A Personal Statement (abbreviated PS) is a cover letter required in an application to study in the UK. Almost all UK universities recruit students through the centralized UCAS portal. A university applicant must set up a profile there and complete it with the relevant details. A key part of the form is the statement space, in which the prospective student must present his or her competencies and motivations in relation to the desired field of study.
Where to start?
Every university wants a student who has a clear vision of their academic career and is credibly motivated to study a particular area.
If you dream of studying in the UK it is worth studying the materials on your dream course provided by the university at the beginning of high school. This will allow you to plan your own development and the activities you will undertake so that you have something to build on when it comes time to write your application letter. Don’t be afraid to try new things and step outside your comfort zone – these are very valuable skills that you can also show off in your cover letter.
Start thinking about what to write in your PS at least two months in advance. Before you start writing, be sure to read all the information about the course made public by your chosen (but not only!) universities online, academic writers blogs, and/or in the printed catalog. It’s also a good idea to look for podcasts or videos made available by the university, as these can be a great source of knowledge about what to expect from your prospective university (we recommend the Oxford University podcasts). This is also a good time to reflect honestly on your own character, personality, ambitions, achievements, ideas, and potential.
Although you can apply to up to five different courses, you are only allowed to include one cover letter, which must fit all your chosen courses.
Remember that you need to stand out from the sea of other applicants, all of whom are motivated, intelligent, and would like to study the same course at the same university. Creating the perfect cover letter takes a lot of time and thought, so give yourself that time and create the first version at least a few weeks before the deadline to add it to your UCAS application.
What form should a Personal Statement take?
The most important thing in writing a cover letter is to plan it out – never start writing if you haven’t planned what you want to write in the following paragraphs of your thesis. If you have carefully read all the information about your chosen course beforehand and juxtaposed the university’s requirements with your activities and interests, you should now have no problem with a plan.
A Personal Statement should have an opening, a body, and a conclusion. Due to the word limit, however, it is not worth devoting too much space to the opening and conclusion. Usually, two sentences each will be completely sufficient. The main part should be divided into paragraphs, each of which contains a new piece of information or thought. Plan for shorter 5-6 paragraphs – they are easier to read and will allow you to include more information. Make each paragraph about a new piece of information, such as a new feature or category of activity.
Paste the Personal Statement text into the appropriate form window. All formatting (font, margins, indentation, etc.) disappears when you paste, so don’t spend time on it.
The Personal Statement should be written in formal language. The issue of style in English could fill not only an entire article but even a book. There is no shortage of such manuals, by the way. If you are particularly interested in this issue, The Elements of Style by White and Strunck is considered a classic of the genre. Of more recent items, Steven Pinker’s Sense of Style, quoted at the beginning of this article, can be recommended.
In a telegraphic nutshell: just make sure your text sounds eloquent but natural. Use a dictionary with definitions (to make sure of the meaning of words) and a dictionary of close words (thesaurus). Try for originality too. One article produced by UCAS makes you aware of how often certain sentences are overused in PS, and the impact this has on candidates’ applications.
How do you get started writing a Personal Statement? 5 tips to get started
For anyone facing the challenge of writing a cover letter, here’s a bit of practical advice, useful before you start writing:
- Before you start writing your cover letter, write down on a piece of paper all your achievements, activities in organizations, important life events, and extracurricular activities.
- Think about what kind of person you are and what motivates you to study a particular course. For example, an application letter for art studies might include a description of a drawing workshop you took part in.
- It is good if the activities you describe are in some way related to your major; it is also important that they show your personal involvement, and that you are a curious person.
- Activities worth writing about are internships, volunteering, artistic and sporting activities, and competitions, but be careful with the latter. In Poland, Olympiads are very prestigious competitions, but foreign universities don’t know this and they won’t impress the Admissions Office.
- When writing the first version of your Personal Statement, don’t look at the number of words, just write everything that is important. Only later do you read your text and think about what is worth adding and what is not needed – so that you can fit within the given character limit. Most students have the problem of insufficient space: less important elements should then be omitted and extensive descriptions shortened.
- Why should I use specialists to help me write my Personal Statement?
- Due to the lack of any preparation at school, it is difficult for Polish candidates to write a cover letter for university – the template is only a residual guideline, which is sometimes insufficient to produce a good text.
The support of professional mentors: their guidance, correction of errors, and supervision of the writing process help students succeed in the recruitment process. This is especially important when applying to top universities, where competition between candidates is really high.
Cooperation with BidForWriting is a guarantee that your cover letter for study abroad:
- will be free of errors: linguistic, grammatical, punctuation, or stylistic;
- will highlight all your strengths and talents in a way that will strike a chord with the admissions committee;
- will stand out from other applicants;
- will meet all the technical and content requirements of the chosen foreign university;
- will be the ticket to studying at your dream university!
- Lagunita’s experienced team provides valuable advice and assistance throughout the recruitment process.