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How important are personal statements today?

By: Lucy Jelf-Johnson

A insight into writing your personal statement from Jack Henderson, HNC Creative Media Production at City College Plymouth.

Giving yourself an identity is key to being successful in applying for higher education. You can do this easily by writing a unique and eye catching personal statement.

Applicants often see them as a frightening concept. But if you plan ahead and structure your personal statement correctly, this needn’t be the case.

This is the chance for you to sell yourself to your dream university or college, so it’s important that you know exactly what to say within it, especially if you are applying for a competitive course.

“It’s about demonstrating that the student knows what course they are applying for,” says Lynette Soames, a careers advisor at City College Plymouth.

“Many people will apply to be a social worker for instance, not having the foggiest idea what a social worker does. We can’t get across to students enough that they need to demonstrate that they understand what they’re applying for, and why”.

As well as displaying how much you understand the course that you’ve applied for, there are other ways to show that you have gone that extra mile to your chosen institutions.

Mentioning any extracurricular activities you have taken part in for example, is a great way of doing this. This also shows how skills gained in the process might be beneficial on the course. Even UCAS have had their say on the matter, declaring extracurricular activities as “great ways to prepare for higher education”.

There are many extracurricular activities you can take part in where I study at City College Plymouth, including a number of student representative and ambassador vacancies that you can apply for.

By stepping up to the mark and volunteering in these type of roles, it will prove that you are a confident and independent individual, qualities which are recognised by admissions tutors.

You could take part in some of the many physical activities that your sixth form or college organises, such as football and rounders for example, or you could even work towards the coveted Duke of Edinburgh Award.

To gain a DOE award, you will need to hone a range of skills, take part in numerous projects and participate in physical fitness amongst other activities. A lot of hard work and dedication will be required, but as this is a nationally recognised qualification which is seen as highly valuable by all universities and colleges, it’s definitely worth a look at the least.

Being able to prove that you’re academically successful is one thing; having developed personal skills and being able to showcase yourself in a positive light as an individual is another. A balance between both is absolutely vital when crafting your personal statement.

Unsure on what course to apply for take a look at our course guide

For more tips and advice on writing your personal statement visit UCAS.