At this stage in the UCAS application process, the personal statement is perhaps the section where you can still make the greatest impact. You’ve likely got a good idea of your five choices and what your entry requirements are going to look like, but have you properly sold yourself? Your hobbies academic pursuits only say so much about who you are and what you will bring to your preferred institution.
Now is the time to shout openly about what it is that motivates you to take these huge steps in your career, and why, should it come to it, you deserve a spot on the course of your dreams over another applicant. As Fatuma Mahad, UCAS Director of Operations, says, “Make sure your personal statement expresses your desire, excitement and commitment to study your chosen courses.” If you’re having problems at all with structuring your personal statement, UCAS has provided a very useful template to work through.
If you haven’t already, it isn’t too late to visit the universities you’re applying to before you make your first choice. Most institutions offer Campus Tours (or virtual tours if you can’t afford to travel) and Offer Holder Visit Days for prospective students, so you don’t have to wait until the next Open Day rolls around. If your application is strong enough, you’ll have a few options when it comes to make your decision, so give yourself the best chance of picking the university that’s right for you before you make the final call.
You may still be considering several different avenues of study, but if you’re applying for vastly different subjects at vastly different universities, your personal statement, and application as a whole, will likely be less effective. Remember, you only get to write one personal statement and each university admissions tutor reads it ‘blind’, so being vague and non-committal about what it is that you want will actually weaken your overall application.
Once your application is completed, go to painstaking lengths to ensure your work is bulletproof. It’s not just the clichés like spelling errors and grammatical faux-pas, it’s actually about ensuring the tone of your application is an accurate representation of what you’re trying to portray. Read your work aloud, in full flow, to ensure that you come across as you intended. Of course, if you have anyone around you during the holiday season to provide constructive feedback, particularly those who have gone through the UCAS process themselves, make sure you ask them to help!
Remember, although the deadline for your UCAS submission looms on January 15, universities must treat all applications handed in before that deadline equally, so as long as you’ve applied by the deadline you can guarantee that your application will be judged fairly. In addition, with more people going to university than ever before, there’s a good chance that applications for less competitive courses will be still considered equally, even if they’re submitted after the UCAS deadline - although, of course, we don’t recommend missing the deadline unless it is unavoidable!