Successful personal statements Jane Johns Hereford Cathedral School - June 2016 Outline of session Timeline What makes a good application Factors affecting the success of your application Writing an effective personal statement
UCAS timeline UCAS timeline 1 September 2016 15 January 2017 15 October for Oxford, Cambridge and also medicine, dentistry & vet science courses School will set internal application deadlines 5 choices (4 choices for medicine, dentistry & vet science applicants) Simultaneous consideration; principle of invisibility applies
Application fee of 23 for 2 5 choices (12 for single choice) Decisions should be through from universities March/April 2017 offers are conditional and applicants able to hold up to 2 offers What makes a good applicant? Skills What skills do they have? Decision making, leadership etc Work experiences Any in a similar role as
chosen subject? Understanding of profession What do they know, what have they done? WHAT DOES A GOOD APPLICANT LOOK LIKE? Communication skills
All required information completed Current studies Subjects studied and recency Performance What is their academic
performance to date? Predictions Predicted academic performance Declaration of good character Numeracy & literacy
Personal qualities Compassion, empathy, understanding Successful higher education applications Right course Right institution Positive outcome personal fulfilment career requirement
springboard for the future Factors affecting the success of an application Macro factors: Number of applicants Popularity of the subject Popularity of the institution Popularity of the subject and institution Entry requirements
Micro factors: Applicants qualifications Results of aptitude tests LNAT, UKCAT etc Written work or portfolio Personal statement Reference Interview or audition performance Research Factors to consider when researching a higher education course:
Career entry routes and requirements - is a degree necessary? Vocational degree or subject degree followed by post graduate professional training Type of degree - single/joint honours/combined honours Length and structure of course - sandwich courses/year abroad Teaching and assessment methods Departmental quality student satisfaction ratings Entry requirements - numbers of GCSE A/A* required and A Level or equivalent subjects, grades or points Location - campus/city/rural Facilities accommodation/cultural/sport
Scholarships and bursaries What makes a good personal statement? www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduat e/apply-track/writing-personal-stat ement www.youtube.com/watch? v=w6wGWlIOxpw
PS - guidelines Your personal statement should cover 3 key areas: Why you want to study the course What you have done that makes you a suitable applicant for the course What else you have done that makes you an interesting and unique individual who will contribute to the course and the university community
The 75 % + rule At least 75% of the personal statement should be about academic interests, motivation and strengths with 25% or less on the skills developed through co-curricular activities I dont care how many Duke of Edinburgh awards theyve got, I dont care if theyve been out in Africa curing lepers ..... all I want to know is whether they have a burning desire to study history Anonymous admissions tutor Academic
Reasons for course choice why you want to study the course What you enjoy about the subjects currently studied Evidence of your study skills, wider reading and development as an independent learner Check that your interests and achievements match the university entry profile requirements Relevant work experience, job shadowing and employment Career aspirations Gap year plans (if relevant to course choice) The 25 % section
How your involvement in co-curricular activities, special achievements or significant responsibilities have helped you develop transferable skills Work experience, job shadowing and employment (if not directly relevant to course choice) Gap year plans (if not directly relevant to course choice) Any special circumstances The A B C rule
Activity what you have done Curricular Super-curricular Co-curricular Benefit what you gained from the activity Course relate the activity & benefit to your course Tips on writing an effective PS Start early summer term of Year 12
Good opening paragraph to ensure that the admissions tutor reads on Good concluding paragraph Do not start every paragraph with I Absolutely no spulling errers Simple, concise English, using strong words Be aware that UCAS has similarity detection software Plan, draft, redraft and check Extract from UCAS press release 800 medical applications had personal statements containing phrases
directly borrowed from three online example statements. Some elements of sentences were found to be remarkably common: 370 contained a statement starting with: a fascination for how the human body works... 234 contained a statement relating a dramatic incident involving "...burning a hole in pyjamas at age eight... 175 contained a statement which involved "...an elderly or infirm grandfather..." Admissions decisions
Personal statements Example 1: Business studies Read the personal statement and underline each key point or experience that appears Count how many key points or experiences have been included in the statement Is the balance between academic and non-academic correct? Strong words? How might the statement be improved?
Example 1: Business studies Although I enjoy studying Mathematics and Geography, it is Business Studies that I wish to pursue in more depth. I believe a degree in Business will build on my understanding of marketing and financial management. Businesses have to operate within a legal framework and 1 was lucky enough to shadow a barrister for a day to gain an insight into the legal profession. I hope to study aspects of law as part of my degree. A range of school opportunities have broadened my experiences. Participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has been challenging and fulfilling: allowing me to work with a diverse range of people. My voluntary work at Help the Aged proved to be rewarding and gave me a more caring perspective on life. I have also taken part in the 'Year 7 Friends Scheme' in which I supported young students during their first term at school. Taking
part in the school drama club as a technician has been fun and has taught me the importance of working to deadlines. I have further pursued my interest in drama and have so far been fortunate to see 'Twelfth Night' and 'Les Miserables'. My role as Deputy Operations Director in the Young Enterprise Scheme has given me an insight into business life. I am interested in the internet and have helped staff redesign the school website. I hope to learn more about web site design a university. Although no-one could call me a sportsman, I am a keen football player and I regularly watch Manchester City. Outside school I belong to the Venture Scouts which has offered opportunities such as gliding and weekend camps to the Peak District. I have managed to balance the demands of my 'A' levels with a varied and enjoyable school and social life. I look forward to the opportunities offered at university.
Personal statements Example 2: Mechanical engineering Read the following personal statement Put a line through anything that you think should not be included i.e. that does not sell the applicant Decide why the personal statement does not sell the applicant Example 2: Mechanical Engineering
First impressions & perfect endings Interesting & unique? Quotation? Summarise why you are suited to course/institution Warning: UCAS and a growing number of universities use plagiarism software to spot personal statements downloaded from the Internet First impressions & perfect endings
How would you rate the following statements? First impression? Law: I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Years of developing my intellectual capacity for my academic interests, wanting to hold privilege jobs and leadership positions in the future, I have a sense of purpose and unwavering dedication in doing the most with the
opportunities available. Lawyers have been my enduring inspiration. First impression? Architecture: Creation is a powerful skill, an intriguing ability evolving from our originalities and perspectives. By formulating our own unique creations, we may endeavour to create a parallel between our imagination and the world in which we live. Winston Churchill once emphasised the fact that "we shape our buildings, thereafter they
shape us". In my mind, these buildings personify and embody the diverse cultures that exist today, reflecting the power and endless potential of man's genius. First impression? Business management: There is a rapid growth in global organisational concepts, crystallised in Japanese business philosophy, to be as effective as possible in the most efficient way. New technology involving networking information and automation influences the
behaviour of business and enables significant transformation. This need to maximise efficiency and effectiveness in such a competitive age is increasingly crucial to the success of a business. This is why it is an exciting and fascinating period in both the commercial and economic world to study business management. First impression? Mathematics: Mathematics is beautiful to me because of the deep and
meaningful ideas touched upon by it, the vastness of these ideas, the clearness and elegance of their representation. Mathematics gives me the ability to apply knowledge by approaching things logically, and thinking clearly. Compared to any other fields of knowledge, mathematics is the only one where all that we know has been proven to be true. Perfect ending? Economics: I believe that I will gain a highly marketable set of skills from
the study of economics at university. I have found economics to be a challenging and diverse discipline and I am interested in both macro and micro economics. It is this variation of perspective, combined with its real world importance, that makes economics an appealing subject to study at university. Perfect ending? English: In today's society, I strongly believe that is of the utmost
importance that we, as a global community, can imbibe the opinions and ideas of each other; regardless of whatever walk of life we may be from. I consider English literature to be a valuable tool in acquiring this skill and I would love to take my adoration of the subject to the next level. Perfect ending? Physics: During my time at university I aim to get a first class education that will stand me in good stead for entering the world of work;
I also want to continue my education in an environment in which I can thrive mentally. In return, the university will get a student who is hard working, always willing to learn and will put something back into the community. Perfect ending? Media studies: Media is a huge part of both my academic and personal life and I truly feel that placement on this course would help me
in my future career ambitions in the media world. Living so far away from home whilst on the course would also help me gain independence and life skills. Summary Finding out more Finding out more
UCAS website University prospectuses, departmental booklets, admissions policies web and paper based Taster courses find out more about your proposed subject Open Days www.opendays.com The Inspiring Futures Foundation 2016
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