If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that teachers, counsellors, parents, employers and universities all want you to write a personal statement. Sometimes it can feel as though all your efforts are going into that one job, when you’ve got such a lot of other things to focus on.
So, why write a personal statement?
You need to write a personal statement to show a university or employer your academic and practical suitability for the relevant subject or role. It also gives you the chance to highlight your transferable skills, show your level of ambition and outline your value to the institution.
If you’re still unsure about why you should write a personal statement, check out my 9 key reasons below…
9 Reasons to Write an Awesome Personal Statement
I’m going to outline the nine most important reasons why you should write a personal statement (and at no point am I going to say that it’s because you have to!). If you’d like some great free resources for how to start a personal statement then check out my post here, or click here to find out just why personal statements are so important.
1. Evidence Your Suitability in a Subject
First and foremost, a personal statement must clearly show the reader the depth range and quality of your academic suitability. Whilst you shouldn’t just make lists of your qualifications, you should certainly take the opportunity to…
- Outline the specific skills, knowledge and understanding that will underpin your university study and ensure that you engage with the course successfully
- Show the reader how you have applied that knowledge and how it adds to your potential
- Illustrate the relevant academic achievements that will place your application above others
Think about what makes you suitable – this could be relevant experience, skills, or achievements you’ve gained from education, work, or other activities.UCAS
Why write a personal statement? Your ability to outline both the knowledge you’ve gained and your understanding of the value of that knowledge for your future studies goes a long way towards answering that question.
2. Illustrate Your Practical Experience
Admissions teams are keen to see that you’ve lived a subject as well as learned about it, so take every opportunity to write about how you’ve actively used your knowledge. Write about the steps you’ve taken to develop your practical skills, whether that’s in science experiments, field trips or fabricating CAD designs.
Check out point 4 in my post here, giving you a wide range of examples of how to write about these kinds of experiences.
If you can prove that you have the experience and interest to investigate your subject through both theory and practice, you’ll place yourself ahead of many other candidates applying for the same places. Not only that, but in the process of doing so, you’ll have built up an enviable range of technique that will be of increasing value as you complete your degree or move forwards in the workplace.
Do remember that you can’t just engage with practical aspects of your subject (or simply invent them) when you come to write your personal statement. You must make sure you plan them well in advance. Along with supporting your personal statement, it will help with deepening your subject knowledge, which is just as valuable.
3. Outline Your Inspiration for Study
Whether it’s an inspirational family member, the online influence of a leader in their industry or the result of a personal interaction, being able to articulate the impact that others have had on you is an important answer to the question of why write a personal statement?
Readers really do want to know why you want to study their subject; what motivates and drives you. They don’t want to know that you are passionate or interested or dedicated. They want to know what you’ve achieved as a result of having been inspired, and how that drive has helped you develop future goals that will be aided by your completion of the course.
If the reader can see the following three elements in your personal statement, then they’re far more likely to make you an offer…
- A personal connection to the subject in the form of an inspiration or motivational moment or approach
- Evidence that you are already using that inspiration to move your academic work into original areas of study
- Informed and realistic goals that spring from the first two points
Once you’ve got to grips with some of these headings, you might want to check out some powerful personal statement strategies here, or hit the link below for some outstanding personal statement examples.
4. Show Your Wider Academic Abilities
Your personal statement is your opportunity to shine. It’s a chance to prove that you have the skills and drive to work at a higher academic level, and that you are genuinely interested in doing so. There’s no better way of doing that than sharing your wider academic abilities.
Consequently, you should make sure that you refer to wider reading you’ve completed, especially where this is beyond the limitations of the taught curriculum. Don’t just make a list, but use this kind of reference to back up an argument, emphasise an opinion or to contrast with another point of view.
You need to show that you’ve digested and understood the work of others and that you have an informed opinion about it, not just that you’ve read a book…
Other sources that will help you evidence higher level academic skills are things like showing that you’ve accessed MOOCs, that you’re able to successfully navigate online academic libraries and that you’ve got the skills to write in a scholarly style, with the appropriate use of references and bibliographies.
A great way to make sure that your schoolwork (and your personal statement) are written in a suitably academic style is to use a piece of responsive proofreading and editing software like Grammarly.
I often recommend Grammarly to the students I work with, as not only does it clarify the use of spelling, punctuation and grammar far more accurately than a word processing programme, but the suggestions it offers for sentence structure and subject are excellent, and really can help applicants from repeating phrases and vocabulary in a personal statement.
You can click here to find out more, or just hit the banner below.
5. Clarify the Relevance of Transferable Skills
We’ve all got a wide range of transferable skills, even if we haven’t consciously tried to develop them. Universities and employers are interested to learn what kinds of ‘soft skills’ you have, how you’ve developed them and how you can apply them to the course or role you’re interested in.
When we talk about transferable skills, we’re talking about positive personal qualities that could be applied across a range of subjects or situations – things like empathy, organisation, independent study and punctuality.
Your personal statement needs to clarify your top transferable skills and make links with the ways in which they’ll help you, and those around you, in higher education or employment.
For a great article on exactly how to do this, check out my post on the skills you must include in personal statements here, or spend some time learning how to write about yourself in my post here.
6. Prove the Range of Your Ambitions
Universities and employers love to see evidence of ambition in a personal statement.
Well, when an employer sees that an applicant has taken the time to research their company, to understand the opportunities within its structure or services and has a clear vision for how they can contribute to the profitability of the organisation, then they can immediately see how offering the candidate a position works perfectly for both parties.
Similarly, a university admissions tutor that can see an applicant has used their personal statement to outline their vision for their future academic or professional careers will feel far more confident in making an achievable offer. Not only is it obvious how the applicant connects with the course offer, but it’s far more likely they’ll be successful on the course, stay on the course and be a positive advertisement for that institution after graduation.
Why write a personal statement? To ensure the reader connects your goals with their own, and identifies you as a perfect fit for their institution!
If you’re looking for some advice on how to write a perfect personal statement opening paragraph then this is the place to start. Equally, I’ve covered writing ideal final paragraphs for you here. Do check them both out if you want to develop the definitive beginning and end!
7. Let Your Value Shine Through
In a similar way, a great reason to write a personal statement is to show the reader just how valuable you’ll be as a member of their community. How can you show that? Well, have you got the ability to contribute in any of the following ways?
- Peer mentoring
- Student orienteering and organisation
- Volunteering in student support services
- Leading or participating in a club, group or society
- Specialist skills or experiences you could share
- Previous achievements of a significant level in sporting or wellbeing activities
- Interest in charity work
- Supporting members of a community with diversity and inclusion
- Networking and social media management
If you can show that you are already active in making a positive difference to the communities in which you live and work, then it’s reasonable to expect that you’ll be able to make a positive difference to the organisation you’re applying to as well.
Don’t be afraid to outline your value, including (but not limited to) your academic potential.
8. Use the Process for Self-Reflection
A hidden benefit to writing a personal statement is that the process itself is of immense value, and one of the key reasons for writing one in the first place. The journey you take, from researching subjects, courses and locations, picking relevant fields of study and organising work experience options is all central to informing your application and affirming your own choices.
Not only that, but if you take the time to get the right kind of support as you write your personal statement, you’ll open yourself up to feedback, opinion, honest discussion and reaction, and this can be immensely valuable in helping you make the right decisions.
Sometimes that can be about the right course, the level of study or the specialisms you ought to look into, but sometimes in can be more fundamental reflections that make the difference – should you be going into higher education at all? Is an apprenticeship or gap year more suitable? Are you pursuing a career that you are unsuited for?
Planning and writing a personal statement gives you the time and opportunity to ask these questions, to digest the answers, and make the right decisions.
Why write a personal statement? To make sure your final decisions are the right ones!
9. Inspire Your Commitment to Your Studies
If the first 8 examples weren’t valuable enough, then this last reason for writing a personal statement is one that will benefit you for a lifetime.
When you invest in writing a personal statement, with all the heartache and soul-searching it can entail, and you finally know you’re on the right track, it can strongly motivate you to commit to and succeed in your current studies.
Firstly, your application is the next step on your chosen path, and when you know you’ve made some smart decisions and got a great application, you’ll want to back yourself up by achieving the best possible results. Secondly, a great personal statement can lead to some fantastic offers, and it’s likely that gaining a place on the course of your dreams will require high grades. That’s a tremendous motivation for working hard and focussing on your studies.
Not only will hard work and dedication help you achieve the place or role you really want, but that extra effort now will help you achieve results that will last you on your academic and professional journey – and that’s something of which to be incredibly proud.
Even if you’ve followed all the steps on this page, you’ll still want to make sure that your writing is as original as possible. Here are some handy hints on making your writing super-original, or check out the best ways to avoid plagiarism in your personal statement here.
Good luck with your personal statement, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like some 1-1 support. You’ve got this! D
Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet.