How to write an effective personal statement
The first thing you must remember is that your personal statement will probably be the only opportunity you get to "talk" directly to the Admissions Selector on the programme you want to study. It is therefore vitally important that you make this statement as effective as possible! If you do apply to a programme which invites candidates to interview, your personal statement may also form the basis of your interview.
Your personal statement is an opportunity for you to demonstrate why you think you would be a good student for the programme you are applying to and why the University should select your application over those of other candidates. It is primarily an academic statement and you must target it very directly towards the subject in which you are interested, though a University will also want to know something about your more general interests.
We recommend that you cover three main areas in your personal statement in the following order:
1. Why this subject?
This section could start with a short sentence and needs to capture the reason why you are interested in studying on the programme you are applying for. Some of the most effective personal statements start simply, for example, "I want to study History because…". With this opening statement you are trying to communicate to the Admissions Selector your enthusiasm for the programme. You might then want to think about covering these questions and areas:
- Your knowledge of the subject area
- What does the programme entail?
- Why does it interest you?
- What interests you the most?
- Where could studying the programme lead?
2. Why You?
Once you have outlined your reasons for being interested in the programme you are applying to, you need to demonstrate why you would be a good student. In this section you are trying to convey your inclination and ability to study on the programme. You need to be able to show the admissions tutor that you have the right background in terms of academic ability and the right interest or inclination, that is, that you know what the programme you want to study involves. For example, if you want to be a primary school teacher but have never worked with children of that age the admissions tutor will wonder what your inclination to study to be a teacher is! When writing this section you’ll need to think about and quote evidence from:
- Your academic studies
- Any voluntary work
- Your hobbies and interests
- Things you have learned from books, newspapers, TV programmes and so on
- Experiences in your year out (if you are having one)
- Any relevant work experience (e.g. medicine, physiotherapy)
- Particular project work in your studies
3. Are you interesting and unique?
Finally, you should write about what makes you an interesting and unique person; all those extra things you have done or experienced which will bring something extra to the community of the University you want to join. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you need to reflect on the skills and lessons you have learned and write about that. You may want to cover:
- What do you enjoy doing outside of school
- Your hobbies, leisure activities
- Sports you participate in
- Other sorts of extra-curricular activities
- Significant responsibilities you hold, at home or in clubs or societies
- Special achievements
- What you have learned if you have had a job
Remember to mention these parts of your life, and if appropriate the skills that will help you with the course.
Computer Science Personal Statement 12
From an early age I’ve always been deeply interested in computing. It was my dad, introducing me to the computer systems at his work place that first sparked this interest. I can always remember the feeling of wanting to know just how computers worked, why they worked and what else they could do.
This interest never left me, only growing more profound and passionate with every new discovery I made. From communicating with an artificial intelligence to seeing the wonders of the Internet for the first time, computers have left me fascinated with just how much power yet mystery they hold.
The A-Levels I chose to study have all helped me to develop both myself and my understanding of the subject. Physics for example has helped me to understand how certain parts of a computer function, while Computing has given me a greater insight into the business aspects of the computer industry. Chemistry and Physics have both helped to improve my analytical and evaluative skills. Within maths I have been lucky enough to have a teacher who was very interested in computer science. He has been especially helpful, lending me books such as Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. This has given me an insight into the richness that is computer science.
My interest in computing has not been restricted to the classroom and college life. Within the last twelve months I’ve used the knowledge that I’ve gained over the past twelve years together with the help of my family to set up my own computer related business. This has given me a totally new perspective on how certain things function, and how business operates. The writing of a business plan was a totally alien experience for me, but over the course of 9 months I researched and planned, and finally when the plan was complete I was rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing that I had completed something that most people would never have the chance to do especially at my age. Through the setting up of the company and its subsequent running I have learnt many things. These include how to balance tasks effectively, how critical teamwork can be and how to delegate tasks to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
As well as spending time both studying and helping to run the business I understand the importance of having time to relax. One of my hobbies that I try to make time for is learning to fly, and gaining my private pilots license. As a child I dreamed of becoming a pilot and luckily its one dream that I’ve managed to follow. I love the freedom that flying gives you and the control that you have when in the air. Training for my private pilots license (PPL) has also involved me taking onboard a lot of responsibility for the safety of those onboard, and those around the aircraft. From ensuring that I carry out the pre-flight checks correctly, and knowing what’s around you both while you’re on the ground and in the air to ensuring that I’m prepared for any eventuality. I also enjoy both playing and watching tennis. I’ve played in various competitions before, and have helped to umpire junior matches at my club. To ensure that I can fit everything in I’ve had to develop very good time management, prioritising what I need to do efficiently.
I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the challenges that studying for a degree in computer science will bring.
Universities Applied to:
- University of Cambridge (Computer Science with Mathematics) - No Offer
- The University of Edinburgh - Offer
- The University of York - Offer
Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018