The Student Room and Personal Statements

I have seen enough personal statements to last me a lifetime! My students keep asking me to have a look at their personal statements they are writing for their postgraduate applications. There are any number of pages on the internet about writing a personal statement but I would like to add a couple of points.

There are no rules about writing a personal statement
Everybody’s personal statement will be different. Some students I speak to are very worried about their statement. “Am I allowed to talk about my part time job?” “Do I have to mention my personal background?” My message to students is this: the universities are not out to trick you! If there’s something that you feel you should write about, then write about it. The universities are not really testing you on your ability to write a personal statement. They want to know that you can write well in English and that you have thought carefully about the course you are applying for.

Research the course you are applying for and say why you want to follow it!
One thing I am sure about is that if the reader feels that your statement is very general and has been sent to lots of universities then they won’t be impressed! Research the course you are interested in. What are the names of the modules? What do these modules cover? If you then talked about why you were interested in doing these particular modules that would show that you have done research into the course and you have thought why you want to do that one. If you can say how the course content will help you with your long term goals I would think that would be quite persuasive.

Write your own personal statement!
If the reader thinks your personal statement isn’t written by you then this will give a very bad impression. You may think that your personal statement needs to be grammatically perfect, but in fact university staff are used to seeing personal statements from overseas students. Overseas students can get good marks and give a good impression without writing perfectly. It is better to come across to your reader as a genuine student than someone who is having their work proofread by someone else all the time!

I have been enjoying browsing The Student Room. It really does give you a taste of student life in the UK. There’s any amount of help and advice for students including, of course, suggestions on writing personal statements.