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Writing Pen PaperSummer is upon us with all the seasons that brings to Britain.  Now is the time to make the most of the break and recharge before the hard work begins again next year.  If you’re applying for University this coming year, expect to be busy from the word go with studying new subjects, University applications, interview and exam preparations.  So, as I said, make sure you have a refreshing break now.  But there is one critical thing you should think of starting before the summer break ends – your University applications ‘Personal Statement’.

Elsewhere in your application will have details of what you’ve done so far, including your academic track record and maybe even examples of a few work materials. Your personal statement will be your one chance to communicate directly to your potential tutors about how strong your interest is in studying your chosen subject.  So, you need to think about how you not only showcase what you’ve done to date, but more importantly, give a strong and clear idea of what you want to study and go onto to do, and why you think you’ll do well at it.  A lot of your peers applying for the same places are also as bright and interested. So, your personal statement could be the added bit that pushes you over the edge and gains you the face-to-face interview, in which case, it also help give your interview, by giving your interviewer the chance to know your interests in advance, and even using things you’ve mentioned in your statement to discuss.  This happened to me – from my passion for Astronomy, to my interests in sports and music at University.  So use this chance to show your interest and willingness to study your subject, something which is their passion and career.

Know what you are applying for.

Magnified SuccessI think there are two parts to this question – why are you interested in the subject you’ve chosen? And why at a University level? Have you studied the syllabus? Ultimately, why do you want this experience? And what will make you succeed, so that they do think of choosing you?  What makes you stand out from others? For example, has some work experience taught you something that has helped you know you want to do this?

The key to this is really to show, not tell.  Demonstrate what you’ve done that shows you are interested beyond just reading that subject in school time.  You are applying for a technical subject, so do not be afraid to go into some technical detail, if your examples require it.  But also bring your human side to it too – Use real life examples and influences.  This helps you write in a way that is not vague or similar to others – it makes it personal, and therefore original!  I think it’s refreshing when you meet someone who has thought of what it could involve beforehand and you can see that they have started preparing for it.

What would you bring to your University career?

Without a doubt, studying your subject is at the heart of the experience and therefore should be the focus of your application.    Now there will never be a right answer to whether you should include non-academic extracurricular activities or not. What I would say is, if you are going to include them, then think about how these other activities support and contribute to the person you are and therefore what you’d bring.  What do they say about you? Rather than just writing a list of what you do.

 Before the summer ends…

Your aim before the end of the summer should be to have thought about all you want to write, and create a first draft, as it is so much easier to proceed once you are at that strong starting point.  Start with all your ideas.  Take a few days over this part as not everything will occur to you first time.  Avoid making any claims that you can’t back up.  And then start bringing it together in shape.

When asking for feedback, the earlier the better.  Ask people you trust to give you feedback – including teachers, career counsellors, family, friends.  In addition, I think its insightful to ask the people who know you well, if they can tell from your personal statement that it does describe you; and ask people who might not know you as well, if your statement makes them want to meet you.

All views and ideas represented in this blog post are exclusive to Mathangi, and do not represent those of any other third party.

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