What your personal statement say about youJanuary 29, 2016

You'll apply for a place in the English Department, and you want to make sure that your admissions tutor will be impressed at your qualifications. But it comes down to your personal statement. This is an important section of the application form, where you should tell your tutor why you can be a good addition to the department. You are aware that every applicant will exaggerate their good traits, and you won't be surprised if some will invent one or two. You won't do it, as you trust the tutor's good judgment. (Honesty is the best policy.) On the other hand, this is a good venue to sell yourself.

What are the things you must not write on your form? Let's have a look at the likely lines:

You headed a charity event, where you were commended for your skills. Everyone know that problems arise in such a situation. Unless you love to please people and have expertise in diplomacy, then you would encounter a problem. Make it two. You raise your hands and confess many problems. You couldn't stand a young lady, who tried too hard to make everyone noticed her. On the other hand, you least liked her. And she wasn't the only one you had a hard time dealing with. You charged it to experience, but you wouldn't know if you learned your lesson. You better not include it in your personal statement. Otherwise, try to present an objective view of your experience. Your tutor might like your insights.

I can read more and make new friends. Your admissions tutor will raise an eyebrow. Having dead authors as companions is one thing, but meeting new acquaintances can take lots of your time. You can come up with a good excuse, such as showing your unusual dedication to literature. Your tutor will believe it, even be impressed at it. But you should have a life. And the department will give you lots of opportunities. There are other ways of knowing the recurring themes in your reading list. Wikipedia won't be one of those methods, so ask your mates in the English Department.

You're a huge fan of Hollywood celebrities, so you want to be a journalist. Your tutor will be amused. But don't expect an unconditional offer. Your motivation will be questioned. You will be given a benefit of a doubt, so prove (to your tutor) that the English Department will be the right venue for you. There's more to news writing than the glitzy lights of Tinseltown. (And some will warn you not to have high hopes.) Perhaps you need to be more grounded on your statement. You can start with your interest in American Cinema, particularly comedies. And maybe a sentence or two on celebrities might intrigue your tutor.

Perhaps you have an experience to share with us. Don't be ashamed.

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