Thursday, 20 November 2008

Personal Statement

I am helping my first born write a personal statement for his UCAS form at the moment. These didn't exist when I was that young so it's a new experience for me. However, the rules you gradually gather from surfing are strikingly applicable to a lot of writing, fiction and non-fiction.

- start with a snappy hook
- Don't start every sentence with I
- Keep to the subject most (about 75%) of the time
- Don't repeat yourself
- Watch your grammar and spelling like a hawk
- Be memorable and original, why you should be chosen over all the others
- let your passion about your subject show
- write up to 4,000 characters and no more. Make best use of the space
- Don't plaguarise
- Don't write in text language or jargon - write full and complete sentences
- The final section should round off your piece by tying things together.
- don't try to be a smart-arse and start it: "As Descartes says." There's nothing worse than being pretentious.
- Don't waffle

A study by the British university admissions clearing house Ucas has found that 5% of student applications had borrowed material to write their personal statements which accompany their applications, according to the BBC. And we're not just talking lifting a few choice phrases here and there: whole histories are being created. The study found that in these statements, which are supposed to reflect the character and motivations of the applicant:

a.. 370 sentences contained a statement beginning: "a fascination for how the human body works..."
b.. 234 contained a statement relating a dramatic incident involving "burning a hole in pyjamas at age eight"
c.. 175 contained a statement which involved "an elderly or infirm grandfather".


Susan said...

You're lucky: mine didn't want my help with her statement *sniff*. Just as well, I suppose; she wrote a good one all on her own. Still, I get nervous thinking of her facing dream v. rejection (knowing too well how that feels!)

Sad about needing to warn against txt 'language' or plagiarism. The examples were funny.

Good luck to yours and mine, now and come September!

bfs said...

That is such a positive exercise for today's youth! I wish that we boomers had been challenged more in the 'olden days' to express ourselves and to step outside of the comfort box to do so.

Misssy M said...

In my experience as both college and uni lecturer, this is the best advice I can give: Stick to the facts.

Tell us what you've done, what you like to do, what qualities you have and why you want to do what you've elected to do.

in saying that I would HATE to be faced with my own (then) UCCA form from 1986!

Emerging Writer said...

Thanks for your comments. I'll pass along your advice. Misssy, you are as wise as you are stunningly beautiful.