University Tips Blog
Image of a student writing a personal statement

by Becci Denmark

UK/EU Student Recruitment Manager at the University of Surrey

posted on 11 May '20

How to support your students when writing their university personal statements?

Personal statements, a task that strikes fear into the hearts of many students! Whether your students are panicking about not having enough content or are concerned that they have too much - they may turn to you for guidance and support.

So how can you best support your students to write a standout personal statement?

Here are my top four personal statement tips to share with your students:

How to get started with your personal statement

The hardest part is often just starting. Writing the personal statement can seem like a daunting task which is easier to put off than tackling. Advise your students to start with a bullet point list or a mind map and literally just jot down a few words describing their achievements relevant to the course they want to study. Little and often is key. Advise them to set aside 10 minutes a day. Those bullet pointed words will soon turn into statements, sentences and paragraphs.

Be sure of your personal statement choices

It is important that your students are sure of what they want to study at university. If they are planning to apply for a Maths course at one university and an English course at another, this could make their personal statement lack focus.

Students only have 4,000 characters to make an impression and universities want to see a commitment to a subject. If you do have students who are unsure then encourage them to research their options, attend open days and other taster activities offered by universities to help them make an informed subject choice.

Include super circular activities in the personal statement

Encourage your students to engage with subject specific activity outside of the classroom in their own time. Universities will be impressed when they read a student attended a subject specific summer school or taster day. It is also a fantastic way for students to work out whether they want to study a particular subject at university. Most universities offer some form of taster activity and a lot of them are free of charge - so encourage your students to take advantage of the amazing opportunities out there!

Do not rush - plan for personal statements early

The more time students give themselves to work on the personal statement, the better. I think June of Year 12 is a great time to introduce the premise of the personal statement. This then equips your students with the information they need so they can work on the personal statement over the summer.

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