Your teen is in Year 12 and getting to the summer term. Fortunately, A/S levels no longer exist as a recognised exam, so the school or college has a bit more time to invest in their pupils. Most schools and colleges are now doing presentation evenings to discuss university applications. It can be an overwhelming experience for both your teen and you.
Hopefully, your teen is close to choosing a definitive subject to study at university. Then there is the thought of which university. My last blog was about making the decision of choosing the right university:
Part of the process on choosing the universities is writing a personal statement supporting the application. The good news is that the statement can be used for any application to university!
It must be remembered that the personal statement is a key part and will be read by the admission tutors. It will be used as part of the decisions – along with predicted grades – to offer a place at their given university.
So, what is a personal statement?
First of all, the name is the giveaway. It’s a statement that is personal! Your teen is unique. The statement should reflect who your teen is and their life experiences so far. The admission tutors read so many of these that it’s vital to try and create a spark and give your teen’s application an advantage.
A personal statement won’t be written in one instant. Your teen needs to understand that a few drafts will be produced before a definitive statement is produced. Teachers will be on hand to give advice and will provide a critique.
Just remember the statement is up to 4000 characters – which includes spacing.
The first few paragraphs
The first few paragraphs should really be about why that subject has been chosen to study at degree or undergraduate level. You can talk about this with your teen. What triggered them to want to study this sole subject for the next three or four years? As a parent, you can really question your teen. Why not!
This is a really good time to explore what interests your teen and what aspects of the subject they enjoy the most. The enthusiasm for the subject is so important for the admission tutors to pick up. Perhaps there is evidence behind why the subject is being studied? For example, my daughter is very keen to study a sports based degree. She has played sports at county level and has obtained level 1 coaching awards too. This is something, which can most certainly be included in a personal statement.
It must be remembered that the statement is written in the voice of your time. It’s fine to read other people’s statements. However, their statement must be original and in their voice. This is a good time to explore the past few years in school and outside of school. For example, any projects, which could pertain to the subject or reinforce the personality of your teen (head girl/boy; sports leadership, Rock Challenge). How well does your teen get on with their tutors in school or college? Current and past books reading. Make sure your teen writes about how all this has added interpersonal and/or leadership, life skills to their character. Not just what they have done. Also include other hobbies? Words such as ‘determined’, ‘efficient’, ‘optimistic’, ‘resourceful…… you get the meanings of useful terms to describe themselves to create a good context of statement.
The personal statement needs to conclude with why the chosen subject to study at university is the right subject to pursue. What does your teen want to do after university? If they want to study medicine or law, it maybe a bit more obvious in their chosen career. However, it does need to spelt out for the admissions tutors to read.
There is no right way or wrong way to write this statement. A good amount of time needs to be taken to produce the final version. Your teen can try mind maps to ensure all the right information is put across. Try to make sure the information is organised and in a real structure. Plus don’t forget that the grammar needs to be spot on; and there needs to be a solid begininning, middle and end!
Good luck and get personal with that statement!