Seven tips for handling personal statements

Annie Manning

Annie Manning is a qualified NLP Life Skills Coach and Counsellor including; spiritual healing, bereavement and cognitive behaviour therapies. Annie fully values the importance of a student’s wellbeing, positive intervention and uses these additional communication skills to help coach tutors, parents and students. She runs a blog with tips on mindfulness, avoiding exam stress and promoting support charities in mental health, bereavement and anti-bullying. Credoblog.co

She is an experienced freelance report writer, marketing and quality consultant working within Commercial and IT markets, Health, Education and NFP Sectors. Her quality projects have included speaking with schools, universities and researching protocol and purchasing patterns within the LEA nationally. As a marketing manager within IT she dealt with, schools and IDPE members on a daily basis for many years.

Website: www.credocounsellingandcoaching.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I have written previously about personal statements for Innovate my School’s website and felt perhaps it was time to re-visit this subject from a slightly different angle. Let’s ensure the students not only feel the fear but follow their dream!

Firstly, it’s a huge challenge. This document can prove a real hurdle for students who may have little prior experience in preparing a document of this nature. The quality of advice and support may vary from school-to-school, and the burden of responsibility is often placed with already overstretched staff. So I am offering seven tips and points for students and teachers to consider and focus on.

1. Community experience and social skills

I had an interesting chat recently with a lecturer for Cambridge and Oxford graduates. We spoke about the importance of students developing social skills and the value of same in connection with their personal statement. I relayed how fortunately my own daughter had been gathering experience for many years working voluntarily within the area she wished to pursue and being proactive in our village community and helping at charity events. These all show confidence and a certain degree of responsibility.

2. Substance, not lip service

However, we both agreed that far too many students make a token gesture at adding things to their CV last minute, and those in the know can soon tell that they are just giving lip service without any real genuine interest or substance to what they are doing. This will soon become apparent if and when they are invited to attend an interview at their chosen University.

Action speaks the priority: “If the goal in our life is very important, and we are not taking any step to complete or fulfil that goal, then we need to reassess our priorities.” - Mahatma Gandhi

3. Appropriate content for a student’s chosen university

Parents want their children to be the best they can be, and the same goes for dedicated teachers. We want future generations to feel inspired, make the right career choice for them, and the quality of their submitted document will of course either help or hinder the secure of that choice. Universities will be looking for quality, not quantity, and instantly see that this particular student will have something different to contribute in contrast to other students with similar grades.

Example: If a student is passionate about environmental issues and has worked on projects, they can include these, as generation is seen as the last one to make climate change!

4. The right vocabulary

Speaking as an experienced writer who has worked for many sectors and ghost written articles for professionals, I know it is imperative to produce something which will come across as both interesting and appealing to the audience. Moreover, it is vital that the reader recognises the vocabulary as appropriate and that of the writer - again, on interview, it will soon become clear that somebody else has written the student’s statement.

I am always actively encouraging students to learn a few new words every day and push their boundaries to expand their use of the English language. Nevertheless, it has to be written in their own words, using a style and vocabulary with which they feel comfortable.

5. Visit the University’s website

Students are well advised to re-visit the website for the university to which they are applying. Ensure that the latest advice and criteria (which may not be on the UCAS system) is followed closely to avoid mistakes and crucial last minute information being inadvertently missed off.

6. Have they included your best achievements?

Applicants mustn’t waste valuable word count with long lists of activities; they should select carefully those skills and achievements which demonstrate their ability to be both a strong leader and be an active team player. The conception of absolute - are they working towards this?

7. Proof-read carefully

Ensure that they read and edit their statement carefully as poor editing, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes will reflect badly. Remember: first impressions are important, so students must give this document the time and energy it deserves.

Do you assist students with their personal statements? Share your tips below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"