Writing a Personal Statement? Here Are Some Useful Tips

Writing a personal statement can be daunting. It’s something that you will be required to do if you are applying for university or for some job applications. You need to make sure you are highlighting your strengths while not sounding arrogant or too humble. It is important that the person reading your application feels like they know you well enough to say yes and see where you could improve and help them achieve their goals. This article will provide some tips on how to write a great personal statement that will leave a lasting impression on the reader. Let’s get to the list.

Take Your Time

You do not need to be in a rush when writing your statement. But try to make sure that you complete a first draft around two weeks before the application deadline. You will want to allow yourself enough time to go back and make changes if needed without rushing through the process. For instance, when writing a UCAS personal statement, you can draft and send it multiple times. The admissions office allows you to make changes up until the application deadline, so take advantage of this opportunity if needed.

This will also allow you more time to get feedback from a teacher or careers adviser if you’re heading for the academic route, of if you’re applying for jobs ask a colleague or mentor. A second pair of eyes always helps, but at the end of the day it is your application so make sure that it reflects your experience and values, not those of the person advising you. 

When you take your time, you will find it easier to write your statement and avoid making simple mistakes.

Start Early

Get started on your statement as soon as you decide to apply for the job or course. Get the draft done early. This will give you enough time to make changes when needed instead of rushing or turning in something that does not meet expectations. Also, if you finish early, you can go back and make changes. These early revisions often lead to a better result in the end.

Starting early also gives you an advantage because you can look at other personal statements and see what works well in them. This will provide you with a better idea of improving your statement and avoiding making mistakes that might otherwise be seen as unprofessional or careless by the admissions office. Remember that the more you rush your statement, the more mistakes you will make.

Do Your Research

Before writing your personal statement, you will want to research what each university, college or employer is looking for. This is one of the jobs you can do from home comfortably. You can do this by checking out their website and reading about the institution in general.

If you or any of your friends or family know anyone who has attended those institutions, or worked for a company you are targeting, try and set up a conversation to help get an insider insight.

If there are any open days coming up (you can generally find these on the admissions page), attending these will give you a better understanding of what the school is looking for in your personal statement.

When reading about the university, determine if the faculty is research-based or student-centered. You can find this information by checking out their website and course listings (if any). This will help you decide how to approach writing your personal statement and what to include. You will also want to find out about the admissions office itself (not every school has an open day).

Make sure that you clearly illustrate your understanding of the course or company when you write your personal statement. If your application is going through UCAS or a job site, then you’ll have to write in general terms, but if you are serious about the type of company or course you are seeking, then spell it out. If you make them feel understood and seen, they will feel much more positive about your application.

Don’t Forget About Proofreading

After spending an extended amount of time writing your personal statement, it is easy to miss mistakes. It can feel like you are seeing the words over and over again without noticing any issues. However, even when proofreading several times before submitting your paper, there might still be some errors that you did not catch during review time.

This is why most schools allow for revisions up until a specific date. Please take advantage of this opportunity and get someone else to review your personal statement (this can be a friend, family member, teacher, or colleague) before submitting it. Most schools offer revisions for students who realize mistakes after their initial submission, so try not to make these basic errors that you can easily avoid otherwise.

While you might feel like you are done with writing, there will always be some errors that seem to slip through. Such errors can be highly detrimental to your application, so you must take advantage of this extra time. While some mistakes are unnoticeable to the writer, they stand out like a glaring sore thumb to the company or university. For instance, if you accidentally leave out a word that does not fit with your topic or change tense mid-sentence without notice, it will be seen as unprofessional and careless on your part.

Concentrate on Your Strengths

When writing your personal statement, you will want to focus on what makes you unique as an applicant. Try to focus on strengths that are relevant to the application. For example if you’re applying to do a Drama degree, then experience of performing would be a relevant strength. And be specific, for example for drama, give details of the plays that you have performed in. 

It also helps to talk about how you have overcome obstacles. For instance, if you are the first person in your family to apply to university, or if you have had set-backs or challenges that you have had to overcome, that illustrate your determination and resilience. Those things will make your application stand out. 

While there is a fine line between too much and not enough, be sure you focus on your applicant strengths.

Be Honest

Finally, you want to make sure that your personal statement is honest. If your application is found not to be truthful at a later date then an offer can be withdrawn.

Don’t over exaggerate either. You can, of course, put the best shine on your experience but don’t stretch the truth. For instance, a student applying for a writing course should not claim expertise in creative writing if they have never written anything.

If you are struggling to find something that makes you stand out as an applicant, be sure to include your major and minor coursework in the personal statement so the admissions office can see how serious about this career path you are. Just remember: don’t lie and make sure all of the information included is accurate.

Writing a personal statement can feel like a challenge. However, by avoiding common mistakes, concentrating on your strengths as an applicant, being honest about yourself, and getting others to look over your work before submitting it, you’ll find the process much more straightforward. Just get started. And good luck with the application!