Tag Archives: section 10

DON’T START YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT WITH A CLICHÉ

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to be a chartered accountant/engineer/medieval historian (insert degree of your choice here)…”

“I have always been fascinated by particle physics…”

“I remember being a small child and overhearing my parents discussing the balance sheet of our family business, it was at this moment that knew I wanted to be an accountant.” 

I’ve read so many variations on this theme in the past. It makes me cringe more and more every time. I take two issues with this approach:

1. There is no way it could possibly be true. No one wanted to be a chemical engineer or a pharmacist or architect or whatever when they were five years old. When children are five years old they want to be a fireman or an astronaut or a ballerina or, as one student said to me this week, a butterfly (good luck with that one!)

2. Even if it is true, just because you have wanted to do something for a long time, I doesn’t mean you’re going to be any good at it or that it is more likely to happen. For example, ever since I was a little boy, I have always wanted to play centre forward for England at the Word Cup. I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little boy, in quieter moments as a grown man, I still do dream about it and given this year’s World Cup performance, I rather think I may as well have been playing. However my dreams are unlikely to make this more likely to happen. 

Instead, when opening your personal statement, focus on not why you want to study a subject but firstly, what interests you about it and then, the take home point if the day, write about why you believe you are able to study it. There’s a big difference be wanting to do something and actually being able to do it and it is this difference that a university admissions tutor is looking for you to demonstrate. 

Here is a useful link to the UCAS website:

http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/undergraduate/filling-your-application/your-personal-statement?gclid=Cj0KEQjw4uSgBRDZveXz9M-E1aoBEiQA2RMP6tc2jF4RF_Dv5rpe5EOehVSovmMtEHK4odRLk1o9phMaAiVf8P8HAQ