It’s once again getting to the time of year where Year 13 will start thinking about applying to university. That means one thing: it’s time to think about writing a personal statement.
I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea what that meant or what exactly I was supposed to write about when I started Year 13. It wasn’t as complicated as I had imagined: it’s basically just giving the universities you have applied to information about you beyond your grades. It will feel like the cheesiest thing you’ll ever write, and to be honest that’s probably true, but don’t worry about it – it just feels strange because we don’t tend to go around telling people how great we are and why they should definitely let us study at their university.
You can write about more or less anything that shows your interest, skills, and personality. Don’t worry if you’re writing about different things to people you know – everyone has different personalities and experiences. I decided to write about a summer school I’d taken part in, volunteering I’d done, and the dance school I was a part of, while my friends wrote about their music lessons, work experience, and Duke of Edinburgh certificates – and all of us got into university. As long as you can show who you are, your interest in your subject, and how you are suitable for the degree you’re applying for, I don’t think you can go far wrong.
I personally found that the main outline of my personal statement came quite naturally once I’d decided which experiences I was going to talk about, but struggled much more to keep it within the very strict word count. On one particularly frustrating afternoon, I spent what felt like an eternity trying to remove the two characters that were pushing me over the limit (4000 characters or 47 lines, whichever comes first) in a way that still made my personal statement make sense.
For that reason, I would really recommend having your application ready to go before the deadline (ideally a few days before) so that when it comes to putting your personal statement into UCAS, if there’s a problem with the word limit you’ll have time to sort it without the stress of a looming deadline.
I hope that if you’re an incoming Year 13, that helps to explain what a personal statement is and what it involves! If you have any questions about personal statements or applying to university in general (especially if you’re thinking about studying History), then please feel free to send me a message!