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1 your Personal Statement Career Development Centre Work Experience Skills what to include ACHIEVEMENTS PERSONAL STATEMENT REVIEW Interests How to write it Postgraduate Study Applications 1

2 2 your Personal Statement

3 What s in this guide? Introduction... pg1 Preparation... pg1 What to Include... pg2 Brainstorm Worksheet... pg3 How to Write a Personal Statement... pg5 Personal Statements for Specific Disciplines... pg5 3

4 Introduction Many postgraduate courses require a personal statement as part of the application. The personal statement is an important part of the application process and allows course directors to compare applicants to determine their suitability for the course they are applying for. It is important that your personal statement is well thought out and is as impressive as possible. This booklet gives some ideas on how to prepare for and approach writing a personal statement for course applications. Preparation When preparing your personal statement ensure that you know the correct deadline as colleges have different application timelines. Check relevant websites and contact course directors directly to see what skills and prior qualifications they are looking for as this will help you write a targeted personal statement. Make a list of everything you would like to include using the personal statement brainstorming worksheet on page 3. Make sure you are aware of any length restrictions as institutions and application processes have different instructions, for example, most NUI Galway postgraduate programmes require a personal statement of roughly 500 words which is the equivalent of one typed page. If you are applying for a course through the UCAS system you are allowed 47 lines or roughly 600 words for your personal statement. While parts of your personal statement may be the same for different applications you need to follow the specific guidelines and instructions for each application process. Ensure you give yourself enough time to get some feedback on your statement. Career Development Advisers are available in the Career Development Centre for one to one appointments to give advice on your career options which includes giving advice and feedback on your application form, CV and personal statements. Appointments may be booked online during term by visiting and logging on to Careers Connect. Review appointments with Careers Connect book out well in advance. It is a good idea therefore to draft your personal statement and book your review appointment well in advance of the deadline. 1

5 What to Include The course director, reviewing your personal statement for further study, will want to know why you are applying for this course. It is important therefore to outline the following: what interests you about the course and the subject? your clear understanding of the course and what motivates you to complete it. your background knowledge of the subject and how your previous study is related to the course being applied for. What skills have you developed that you can transfer to this new area of study? This is particularly important if your current or previous study is not related to the course being applied for. any specific areas of the course that you are particularly interested in and how you developed this interest? the relevance of any previous work experience (voluntary or paid) to the course being applied for. your skills, interests and abilities and how these make you a suitable candidate. what you intend to do upon successful completion of the course. Possible Section Outline Write the personal statement in essay format and group into sections that ensures a coherent flow with no repetition. The information below outlines a sample outline that could be followed when writing your statement. Section 1 Intro -Why you have chosen this course/profession/university. Section 2 Your academic qualifications, relevant subjects/modules/projects studied. Section 3 Personal qualities and achievements that make you suitable (including evidence of how you have developed them). Section 4 Any work experience you have completed, outlining what you learnt from the experience and the relevance to the course. Section 5 Summary sum up your overall suitability for the course and show clearly that you know what you want to get out of the course and where you hope the qualification will lead you. 2

6 Personal Statement Brainstorming Worksheet You can use this worksheet to brainstorm what you need to include in your personal statement. Once you have completed this worksheet you can group this information into sections and use it to create a first draft of your personal statement in essay form. Why do you want to apply to this course? What have you studied for your undergraduate degree? What aspects of this did you enjoy? Is there anything distinctive about your academic results or any awards or scholarships that you achieved that should be highlighted? How have you developed an interest in the course you are applying for? (Can include relevant areas or modules from your degree programme, if applicable ) What skills, interests and aptitudes do you have that make you a suitable candidate for the course or related profession? (Back these up with evidence of where you have developed them). 3

7 Have you completed any work experience or placement (paid or voluntary) that is relevant to the course you are applying for? Outline what you have learned and how this has strengthened your knowledge of the area, facilitated the development of relevant skills and confirmed your interest in pursuing this course of study. Have you taken part in any other activities that demonstrate your interest in the area? e.g. Homework Club when applying for teaching courses or FLAC society if you have an interest in applying for public law. List your involvement in extra curricular activities e.g. sporting clubs and societies; is there anything about the work you were doing that is relevant to the course you are applying for? (E.g. if you were on the committee for a society you may have developed some relevant skills through the work that was involved). What are your future career plans after completing the course? Outline what these are and how the course you are applying for will enable you to achieve them. 4

8 How to write your Personal Statement Beware of using standard opening lines such as. it has always been my dream to be a.or my name is instead be creative with your opening lines to make yourself stand out from other candidates. Pay close attention to paragraphs and sentences. You will not be able to include everything you have ever done so you will need to be selective in choosing what is relevant to your application. Your writing is a reflection of your work. You need to make sure that it is as impressive as possible as many courses are highly competitive and it could be the personal statement that separates successful candidates. It is acceptable to use personal pronouns such as I or my in a personal statement however be careful not to overuse them. Use linking words such as additionally, furthermore and however to link sentences with common themes. The personal statement is your opportunity to present yourself confidently to the course director with a positive, upbeat and strong message. However if you do have some personal issue that you feel is necessary to disclose you can discuss this with a member of staff in the Career Development Centre at a review appointment to ensure that you are dealing with the issue in the appropriate way. Save up some ideas for a strong conclusion to reiterate your suitability and motivation to complete the course successfully. Be prepared to write a few drafts before you are happy with the finished product; it takes time to get a personal statement ready for an application so bear this in mind when reviewing course closing dates. Spell check and grammar check. Many applications are completed online and the system may not have a spell check facility. It is always a good idea to spell check in Word and copy it into the application form to ensure you have not missed anything. Always read over your statement after completing a spell check as some words may be correctly spelled but could be used out of context for what you are trying to get across. Personal Statements for Specific Disciplines While the above pointers apply to all personal statements there are some personal statements that have specific requirements, the examples below cover some popular disciplines. 5

9 Teaching Personal Statements Outline why you think you are suited to a career in teaching. Provide evidence that you have the necessary skills and attributes to become a successful teacher, examples include organisation skills, communication skills, patience, passion for your subject, energy and motivation. Show how your degree relates to the primary or secondary curriculum that you are interested in teaching. If you have any experience in teaching or shadowing work in a classroom environment, don t just state it, outline what you have learned and observed and connect yourself in with these points. If you take part in any extra-curricular activities that are relevant or appropriate to teaching be sure to include details of this. Examples include art, drama, dance, sport and music. Medicine and Health Science Personal Statements Outline why you think you are suited to a career in medicine or an applied health profession. Demonstrate an understanding of the profession, if you would like to be a doctor, an occupational therapist or a speech and language therapist the course director will need to see that you have a clear understanding of the area and the role. Highlight the subjects that you have studied as part of your degree that are relevant to the course you are applying for e.g. your final year project, majoring in anatomy or physiology. While academic achievement is important you also need to demonstrate that you have the personality for working in healthcare so evidence of attributes such as empathy, patience and interpersonal skills will be very important. The process will be very competitive and most applications look for applicants to have completed some work experience in the area to show their motivation and confirm their interest in a career in healthcare. When talking about your work experience outline what you learned rather than simply listing what you witnessed. 6

10 Research Personal Statements Many research courses ask for a personal statement as part of the application process and some also ask for a research proposal, be careful not to confuse these two documents. The personal statement will require information on why you are interested in researching the area and what skills and attributes you possess that make you suitable for researching in the particular area while a research proposal will look for all the technical subject specific details that you will cover as part of your thesis. The Career Development Centre can review your personal statement for you and provide advice and guidance on your personal statement but will always recommend that you get your research proposal reviewed by an academic expert in the particular field. Summary Your personal statement needs to strongly support your application for postgraduate study. It is often what separates successful from unsuccessful candidates so it is worth giving it time and consideration before submitting your application. To have your statement reviewed before you submit your postgraduate study application contact the Career Development Centre for an appointment well in advance of college deadline dates. 7

11 8

12 CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTRE Open weekdays Mon - Thurs: 9.00am pm Friday: 11.00am pm Book Your Appointment Now through Careers Connect! Career Development Centre, Arts Science Building, National University of Ireland, Galway Tel: Web: Join us on Facebook facebook.com/careers.nuigalway Follow us on twitter twitter.com/#!/nuigcareers CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (Above ISS)

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