As a college student, you’re likely to be used to writing about all kinds of different topics- often whether you like it or not. But writing a personal statement requires a different set of skills altogether, and is incredibly likely to push you way, way out of your comfort zone.

The personal statement is your chance to demonstrate exactly what makes you stand out. Use this opportunity to explain why your chosen university should sit up and take notice and why you are a great choice for the course in question. Sounds easy enough? Think again. It’s time to stop staring blankly at your computer screen and kick-start your personal statement by following the steps below. After all, the sooner you begin, the sooner it will all be over!


1. Create a mind map!

It’s easy to get carried away with ideas (or fear) and dive straight into writing your personal statement from scratch within just a couple of hours. Okay- it might be done, but how, exactly, does it read? The best personal statements are the products of careful planning and, all importantly, organisation. Take a step back and mind map all your achievements, experiences and key skills. Providing they’re relevant, link them to how they’ll aid you within your chosen course. Be sure to take note of all your accomplishments, however minor you think they are, as you never know which of them will leap out and appeal to the reader. These headings will therefore help you to create a formal, structured document that will be easily accessible, not to mention impressive, to the future reader.


Via Mind-Mapping.


2. Why have you chosen this course?

Your mind map will prove particularly useful in this aspect of the personal statement. Although it may seem obvious, one of the most important points to remember while writing a personal statement is that you must refer to the degree you want to study throughout. By doing this you should be answering fundamental questions- for example, why you should be selected to study this course and what attributes or experience do you bring with you?  Your experience and qualities can be as simple expertise gained while studying at school, or while working during summer holidays. By linking a skill with your chosen degree, you highlight your awareness of the requirements of the course and the content covered, which may make you stand out from other applicants.


3. Think about your style

When writing your personal statement, keep it simple and concise.  It’s easy to go overboard and demonstrate your extensive intellectual vocabulary with every chance you get- but sometimes this does nothing but over-complicate a sentence and make it much harder to read. When writing your personal statement, bear in mind that the reader will have to plough through hundreds of documents just like it, and will not have time to figure out what it is that you’re trying to say.  It’s always good to illustrate your personality, however, especially when writing about yourself; an enthusiastic yet professional tone tends to work well.


4. Don’t copy!

Let’s be honest: there are thousands of personal statements online for the public to use as guidelines. It’s always useful to have a look at other peoples work to get a handle of ideas, but make sure you steer clear of copying it, directly. A personal statement is about YOU, and therefore it should differ from everyone else’s efforts. UCAS screen all personal statements and if they find strong similarities between statements they won’t be best pleased- it could even have a negative impact upon your application.


5. Finally… Get  at least one person to proofread your work

You may have read your personal statement one hundred times- and another after that- and finally feel ready to submit it, but do make sure you ask someone else to read over you work, first. A fresh pair of eyes will spot even the smallest of mistakes, suggest improvements or remind you of additional qualities you have which you might have forgotten altogether! Small mistakes on personal statements can hinder your acceptance to university as they suggest that you are careless and lack attention to detail. But, if you have put in sufficient time and energy, and asked all your loved ones to tear your work apart (lovingly), you’ve nothing to fear- go forth and show them all that you can do!


Image via Shutterstock.

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