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Degree Decisions: applying with confidence, affording the journey. Pt 2

If you missed Part 1 of the blog you can find it here.

Over the summer term 2020, FutureMe worked in collaboration with Push, to support Year 12 students across the North East with a range of interactive webinars to motivate them to explore and build their ‘life cocktail’ over the holidays. The sessions included a Q&A where students could ask their questions about post-18 choices, higher education applications, student finance and career routes. It was promised at the start of the webinar that Moj would do a live forfeit if students stayed for the full hour online. Here’s some highlights of the Q&A session… watch to see if Moj had to do the fully clothed shower dunk challenge! 

Since these sessions Push and FutureMe have put their heads together and written a little more information to address some of the top concerns students mention to them. Below they discuss personal statements.

Push and FutureMe talk… Personal Statements!

Nathan from FutureMe says: “universities and colleges offering higher education qualifications have a holistic approach to applications: they have to read each and every one”. 

A lot of students forget that it’s called a PERSONAL statement…so make it PERSONAL. Most students worry that they’ve not done much in their lives so far, but you’ll be surprised at how many soft skills (the transferable ones that all universities, colleges, and employers love) you have probably developed already. Just watch this lovely example, from Push’s Ben:

Follow our 6 Ws to ace your personal statement…

Why do you want to study this course? The admissions tutors will want to see that you’ve some kind of connection to the course. That could mean an interest in the content, the shape and assessment style of the course, or the employers or industry the course trains you for. Be open and honest about why this subject means something to you. 

Nathan’s North East Tip: Usually the same personal statement is used for all institutions/courses you are applying to but some institutions will allow you to submit a personal statement specifically for them and their course. This can be useful if you’re applying for courses with key differences so ask admissions teams to see if they will allow it. 

What will you bring? This doesn’t just mean your soft skills (things like teamwork, independent learning, initiative, problem solving) or hard skills (perhaps a grade in a specific course you needed to get onto the course). It also means the attitude you’ll bring too. Can you give a few examples of times you’ve shown dedication, passion and the ability to rise above failure?

Nathan’s North East Tip: The institutions in the North East all give similar advice – they want to see an equal split covering three different areas, as this blog covers. Why you want to study the course, what you’ll bring to the course, and who you are as a person. They want applicants who will really engage with all that the life on a higher education course has to offer!

Who are you as a person? Remember, it’s personal…so don’t be afraid to open up and state what truly matters to you in life. If you can link in what you’d like to study within your passions and values, and how that course will help you continue developing those traits, then even better!

Nathan’s North East Tip: Be yourself! It’s the biggest piece of advice we can give you. For some courses, such as teaching and medicine, you have to interview as well, so make sure you don’t say anything on your application that you couldn’t showcase at an interview. For courses that don’t require an interview, which is most, it’s really important to make your personal statement a true reflection of you and all you have to offer.

Find ways to make it relevant (extra-curricular). It helps to have some real experiences and activities that you dedicate time to. Not only does it show great time management, but it also demonstrates how you apply yourself to things, and are developing your interests outside of school.

Nathan’s North East Tip: We have some great opportunities you can access during these times. While so many in-person events aren’t possible, the world is moving online. Engaging with these online talks and seminars is often free, and so easy to fit in the day given you don’t have to travel, instead being able to just stay at home in comfort and gain some wider knowledge and experience!

Talk about your wider experiences. Institutions love to know how you’re keen to engage in all areas of student life, for example, clubs and societies. Not only do these allow you time to relax after studying, but they are also a great way to develop new skills.

Nathan’s North East Tip: Engaging with these wider opportunities while you can is key and shows real dedication. This can be anything – being a part of any club you enjoy is great, but there are also opportunities with our HE institutions you can engage with as well. Most of the North East universities, for example, offer short summer schools that allow you to experience higher education before applying. Engaging with activities like this is great for you and for your personal statement, as it shows you understand what you’re applying for.

Would you want to live/study at the institution you are applying for? Would you feel relaxed, and your needs cared for there?

Nathan’s local tip: This isn’t something to include in your personal statement, but it is something that you should consider before applying to a course/institution. Can you see yourself there? All institutions offer support to students so it can be useful to look at what’s on offer before applying.

Looking for more?

Push is a non-profit social initiative run by comedians, actors and writers. It exists to impartially support students’ choices and employability. Sign up to Push Post (our monthly year 9-13 newsletter), our Youtube channel (full of useful little advice videos) and our Instagram (weekly fun videos).