Applying to university in the UK: what to include in your personal statement

Have you been thinking about flying the nest and taking an exciting journey overseas to study in the UK? There are a few things you should know about how the application process differs from that of the US.

The UK is home to some of the most iconic universities in the world including Oxford and Cambridge which, if you are a Harry Potter fan, will start to feel like home in no time. Before you can make this move, however, it’s important that you understand the ins and outs of the personal statement – a key part of your application.

When you write a college application essay for universities in the US, the main goal is to showcase your personality, how you view the world and why you would be a good fit for the university overall. When applying to study in the UK, however, you will have to tailor your entire application to explain why you are applying to a particular course or a subject of your choice.

Your personal statement is an opportunity to show off your skills and experiences to the people that will be checking your application.

Why is the personal statement important? 

A personal statement is an essay you write that explains why you are a suitable candidate to study your chosen subject. This written piece of work needs to be engaging, interesting to read, and showcase your best qualities and strengths.

You want to be able to introduce the key attributes that will persuade someone else at the end of the line that you are not only a high achiever but that you have the drive, skills, and determination to pursue your chosen line of study.  

What to include in your personal statement

Having a clear plan will make all the difference in the quality of your final piece. Start by doing some research and thinking about what skills, ambitions and further knowledge you would like to showcase. It is also crucial that you thoroughly read through the course description and identify what exactly universities are looking for, as well as whether the course is right for you.

Much like an employer reading over a CV, you only get one shot at an application, so make sure you do not miss any of those great qualities you have.  

So that the university can get a better understanding of your long-term goals, it is also important to explain why you are applying for your chosen course. What is it that interests you about the field? Is there a dream job you would like to pursue off the back of your education? You may even have a particular person or event in mind that inspired you to walk this path.

To help underline your goals, it will help to delve into your future ambitions. Explain what it is you plan to do once you have finished your course and how your chosen university will help you to get there.  

Amidst all the skills and ambitions, real-life examples and relevant experience will help to add credibility to your application. This does not always need to be work experience or volunteering. Include hobbies or interests that align with your chosen subject.

Have you been spending your free time developing your skills with open source software? Now applying to a Computer Science course? That’s a perfect example to include in your personal statement! Societies, clubs or being in a band can also add that little bit of spice needed to make you stand out from the crowd. 

You should now have a better understanding of what core elements make up a good personal statement. All that is needed now, is for you to do the research, plan and get writing. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to write a personal statement, as, after all, it is about you.  

Above all else, take your time choosing your course and which university to study at. Best of luck and have fun writing!