How NOT to start your personal statement

A good personal statement is split into 5 paragraphs: intro, topic, topic, topic, then your extracurriculars & conclusion paragraph.

But it all starts with that introduction!

Here we need to explain why you want to study your chosen subject at university. What’s your motivation? Why are you so interested? 

Students often screw up their introductions by falling for boring, generic cliches. 

University admissions tutors read literally 1000s of statements – so if you’ve written something 100 other students have already written, it’s an instant turn-off for an admissions tutor. 

So here’s how NOT to start – avoid these cliches: 

“From a young age, I have always been interested in …” – this pops up 309 times a year – universities hate it. 

For starters, it’s not believable – seriously, since you were a kid you’ve wanted to be an economist? Since age 5, you’ve wanted to be a lawyer? No one is buying it. 

But even worse, universities have already heard it 1000 times before – so your personal statement isn’t personal anymore…it’s not original, it’s a cliché, a copy of 1000s of students before you.

Other cliches include: 

“From an early age I have always been interested in…” – another no-go, this appears 292 times every year

“For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated with…” – nope, 196 appearances a year.

“I am currently studying…” – pops up over 600 times! 

“Nursing/medicine is a very challenging and demanding career” – over 500 times a year! Wow…

And then, of course: “I have a passion for”, “I’m passionate about”, “My passion for”, “I would love to study”“I have chosen” – all no-go introductions.

Stay the hell away from these cliches – they’ve been used way too often and universities are sick of them. 

You’ll see a full list of opening lines to avoid in your Statement Builder workbook later on in section 5. 

We also want to avoid dictionary definitions, like: 

“Economics is the study of human welfare and optimal resource allocation.”

Or “Physics studies the property and nature of matter and energy.”

Definition introductions are another terribly way to start because so many students do it…but more importantly, as Louise Carr, admissions tutor Liverpool University say “Lecturers aren’t looking for a dictionary definition of a subject. They know what their degrees are about” – they don’t need you telling them! 

So…no clichés! And no boring as hell dictionary definitions…these make for terrible introductions.

So you now know what not to do – but what should you do instead? We’ll find out in the next post