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How to write a Winning Personal Statement

How to write a Winning Personal Statement

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How to write a Winning Personal Statement

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  1. How to write a Winning Personal Statement Selling yourself in 47 lines and 4000 characters!

  2. Success in five easy sections • What do you want to study and why? Why are you passionate about this subject? • What are you learning now that supports your love of this subject? What skills, knowledge and understanding have you gained in your academic studies that will make you a successful student of this subject at university? • What extra reading have you completed, special in-depth research have you done that supports your passion, your belief that you will be successful? Relevant work experience should come here if you are applying for medicine, social work, law or architecture. • What skills have you gained through your co-curricular activities that support your claims to love this subject and your belief that you will be successful at university? Highlight negotiation, communication, team work, leadership, ICT skills, resilience of mind, stamina and character. • Conclude with your passion, commitment and plans for the future. What will you do with the degree you will gain in this subject?

  3. What do you want to study and why? • Whatever you have chosen, you must convince the person reading your statement that you have thought through your choice of subject and that you are passionate about it. Support with evidence! • I have always loved history, ever since a school trip to … • It was an offender profiling exercise in my IB Psychology class that made me realise that criminology was the subject I really wanted to study. • Helping my mother create the website for her vintage clothes and homeware business has given me the desire to study business at university. Unlike many people my age, I believe that I have a practical understanding of what business is. • The more I think about it, the more I understand that the law permeates every aspect of our lives • At the age of 7 I read an article in Look and Learn about Schliemann’s excavation of the Palace of Agamemnon at Mycenae. Since that moment I have been inspired by the desire to read the works of Homer, not just in translation, but in Ancient Greek.

  4. What are you learning now that is relevant? • Can you read widely and synthesise what you have read? • Can you write persuasively? Can you argue a case in speech and writing, using supporting evidence? • Can you analyse? • Can you research independently? Can you do original work? • Can you present your ideas fluently in speech and writing? • Can you work effectively as a team member? • Are you a critical thinker? • Are you academic? Do you love ideas and learning? • It doesn’t matter which subject you plan to study. If you can provide evidence of your ability to do all these things, you are demonstrating that you will be a success at university. Provide evidence! IAs, Group 4 Project, Extended Essay, ToK Presentation etc. etc. Presentation in an English class, research project in any subject, group work in any subject.

  5. How about Value added? • Have you completed extra reading/research etc. in a subject because you love it? Is there some aspect of the subject you find particularly fascinating? • You’ve read all Sophocles’ existing plays, not just Antigone because it was on your IB English A1 syllabus. • You have volunteered to tutor other students in your AP Econ classes because you love the subject and find you can explain things easily in language they understand. • You have won medals in the Mathematics Olympiad. • You enjoyed Offender profiling so much you created a whole profiling exercise for the class to complete next time. • You attended a University taster course in anthropology and are working your way through the reading list. • For medicine, law, architecture, social work, teaching, this is a good place to highlight what you have learned through work shadowing or work experience.

  6. What have co-curricular activities done for you? • Some of these will be directly relevant to the subject you want to study. MUN and law, international relations, for example. • Have you been involved in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme?? • All of your activities will demonstrate your development of those so-called soft skills, so prized by employers. • Can you deal with difficult people? Can you negotiate? • Can you communicate? • Can you inspire and lead? • Are you an excellent team member? • Can you use ICT proficiently? • You can write about any work experience here! • Are you resilient? Do you care about people? Can you organise? Can you survive the dorm? Can you juggle all these activities and still meet your deadlines?

  7. Your Final Paragraph • Sum up everything you have said so far, but in different words. • Emphasise your passion and commitment. You will stick it out, you won’t drop out! • Highlight your very strongest academic credentials. • You really are the best mathematics student your teacher has ever taught. • You were awarded the prize for the outstanding Upper class student in your subject. • You received the highest score ever in an AP examination. • You have been on the Head of School’s List every quarter since Grade 9, which means… • What are you intending to do once you graduate? Where will this degree take you in the future? • End with something they will remember!

  8. Remember… • Do not plagiarise. UCAS has a powerful plagiarism detector. Your application will be rejected without being read by anyone. • Check spelling, grammar and punctuation. Errors make a very poor impression and don’t belong in your personal statement! • Don’t lie. If you have not read the complete works of Dostoyevsky, don’t claim that you have. You have done lots of things that are honest and true. Use those examples. • Don’t start every paragraph with ‘I’. • Style, purpose and audience. Who will be reading this? Why? What is your purpose? • Use your voice. Of course ask people to read and comment, but in the end it must be yours. Your parents might not know best in this case…but another informed adult may be able to give you some top tips.. So can your college counsellor, but don’t compromise your style and your purpose! • This may be the most important 47 lines or 4000 characters you will ever write! • Good luck! We are here to help…..

  9. My college Counselling handbook • I have a college counselling handbook for you to download and read. You can find it on my website, linked to FORUM, under Academic Deans’ Pages. • http://nancycjenkins.pbworks.com/w/page/28385184/FrontPage • It includes all this advice and more! • Any questions? • Nancy C. Jenkins Thursday 8th September 2011