If you’re considering applying to university, it’s likely that you’ve come across a UCAS personal statement. A crucial stage of the university application process, it’s a chance to truly sell yourself and highlight your ambitions, aspirations, skills and experience.
But with thousands of students and international students applying to university every year, it can be difficult to write a killer personal statement and ensure that you stand out from the crowd. Don’t worry though, in this guide we reveal everything you need to know about writing a personal statement for university.
What is a personal statement for university?
When you apply to study at university, you’ll be asked to submit a few different things — one of these being a UCAS personal statement. In short, it’s your opportunity to highlight why you want to study that particular university course.
It’s important to talk about your skills, experience and anything else that has fuelled your passion and interest in this field.
Personal statements are submitted alongside the rest of your application. Usually, this is due on or around the 15th of January for courses that begin the following September. However, some creative courses have a later deadline of the 24th of March. Oxford or Cambridge students will need to submit their statements earlier though. These universities expect personal statements by the 15th of October for courses starting the following year.
How long should a personal statement be?
UCAS has stated that a personal statement should not exceed the 4,000 character limit or 47 lines. Typically, they are less than 2 pages and should be more detailed than your CV.
What to include in a personal statement
The easiest way to think about writing a personal statement is to imagine it to be an essay about yourself. Unlike a CV, you need to include key paragraphs that answer:
- Why you want to study
- Your suitability
- Information about your current study and experience
- Hobbies and interests
- Skills and achievements
While there aren’t set guidelines about what you need to include, it is important to show that you’re passionate while selling yourself at the same time. Below, we’ve outlined a few things to include in your personal statement:
Why you want to study
Think about why you’ve chosen this course and write it down. Perhaps you really enjoy the subject? Or maybe your interest in it developed after a key experience? Also talk about your long-term goals and aspirations, and how this university course will help you achieve these.
It’s not just about why you’ve chosen the course. You also need to show that you’re a suitable candidate. Using the course criteria, highlight how you have matching skills and experience. You can really show that you’ve done your research in this section, by looking into what the course involves and mentioning it.
Information about your current study and experience
Even if you’ve chosen to apply for a course that you’ve never studied before, it doesn’t mean you haven’t learnt transferable skills elsewhere. Be open, talk about what lessons you’ve learnt and don’t forget to mention why you think your skills will be beneficial. If you’ve taken part in any work experience or voluntary work, now is the time to mention it.
Hobbies and interests
This is a great opportunity to show what you like doing outside of your studies. Plus, if you can relate it back to your chosen course, even better. Consider extracurricular sports clubs, summer schools, cultural trips and online courses.
Skills and achievements
Your personal statement shouldn’t just detail your skills but also how you achieved them. From winning awards to overcoming shyness, provide examples of how you got to where you are today and how these are relevant to your chosen course and career.
Personal statement examples and tips
Whatever course you’ve chosen to apply for, and whichever university you wish to attend, there are a range of successful personal statements to guide you. From accounting and drama to pharmacy and zoology, these best-practice guides can help you to write the perfect personal statement.
Finally, if you are about to write your personal statement, it’s important that you don’t copy anyone else’s work. Your personal statement is meant to be a reflection of you, your strengths and your enthusiasm.
Be sure to show why you’re unique, highlight that you’re a well-rounded person, keep it engaging and make it relevant. University admission tutors will read hundreds of statements every week so if you can start your essay with an eye-catching sentence or think outside of the box, you’re sure to stand out.
You’ll probably create a few different drafts, so it’s important that you have enough time to give it the attention it deserves. But after all the late nights and a few stressful days, it’ll definitely be worth it. If you have any questions about living at university as a student, we’re more than happy to help too and can advise on the right locations, house types and insurance. Plus, if you’re an international student, you may also find this guide useful.