Let’s face it, you are probably one of those who following the prolonged lockdown, you’ve had lots of time to think about everything including your life, experiences and of course, your career. Perhaps the pandemic has given you that fresh sense of purpose to pursue that undergraduate, masters or doctorate degree you have been putting off for a long time. If only, applications were so simple and you do not have to write that personal statement as well, I feel you!

The personal statement happens to be very important in the university recruitment process as it helps provide information about you beyond the structured application forms and is a good chance to “sell yourself” and showcase your talent as well as providing the recruiting institution with intelligence on the type of support you might need if you are offered a place.

To my knowledge, in the UK, US and some other countries, the personal statement can be used as evidence or support document for scholarships. For practice based courses such as Nursing and Midwifery, Allied Health courses, Medicine and Surgery, Education etc., the personal statements are particularly important in the candidate selection process as some of these programmes have caps on the numbers of students they can enrolled on the programme each year.

What makes a good personal statement?

A personal statement is only as good as the thought that goes into it, the originality of the written statement and the quality of the written material.

What do I mean by this?

Before applying for any course at University or HE at any level undergraduate or postgraduate, it is important to give a lot of thought to it. This is because higher education is getting more and more expensive with a continuous rise in tuition fees. In addition, the job market continues to evolve which impacts the types of degrees on offer and also determines the types of programmes created to match future skills. These days, I expect applicants and their families (if young adults) to ask themselves some key questions. These questions should form the basis of the application and eventually enables the personal statement when you decide to write it.

  • What is my career goal?

You might have heard this question as a child “what would you like to be when you grow up.” If you are reading this article, I would like to think you are now “grown up” and aware of your career interest(s).

  • Which University offers the course I am interested in?
  • What level of study suits my level of experience?

This question is particular important for those who have alternative qualifications such as OND/HNDs, or those with a Bachelors considering a Masters and thinking of furthering to a PhD. Did you know that you could undertake a PhD without a Masters? I bet some of you didn’t – Well, I will be waiting for my Palm wine or Chardonnay from you for this gem of an information.

  • How will I fund my studies? Will my family be paying? Will I be taking a loan?
  • Am I ready for the commitment?

University study can be fun but it MUST take something from you for it to fulfil its purpose. It should not be a “walk in the park” or so easy without pushing and testing your limits.

If you have pondered on these questions, and started your application, then you are ready to start your personal statement. The following points are a guide to helping you construct your unique statement.

Firstly, you need a structure. Some applications might require you type it into a online document while others will expect you to send a word or PDF document.

  • You must have a title e.g. Personal Statement for MSc Nursing and Midwifery at Saturn University. You will need to include your name and your application number (if available) so they can link it to your application
  • Your personal statement should have like any other essay, an introduction (who you are), the body of the essay (why you have applied) and the conclusion or summary (why you deserve or should be considered for the place).

Then you need to think specifically about the course or programme you have applied for.  

  • Why you have applied for the course. For example, a statement “ I have applied for the MSc in Magic Recovery Mechanisms at Houdini University because……
  • Why have you chosen to apply to the University e.g. Houdini University is the first in line of Universities that…..or…Having read through the brochures or spoken to the programme team, I found the magic at the University to be the best magic programme/course at the Universities I considered etc.
  • How is this course relevant to my experience or your career interest? Here, you can think about your career interests, goals and how the course aligns to it.
  • What skills do you have and what do you hope to gain from the course?
  • Why is a place on this course important to you?

Finally, I recommend you include what you will bring to the course/programme. This could be some of your own experience in a previous job, degree, volunteering or anything of relevance that would help the selectors get a strong sense of who you are.  This could also be your personality, your zest fro life and your passion for learning etc.

Remember, the statement needs to be original. It serves no use copying the statement of others but you can learn from that of others. In addition, typos, errors, poorly written statements, bad grammar would reduce your chances of getting a place on the course. You might be a high flying candidate but a dose of humility always helps, so do not make yourself appear as a jerk to the selection panel so get a second opinion on your statement before you submit to ensure all errors and mistakes are minimal at best.

Remember, your originality matters. Image source Khamkhor on pixabay

With this, you are good to go and good luck with your applications.

This article was written by Dr Emmanuel Adukwu (Tweets @EmmanuelAdukwu). He is a leading academic at a UK University with significant experience supporting students at undergraduate, masters and doctoral level. He is also the co-creator of the Aspiring Professionals Hub. If you enjoyed reading the article, don’t forget to appreciate the efforts by following our pages on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Thank you.

Oh and do not forget to leave us a comment and share with others who might benefit from this article!

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#UniAdvice – Choosing the right Masters degree for You (link)

#PhDChat – So You Want to do a PhD (link)

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