Off To Uni: Applying - Personal Statement

This weeks Off To Uni post is all about the applying process to University and mainly tips and tricks to writing your personal statement. As I'm from the UK this will be more aimed at UK students as it's the only process I personally know. Obviously there are different ways of applying most universities use UCAS to receive applications however, some universities are independent and use a different process. I know a few people who applied to these independent universities so I should be able to share a small amount of information on applying to these, but most of this post will be about the process of applying through UCAS.

From about July I think it is you can create a UCAS account on their website to apply to university, you can start filling in the basic information like your name, date of birth, address etc. The main bulk of your university application is the personal statement. I was fortunate enough that I was studying at sixth form at the time of my application therefore my tutor and many teachers helped me with my personal statement to help me get it to the best it could be. The personal statement is arguably the most important aspect of your application so it is important to get an early start. I didn't do this and completely regret it. I would recommend starting the basis of your personal statement during the summer so that when you return to studying in september you can hand it to your tutor to get an opinion. DON'T BE DISHEARTENED. You will make numerous drafts, and even though you think its perfect I can guarantee someone will find some small way to improve it. They are trying to help you. If you can get your personal statement done as soon as possible this a great advantage because it means you can send your application off before the deadline.

The Facts
Obviously with anything there are rules you must abide by when writing your personal statement. It must be of 47 lines or 4000 characters, whichever comes first. It needs to be personal and all about you. It must be passionate and enthusiastic for the subject you wish to study. You CANNOT copy a single line from another persons personal statement. UCAS have a strict policy and they do know if you have plagiarised and that can lead to serious consequences, it will never be worth it! 

Planning Your Personal Statement
Before jumping into writing your personal statement you need to have some ideas of what it needs to include and what you want to put into it. You should include(if applicable):

  • specific aspects of the course that interest you (but try not to make it university specific!)
  • work experience that is relevant to the course you are applying to
  • mentioning books or articles that are again relevant to the subject that have inspired you to learn more and want to study said subject
  • personal experiences that have helped your decision to study the specific subject
  • what you hope to get out of your degree
  • where you hope your degree will take you in the future
  • experiences that show you are a reliable and responsible person
  • any part time work - skills you have learnt from this
  • community and charity work
  • any awards you've gotten (Duke of Edinburgh etc)
  • what you like to do in your free time
  • sport and leisure activities
  • musical instruments you play (how long for? - can show your commitment)

Writing Your Personal Statement
Now onto actually writing it. I remember being in your position this time last year and thinking I have no idea how to structure it or anything. The best thing to do is take it one step at a time. I really struggled with the introduction as it's the bit thats the most important. You need to give the most amount of information in the smallest section to get them hooked and to continue to find out more about you. I left this to the last thing to do and just started writing the main body of my personal statement. I'm no expert at this so don't take everything I say as the be all and end all but if you do want some help there is this amazing website Studential which has information all about writing your personal statement and also has a page full of sample personal statements for loads of different degrees which should also help you if you still have no idea what you should put in it.

Structure of Your Personal Statement
Arguably there is no right or wrong way to structure your personal statement but with only 47 lines/4000 characters to use its important to make sure you include the important information. Personally I would use this structure and then adapt it if you need to.
Paragraph One Introduction to the subject and you, the aspects you are interested in and why
Paragraph Two and Three Work experience and any relevant activities at school
Paragraph Four Interests outside of school - show that you are responsible and reliable
Paragraph Five Your goal of attending university and a memorable closing comment

Tips and Tricks
A final little note from me on the personal statement front and some tips and tricks I've picked up from writing mine.
Write the entire personal statement in word, that way you have a word count and spell check and don't move your personal statement into your UCAS application until you know it is 100% completed.
Do not use any negative words like however, but, on the other hand, you are trying to sell yourself remember!
Try not to repeat using the same words, use synonyms or a thesaurus to use a wider range of vocabulary but without making it sound like would have never written it.
If you are saying you are reliable, responsible or anything like that make sure to back it up with evidence, they don't know you remember!

Anyway thats all from me today, next Off To Uni post will be more about the applying process and will probably be a much shorter post. If you have any questions make sure to leave comments below or feel free to email me at 

Off To Uni : The Research

Today is the first post in my all new university series whereby every Thursday on my blog there will be a post about university such as researching a degree/university, how to apply through UCAS, student loans and as the time gets closer how to get ready to move out and go to university. I am super excited for this series as I know a lot of people who read my blog are younger than myself so hopefully this will help some of you in the future! This ones a long'un so I'd make sure you're sat comfortable with a hot cup of tea!

Today I am going to be talking you through the first step in deciding if you want to go to university, the research. First of all before doing anything else you should kind of know what degree you might want to do at university. I was lucky and knew that I wanted to do Law from about the age of 14 so I just needed to consolidate my decision, whereas I know some people didn't and still don't have a clue as to what they want to do. This is fine and the best way in going about finding a degree to do is if you have a career in mind in which you want to venture into you can then research the means of getting into that career and if you need to have a specific degree to be able to do this. If you don't have any idea what you want to do most people pick a subject which they love doing, such as Art, Maths, Creative Writing, English, Dance, Drama and many universities now offer Joint Honours whereby you can study two subjects at degree level which suits many people as it leaves their options open for the future. To see all of the degrees on offer I would recommend looking at the UCAS website. When deciding your degree make sure it's right for you, nobody else. The amount of people that apply to do a degree because they think it's what they should do or what they're family wants them to do usually drop out as they aren't inspired by the degree and it doesn't interest them. In some ways to have to be really selfish throughout this process and do what is best for you.

Once you know or have an idea what degree you are interested in you can then start properly researching universities.  For me, personally, this was the longest process. I was ordering University Prospectuses as soon as I began year 12 and quickly accumulated at least 30. If you don't know what a university prospectus is it is basically a catalogue of a university's degrees which they offer, usually they have a couple of pages on each degree outlining the course structure, the entry requirements and sometimes quotes from previous students. These are the best way, in my opinion, to get a first feel for the university before going to open days. University Websites can also be a great help. Prospectuses were perfect to read in the evening and just get an understanding of a degree. You can instantly tell by the way the university tries to sell itself to you if it's the right university for you. Hence I quickly reduced my prospectus pile to a manageable amount. This then allows you to move onto the next step.

The next step is then actually going to visit these universities. All universities offer open days for prospective students throughout the year usually between June and July and then September to December. The time students are thinking of applying and starting their UCAS applications. If you can, go to as many of these open days as you can. In the end I went to about 8 across the country. I was very fortunate that my parents were willing to take me here, there and everywhere as they understood how important finding the right University was to me. If you can't get to certain open days most universities now offer an online open day with video tours of the campus and accommodation. But try to visit as many as you can especially the one you think you know you want to go to. Open Days really opened my eyes, as soon as walking onto a campus I knew whether it was right for me or not. I got to talk to students about the course I was interested in, the lecturers, do mock lectures, go to talks further explaining the course structure, view accommodation. One thing I do recommend is asking as many questions as possible and taking a notebook to write things down as it can get quite overwhelming at times. Also, if you know the university isn't right for you make sure you say as my mum in particular was pushing a specific university as it was closer to home and was trying to convince me to consider it when I knew deep down that it wasn't for me. You'll also realise when going to open days if you want to stay close to home or go as far away as possible. I personally wanted to go away from home so I could find me as a person as well as having more independence then if I chose to stay closer to home. In the end my Firm choice is Liverpool (which is quite far from home) and my Insurance choice is Oxford Brookes (which is only about an hour and a half from home). You'll also realise after visiting one or two universities what you look for in a university and then you can create a mental checklist of whether or not a university works for you.

I hope this post has helped some of you in beginning the process of going off to university and has helped. Next weeks Off To Uni post is all about the first steps of applying to university through UCAS including tips and tricks for your personal statement. 

Review : Origins Super Spot Remover

I have struggled with spots throughout the entirety of my early teenage years and due to not having a job or much pocket money I frequently walked aimlessly up the aisles of Boots and brought probably some of the worst products for my blemish prone skin. They destroyed my skin and inevitably made my blemish problem worse. As soon as I got a job at the age of 16 and a few spots had returned I finally was able to purchase probably one of the most hyped up spot treatments across the blogging sphere, the Origins Super Spot Remover. I was quite sceptical as it quite expensive for the amount of product you receive  but I decided it was worth it, this is my skin, something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I was not disappointed. I apply this at night by dabbing a small film of the treatment gel over the blemish and let the product do its magic overnight. I find with particularly stubborn spots this takes a few uses to fully get rid of the spot but I did notice a dramatic improvement on the redness and after the spot had finally gone there was little or none post blemish darkening of the skin.

I have been really impressed with this Origins products and despite it being only a teeny tiny bottle of product a little really does go a long way. If there's one blemish treatment you have in your skincare collection it should be this. It really does work and despite not being cheap for £15 for 10ml from Debenhams it's worth it, definitely a must have or a must try.