How to start your personal statement

“4000 character 47 lines”
This blog post isn’t coming from a professional just someone who asked a lot of the right questions so has a lot of answers in terms of what looks good in a personal statement and what universities look for when reading someone’s. So if you want some general tips and advice on writing yours keep reading.
For some 4000 characters and 47 lines may sound quiet daunting, because they don’t believe they will be able to write that amount and for some they may be scared that it’s not enough to tell a university why they should pick them as their future student. I thought I would be fine and wouldn’t go over the 4000 characters. I WAS SO WRONG. Writing my personal statement was probably one of the hardest things I have done. I spent countless hours rewriting mine over and over again. I had three people give me feedback on my personal statement– although sometimes this isn’t advisable because it can end up being really confusing because everyone has a different opinion. some people might think you should put something in while others may think it isn’t needed. I will admit I had a lot of help when it came to my personal statement I wanted to make sure it was perfect. I had help from my careers adviser and also from an adult nurse who went to the University of Manchester so I felt like I did receive a lot of help in perfecting my personal statement. One of the reasons I’m writing this blog post is because I know a lot of people didn’t and don’t get the help that I did one reason being they don’t ask for it. A personal statement is a huge part of getting into university especially if you’re applying to do something such as nursing like I did. Don’t be afraid to ask a professional from the field you wish to apply for. More than likely they will feel honoured.
Now it’s time to get into talking about your personal statement.
The first paragraph is just an introduction. It is where you will write why you are applying for this course. If you can’t answer this question you may not be ready for university just yet. University is a major step so you have to make sure you are fully prepared and certain that it is the correct decision. Have a little sit down with yourself and ask yourself, why do I want to apply to this course? No one else can answer this but you.
This first paragraph should be very short and to the point. it should be something that would catch the attention of the reader. An example of why would relate to someone applying for a course such as nursing. I applied for adult nursing and the Uni I got into they get 5000 applicants each year approximately. 700 meet the entry requirements etc. with their only being approx. 100 to 200 places. So you really want your personal statement to stand out. your introduction really sets the scene in a way so you want to make it good. I changed my first paragraph more times than I can remember. Eg shadowing a nurse helped not only to heighten my drive to become a nurse but also gave me the chance to understand how hard the job is first hand. This is an example of what I used in my opening paragraph I had around two more lines than this.
Within your personal statement you should also talk about the skills, knowledge and experience you got through things such as your college course and how it will help you at this course and university. You could talk about how you’re A Levels have prepared you for exams at university or how your Btec will help you when it comes to assignments and deadlines. You just have to think about linking everything. An example could be, I did a placement for my college course so I could have linked this to my Uni course as I won’t really have to adjust to doing a placement and going to Uni as I have done it already just obviously on a smaller scale.
You can also mention what you have learned from your course by linking a topic/subject/assignment and how what you have learned in this will help you and link it to the course you wish to do. What makes you a suitable candidate? You need to link experiences that will make you ready for this course. Check the entry requirements on the universities website and link your experience to skills and qualities they may mention. You also have to remember when writing this that although this course is going to train and educate you in your chosen course they want to also know why you will make an excellent student , not just how you will be amazing in your chosen career because it matters most to them how you are as a student. Try and use an enthusiastic tone of voice and be concise don’t overcomplicate it but try and write naturally you want everything to flow as much as possible. Use stuff you have done in college try and take part within college if you are still in there because you will regret it once you finish. My example is I took part in a fashion show and showed leadership roles in the planning development and executing of this event, my role was to contact and make external partnerships and lead other members of my peer group. Use everything you have done as it has all shaped you into the person you are today. Also if you have taken part in your student council or any other extracurricular activities mention these as the Uni will love it. If you don’t want to include it in your PS maybe just mention it in your interview (if you have one) because it shows you like to get involved and you will be an asset for them to have at their university. Make them want you.

Next you should try and talk about any work experience you have done or volunteer work (if you haven’t done either I highly recommend trying to fit some in) you can include a job you had too anything which has led to the development in your skills. It was easier for me to write this part of my personal statement because I did tons of volunteer work , I was so scared of not being good enough and not having done enough to get into university. If you have read any of my previous posts you’ll know I have volunteered with girl guiding , Salford royal (I did a placement here in their female surgical ward and volunteered in their dialysis unit) I volunteered at my local sure start centre , baby sensory west Manchester and with childline. Out of all of the places I volunteered I would recommend childline and Salford royal the most because I feel like I learned so much from them. I would also recommend not volunteering as much as I did, I was also working two jobs while doing these and it drained me completely and I felt like I didn’t get as much as I could get out of some of them because I was racing from one place to another to college to another and back it was a dizzy time in my life!
You need to use all the different type of skills you may have learned from your work experience volunteer work etc. and link them to your Uni course and why you think you would be a suitable candidate such as from the variety of different work environments I have been in, my communication skills have developed to an excellent standard as I have had to adapt my communication skills to suit the work environment I was in and then link it- completely sell yourself brag even (that may be hard for some people but try!) If you haven’t ever worked or done anything like what I have mentioned above you could also mention a sport you have been involved in this shows dedication, team work and that you like to get involved which again the university will love.
Then comes your conclusion.
If the person who is reading your personal statement also has to read 800 others you need to leave them with something they will remember. Your conclusion is basically a summary of why you are applying to this university much like your introduction but better. With mine I added some hobbies I like to do at the end just to make sure they knew I was human.

Tips
Make everything short and to the point. Done something interesting? Don’t mention it all, mention enough to get them interested and make them want to know more. Tease them with information.
Personalise it as much as you can
Don’t waffle
Make it interesting
Make show it reads well and flows.
Remember to link everything back to this university course.

Okay so in the below paragraphs I’m going to give some examples of skills/qualities I have gained in the work experiences I have done:
• Leadership role (Salford vice president) – motivational and diplomatic communication skills were fundamental to completing tasks efficiently. I had to communicate with a company in Germany this would help as a nurse it is likely that a number of service users may not speak English, adaptability to overcome any barriers to communication
• Hospital placement , from my work placements and volunteer work at Salford royal NHS I feel I have gained a deep knowledge and understanding of the role of a nurse and what it entails I learned not only the good aspect of nursing but also the hardships a nurse must endure
• Childline – committed to achieving the best outcomes for children, be able to learn from past experiences, speak and listen to children and young people issues such as bullying sexual abuse self-harm. It gave me a better understanding of the issues I may face daily when I become a nurse.
• Student council – working with staff and peers I have needed to be proactive ad use problem solving skills generating ideas to raise money for charity , met student ambassadors – would be interested – fully embrace every aspect of life at university.

Obviously I’m not a professional and these are just my personal tips, I’m sorry if it leaned slightly towards a nursing personal statement but I did apply for nursing guys. Some may find this useful and some might not either way I would love to receive some feedback from whoever is reading this.
Please if anyone would like a post entirely about doing a personal statement for nursing then please email me or drop me a comment – also if anyone would like me to help them with their personal statement I’d be honoured to help them in any way I could.

Ciao belle x

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