Updated: Sep 14
The UCAS “personal statement” is an important part of the university application process; it’s also the part many young people find hardest to complete. We’ll take a look at what should be included in a personal statement and give you plenty of suggestions so you can encourage and guide your child if they get stuck.
What is a personal statement?
As part of the university application, your child will need to submit a personal statement. Effectively, this is a short advert that lets your child showcase why they would make a great student and must not exceed 4,000 characters (about 500 words). Your child can only submit one personal statement, even though they can apply to up to five different universities. This means they need to be careful that they are making themselves attractive to all the universities and not just their favourite.
Why it’s important
Alongside your child’s predicted sixth form qualification grades and their teachers’ references, the UCAS personal statement will help university admission tutors decide on whether to offer your child a place to study with them. This is particularly important when interviews are not held as the personal statement may be the only opportunity your child has to showcase their talents, accomplishments and interest in applying for the course.
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What should be included in a personal statement?
The personal statement is an opportunity for your child to provide the admission tutor with an insight into what they are like as an individual and why they are the right fit at their university. Admissions tutors want to make sure that both the course and university is the right choice for your child to excel.
Broadly speaking, a personal statement should demonstrate:
Your child’s passion for wanting to study their chosen subject or field;
What they’ve done to engage with this subject inside and outside of the curriculum;
Their interests and hobbies and how these relate to their chosen course;
What relevant experience they have;
What makes them unique – some hobbies may have nothing to do with the course, but tell a lot about their personality.
If your child is struggling to think of reasons for wanting to study this course, it might be a good idea to talk with them about whether this is the right course for them. At this stage, it’s ok to go back to the drawing board and start researching alternative course options as its important to get this right. We’ve got more information on ‘helping your child choose the right course’ here.
Why it’s good to start early
Content for a personal statement isn’t something that can be created overnight. It takes time to assimilate ideas and finesse them, so it’s good to encourage your child to start thinking about this well ahead of submission time. This doesn’t necessarily mean a heavy-handed desk bound session, but prompting them with questions on a regular basis to help them clarify why they like something or what makes an experience pleasant / unattractive for them will help them consolidate their thoughts