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How to write a winning personal statement for your University application

When I was writing the personal statement for my university application I had one thought in mind; my son’s school’s Moto – “Be the best you can be”. This phrase resonates with me in every part of my life. I always strive to compete with myself on a daily basis, not necessarily others, I constantly try to be the best that I can be in all that I do so I approached my University personal statement with this ethos in mind.

I wanted to present the very best version of myself possible and this is my strongest advice to anyone writing the same. Honesty is paramount, stick to what you have achieved and demonstrate your skills without exaggeration. As a mature applicant you may not feel that you have the same strengths as school leavers with current qualifications, however you must have strong belief that you have a huge amount to offer the establishment you are applying to, in particular your life knowledge. I’ll go into detail in later blogs about the significance and relevance of mature students, so keep reading. We are a very important Tribe!

There is helpful information on the UCAS website which certainly pointed me in the right direction in terms of content.

One of the reasons I am writing this blog is because there is very little specific information available for people, like me returning to education after a significant break. To a certain extent I had to ‘wing it’, fortunately, my writing was successful and my place was secured upon application without the need for an interview, the success of which I attribute to my personal statement.

As a mature student I felt that the personal statement was the most important element to my University application because my educational qualifications and school achievements were in the distant past and I felt therefore somewhat irrelevant. It was my life knowledge and work experience that really mattered. As such I spent a significant amount of time drafting and rewriting the piece until I was satisfied with it. Always competing with myself.

My tips for anybody writing a personal statement for University follow, these are true for all applicants not just mature students:

  1. Be the best you can be – compete with yourself when writing your personal statement and show the very best parts of you, sell yourself and don’t be afraid to sound too confident but do avoid coming across as arrogant.
  2. Stand out from the crowd – write your statement to be memorable. Anybody can follow a set pattern of discussing qualifications and hobbies but you need to tell a story about your life that will make the reader want to know more about you. Show that you are different from all the other candidates. Don’t be afraid to ‘show off’ this could be your one chance to follow your dream.
  3. Check spelling and grammar – it might sound obvious but for those of us who have been out of education for a while it’s important to check these things. Get somebody you trust to proof read your document when you’re finished and use the usual spelling and grammar checks online to be absolutely sure. Ensure you have the language option set correctly, watch out for USA spelling if you are in the UK for example. Pay close attention to the easy mistakes of to and too, their and there etc.
  4. Research – there are several places online you can search for help with your personal statement – the UCAS link above being one of them. Reading other personal statements can be useful for inspiration but be careful, I read some very strange ones when I was carrying out my own research, although they did provide some entertainment.
  5. Be honest – it goes without saying that you need to be completely truthful when writing your application, there is no point in not being absolutely honest. If you feel you haven’t got enough to ‘sell yourself’ on don’t make it up, concentrate on one or two great achievements and expand from there.
  6. Keep it brief – but not too brief – as with any writing you want to keep the reader’s attention so don’t waffle in your personal statement – keep the writing tight and relevant. A personal statement should be around 500-550 words, but the words you do use are important so be sure that every one of them conveys the message that you are the best candidate for the course you have chosen.
  7. Be passionate – you’ve chosen the course you’re applying for with reason, show the university exactly why you have enthusiasm for the topic and express how dedicated you will be to learning about the subject. Let them know how much of an asset you will be to the course and the university as a whole – make it clear exactly what you have to offer.
  8. Take your time – this is a critical part of your application, don’t rush it. Spend as much time as possible drafting what you want to say, get ideas from those around you who may be able to tell you your attributes better than you know them yourself. Ask them what they think you’re good at and why they think you should be going on to further education. You may be surprised by some of the good ideas your family and friends will suggest.
  9. Be yourself – allow your personality to shine through your writing. Let the reader know what type of person you are and what personal attributes you will bring to the course. If you’re chatty and outgoing – say so, if you’re a thoughtful processor, let them know that too. You have an awful lot to offer and you want them to get to know you through your personal statement.
  10. Most importantly Be Confident – you absolutely must demonstrate confidence in yourself in your personal statement. If you’re not confident that you can achieve the qualification at the end of your course then the university may not believe in you either. Visualise your graduation day – know that you can make the grades, do the work and enjoy the learning process and express this self belief in your personal statement. Confidence really is the key to a successful application.

That’s all from me today, if there’s anything you’d like to add to this blog please do so below or email me at, I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to subscribe too so that you don’t miss any further articles and follow the social media by clicking the relevant buttons.

Thanks for reading

Jen – The Voice of The Mature Student Tribe

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Published by Jen Grant

I am a first year undergraduate student studying Digital Marketing BA (Hons) at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. I live in Aberdeen with my husband, 2 sons and 3 dogs.

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