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Fide Master Application Personal Statement

When you’re filling out your applications, you’ll notice that universities and degree programmes will ask for additional materials, like writing samples, transcripts, CVs, and recommendations. You will also see that sometimes schools will ask for personal statements, while other universities are asking for motivation letters.

Both the ‘motivation letter’ and a ‘personal statement’ are meant to provide this information. So, then, what is the difference?

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Where to study a top international Bachelor’s degree

Before you start writing your motivation letter or personal statement, you have to do a little soul-searching and decide exactly what and where you want to study. Knowing what you want and your future plans will definitively make your writing experience easier!

For instance, based on our data, the most searched study options are:

But, if these aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, you can always consider applying to these awesome universities:

  • Radboud University, in Nijmegen, Netherlands;
  • HAS University of Applied Sciences, in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands;
  • Budapest Metropolitan University, in Budapest, Hungary;
  • Tampere University of Applied Sciences, in Tampere, Finland;
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in Amsterdam, Netherlands;
  • Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden.

Being personal in a personal statement

A personal statement is your opportunity to get, well…personal. It’s the chance for you to talk about yourself (and who doesn’t love talking about themselves?) and explaining to the university exactly who you are.

A key part of a personal statement is your opportunity to be open and honest. Talk about the struggles you have had during your studies or life-changing experiences you have undergone throughout your life.

The personal statement is a chance to explain to the admission committee exactly what kind of person you are.

You should also specify how your personal experience has shaped you into the scholar that you are today, and how it will continue to influence your research (this is where there is a slight overlap between a personal statement and a motivation letter).

You have to tell about your plans and motivations; but, in a personal statement, you’ll want to place a lot of emphasis on who you are. 

It is crucial that you be most honest about yourself, and outline anything that you think the admission committee ought to know about you – things that won’t fit on your CV or show up on your transcripts.

Most importantly, with a personal statement, you have room to be creative. Try to grab the reader’s attention with an interesting anecdote, or story from your life. Open with a quote from your favourite author, or philosopher. Introduce an idea that keeps them reading.

You do not need to feel constrained by any form, language, or structure. Use your personal statement to be expressive – this is exactly what they are asking!

Motivation for a motivation letter

Like a personal statement, you are also asked to talk about yourself in a motivation letter. The difference is, however, that you will have to spend a lot more space discussing your future goals than you do talking about your past experiences.

You will be asked to answer a few questions, like:

  • Why are you applying for this specific degree programme? Why is this the right time for you to be applying?
  • What do you hope to do in the future (i.e. career goals) and how is it connected with this degree?
  • What are your specific interests on this subject? Do you have a specific area you would like to research, or a topic you would like to explore?
  • What is so special about the programme you’re applying to, and what do they offer you? Show here that you’ve thought carefully about the school your applying to and the people who are there.
  • What makes you the perfect candidate for this programme? This is where you talk a bit about yourself, your life, your experiences, and your abilities that have shaped the kind of student you are.

As you can see, in a motivation letter, you’re meant to answer a lot of ‘why’ questions.

In other words, you indicate to them specifically why you are sitting down and filling in this application today, and why they should look at your application. Spend less time on your own biography and backstory; spend more time talking about how you’ll be the best match for their programme, and what compels you to study there.

It’s important to note that a ‘motivation letter’ is actually a letter in the conventional sense. Start your motivation letter as you would any other letter, by writing, ‘Dear admission committee’; or, if (and only if) you know the name of the person who is assessing your application, address him or her by their surname and title: ‘Dear Dr. Smith.’

Afterwards, immediately talk about why you are writing the letter, and what has led you to this application; in other words, describe in detail your motivations for applying.

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Why the personal statement and motivation letter are so important

No matter which type of statement or letter the degree programme is asking you to write, these are vital pieces for your university application.

To put it simply, these documents fill in any gaps in information. Anything that cannot show up on your transcript or is not shown on your CV can go in your motivation letter or personal statement.

No matter which one the school is asking for, the point is for you to show them or convince them that you are the right student for their university.

Sometimes, for example, you may have a ‘gap’ years on your CV. You went through your Bachelor’s programme, but took many years to complete it when you decide to do something else for a year. Maybe you changed degrees during your studies.

Mention that in your statement of purpose or motivation letter!

So, take this opportunity to mention anything that you think may raise questions or concerns when they are looking at your application!

Most importantly, proofread, edit, and revise before you submit your application!

So, good luck with your application and never forget to have fun!

The personal statement is arguably the trickiest part of the postgraduate application process, and it's essential that you get it right

This is your first real chance to sell yourself to the university. It should be unique to you and tailored to the course that you're applying to. You should use it to show off your skills, academic ability and enthusiasm, and demonstrate that the programme will benefit from your attendance as much as you'll benefit from studying it.

How long should my personal statement be?

Usually, it should be one side of A4, equating to around 300-500 words. Some universities require more though, so check the guidelines.

What should I include?

You should discuss your:

  • reasons for applying and why you deserve a place above other candidates - discuss your academic interests, career goals and the university and department’s reputation, and write about which aspects of the course you find most appealing, such as modules or work experience opportunities. Show that you're ready for the demands of postgraduate life by demonstrating your passion, knowledge and experience.
  • your goals - consider your short-term course aims and long-term career ambitions, relating the two.
  • your preparation - address how undergraduate study has prepared you, mentioning your independent work (e.g. dissertation) and topic interests.
  • your skillset - you should highlight relevant skills and knowledge that will enable you to make an impact, summarising your abilities in core areas including IT, numeracy, organisation, communication, time management and critical thinking. You can also cover any grades, awards, placements, extra readings or conferences that you've attended

How do I write a good personal statement?

Give yourself plenty of time to complete your personal statement. Tutors will be able to tell if you're bluffing, and showing yourself up as uninformed could be costly. Before you start, read the rules and guidelines provided, check the selection criteria and research the course and institution.

You should structure your personal statement so that it has a clear introduction, main body and conclusion. Capture the reader's attention with enthusiasm and personality at the outset, before going into more detail about your skills, knowledge and experience. Around half of the main body should focus on you and your interests, and the other half on the course. Finally, summarise why you're the ideal candidate.

Be sure to address any clear weaknesses, such as lower-than-expected module performance or gaps in your education history. The university will want to know about these things, so explain them with a positive spin. Lower-than-expected results may be caused by illness, for example. Admit this, but mention that you've done extra reading to catch up and want to improve in this area.

Continue drafting and redrafting your statement until you're happy, then ask a friend, family member or careers adviser to read it. Your spelling and grammar must be perfect, as the personal statement acts as a test of your written communication ability. Memorise what you've written before any interviews.

What do admissions tutors look for?

Admissions tutors will be looking for:

  • an explanation of how the course links your past and future;
  • an insight into your academic and non-academic abilities, and how they'll fit with the course;
  • evidence of your skills, commitment and enthusiasm;
  • knowledge of the institution's area of expertise;
  • reasons why you want to study at the institution;
  • you to express your interest in the subject, perhaps including some academic references or readings.

What do I need to avoid?

You shouldn't:

  • be negative
  • follow an online template
  • include irrelevant course modules, personal facts or extracurricular activities
  • include other people's quotes
  • lie or exaggerate
  • make pleading statements
  • namedrop key authors without explanation
  • needlessly flatter the organisation that you're applying to
  • repeat information found in your application
  • use clichés, gimmicks, humour or Americanisms
  • use overly long sentences
  • use the same statement for each application
  • use your undergraduate UCAS application as a template
  • waffle.

Example personal statements

The style and content of your personal statement will depend on several variables, such as the type of qualification that you're applying for - such as a Masters degree, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or teacher training. Here are four examples to help you get started:

LPC personal statement

Although CABs, the centralised applications system, allows space for up to 10,000 characters in length, many law schools aren't expecting students to fill this space. It's therefore important not to unnecessarily pad out your personal statement with irrelevant detail. Students apply to three courses ranked in order of preference, so your personal statement must reflect this. Discover more about the Legal Practice Course.

Psychology personal statement

Applications for conversion courses such as these are fairly straightforward and made directly to individual institutions. You need to explain why you want to change subjects and how your current subject will help you. Explain what experience you have that will help you with your conversion subject, and what you hope to do in the future.

Personal statement for PGCE primary

This is your chance to explain why you want to teach primary age children and convey your enthusiasm for teaching. You need to back everything up with examples from your classroom experience, reflecting on what you did, how this made a difference and what you learned about teaching and learning within Key Stages 1 and 2. Find out more about applying for teacher training.

PGCE secondary personal statement

If you want to teach children aged 11 and over you'll need to apply through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT). The UTT teacher training application process includes a single personal statement, whatever route(s) you're applying for. You should tailor your personal statement to reflect the specific requirements of secondary level teaching. Learn more about applying for teacher training.

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Written by Editor

Prospects · June 2016

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