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How to Write a Good Personal Statement When Making That University Application

by Eddie Rayner

If you’re eager to enrol in a top university this academic year, you’ve no doubt already considering how to maximise your chances of being accepted to your preferred institution. You’ve probably already considered the common suggestions, like getting involved in extracurricular activities related to your topic of study or volunteering. There are, though, many other things you may do to increase your odds without ever leaving your home.

Not only do you need to be well-versed in your subject matter when applying to universities, but you also benefit from having a thorough understanding of both the institution and the department. You can easily increase your chances of being accepted by doing thorough research on the colleges and departments you’re applying to. This will enable you to formulate personalised responses to inquiries like “why do you wish to study at this university?”

You can also find helpful application advice from current students at the university you want to attend by visiting student forums. The Student Room, which features separate forums for all the top universities and courses, is a nice example from the UK. Find the appropriate forum for the university of your choice and look for topics about applications. You’ll be able to see how the competition (other prospective students) is preparing so you can get some ideas from what they’re doing, and you’ll be able to ask current students questions to obtain first-hand information on the admissions process, such as what to expect from interviews.

One of the most crucial tasks you must complete to have a successful application is writing a fantastic personal statement. This is your time to show the institution that you are enthusiastic about the subject and that you are prepared to put in a lot of effort to learn and advance your desired profession. So what does it take to make your University Personal Statement stand out?

It’s always worth asking people you trust for their feedback

Five Key Tips
The fact is that, despite its importance, many students can find it challenging to deliver a well-thought-through statement. Therefore, St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, in the Caribbean, has highlighted five key tips to develop a strong personal statement: do your research, identify what you want to write about, know how to write it, make it personal, and get feedback.

Images from St. George’s University’s Fall 2016 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.

1 Do your Research

Before you start putting anything in writing, think about what career you would like, and investigate universities that are well-equipped to help get you there. Invest time in researching the programme and if it offers opportunities that will help you meet your career goals. Your personal statement should reflect that you have done your research and know how the outcomes of the programme match your professional aspirations.

Find out what attributes they are looking for in their students, as these qualities need to be reflected in your personal statement. For example, the SGU School of Medicine requires aspiring medical students who are compassionate, have strong academic achievement potential, can learn from their mistakes, are critical thinkers, are team players, responsible, and dedicated to life-long learning. Some universities will list their desired traits on their website and your statement should reflect these qualities..

2 Identify What you Want to Write About

Now that you know the qualities that your university of choice is looking for in its students, it’s time to show through your writing that you have these characteristics. It is not always easy for people to talk about themselves, so here is a list of questions that will help you write the answers that your university may be looking for.

  • Why do you want to study your chosen course?
  • Why is this subject of interest to you?
  • How do your current or previous studies relate toyour chosen course?
  • What are your interests outside of school, such as hobbies, extra-curricular activities andadditional responsibilities? What skills or qualities do these experiences give you?
  • How would studying this programme support your future plans?

It is not always easy for people to talk about themselves, so we have created a list of questions

3 Know How to Write Your Statement

Writing your statement eloquently is as important as the first two steps, if not more. Imagine having all the content you need but not expressing yourself effectively. The piece must have a solid structure and flow of ideas. It should reflect your thought process, transitioning from one idea to the other smoothly.
Ideally, your statement should start with an introduction to the topic you intend to address. Following that, come your main points, which would be the answers to the questions listed in step two. Lastly, you need to have a conclusion to wrap up the piece and tie it back to your introduction. Once you finish writing your statement, make sure you proofread it once and twice for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.

4 Make it Personal

This is your opportunity to flex your strengths that are in line with your career of choice. So don’t be shy to express your enthusiasm and what you are good at. It gives a personal essence to your statement that might just get you a place in your programme of choice.

Not everyone’s journey to becoming a doctor is the same. You need to identify where you’d like to practice when you graduate and what speciality is of interest to you. You also need to have a clear understanding of what drives you, which will also help you determine how to frame your statement. Showing aspiration and a long-term plan can give the university an idea of your level of motivation. It should feel natural and easy to write about, since you’d be expressing something that you are passionate about.

5 Get Feedback from People You Trust

Before you go ahead with submission, it’s always worth asking people you trust for their feedback, for example, your tutors, counsellors, or experienced professionals. A concept may be clear in your mind but poorly expressed in writing. They will give you an outsider’s perspective if something does not sound right or is unclear. Therefore, expect to produce several drafts of your personal statement before being totally happy with it.

To summarise, your personal statement should give the university obvious reasons as to why you are a perfect match for their programme. From the passion for the subject you are aiming to study to your personality traits, interests, writing style, and career goals they all need to encourage the school to have you on board.

Once you finish writing your statement, make sure you proofread it once and twice for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes

Be Media Savvy

Universities today are considerably more social media savvy and have their own internet presence. Although this is fantastic for getting to know them better, the drawback is that they may likely consider your internet presence when assessing your application. As a result, you must pay close attention to the impression that your social media profiles project. In order to prevent admissions tutors from seeing images of you doing or saying things you may not want them to see, make sure your Facebook page, for instance, is set to private.

Reuniting families, creating friendships and finding jobs are just a handful of the many incredible advantages to using social media. But when applying to a university it can turn into your worst nightmare. Be careful when posting anything on social media. In the end, once people have seen it, you can’t make them un-see it.