Monday, June 13, 2011

Structuring your personal statement

Paragraph 1: Identify the subject you are applying for and explain why it is important to you. Then talk about Media Studies (mention GCSE but talk about A level mainly), focusing on the following:
  • aspects you have particularly enjoyed, with examples(must relate to your degree choice)
  • how the last 4 years has prepared you to study the subject further
  • what you have gained from studying it - analytical/practical/creative/technical skills etc
Paragraph 2: Lead into anything you have done off your own back, outside school, that is relevant to Media Studies and supports your application. This would include workshops you have been on, extra courses you may have taken, your own creative activities, and work experience/job shadowing etc. If you have lots to say here, be selective and choose the best. If you don't have much, see Miss Blackborow for advice.

Paragraph 3: Lead into discussing your other subjects, demonstrating links and comparisons between all 3 and what you have gained from them, focusing particularly on the skills you have learnt and the benefits gained. You should link these in by identifying how they will support the work you will do on your degree, or in your future, if possible. Find positive examples to illustrate your points. Different subjects help you think in different ways/look at things differently - it is important to recognise the skills/ways of thinking you have gained from your range of subjects.

If it works better for you, the order of paragraphs 2 + 3 can be switched round.

Paragraph 4: Make a link into a discussion of your life in school but outside lessons. Try to show how you have contributed positively to school life (over the last couple of years particularly), aa well as what you have gained. Illustrate with examples, and particularly include evidence of you as:
  • a responsible person, someone who can be relied on
  • someone who has a passion for something and is keen to pass that onto others
  • someone who has wider interests outside their area of study
  • someone who is selfless, keen to put something back
  • someone who is prepared to commit and see something through
This section should include relevant trips, groups or clubs, teams, wider responsibilities. You don't need to cover ALL these bullet points in this section. If you have lots of examples, be selective and include a range to illustrate different aspects of you. If you have very little, big up what you have got, and ask Miss Blackborow for advice. One or two things is plenty if you explain them really well - you may be able to cover a substantial number of the bullet points with just one or two activities.

Paragraph 5: Lead into a discussion of you as a rounded person outside school. This should be about what you are interested in, and what you enjoy outside your main area of interest - media -although some of it may be linked (eg enjoying going to the cinema). Use examples to illustrate your points. It should provide a picture of you as someone who:
  • has interests and is interesting
  • someone who relishes life and what it has to offer
  • someone who is prepared to commit and see something through
  • someone who is prepared to contribute to wider society
  • someone who is prepared to take responsibility
If you have something that makes you quite unique to all the other applicants, put it in here - belonging to a political party, being fluent in another language, winning an award, being a volunteer carer for children with special needs - anything that makes you distinctive. If you are not sure, ask Miss Blackborow for advice.

Paragraph 6: Re-iterate the importance of a successful degree application to you. Explain your intended career moves, and the relevance of this degree to you achieving success in this field. Don't worry about being too precise, there is no expectation that you will know exactly what you want to do. If you are clueless about why you want to study for a particular degree, you must not come across like that - see Miss Blackborow for advice about the kinds of things you could say. Try to identify what you can bring to the universities you are applying to, why they should be interested in you. Finish your personal statement with a really positive final sentence about your passions/enthusiasm/hopes and aspirations.
Don't forget - you will be asked about things you have said in your personal statement at interview. It's fine to 'sex things up' a bit, (everybody does) but don't lie. Remember the embarrassing situations the candidates got into on The Apprentice in recent years? It proves that it's really not worth it.

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