When you’re applying to a university in the UK, you will come across a requirement known as the ‘personal statement’. Until this point, most of us would be unaware of such a requirement since it is not commonplace in India. If you’re applying abroad, this is something you will definitely be required to submit and requires a lot of work. So we here at Writer’s Qi, are going to break it down for you so that you can get into your dream university!
So, what is a personal statement?
Personal statements are a text document that details your personal motivation for applying to the program and university that you are applying for. Please make a note of the fact that is ‘personal’ meaning that it has to be completely original and written in your own words. It is one of the most important stepping stones and a valuable document apart from your transcripts. The idea is that an admissions committee must get an idea of your personality apart from your academic background. This just reiterates your motivation for the program and gives them the assurance that you will pursue a career in the same in the future. Especially in schools where the competition is high, your personal motivation and experience for the degree you’re applying for can be the tipping point in your favor.
How to structure your essays?
Every essay needs to be structured in a way that communicates the matter in the most effective way. Having haphazardly placed information and even no structure to it, can really put the reader off and won’t communicate the intention behind it. This is why it is always important to follow a funnel structure for the same. Always make a MIND MAP prior to your essay. There are three broad sections that you can follow for this.
Introduction: This is the section in which you will set the base for your statement. You need to give a brief introduction of what the essay is about and which direction you will be going in. We’re not saying that it has to be said directly but an indirect hint would work too. Please do not start with quotes unless they actually have a connection to the essay or else it is just a waste of space. You should try to gain their attention with a good opening line so that they’re intrigued to know more.
Body: This can be split into different sections. You can discuss your academic experience, any work experience that you have, your motivation to apply, what your future plans are, and how you are going to use this degree to progress your career. Since you send the same UCAS application to 5 different universities, you cannot really mention specifics about the universities you’re applying to.
Conclusion: Summarise all the points in your essay and give a proper statement as to why you would be the right candidate for this course and university and what you will bring to the community.
The UK SOP which you will upload on your UCAS application for undergraduate studies is 4000 CHARACTERS which is around 500-700 words.
What to include and how to expand on them?
Motivation to study the course: Why do you want to study this course? For example, if you want to study for a degree in Biology, what about biology fascinates you the most? Was there a specific experience that drew you to this field? A teacher that inspired you? It’s important that this bit is personal and does not sound cliche either because there needs to be a hint of your personality in it. It’s always evident whether or not it has been written by the student or not especially when they are applying for extremely specific courses. No, we’re not saying that you need to rant about all your personal motivations but rather the key ones. The ones that show that you understand what you’re undertaking and what kind of a progression you expect in your studies in terms of your knowledge being expanded and the skills you learn (hard or soft).
What do you bring to the table?: You can draw on your professional/ volunteer experience in this section. It is always important to show evidence of your skills and commitment. Any specific examples or experiences that are specific to your course of interest. What did you learn from these experiences? If you did not have the opportunity to physically do some experiences, then how did you indulge in your interests through hobbies, etc. For example, if you’re applying for Computer Sciences, few students have some experience learning basic coding on their own time and developing applications in the meanwhile. Or if you’re applying for an English degree, how have you honed your reading and writing skills over time? You need to put these down in the essay.
How is this education going to help you?: In the UK, there are a plethora of degrees that students apply to, so you might be spoilt for choices. But the main idea is that after you graduate, you have a plan ahead, or if you don’t, you at least have an idea of your career options. This gives them confidence in the fact that you have thought this through and are aware of where this degree can take you.
Make sure the tone is formal and consistent
Reflect a positive outlook
Proofread your essays for mistakes and make sure someone else reads it too
Make sure all the points that you wanted to include are there
Reiterate your interests
Reiterate your plans
Ensure the essay answers the questions being asked
Ensure the essay is cohesive & reads well at first go
Stay within the word limit!