As the news is filled with A-Level results and images of happy students gleefully clutching their results papers, for those about to start their final year of school this can seem a long way off.
Nevertheless, there is an important step you can take to get ahead of the game and ensure that in 12 months time you too will be bounding happily out of the school gates for the last time with university on the near horizon.
The personal statement
This preparatory step is of course to start work on your personal statement. This 4000-character document might seem daunting but it is one of the main pieces of supporting evidence to help you with your university application. For many this can make the difference between successfully securing a place at a chosen university or missing out.
As soon as you search for tips on writing personal statements online you are faced with a barrage of ideas, tricks and suggestions.
One chance to impress
There is only one main theme that must be adhered to above all others. The personal statement should be a true reflection of YOU. This is the only chance (unless you are invited for interview) to demonstrate why the university you are applying for wants you above any other candidate with the same academic grades.
Here are five further recommendations that we make to ensure that your personal statement stands out.
Personal statement tips
- Ensure that the majority of the personal statement is about your academic interests and how those relate to not only the course but what you might want to do in the future. Look at the course prospectus and the areas of research that the lead professors study and see what common interests you have.
- Write about any out of school activities that you have pursued that are in direct relation to your chosen degree subject. If you are looking at medicine have you done any relevant work experience? If you are pursuing archaeology have you been to a dig site?
- Include a paragraph about your other achievements and interests but keep this brief and make it your penultimate paragraph. Leadership positions, membership of clubs both inside and outside of school and other achievements are all relevant but do not wax lyrical about them. The university just wants to see that you have other interests outside of the purely academic and that you might want to contribute to wider university life.
- Read the books you put on your personal statement and visit the museum or gallery that might be linked to your future study.
- Get ahead of the game and start writing. It will take several drafts to get a strong personal statement and inevitably you will receive different direction from whomever you ask for advice. By starting early you will put yourself in the best position to make your application stand out when applications open this September.