New year, new plans?
Happy New Year – I hope that everyone had a relaxing time over the holiday season. Now, of course, reality beckons and we’re all back at college, University or work and the deadlines are looming. Or, perhaps you’ve made some life-changing New Year’s Resolutions and decided to pursue a new academic course or change your job. In many of these instances you’ll need to complete an online application form. This is something that clients are experiencing quite often nowadays, and one of the major hurdles seems to be the limitation on word count – or, more often than not, character count. I do love the challenge of editing to reduce character count (I really must get out more…).
If you’re planning to apply for a first degree University course starting autumn 2017 then the UCAS application deadline is only 12 days away – yes, 18:00 hrs on Sunday 15 January. There is lots of advice on the UCAS website about completing the online application and writing your personal statement. I’ve proofread and copy-edited lots of personal statements and I’ve drawn up a few tips based on this experience. Note that I said ‘proofread and copy-edited’ – not written. Whilst copy-writing help is available in the websphere, I think it’s important to write your own personal statement. There’s no harm in getting someone to proofread it for you, to check you haven’t mixed up ‘form’ and ‘from’ or some other sticky-finger slip-up, but the statement really needs to express your personality.
Tips for success
Curtain up: Try to open with a confident, eye-catching statement about yourself and your interest in the course.
Plan a structure: potted history, ambitions, skills, experience, why you want to do this course. Don’t repeat information given earlier in the statement and make the flow of timescale and information logical
Time management: it will take you longer than you think, if haven’t already written it, start NOW
Writing style: be yourself, but use a formal style and no slang, informal language or text-speak
Word count: remember 4000 characters = 47 lines, the length of words is important so this is a time when you may need to use shorter rather than longer words. More tips here
Review and revise: you don’t have to use the first thing you write down, make several draft statements, edit them, change a word here or there, move the paragraphs around until you are happy with the final result
Writers’ block: if you’re stuck getting started just write something down, anything, brainstorm, write out random thoughts about your future or why you want to study the subject, you can shuffle the thoughts into order later. More tips here
Get it checked: make sure someone else reads it for you – your tutor, parents, or a professional proofreader (it’s not as expensive as you may think, and is an investment in your future)
These tips apply to any personal statement, whether it be for an UCAS application, a Master’s degree, or a job application. Be honest, but be confident, and don’t be afraid to ‘blow your own trumpet’. Good luck!