This is a tough time of year for school and college students. The UCAS deadline marks the beginning of university life (If your application is up to scratch, that is…) and there is one task that is dreaded most: writing a Personal Statement. Faced with the task of essentially compiling an award winning advert of oneself, students up and down the country are in a frenzy of desperate googling and countless hours spent on online thesauruses. The struggle really is real.
As the deadline approaches and the pressure mounts staring at a blank screen is provoking more emotions in the nation’s 17/18 year olds than when 1D split...
You have only 4,000 characters to persuade the University of your dreams why you deserve a place there, and we’re here to help make sure you represent yourself in the best way possible. We’ve trawled the internet to find personal statement blunders that are bound to make you feel better about your attempt. Here’s Student Hut’s guide to what NOT to put in your personal statement.
1. POINTLESS LISTS
“I like running, netball and hockey, so want to study sports science”.
Avoid listing things for the sake of it. Make sure each point is relevant and backed up by evidence. Expand on statements in order to explain why you’re an ideal candidate. For example, what did you learn from your work experience and what were your opinions on a book you’ve read?
“I’m not the best with numbers, and failed GCSE Art, but I have a lot of other skills”.
Focus on the positives. There’s no need to make excuses for things you haven’t done. Avoid underselling yourself by confidently writing about your achievements which demonstrate you meet the course requirements.
3. NOT MENTIONING YOUR SKILLS & ACHEIVEMENTS
Highlight your strengths. It’s not enough to just state your interest in a subject: failing to include important skills could be costly. Draw attention to the experiences you have, and how they are suited to the degree course you wish to study.
4. EXAGGERATION & OUTRIGHT LIES
“I said I was "captain of both the football and rugby team" when I was in fact captain of the football team and the seconds rugby team.”
Online forums have been a great source for this next point and from what we’ve seen, A LOT of you have been tempted to make false claims. Even if there is some truth in the point you’re making, play it safe- you don’t want to be caught out. One helpful soul offered this advice “if you’re going to lie don’t make it about D of E”. We would advise sticking to the facts - being really awesome at guitar hero does not mean you play guitar.
5. POOR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR
“luckly this past summer i went to this program in oxford called the oxford tradition that truely changed my life”
Spell check yourself before you wreck yourself. Your ability to proof read as well as the time and effort you’ve put into your application will be questioned. Incorrect spelling and grammar is something that can be easily avoided by getting someone to proof read your personal statement.
6. NOT GETTING FEEDBACK
Get a friend, family member, or teacher to proof read your statement. After re-reading something a couple times it can be difficult to notice mistakes. Constructive feedback is really helpful, so try not to take any criticism too personally…
7. STATING THE OBVIOUS
Avoid using up valuable words with obvious statements. Write succinctly and explain points without repeating yourself. Don’t tell the admissions tutor what they already know – instead, expand on how you’ve acquired certain skills and why they’re important. Ask yourself if your love of the Great British Bake Off is really that relevant to your application.
8.TALKING ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD
“I have always dreamed of coming to LSE since I was young. It has been a dream of mine to study at this institution”.
I don’t know about you but I certainly didn’t know what LSE was as a kid (I’m still not sure actually). Don’t include the phrase “when I was younger…” What motivates you now is more important, and the more recent the better. Admissions tutors are unlikely to be convinced by the aspirations of your 8 year old self.
9.THE WORD PASSION
“My passion for Geography stems from my passion for colouring”.
Passion; a word so overused on personal statements that it actually conveys the opposite. Be careful in your choice of vocabulary. Whilst it’s important to show your interest in studying a particular course, stay away from clichéd language that doesn’t sound sincere.
10.TRYING TO BE FUNNY
“What is Neuroscience? I don’t know – and that’s why I want to study it at University”.
Whilst this in fact is quite funny, it’s a risky strategy. University admissions tutors are unlikely to take you seriously, so reign in the humour and take a more serious approach.
“If I could liken myself to anyone in history it would be Martin Luther King”
Bigging yourself up apprentice candidate style will get you nowhere. It is possible to sell yourself without coming across as arrogant.
Hopefully with these top tips, you’ll have your personal statement finished in no time. If you need more help with your UCAS application check out our article ‘5 Things I wish I’d known for my UCAS Application’ and our 'Pick a Degree' tool.