Writing your personal statement video transcript

Gurjit Nijjar: My name is Gurjit Nijjar [and] I'm the Assistant Registrar at the University of Derby. I'm responsible for the Admissions service at the University.

You can apply through UCAS for undergraduate courses which is a national service. Go to ucas.com and you'll be able to find the steps that you need to go through to apply online. You have a deadline of 29th of January [and] the system is open now for applications.

The personal statement is what it says on the tin - it's an opportunity for you to tell us about yourself above and beyond your qualifications.

It's a statement to be made about you, and you're expressing yourself in the application on the bits that we won't necessarily get from simply your qualifications on your school history. So it is a very important component of the application where you are able to sort of tell us more about you and why you're choosing that course or the University and the line of subject that you want to go into.

We look for lots of things and we're looking for a good writing skill as well as the content of the personal statement, so we want to understand why you want to do the course, what is it that interests you about it, your own experiences and skills. You need to get yourself across and what's inspired you to do the course right now.

But it's also about writing skills like I said so structure, spelling, punctuation, all those components are important as part of the written part of the statement.

Your introduction needs to be authentic and if you start authentic it will flow through to the rest of the statement.

Start with why you're choosing that subject tell us genuinely why you want to apply.

Work experience isn't the be all and end all. It's a good thing to have if you've got it, especially related to the University course that you're applying for, but that's not always the case.

If you haven't got [work experience] especially under the pandemic where it's not easy to get that experience, think about other things that you're doing that are relevant to what you're applying for. So you could be reading up information that isn't necessarily work experience, but you are developing your interest in that subject area. Or you're picking up skills that aren't relevant to the subject area but relevant to University life and those things are important to put through.

It could be that you're doing creative work outside. There's lots of social media work going on and people can do things on YouTube and TikTok and it's important to get all of that across - but where it's relevant. Do not put irrelevant information in because you'll build up that personal statement quite quickly and you don't want to waffle. It is a substantial part of the application form as well as qualifications etc.

So the first thing will be qualifications, you've got to meet the academic entry criteria or have the potential to.

The personal statement tells us about your interest in the subject area and why and again your potential to succeed on the course and at the University. So it has equal importance to qualifications, but a personal statement without qualifications is imbalanced and only qualifications is imbalanced so it's about striking balance.

A good personal statement is well structured, it's well thought out, and it's authentic and it delivers on us understanding you as a person in terms of your skills, your experiences and its relevancy to what you've applied for.

A bad one is the opposite of all of that. You need to take lots of notes about your skills and experiences.

It's sometimes very difficult to talk about yourself in a statement, but you're going to have to do that for university applications, job applications and apprenticeships. No matter what route you're taking, that's a requirement.

Think about what you want to do and why you want to do it. If you do that thinking now that will flow through to every part of the admissions process.

Don't be gimmicky, flashy and don't overdo it, and just like I said, be authentic and you know what your authentic means. It's important to stay true to that.

Also don't copy your friends, don't worry about what they're writing and don't copy anyone else's statement.

Research you should do is about the course and the subject area and even the academics. That's the X-Factor you're trying to now put into your statement. If you can lookup your academics and some of the research work they've done - it's all available on Google Scholar - all their workpieces etc. show you really have gone and looked deep about the subject and the course and why you want to do that at University.

Yes, so most interview invitations will give you some sort of idea of the structure of the interview, what you might be asked - to do like a group exercise etc. - so this is about expressing your skills in line with the exercise that's required, you know, the course that you're applying for, so a typical question will be why you apply for the course even though you've covered it in your statement.

There might be some other additional extension questions based on what you've written on your personal statement, so again be authentic in the personal statement and you'll be able to follow that through that interview.

If you're struggling with your personal statement and struggling to start it or even finish it, or you're not sure about it, get in touch with your school or college and your career advisors and even teachers to assist you and advise you on that. Parents, older brothers and sisters, or even other people that you know in your network will be able to help you out.

Writing your personal statement video

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