first, followed by why she likes the subject but DD thinks the opposite.
Who’s right?

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LIZS · 18/10/2020 09:30

Does her school/college not offer guidance and review it before submission? It needs editing and stick to the specific details which are most relevant. Often unis don't read it thoroughly, if at all, unless it a very competitive subject and they interview, so the key points need to stick out.

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OnTheBenchOfDoom · 18/10/2020 09:40

Should be 80% academic and 20% work experience/hobbies.

The main thing to get across is unlike this subject so much I have done X,Y,Z outside of school plus what she got from that. ie not a list of books she has read but what she learned, where that led her next.

Sixth form should be guiding her too. It's 4000 characters and no more than 47 lines. She can copy paste it into UCAS and see. It will tell her how much she is over. There is no danger of it being submitted to UCAS accidentally as her school are the ones who send it.

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OnTheBenchOfDoom · 18/10/2020 09:41

Not unlike but I like this subject, typing on a phone is awful, sorry.

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SueEllenMishke · 18/10/2020 09:41

Commitment to the subject she is applying for should come first - that's the most important bit.
A suggested structure is:

  • why that subject and demonstrate a clear commitment to it.

  • academic achievements but specifically what she has learnt while studying and how it applies to the course she's applying for ( don't just repeat a levels being studied as that information is already available earlier in the application)

  • any work experience she has. Prioritise relevant work experience but include other experience and specifically focus on on skills developed

  • hobbies and interests

  • conclusion. This should include why they will make a good university student.

    The point about them not always being read is true for some subjects BUT if she ends up not achieving the required grades it could be used by an admissions tutor to decide whether to still offer the place.
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Readandwalk · 18/10/2020 09:43

Edit it with her. Absolutely avoid the word passion or an opening sentences of "I really love/like etc".

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SueEllenMishke · 18/10/2020 09:51

And avoid the opening line...
'I am currently studying x,y &z at ABC college ....'

It's the most overused opening line and is a waste of characters because they already know that!

Also don't use an inspirational quote ( just naff) or ' since I was a child ...'

The main point is commitment to the subject. I knew an admissions tutor once who would discard an application if the first paragraph didn't include the subject. It should be immediately clear what she is applying for and why.

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Guymere · 18/10/2020 10:04

Thank God people like that are no longer let loose making admissions decisions. It smacks of elitism and not reading the rest of the details about the student - same comment as the A levels.

I agree, 50:50 is the wrong ratio. 80:20 with the majority being about your suitability for the subject and what you have done to support that. Some universities also offer advice on what to write. Look that up if it’s available.

School achievements are not necessary unless they are relevant to the subject or how the student works in a team to achieve goals etc. A list of accolades and prizes is a waste of words.

You don’t get many words, so make them count. Lots of schools give poor advice. I’ve seen PSs critiqued by universities where teachers thought the PS was ace. The universities didn’t think so. It’s definitely a good idea to see what info the university actually wants. Or indeed a range of universities. Check out several.

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sashagabadon · 18/10/2020 10:10

Thanks everyone. Really useful. She worked at Waitrose throughout pandemics, managing queues dealing with vulnerable customers etc. She had some very stressful shifts but coped well. I think she should big this up a bit and be proud of what she did as she had quite a bit of responsibility she wants to play it down as “no big deal”. What do you guys think

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decoraters · 18/10/2020 10:14

Following as DS is working in his now. He has left school so no guidance for him at all Sad

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sashagabadon · 18/10/2020 10:15

School don’t seem to be helping much. They have a special club for their oxbridge candidates but not much guidance for anyone else. This might improve once oxbridge done and dusted

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Ulelia · 18/10/2020 10:16

I think she's right. Not that it's no big deal, but that it's not really useful. A personal statement is to show what she'd be like as student. Managing other people and so on is only relevant for very specific courses, social work, education, for example. It should be mentioned in the 20% about her at the end, but that's all.
I'm the university adviser at my school, fwiw.

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SueEllenMishke · 18/10/2020 10:18

@sashagabadon

Thanks everyone. Really useful. She worked at Waitrose throughout pandemics, managing queues dealing with vulnerable customers etc. She had some very stressful shifts but coped well. I think she should big this up a bit and be proud of what she did as she had quite a bit of responsibility she wants to play it down as “no big deal”. What do you guys think

She should include this but an relevant experience should be prioritised.
When including work experience the key is not to just describe what she did but talk about the skills developed and how these can be applied to the course she is applying for.

Studential.com is a good resource and many universities offer advice and support.
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SueEllenMishke · 18/10/2020 10:19

@sashagabadon

School don’t seem to be helping much. They have a special club for their oxbridge candidates but not much guidance for anyone else. This might improve once oxbridge done and dusted

There should be a careers adviser who can help. They should be independent and impartial so won't just focus on Oxbridge
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Kidneybingo · 18/10/2020 10:26

It all depends on what she's applying for. Everything she writes should explain either why she wants to study that subject, or what skills and knowledge she has acquired that will contribute to her being a potentially excellent student of that subject. So your example is relevant to maybe teaching, or health care, because it's dealing with people. It's less relevant to the study of chemistry. What is she applying for?

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sashagabadon · 18/10/2020 10:28

Thank you. She has mentioned Waitrose at the end a bit and I’ll get her to tie it to reasons why it’ll make her a good student. Time management, team work, problem solving, resilience working in a pandemic etc

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sashagabadon · 18/10/2020 10:28

Human geography

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CraftyGin · 18/10/2020 10:31

It should be at least 80% passion for the subject she wants to study.

The extra or co-curricular stuff should demonstrate transferable skills, such as communication, attention to detail, teamwork and perseverance.

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Kidneybingo · 18/10/2020 10:32

Fine to tie into why it makes her a generalky good student at the end. Majority of PS should link to geography, what does she find particularly interesting, reading, listening she's done, and what she learned from it. Her other a levels may back up her geography e.g. Maths and science can help.

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titchy · 18/10/2020 11:17

Managing stressed people in a queue would be great to mention if she was applying for something where she'd be managing stressed people - nursing for example.

As sueellen says she needs to tie the skills learnt and observations to her subject choice. Working as a key worker through a pandemic should be hugely relevant to human geography I'd have thought - awareness of and effect of supply chain issues, logistics, managing key workers, managing stock etc.

If her PS gets read, and it probably won't be, it'll be by an academic whose life will revolve around teaching and researching the subject they love. They're interested in why you'll be a great student of theirs - that's what they want to read first, not all her sporting/musical/drama accolades. So academic stuff first!

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AKissAndASmile · 18/10/2020 11:20

I knew an admissions tutor once who would discard an application if the first paragraph didn't include the subject.
What a nobhead

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Needmoresleep · 18/10/2020 11:25

See if her choices give guidance on what they are looking for. If so print this off and ensure that somewhere in the statement she has covered each requirement and evidenced it.

Most Universities/courses don't really look at PS', but those that do, take them seriously and normally score them. Hence the need to ensure you have ticked the boxes. These Universities, though, also tend to provide useful guidance on what they are looking for.

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CraftyGin · 18/10/2020 11:28

@Needmoresleep

See if her choices give guidance on what they are looking for. If so print this off and ensure that somewhere in the statement she has covered each requirement and evidenced it.

Most Universities/courses don't really look at PS', but those that do, take them seriously and normally score them. Hence the need to ensure you have ticked the boxes. These Universities, though, also tend to provide useful guidance on what they are looking for.

Remind me what the £9,250 fees are for per year.
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sashagabadon · 18/10/2020 11:32

@titchy

Managing stressed people in a queue would be great to mention if she was applying for something where she'd be managing stressed people - nursing for example.

As sueellen says she needs to tie the skills learnt and observations to her subject choice. Working as a key worker through a pandemic should be hugely relevant to human geography I'd have thought - awareness of and effect of supply chain issues, logistics, managing key workers, managing stock etc.

If her PS gets read, and it probably won't be, it'll be by an academic whose life will revolve around teaching and researching the subject they love. They're interested in why you'll be a great student of theirs - that's what they want to read first, not all her sporting/musical/drama accolades. So academic stuff first!

Actually that’s a great point re. Working in a supermarket in a pandemic as it did make her think about supply chains particularly of toilet rolls plus she was telling me about the issues with getting pasta from their Italian supplier back in March so might try and tie that in if not too wordy.
A pandemic is a great topic for human geography
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Needmoresleep · 18/10/2020 11:39

Crafty,

I am not sure what your point is.

Oversubscribed courses which don't interview often pay close attention to the PS and will filter applications accordingly.

They usually provide clear guidance. My advice was to follow any such guidance closely.

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SueEllenMishke · 18/10/2020 11:41

Remind me what the £9,250 fees are for per year.

Teaching .... that's what the student fees are for. The clue is in the title 🙄

Admissions are dealt with differently depending on the university and course.
Some courses are dealt with by a central admissions team who will have a set of entry requirements and the ability to make offers based on predicted grades. However, the personal statement may come into play during clearing or if the applicant is borderline.

If an academic has admissions as part of their role it's an add on with no additional time, pay or recognition.

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