Continuing our series of ‘What is a Personal Statement? - Applying to United Kingdom Universities - Part 1’ for a university placement in the UK. If you missed last month’s, click here.
There are several factors that are worth considering before you even begin writing your personal statement. For example, you should have already put in several hours of ‘self-reflection’. This application is all about you. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not your friends. This is a time for honesty and realism. You have probably got thirty or forty years of working life ahead of you – choose a course that mirrors your passion and interests, something that you are going to be really good at, and maybe something that will lead you into the field in which you want to work in the future. Once you have got this right, the rest will fall into place much more easily.
Research, research, research!
Next on your list is research. The UCAS website is an excellent first port of call; it is comprehensive, informative and easy to use. There, you will find a myriad of different course choices and qualifications, some of which you may never even have heard of, or considered, alongside application advice, statistics and links to university websites. It is important at this stage to be ready to make some difficult decisions. You can only apply to a maximum of five universities in the UK and you will make only one application and write only one personal statement, which is sent to these five universities via the UCAS website. It is sensible to select five degree courses that are similar in title, or at least come from the same field, otherwise your justification for studying two completely different subjects will be questioned by some of your university preferences, making the risk of rejection much more likely, plus your personal statement will be much harder to write. Choice is a great thing but it does create its own problems. Incidentally, if this impossible for you to do, you should perhaps consider a broader ranging degree course, like Social Sciences, a double degree or a degree that allows you to follow a second subject. If this is still impossible, perhaps you should consider applying to the US instead, where there is a much wider, high school-style curriculum in the first and second year of the course and where you are not obliged to choose any subject on initial application.
Once you have decided which courses are of interest to you (maybe a shortlist of around ten), it is absolutely vital that you visit the individual university websites and read carefully about the course content in each year and the different options available to narrow it down to five final choices. While you are doing this, make notes on the highlights of each course – you can reference this when you write your personal statement. Look for the things that make you go “Wow! I would love to know more about that!” For example, there may be the chance to take an industrial placement between your second and third year. There might be a chance to study Vegetation and Eco-systems in semester two as part of your BSc. Biochemistry. It could be anything, but there really must be something! You ought to check out the location of the university – is it campus-based or situated on several different sites in the middle of a big city? Does it have good travel links if you intend to visit new places or see friends/family [if you have any there] during the holidays? Does it offer student accommodation for the length of the degree course or do you have to find your own place to live in your second year and beyond? Check out the sports’ teams, clubs and societies that are on offer, if this is of particular importance to you. If you have any questions that are not answered on the website, send an email enquiry to the relevant person. Don’t forget to write using good formal English.
Whilst aiming high is imperative, realistic choices are important for success…
So, that’s where we’ll pick up next week. In the meantime, do you know what all the phrasal verbs and grammatical structures used above? No? Well, why aren’t you looking it up on your online dictionary, revising your grammar or contacting a Learning Consultant at Tangent Training? We’ll help you improve your English. It’s fun and it’s easy. Just email us at email@example.com and we’ll advise you on what you should be studying
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