11 Most Foolish Mistakes Students Make With UCAS Personal Statements
A personal statement is an extended essay about yourself and an essential part of your UCAS application. UCAS refers to the Universities and College Admissions Service. Its primary role is to operate the application process for British Universities. Candidates submit this request to the board and after that, the board chooses from them the most outstanding. Each candidate is unique in the sense of experience and thoughts; this therefore, sets them apart. It is an excellent way to bullet point all your achievements and help sell yourself to the hiring manager. This practice termed as a professional personal statement; ranges from the career change personal statement, career break personal statement, and unemployed/ redundancy personal statement.
What makes a good personal statement?
A good personal statement for university admission features some concerns that should be kept in mind before submission.
Reason and enthusiasm
A candidate should explain in depth the reasons that pushed them to pursue that course at university’s level. Mention the interests developed, actions taken to pursue it, and how you have used your current studies as a basis for inspiration. Enthusiasm should be expressed and clearly depicted by the tutor.
Most candidates don’t concern themselves with anything that is not related to their curriculum. They limit themselves to the classroom setting and only do assignments that have been issued by their current tutor. It is therefore, fundamental to not only perform duties in the classroom setting but also outside that relates to the course at hand. This may include reading books, websites, quality newspapers, periodicals, scientific journals and blogs. Attending public lectures should also be included in the personal statement. These extra activities will set a candidate apart from the rest of the lot.
Relevance is critical in writing a statement. You cannot be in Geology wishing to pursue a course in cooking. These are two different fields that are not related in any way. A candidate should keep in mind experiences that led them to pursue that particular course and how the interest came. The experience ranges from an outreach program, work experience or even a supplement University session.
Showing a varied skill set is key, as it gives the admission officers an idea of the kind of person you are and your capabilities. These skills range from hardworking, self-confidence, time conscious, leadership qualities, listening and management skills. Admission officers go for the most compliant and the one of good character.
Admission officers require a candidate to be very specific. You should keep in mind the qualities that are relevant to the course you are applying for and avoid the ones which are general and are not related to that which are irrelevant. You can also demonstrate how you have used, developed and improved these qualities. As a candidate, you can mention the projects and programs you have championed in your tenure; a list of all the positions of leadership and responsibilities, the issues that were presented and how you tackled them, the lessons learned from this role or roles. It is also an added advantage to include any volunteering activities you have participated in or part-time jobs.
Inclusive in a personal statement are goals; both short term goals and long term goals. It is simply not enough to just mention that you want to be a farmer. This is just basic information and might be the set standard for everyone who is applying for that course. To be a cut above the rest, include your set objectives, your procedures of meeting these targets and how you will deal with the challenges that may pull you back. If you are applying for deferred entry, mention the plans for the gap you want to achieve.
Common errors in writing personal statements
Despite clear indications given to graduates and candidates concerning writing; a good personal statement whether a professional personal statement or a college personal statement format, individuals still make errors when writing them. These are some of the false facts:
1. Being too generic
Candidates tend to be too vague when writing a personal statement. They give a general overview of what they aspire to achieve and their skills at hand instead of delving deeper into their qualifications. It is crucial for a candidate to tailor each statement according to the position that is sought after. It is a boost to the Curriculum Vitae already issued and makes it more useful. Being general reflects on you poorly as you appear to be lazy and apparently depicts that you are not qualified for the post.
2. Ignoring rules
Most companies or firms give specific guidelines for candidates to follow. Aspects such as font size, word count, and file type can be easily overlooked. These things may seem little, but are the standards that makes one recruited or rejected. As a candidate, you should keep in mind all these instructions when you write a statement.
3. Failure to answer the question at hand
You may find yourself diverting from the original question and answering that which is more comfortable or natural to you. It is crucial that you stay in line with the questions asked; this is a platform to show how equipped you are to deal with matters thrown at you. During the response, follow a clear structure and present a logical flow of thoughts while maintaining relevance.
Avoid confusion between the cover letter and the personal statement. A personal statement is meant to be a brief introduction and should not be extensive. It’s merely a small representation of your success. A cover letter usually elaborates on the employment history and achievements attained whereas, a personal statement is in place to clutch their attention.
4. Not focusing on yourself
It is not wrong to include your aspirations, your attributes, and your career niche. But the best personal statement explains to the hiring manager or the tutor what skills and capabilities you have to offer to the company. These skills should be those that no other candidate can offer. Generalized statements throw off the addressee. It is mandatory to have a degree of specificity and keep zooming in until all of the broad statements are vanquished.
5. Avoiding too much past references
In writing a personal statement, many candidates focus on their outdated achievements and experiences. Participation in areas like academics, work, volunteer and social skills should be outlined, and present yourself as a well-rounded individual. The application committee should know what your current activities are, the projects at hand at the moment, and future aspirations. All experiences should be current and professional.
6. Making excuses
Candidates at times may lack experience, some have never really had any vocational training or job; school performance may have been poor, or the list of extracurricular activities have fallen short. This fact does not mean one should sob or make excuses for these circumstances. If there is a need for addressing these issues or challenges, portray the lessons learned during the change impacted.
7. Not keeping it simple
A personal statement should not be overly dramatic. Things like over-the-top descriptors, adjectives and adverbs should be avoided. Your accomplishments should speak for themselves. The jargon, overly academic language, and stuffy personality are aspects that immediately throw off the addressee. A personal statement should be simple and pleasant to read.
8. Non relaxed personal statement
A candidate should key in the things that they want the committee to know about them. For the committee to be able to know who they are and how they function, they should display their strengths, achievements and their ability to tackle core issues if they arise. It is allowed to seem boastful of your achievements but make sure that it does not come off as excessive pride. You should include how you’ve done these results and what you learned from them.
9. Not creating balance
A personal statement should show the benefits that will be achieved by both sides. Most candidates overlook this and fail to include why they chose that particular school or organization. If you focus too much on what you can do for the organization, you will come across as arrogant. Whereas focusing a lot on what the company can do for you will come across as desperate. Key in what the school will gain from you and also keep in mind why you chose that particular school. This balance is crucial and should not be ignored.
Everybody is different and have different perspectives; ensure that the committee set in place are aware of this margin that sets you apart. Focus on highlighting unique experiences that you have been through or tackled, as this will set your personal statement apart from others and create a mark in the committee. The personal statement should show your commitment levels, which you have the energy and passion regarding the post. Being unique does not necessarily mean that you are the best.
11. Incorrect spelling, punctuation and bad grammar
Any good candidate should avoid making grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors. So it’s important to properly edit your personal statement before you send your application.
About the author: Rebecca Morrison is a content manager who works at http://www.personalstatementwriter.net. She likes her work as it is her hobby – writing. Her life credo is “Never give up!”. She dreams of becoming an illustrious author and blogger.