So, you’ve attended a STEM summer school, won a competition or written your own STEM blog? When it comes to applying to university, these are all fantastic things to mention in your personal statement. However, there are several important things to remember to include:
– What you learnt. Too many personal statements just include a seemingly endless list of summer schools, online courses, books and hobbies, without explaining what exactly the student learnt from them. Perhaps they made you realise that your love of physics at school could be applied to an engineering degree, or you improved your laboratory skills? Some courses will teach you specific knowledge directly relevant to the degree, whereas taking part in competitions might instead improve your transferable skills in essay writing or team work.
– What you achieved. Did you win the competition, create a successful engineering project or pass a particular exam? Were you awarded a scholarship to attend a summer course? If there are measurable results you achieved, be sure to mention it! This shows that you were not only interested in the subject, but good at it too.
– What you enjoyed. It’s all very well saying you now have all these new skills, but one of the main things universities want to see is that you are genuinely interested in your course. If you loved learning about unusual rock formations or sharing your passion for science on your blog, tell them! If you were then inspired to explore this interest further, describe what you did next.
Here is an example:
“During a two week applied physics summer school at xyz university, for which I was awarded a full scholarship, I learnt how physics can be applied to the real world. We studied the mathematics behind catapults and completed a team project on rockets. My team successfully built our rocket and predicted it’s motion, achieving first place in the final competition. I really enjoyed being able to see the applications of physics and understanding the mathematics behind real world scenarios.”
Although there are many other parts to your university application too, the personal statement is your only opportunity to really express in your own words why you want to do your degree course – and these extracurricular experiences are a great way to demonstrate your passion. You don’t need loads of examples or to spend lots of money, and check out this article for cheap ideas you can do from home!