Mak­ing a state­ment

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - HIGHER EDUCATION -

tO many stu­dents, writ­ing a per­sonal state­ment can be a daunt­ing prospect. This ar­ti­cle, con­trib­uted by Pete Ryan ex­plores the im­por­tance of a state­ment, how to struc­ture yours and dis­penses some use­ful tips. Ryan runs the Re­gional Of­fice for Univer­sity of East Anglia, based in Sri Har­ta­mas, and has been ad­vis­ing stu­dents for al­most seven years.

The per­sonal state­ment

The per­sonal state­ment forms an im­por­tant part of your UCAS (Uni­ver­si­ties and Col­leges Ad­mis­sions Ser­vice) ap­pli­ca­tion. Ul­ti­mately, it is an op­por­tu­nity to make your case and sell yourself to a univer­sity, so the pri­mary aim is to ef­fec­tively “state” your rea­sons for want­ing to study a par­tic­u­lar pro­gramme.

A view from Ad­mis­sions Of­fi­cers

Ad­mis­sions Of­fi­cers read through hun­dreds of per­sonal state­ments ev­ery year, so it is im­por­tant to write a mem­o­rable state­ment that will both im­press and be re­mem­bered.

A good open­ing line is im­por­tant; how­ever avoid clichéd state­ments. Write it once you have a feel for the style of the rest of the state­ment, so make this the last thing you do and try to make it orig­i­nal.

Just as im­por­tant as the be­gin­ning is the end­ing of a per­sonal state­ment. Re­mem­ber, you are try­ing to im­press the Ad­mis­sions Of­fi­cers.

You may use your fi­nal sen­tence to sum­marise the con­tents of your state­ment or ex­press how study­ing your cho­sen sub­ject will be an im­por­tant step to­wards achiev­ing your fu­ture goals and am­bi­tions.

Aside from this, Ad­mis­sions Of­fi­cers are look­ing for some­one who dis­plays a will­ing­ness to learn and a ba­sic knowl­edge of their sub­ject area, so if pos­si­ble make ref­er­ence to some cur­rent af­fairs sur­round­ing the sub­ject and, if ap­pli­ca­ble, in­clude any fur­ther or ex­tracur­ric­u­lar study that you may con­duct out­side of the class­room.

What you should do

The first step to writ­ing an ex­cel­lent per­sonal state­ment is to brain­storm, make bul­let points of your ac­tiv­i­ties, achieve­ments and goals. You won’t be able to in­clude them all so rank them on rel­e­vance to the sub­ject and im­por­tance to you.

Do not just list them, make sure they are re­cent, rel­e­vant and that you can bring them back to the sub­ject or to how they can be ap­plied to your aca­demic study.

If you are stuck, talk to your tu­tor or a par­ent. Dis­cussing your achieve­ments with those who know you can be a good way to get cre­ativ­ity flow­ing.

Also, be aware of your writ­ing style – ab­bre­vi­a­tions, text speak and slang are to be avoided at all costs. Make sure you read and re-read your fi­nal piece. Again your tu­tor or a fam­ily mem­ber may come in use­ful.

Com­mon mis­takes

Putting it off un­til the last minute is the most com­mon mis­take that leads to sloppy work. Set yourself a pre­lim­i­nary dead­line and stick to it.

An­other com­mon mis­take is heav­ily ref­er­enc­ing other people’s work. Us­ing quotes with­out at­tribut­ing them to their owner will be flagged us­ing the UCAS ad­vanced fraud de­tec­tion soft­ware and be­sides, orig­i­nal­ity is the key.

A less com­mon but equally prob­lem­atic mis­take is nam­ing a UK univer­sity in your per­sonal state­ment. UCAS al­lows you to ap­ply up to five dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties, how­ever, you are only al­lowed to sub­mit the one state­ment.

For ex­am­ple, an Ad­mis­sions Of­fi­cer from Univer­sity of X will not give your ap­pli­ca­tion much con­sid­er­a­tion if you state you have al­ways wanted to study at Univer­sity of Y.

Fur­ther tips

Your per­sonal state­ment is re­stricted to 4,000 char­ac­ters, which is not a lot of space. Be sure to keep it rel­e­vant, clear and con­cise. Re­mem­ber, all per­sonal state­ments are unique. Do not un­der­sell yourself with a dull state­ment but also do not try to over­sell yourself with long elab­o­rate sen­tences and words.

Fi­nally, imag­ine yourself as an Ad­mis­sions Of­fi­cer – you would like to read a nice, clear, flow­ing state­ment that stands out, so be sure to cre­ate a few drafts and en­sure that your per­son­al­ity comes through on paper.

Ryan can be reached at pete.ryan@uea. ac.uk

Meet the Univer­sity of East Anglia at Bri­tish Coun­cil’s Ed­u­ca­tion UK ex­hi­bi­tion on March 8 and 9 in Hall 5, Kuala Lumpur Con­ven­tion Cen­tre. For de­tails, log on to www.ed­u­ca­tionuk.org/malaysia

The per­sonal state­ment forms an im­por­tant part of your UCAS ap­pli­ca­tion.

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