Personal Statement Samples By Successful University Applicants
Embarking on the journey of higher education often requires more than just academic prowess; it demands the art of articulating one’s unique narrative through a personal statement. In this exploration, we delve into the personal statements of successful applicants. Join us as we unravel the secrets behind compelling personal statements that have opened doors to academic triumphs and life-changing opportunities.
Table of Contents
What are Personal Statements?
A personal statement is a written document in which an individual typically presents their background, experiences, achievements, and aspirations. It is commonly used as part of the application process for educational institutions, job opportunities, or other programmes where a brief autobiographical sketch is required. The purpose of a personal statement is to showcase one’s unique qualities, skills, and motivations, allowing the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the individual beyond what is evident from grades or qualifications alone.
In the context of academic applications, such as applying for universities or scholarships, a personal statement often plays a crucial role in influencing the decision-making process. It provides applicants with the opportunity to stand out and differentiate themselves from others by conveying their passion for the chosen field of study, career goals, and relevant experiences.
Crafting an effective personal statement involves self-reflection, thoughtful expression, and a clear demonstration of how the applicant’s background aligns with the goals of the institution or programme they are applying to. It serves as a tool for applicants to communicate their personality, values, and reasons for pursuing a particular path, aiming to leave a lasting and positive impression on the selection committee or employer.
What should a Personal Statement Include?
A well-crafted personal statement should provide a comprehensive and engaging overview of your background, experiences, and aspirations. Here are key elements to include in a personal statement:
Introduction: Start with a compelling opening that grabs the reader’s attention. Briefly introduce yourself and mention your interest in the field or programme.
Educational Background: Highlight your academic achievements, relevant qualifications, and any academic honours. You can also explain how your academic background has prepared you for the chosen path.
Relevant Experiences: Discuss any work experience, internships, or research projects that are pertinent to the field. Remember to emphasise skills and lessons learned from these experiences.
Skills and Strengths: Identify and showcase your key skills, both academic and interpersonal. Also, provide specific examples that demonstrate your abilities.
Passion and Motivation: Express your genuine passion for the subject or field of study. You can then explain why you are motivated to pursue this path and how it aligns with your long-term goals.
Achievements and Accomplishments: Highlight any notable achievements, awards, or recognition you’ve received. You should also connect these accomplishments to your suitability for the programme or position.
Future Goals: Outline your short-term and long-term goals. To add on to this, you can explain how the opportunity you’re applying for fits into your broader aspirations.
Personal Attributes: Share aspects of your personality that make you a unique and valuable candidate. Don’t forget to discuss how your values align with those of the institution or company.
Conclusion: Summarise your main points and reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Finally, end with a strong closing statement that leaves a lasting impression.
Proofreading: Ensure your personal statement is well-written and free of grammatical errors. If you still need that extra confidence boost, seek feedback from others to gain different perspectives.
Remember to tailor your personal statement for each application, addressing specific requirements or prompts provided by the institution or employer. Be sincere, authentic, and concise in your writing to make a lasting impression on the reader.
Personal Statement Samples
Here are some personal statement samples from successful applicants in various fields.
University of Cambridge - Medicine
My motivation to study medicine is that health is the greatest wealth. To use my passion for science in order to improve others’ health and quality of life would make my life fulfilling and is something I would strive for.
To understand the inner workings of the healthcare system, I embarked on a series of work placements ranging from those with children to elderly patients nearing the end of their life. During my time at various hospitals, the necessary skills for a doctor were brought to light. I was intrigued by the level of integration of the different departments. In a cardiac angiography unit at Stafford Hospital, I was impressed by the synergy of the specialists in performing procedures such as pacemaker insertion. With more elderly patients with a greater number of comorbidities, the need for communication and coordination within multidisciplinary teams and across specialties is even more crucial.
Whilst at Katherine House Hospice, my own rather negative perceptions of palliative care were transformed. Despite realising the fragility of life and the limitations of medicine in extending the duration of life, I was enlightened by the invaluable compassion and empathy of the staff to ensure the patient achieved the best possible quality of life. There was a patient with small cell lung cancer which also impinged onto the oesophagus requiring frequent access to oxygen and PET tubes for nutrition. The dignity with which such patients were cared for at the end of their life inspired me and made me aware of the importance of the social aspects of healthcare. Vital roles of a doctor are to understand the patient’s agenda, respect the patient’s autonomy and provide information in a clear and concise manner. Furthermore reading Tony Hope’s book on medical ethics highlighted to me the many ethical dilemmas of healthcare, particularly euthanasia and end of life decisions.
At Blueberry Bears nursery, I was fascinated by the childhood phases of development particularly when the child starts to learn how to interact and communicate. I became aware that childhood diseases often concern parents disproportionately to their severity and having witnessed a case of febrile seizures, an example of a condition which appears to be much more harmful than it actually is, I was inspired to do further research into this area. Similarly I have enjoyed expanding my knowledge in medicine through attending an alternative medicine lecture and a forensics course to further my understanding in these fields.
During the 2 weeks I was volunteering in the Philippines, I was moved by the gratitude of the children living in extreme poverty following their care provided by doctors. This inspired me to advocate and raise awareness about social inequalities in water and sanitation, and organise a school wide project to raise much needed funds. Having negotiated with suppliers to obtain wristbands to sell at school, this involved leading and organising my whole class to work together and motivating them to spend their free time supporting an important cause. Leading a unit of 130 scouts for a year, delegating tasks and ensuring consensus in a team was a challenge that I enjoyed overcoming. I taught woodcraft and other survival skills which proved to be useful in the annual camp which I organised. For relaxation and a further challenge, I enjoy team sports, but most of all, competitive golf, in which I have a handicap of 12.6.
Medicine is a profession in which critical decisions are constantly made, risks must be calculated and dangers minimised and I know I thrive when under pressure; when given a problem, I analyse and find the best possible solution. Resilience, integrity and empathy gives me the drive to embark on the perennial journey in medicine. Our medical system has been improving radically for the past 60 years and I hope to continue in shaping our society along with other healthcare professionals to push our healthcare forward to greater heights.
Imperial College London - Biomedical Science
Microorganisms, despite their simple morphology, have the outstanding ability to invade and manipulate our bodily systems for their own benefit. Plasmodium, for instance, enters the human body via the bite of a female anopheles mosquito, attacking the red blood cells in the liver. Here it reproduces rapidly and infiltrates other organs within the body. It is the complexity of the mechanisms used by these microorganisms at a cellular level and the huge impact that they have on society that has formed the basis for my interest in biomedical
My desire to study biomedical science was strengthened when working in the electron microscopy laboratory in the University Hospital of Wales, where I gained an insight into the daily work of a researcher and the importance of hard work and dedication in a laboratory setting. Here I observed the complete process of culturing, fixing and coating strains of Pseudomonas in preparation for the transmission electron microscope. The task of cutting 0.1 micrometre thin lung tissue slices using a microtome made me appreciate the significance of patience and perseverance. Working closely with microscopes increased my curiosity towards their origin. This led me to read ‘Microbe Hunters’, documenting the early works of Leeuwenhoek in his discovery of microbes. I found his passion and devotion inspiring.
During another placement in the laboratory section of a private hospital, I worked in various departments including Microbiology, Haematology, Virology and Biochemistry. It was here that I realised the importance of a multifunctional team, with various departments working together to get samples centrifuged and analysed in one day. Whilst running a routine urine test, I encountered a sample of dark brown urine. The test results indicated that the patient had liver failure as her bilirubin counts were exceedingly high. This gave me an understanding of the crucial role of routine sampling in the diagnosis of disease.
My ability to carry out research and utilise my practical skills resulted in a National Young Nature Scientist Award, for carrying out a national research project on ‘Forest Fragmentation and its effects on Arthropod population’, sponsored by the Bruneian Government. It involved fieldwork techniques, data analysis and microscopic identification of species collected. Following this award, I represented my country in the First Philippines International Science Fair, where I was able to grasp the diversity and variety present in scientific research through my exposure to numerous international student-led research projects.
I was awarded one of six scholarships from the Brunei Government, allowing me to pursue my A-Levels in the UK. This move to a foreign country has made me a more independent individual, preparing me for my future studies. Delivering a speech on ‘The advancements in tissue Engineering of Artificial Organs’ for my LAMDA exam enhanced my ability to communicate confidently. My position as Head Girl in my previous school has honed both my leadership and organisational skills, as well as my ability to work in a team through my liaisons with the Student Council. These skills were further refined through achieving the Silver DofE Award which made me more adaptable and able to think critically; highly beneficial in the continually changing field of Biomedical Science. I was able to develop self-discipline and motivation through my commitment to Long Distance running.
Antibiotic resistance is an ongoing global problem; bacteria have the ability to develop resistance at remarkable speeds. We still lack enough knowledge to eradicate major diseases. It is this urgent need for scientific breakthroughs that has prompted me to pursue biomedical science in the hope that I can contribute to future discoveries in the world of curing diseases.
University of Cambridge - Engineering Personal Statement
In the future the three main drivers of success for motor vehicles will be safety, ecological compatibility and intelligence. Google has already presented its Self-Driving Car powered by artificial-intelligence software that is capable of combining all of these features. My ambition to study engineering came from my understanding that the discipline can approach problems which a couple of decades ago would have been considered a fantasy. In order to improve my analytical and problem solving skills I have completed a research project called “The rendezvous with comet”. I explored how to calculate the probability of the interaction between comets and the Earth surface and I found out possible ways to prevent a collision. This experience gave me a deep insight into how theoretical concepts of Physics and Maths can be applied to solve real life situations.
My enthusiasm to do mechanical engineering increased when I read the book “The simple science of flight: From insects to Jumbo jets” by Henk Tenneks. I was amazed by how mathematical methods which I came across during my A-level course can be used to calculate the wings’ size or to design paper aeroplanes. The book inspired me to undertake work experience at GE Aviation, (Wales), which gave me a chance to explore how aircraft engines work. I observed how professional engineers work as a team to approach different problems and noticed the importance of patience and attention when performing aircraft maintenance. The cost of an error could be as many as 200 lives. The most exciting and eye-opening aspect of my work placement was dealing with Accessory Gearbox for GE90 engine for a Boeing 777 as I have learnt how to carry out real mechanical manipulations, such as assembling pump components and installing a fuel cooler or filter into the gearbox.
I also had work experience as an assistant at the Mercedes-Benz service centre. I noticed that electrical problems in automobiles occur more frequently than mechanical ones. This is because the dependence on electronics has increased with technological improvement. Moreover, during the time I spent on the shop floor I learnt how to become an effective communicator and how to resolve issues that may arise during the sales process. In my opinion, the ability to listen to people and communicate with them is essential for an engineer.
With regards to my extracurricular activities, I have completed the Leadership Program: Young Leaders at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. My responsibility, as a Vice- President of the marketing campaign, was ensuring collaboration between the President and other members of a team. This was a unique chance to demonstrate my organisational talent. I have also been a volunteer in Scope charity shop, where I used my leadership and time management skills to raise money for disabled people. The feeling of making a real difference increased my desire to help people improve their living standards as an engineer. I have been a member of the National Dancing Society in Russia for thirteen years. I have developed my concentration and self-discipline skills through participation in various international competitions.
After reading “Invention by Design” by Henry Petroski, I fully understood that no engineering problem will ever be solved completely because objectives will often conflict with one another. For example, using electric cars brings pollution levels down, but the production cost of batteries for this car type is too high and people cannot afford them. Furthermore, the electric range is relatively small when compared with petrol fuel. Hence, there is a need to find a compromise between theoretical and financial constraints to solve these problems and this is what I want to do as an engineer in the future. I believe that my degree choice is diverse and fascinating to explore and studying at University will enable me to further develop my professional skills and contribute to global engineering issues.
University of Cambridge - Economics
Growing up in China, I wondered why an exporting country like mine can grow so fast and suddenly see its growth start to slow down. Having been puzzled by this dilemma, I discovered how theories in economics shape society and fundamentally define how choices are made. Beginning to understand the nature of firms and markets has allowed me to explore various aspects of economic reform in China, and how this has had a significant impact on the global market. It is for this reason I wish to study Economics further, to better my appreciation of the influence economic changes have had on society.
Reading ‘Capital in the 21st century’ by T. Piketty, introduced me to the debates surrounding income and wealth inequality. I was fascinated by his suggestion that the fundamental cause of the divergence is that the rate of return on capital has exceeded the rate of growth of the economy for a long period of time and thus inequality in income has widened. As a solution, a fiscal tool of a higher income tax top rate was recommended. People hold different ideas about this book, and indeed it prompted me to reflect on the theory of Laffer Curve learnt previously. One could argue that even if the tax is levied globally, it would not guarantee that the issue was completely resolved. Additionally, I realised how important data can be for economic analysis, alongside proposing new thoughts challenging existing theories, such as the refutation of the Kuznets curve hypothesis. I am fascinated by the prospect of new ways of thinking and gaining deeper insights through degree level study.
Working at the Welsh Government, I had the chance to analyse an annual report of the Economic Development of Wales and debated issues, such as why the Welsh economy does not perform well. The ageing population played a vital part and the lack of education was also involved. This experience strengthened my curiosity to explore economic issues beyond the curriculum. In ‘Predictably irrational’, Dan Ariely explained ‘price anchoring’ and how it influenced people’s decision whether or not to buy a good. I think this idea is very interesting and can be applied to many scenarios such as the iPhone. When the iPhone was first released, the price ‘anchored’ at $599 and made people think psychologically that it is a suitable price for an iPhone. In this case, price did not reflect the actual value of the product as it would if the market was functioning according to the ‘Invisible Hand’. This book made me aware of the importance of practical experiments in economic research.
As an overseas student, these experiences were precious, helping me integrate into the local culture. In addition, I enjoy playing the piano as a way to relax. I am also the group leader of the Art Club at school, responsible for the ‘stamp carving’ section.
As an economist, I have a passion for Mathematics, reflected by my participation in both the Intermediate & Senior Maths Challenge, where I achieved Gold certificates, and certificates of Merit in Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad and Senior Kangaroo.
Participating in DofE gave me a sense of responsibility as one of the leaders of the expedition. We discovered that the suggested route on the map was not feasible. Thus we had to find an alternative route to make sure that the team was successful.
Learning through study and work experiences has deepened my interest in the study of Economics. I would relish the opportunity your institution would provide to understand the conflicting discussions about economic theories and practice that I foresee will dominate government policy for the next generation.
By participating in voluntary work, as a cashier in Cancer Research UK, I learnt how to communicate with a wide range of people and deal with problems as they arose. For me as an overseas student, these experiences were precious, helping me integrate into the local culture. In addition, I enjoy playing the piano as a way to relax. I am also the group leader of the Art Club at school, responsible for the ‘stamp carving’ section.
As an economist, I have a passion for Mathematics, reflected by my participation in both the Intermediate & Senior Maths Challenge, where I achieved Gold certificates, and certificates of Merit in Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad and Senior Kangaroo. Participating in DofE gave me a sense of responsibility as one of the leaders of the “expedition, we discovered that the suggested route on the map was not feasible. Thus we had to find an alternative route to make sure that the team was successful. Learning through study and work experiences has deepened my interest in the study of Economics. I would relish the opportunity your institution would provide to understand the conflicting discussions about economic theories and practice that I foresee will dominate government policy for the next generation.
Frequently Asked Questions
The purpose of a personal statement is to provide a comprehensive and personal overview of an individual’s background, experiences, and motivations. It helps applicants stand out by offering insights beyond academic achievements.
The length of a personal statement can vary, but it’s generally recommended to be concise. Aim for around 500 to 800 words, depending on the specific requirements of the application.
While you can use a general template, it’s crucial to tailor your personal statement for each application. Address specific prompts or requirements provided by each institution or employer to make your statement more relevant.
Avoid clichés, generic statements, and exaggerations. Be honest and specific, focusing on your unique experiences and perspectives. Steer clear of irrelevant details and ensure your writing is clear and concise.
Instead of simply listing achievements, provide context and explain how they have shaped your character and goals. Focus on the skills and lessons gained from these experiences and how they make you a strong candidate.
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