To write or not to write

Schools (and parents) often feel now is a great time for students to begin writing / drafting their application essays. I’m going to focus on the UK Personal Statement for now to make my point that a student may (or may not) be ready to write.

The UK Personal Statement is a WHY do I want to study this course. There is only one 4000 character statement with 47 lines maximum, 94 characters a line. It is anonymous as to which other course the student is applying to. No, the universities don’t know that you’ve applied to Bath, Bristol, Manchester, with Edinburgh as your top choice, and Plymouth in mind as your insurance. There is no order.

So to parents who are hassling their students who are still researching which courses they want to apply to: write your next job application. A beautiful covering letter detailing your fit of experience to the job. What? You don’t know which job you’re applying for yet? Or you haven’t finished researching your companies? No matter. Give me the draft!

At this point, you will possibly understand why I say the student CAN’T write. Comments are generic and unfocused. Finish researching the courses and noting likes and dislikes, commonalities, skills that you have that fit the course profile. That you can write.

Now if you do have your five choices and have done that research, it’s a different story. You can begin to write. Do NOT worry about formatting. Do NOT worry about structure. How should I start? By writing.

Writing a Personal Statement is an iterative process. While UCAS is where to start, I really like – this gives a framework and exemplars with analysis of what’s good or not so good about the ones that are included.

If you’d like a video, I love this – – Imperial College – this is honest, and brilliant!

Please, please, please do NOT begin with a ‘Since I was little / young’ – I don’t care. I care about current motivation and interest and skill.

Please be concrete. Substitute the word ‘basket-weaving’ or any other subject word you like to express YOUR interest in what you say it is you want to study. Be subject specific, technical, if you will. SHOW me your research and understanding of what it is you say you want to study.

How do I start? Just write. Editing comes later.
Research. Write. Not write, research.