UCAS Personal Statement for Mature Students
The application process for a university course is handled by a charity called UCAS. If you’re applying for higher education in the UK, you’ll be doing it through their online system. Much of that process is straightforward. Add your personal details, add your course choices, simple stuff. Then you hit the dreaded personal statement. How should a mature student go about writing theirs?
The Basics of a UCAS Personal Statement
Much of the information in this post is going to be relevant to everyone. Mature student or not, you have to write your personal statement as part of your application process. We’ll start by covering some basics and I’ll add some more targetted tips for mature students below.
These are things that worked for me and tips I was offered from friends who work in academia.
Be Concise, Write in Plain English
You only get 4000 characters and 47 lines to express yourself. Being concise is crucial. Don’t spend too long talking about one subject or skimp on the juicy details in favour of writing to much about your hobbies. Don’t ramble, there’s no need to tell the university your life story.
I’d recommend writing everything you want to down in a first draft and then read it through, over and over making cuts and revisions as you go. Eventually, you’ll get to the real meat of each point. Focus on the substance, not the fluff.
Write in easy to follow, short and simple sentences. You’re not writing a Shakespearean tragedy and your words should be easy to follow and to the point.
Follow a Sensible Structure
You should be looking to include a few key things in your personal statement. I’d recommend beginning with a short summary of the course you’re applying for and how you became interested in the subject.
Move on to discuss your educational history and how this relates to the course you want to study. Expand on what piqued your interest. You can also discuss your work experience if you have any. We’ll expand a little further on this for mature student below.
Spend a short while discussing your personal interests or hobbies. Think about what makes you unique and interesting. “Hanging out with friends” and “watching TV” doesn’t say anything about you, because everyone does those things. You might mention any achievements your proud of, such as trophies, awards or charity work too.
Finally, wrap up by reasserting your reasons for choosing this course. Let your passion for the subject shine through. If you’re going to be studying this subject for a good chunk of the next three to five years, you’ll need to love it!
Use that Spell Checker!
Nobody likes poor grammar or spelling. You should be especially careful to avoid errors by using a decent word processor or a tool such as Grammarly to double check your spelling as you go. Using a word processor is also an easy way to keep track of your character count.
Tips for Mature Students
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s discuss a few things I think are important for a mature student like myself. For many of us, especially those like me who are over thirty, we may already have a pretty solid work history and even a family. Let that shine through in your personal statement.
Be honest. If this is going to be your first time in higher education, why now? Have you overcome any challenges to get here? The key word here is you’re writing a PERSONAL statement. Let your reasons for choosing university now be clear.
Likewise, if you’ve studied before and are looking to re-educate, maybe for a career change, talk about what has made you interested in the subject.
You’ll also want to talk more about your work experience. A fresh out of sixth form eighteen-year-old may not have much, but for those of us a little later in life the chances are there’ll be more to talk about. Focus on how skills you’ve developed in employment will make you a better student, or if that work experience was directly relevant to the course you want to study.
Finally, if you’ve got a firm direction in mind for where you’d like your studies to take you, say so. If your dream career relies on getting this degree, be clear about what it is and why. This is another way of showing how passionate you are about the degree or course you’re applying for and that you’ve done prior research.
Feel free to drop me a message in the comments or on social media if you want to discuss any of this. I’m always happy to help. I’ll list a few places here for you to find further reading too!
- How I decided to return to university and why
- The UCAS Personal Statement Tool
- Some tips from my own university – Sheffield Hallam
In summary, keep it personal, be concise and make sure you show your passion!