English Language Personal Statement Tips For College

English Language Personal Statement 1

I knew from an early age that I wanted to study English: from winning the Writer's Cup at the age of ten to achieving consistently high grades throughout my education. I am fascinated by the fact that the English Language and the work produced from it has no boundaries: creative writing is limited only by one's imagination, and the English language itself is ever changing. Language is something that ultimately brings everyone together; yet also provides the biggest divide. Pursuing my studies of English into A Level has made it impossible for me to read a piece of text without analysing it; picking out features and themes from within it. A topic that I am particularly interested in is creative writing; an aspect of English Language that I was able to develop in my coursework.

I gained work experience at Waterstones Booksellers. My communication skills improved, and I was complimented upon my good manners and helpfulness. I was given the responsibility of writing reviews to be displayed around the store. Independently, I enjoy learning from books such as David Crystal's "How Language Works". I felt that this covered all aspects of English Language, including Linguistics. It has helped to broaden my knowledge of the subject. Reading, however, is not just limited to college study, but is something which I also enjoy doing in my spare time: from classics such as Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" to modern novels also. A particular favourite is "This Lullaby" by Sarah Dessen, which explores relationships and the conveying of such matters through song. The theme of language surpassing the lives of humans is emotionally expressed. Through college, I attended a lecture on the poet Phillip Larkin; it was presented by the admired author Martin Amis, and gave a detailed biography of Larkin's life and works. I saw Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll" to add background knowledge to my AS study of his play "Arcadia". I found both extremely entertaining, and was absorbed by the enviable wit and intellect. I was chosen to represent my class at college in an English Language focus group. I feel that this gives me a sense of responsibility, reliability, and reinforces my aptitude at being able to work independently.

I chose to do five AS levels and continue with four A Levels as I feel that I am hard-working enough to cope with this level of work. Studying English Language will help me directly with my future studies, and I feel that my love for the subject has grown even in the past year with the AS course. Creative writing is appealing to me as I feel that anything can be explored: when writing, you can become someone else completely; you can live another life through your stories. English Literature has enabled me to explore texts through history; for example, studying "Jane Eyre" has shown the change in the English Language throughout history. Theology and Philosophy has improved my analytical skills, which will help me during my years at University, but also beyond. Business Studies enables me to capture a glimpse of the real world, and allows me access to theories that can be put into practise; for example, those needed and used when doing my work experience at Waterstones Booksellers Ltd were similar to those that I learn about in the classroom.

In my spare time, I enjoy sewing and clothes-making. I love the feeling having finished a garment, especially if making it has been a challenge or has had set backs. This activity has improved the creativity of my work and my determination to succeed.

Higher education is the perfect opportunity for me to continue my studies at more in-depth and intellectual level. I believe that through the course of my school and college life I have acquired many positive skills, which will be beneficial to me in later life. Studying English Language at University level will only enhance these skills, enhance my interest, and therefore prepare me well for the future.

Universities Applied to:

  • Kings College London - BBB - conditional offer. Firm
  • York - ABB - conditional offer
  • Sheffield - ABB (A in English) - conditional offer Insurance
  • Lancaster - AAB - conditional offer
  • Leeds - Withdrew application.

Comments

General Comments:

The statement provides a good starting point for the applicant to amend, rather than starting over. The key points are present, however the structure could do with some changes. The grammar has some basic errors which should be corrected, especially as the application is for English Language - one of the modules will definitely surround the use of grammar. The applicant should try and avoid simply listing texts that they have read and instead elaborate on some of the key features of the text - the applicant mentions the changes in language through history, thus this statement could benefit greatly from the mention of changes in morphology or syntactical structure, for example, between modern English and Old English. The applicant should avoid the use of negative comments, such as dropping an AS level, instead focus on the positives, such as studying 4 A2 levels.

Comments on the statement:

I knew from an early age that I wanted to study English; from winning the Writer's Cup at the age of ten to achieving consistently high grades throughout my education. This first sentence is very cliché; the admissions team will be more interested in what the applicant is currently academically interested in, rather than what they achieved at the age of 10. I am fascinated by the fact that the English language No need to capitalise "language" here as it does not refer to the subjectand the work produced from it has no boundaries; creative writing is limited only by one's imagination, and the English language itself is ever changing. This is a much more interesting sentence to open with and will attract more positive attention than the initial sentence, this sentence also transitions nicely in to the rest of the opening paragraph. Language is something that ultimately brings everyone together, yet also provides the biggest divide. The applicant should elaborate on this point, at the moment it seems as though it was something the applicant has overheard and thought of as a nice thing to add, it needs a little more 'flesh' - how does it bring everyone together and how can it divide? However, the applicant should avoid writing too much, an additional sentence or two would be fine here, no need to double the length of the paragraph.  My studies of English  at A level has made it impossible for me to read a piece of text without analysing it or picking out features and themes from within it. A topic that I am particularly interested in is creative writing; an aspect of English language that I was able to develop in my coursework. How was the applicant able to develop it? Any particular writing techniques used? The applicant should consider whether this sentence is more appropriate later on in the statement, rather than in the introductory paragraph; perhaps prior to the comment about language bringing everyone together.

I gained Past tense, meaning the applicant quit? Was the amount of work too much? The applicant should consider the use of a more positive word structure, for example During my part time work at... or By partaking in... work experience at Waterstones Booksellers,  Though communication is a valuable asset to possess, admissions staff would hope that applicants possessed the first two before the age of work experience, helpfulness, though a nice characteristic to have, is irrelevant to the application. I was given the responsibility of writing reviews to be displayed around the store. Can the applicant elaborate on this? Were they merely posters for example? Or did the applicant use linguistic techniques to write the reviews? The applicant should mention any techniques used, such as double entendre, etc. The applicant should note that language techniques will strengthen the statement, but should avoid mentioning techniques just for the sake of it. Independently, I enjoy learning from books such as David Crystal's "How Language Works". I felt that this covered all aspects of English language, including linguistics. It has helped to broaden my knowledge of the subject.The applicant has essentially highlighted the key selling points of the book, they should consider briefly mentioning some of the aspects of the book they enjoyed, rather than simply listing it. Reading, however, is not just limited to college study, but is something which I also enjoy doing in my spare time: from classics such as Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" to modern novels also. Both Shakespeare and Jane Austen are set texts throughout academia, most applicants would have also read both of these books during A levels, if not during earlier study. "modern novels also" is the weakest point of this sentence, though it is linked to the following sentence the applicant should consider revising, or remove the full stop, for example, "to modern novels, such as "The Lullaby" by... A particular favourite is "This Lullaby" by Sarah Dessen, which explores relationships and the conveying of such matters through song, a particular theme which stood out to me was that of Though using a new sentence for comments is sometimes appropriate, in this instance the applicant should keep points surrounding the same text within the same sentence, separate using the appropriate punctuation. language surpassing the lives of humans  and how it wasemotionally expressed. While studying at college, I attended a lecture on the poet Phillip Larkin; it was presented by the admired author Martin Amis, and gave a detailed biography of Larkin's life and works. I saw Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll" to add background knowledge to my AS study of his play "Arcadia". I found both extremely entertaining, and was absorbed by the enviable wit and intellect. The applicant should expand further on this, both "wit" and "intellect" can be found in any basic review and thus, the applicant should provide greater detail - what in particular did they enjoy? This also provides evidence that the applicant actually did see the plays, rather than merely listing them. I was chosen to represent my class at college in an English Language focus group; I feel that this gives me a sense of responsibility, reliability, and reinforces my aptitude at being able to work independently. Again, elaborate, how did it give the applicant a sense of responsibility, reliability, etc.?

The applicant should consider removing this first sentence - admissions staff can see how many AS and A levels an applicant has taken. Studying English Language will help me directly with my future studies,Is the applicant talking about the current A level they are studying, or the degree they have applied to study? If the latter then mentioning future studies would not provoke a positive reaction as it essentially highlights that the applicant doesn't believe that the degree alone would be good enough. If the former then the applicant should consider mentioning things already studied in English Language - phonetics, history, semantics, etc. This point needs clarifying.  This sentence is far too cliché, there is not a single applicant that won't mention how their "love for the course" has increased. Creative writing is appealing to me as I feel that anything can be explored: when writing, you can become someone else completely; you can live another life through your stories. A good sentence but seems a little out of place, the applicant should consider moving to the end of the first paragraph. English Literature has enabled me to explore texts through history; for example, studying "Jane Eyre" has shown the change in the English language throughout history. Elaborate? Theology and Philosophy has improved my analytical skills, which will help me during my years at University, but also beyond. Again, elaborate on these points. What in particular will you take from your studies of philosophy? Business Studies enables me to capture a glimpse of the real world, and allows me access to theories that can be put into practise; for example, those needed and used when doing my work experience at Waterstones Booksellers Ltd were similar to those that I learn about in the classroom. This business studies sentence is a bit "wishy-washy", it needs more back bone, as it currently stands it lacks any real value. The applicant should consider removing it in order to discuss English more.

In my spare time, I enjoy sewing and clothes-making. I love the feeling having finished a garment, especially if making it has been a challenge or has had set backs. This activity has improved the creativity of my work and my determination to succeed. This point feels as though it is an after thought, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the statement and should be removed. The determination to succeed is positive, however, the clothes-making is irrelevant to the course application, thus the points cancel each other out, as such.

Higher education is the perfect opportunity for me to continue my studies at more in-depth and intellectual level. I believe that through the course of my school and college life I have acquired many positive skills, which will be beneficial to me in later life. Studying English Language at university level will only enhance these skills, enhance my interest, and therefore prepare me well for the future.The applicant provides a strong conclusion, it definitely ends the statement in a positive manner and thus will reflect positively on the applicant.


Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018

Kathryn Abell of Edukonexion shares some tips ahead of her talk at the British Education Fair in Madrid taking place on 19-20 October 2015.

When applying to a UK university, the discovery that school grades alone are not enough to gain entry onto the programme of your choice can come as an unwelcome surprise. This is especially true for international students, many of whom see the words 'personal statement' for the first time when starting their university application.

But far from being a barrier, the personal statement is, in fact, one of the stepping stones to achieving your goal of studying at a UK university.

A personal statement can help you stand out

If you have selected your study programme well – that is to say, you have chosen something that you are truly excited about that matches your academic profile – then the personal statement is simply a way to communicate to admissions tutors why you are interested in the programme and what you can bring to it. And given the fact that many universities receive multiple applications for each available place, and that most do not offer an interview, your written statement is often the only way you can express your personality and say 'choose me!'.

The 'personal' in 'personal statement' suggests that you should be allowed to express yourself however you want, right? Well, to a certain extent that is true: admissions tutors want to get a picture of you, not your parents, your teachers or your best friend, so it has to be your work. However, the purpose of the statement is to persuade academic staff that they should offer you one of their highly sought-after university places; although there is no strict template for this, there are specific things you should include and certain things you should most certainly leave out.

The importance of the opening paragraph

The online Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) undergraduate application form allows a total of 4,000 characters (around 700 words), meaning that you need to craft the statement carefully. The most important part is unquestionably the opening paragraph, as it acts as an invitation to continue reading. If you are not able to catch the attention of the admissions tutor, who has hundreds of statements to assess, then it is highly unlikely they will read through to the end.

The best advice here is to avoid much-used opening lines and clichés such as 'I have wanted to be an engineer since I was a child'. This kind of thing is not the invitation readers are looking for. Instead, try using an anecdote, experience or inspirational moment: 'Although tinkering with engines had always been a childhood hobby, it was the vision of the fastest car on earth, the Bloodhound, at an exhibition in London, that roused my desire to learn everything I could about automotive engineering'. Really? Tell me more!

Of course, your opening paragraph could start in a variety of ways, but the fundamental purpose is to grab the reader’s interest.

Provide evidence of your commitment and skills

Following on from that, you have to provide evidence of your passion and commitment to your chosen programme, and highlight the specific and transferable skills you possess to study it successfully. You can do this by following the ABC rule.

Action: Include examples of what you have done, experienced or even read that have helped you in your choice of degree and boosted your knowledge of the subject area.

Benefit: By doing these things, explain what you learned or gained; in the case of a book or article, put forward an opinion.

Course: The most successful applicants ensure that the information they include is relevant to their course in order to highlight their suitability. Flower-arranging may allow you to realise your creative potential, but will it help you study astrophysics?

It is perfectly acceptable to base this ABC rule on school-based activities, as not all students have opportunities outside the classroom. However, if you can link extra-curricular pursuits to your desired programme of study, you are further highlighting your commitment. As a general rule of thumb, the information you include here should be around 80 per cent academic and 20 per cent non-academic. So, for example, as a member of the school science club – a non-curricular, academic activity – you may have developed the ability to analyse data and tackle problems logically. Taking part in a work placement falls into the same category and could have helped you develop your communication, time-management and computer skills. You get the idea.

Non-academic accomplishments may involve music, sport, travel or clubs and can lead to a variety of competencies such as team-working, leadership, language or presentation skills. A word of warning here: it is vital that you sell yourself, but arrogance or lies will result in your personal statement landing in the 'rejected' pile. Keep it honest and down-to-earth.

Provide a memorable conclusion

Once you have emphasised your keen interest and relevant qualities, you should round off the statement with a conclusion that will be remembered. There is little point putting all your effort to generate interest in the opening paragraph only for your statement to gradually fade away at the end. A good conclusion will create lasting impact and may express how studying your chosen course will allow you to pursue a particular career or achieve any other plans. It can also underline your motivation and determination.

Use a formal tone, stay relevant and be positive

As you have to pack all this information into a relatively short statement, it is essential to avoid the superfluous or, as I like to call it, the 'fluff'. If a sentence sounds pretty but doesn’t give the reader information, remove it. In addition, the tone should be formal and you should not use contractions, slang or jokes; remember, the statement will be read by academics – often leaders in their field.

Referring to books is fine but don’t resort to using famous quotes as they are overused and do not reflect your own ideas. Also, while it's good to avoid repetition, don't overdo it with the thesaurus.

Negativity has no place in a personal statement, so if you need to mention a difficult situation you have overcome, ensure you present it as a learning experience rather than giving the reader an opportunity to notice any shortcomings. Also, bear in mind that your personal statement will probably go to several universities as part of a single application, so specifically naming one university is not going to win you any favours with the others.

Get some help but never copy someone else's work

Checking grammar, spelling and flow is essential and it is perfectly OK to ask someone to do this for you. A fresh pair of eyes and a different perspective always help, and, as long as the third party does not write the content for you, their input could be of vital importance. And while you may get away with not sticking to all of the above advice, there is one thing that you absolutely must not do: copy someone else’s work. Most applications are made through UCAS, which uses sophisticated software to detect plagiarism. If you are found to have copied content from the internet, or a previous statement, your application will be cancelled immediately. Remember, it is a personal statement.

Get your ideas down in a mind-map first

Finally, I will leave you with my top tip. If you understand all the theory behind the personal statement and have an abundance of ideas floating in your head, but are staring blankly at your computer screen, take a pen and paper and make a simple mind map. Jot down all your experiences, activities, skills, attributes and perhaps even include books you have read or even current items that interest you in the news. Then look for how these link to your course and highlight the most significant elements using arrows, colours and even doodles. Capturing thoughts on paper and making logical deductions from an image can give structure to your ideas.

Register for our British Education Fair in Madrid, taking place on 19-20 October 2015, for a chance to talk directly to staff from 40 UK universities, vocational colleges and English language schools.

Get more advice from our Education UK site on your UCAS application and writing your statement.

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