Blog post by David Campbell Depute Rector (Career Development and Higher Education)
It’s not easy to write about yourself. Modesty often gets in the way. The Personal Statement is perhaps the most feared of all writing exercises a pupil will undertake at school. 4000 characters. 47 lines. All about ‘me’.
Of course, pupils shouldn’t look upon it as a difficult task – but see it as an opportunity to stand out from the rest, to appreciate their successes and accomplishments and to shine. As is the case with everything though – preparation and goal setting is key.
At Hutchesons’ the ‘Futures Conference’, at the end of session in S5, is designed to ensure that happens. Timetable restrictions are lifted and pupils are given the chance to respond to their new found post-Higher freedom, by expressing themselves through ‘RRRR!’ (Reflecting, Researching, Reading and Relaxing). Pupils can:
- Reflect on interests, achievements and the accomplishments of the previous five years.
- Research what comes next – in Higher Education and beyond and where it could be done.
- Read around course interests and gain an insight into the world beyond the curriculum.
- Relax by finding a new hobby, club, committee, society or extra-curricular involvement for S6.
It’s about them assessing where they are, where they are going and what they need to take them there. Targets are set for the summer and gaps can be filled.
Like pupils up and down the country our current S6 pupils now find themselves at the very beginning of the UCAS journey that will last, for many, until next August when the SQA results appear once more. At Hutchesons’ small tutor groups ensure specialist and personal support and advice can be given alongside the expertise of the Careers Department. This year 85% of our pupils were accepted to their first choice university – 95% will have just enrolled at their first or second choice university. Our current S6 pupils have been set their first deadlines and one to one interviews will commence, in earnest, in the coming days.
‘Why?’ is the most important question for pupils to answer. Why Engineering? Why Accountancy? Why Film and Media? Why Computing Science? Articulating reasons for their enthusiasm, passion and desire to study at university level is an important start. This should be linked to how current S6 subjects are building relevant skills and knowledge. A focus on particular areas outwith the school curriculum that are of interest can be effective. Insight gained through reading, research and work experience should be discussed.
The bulk of the statement must demonstrate a healthy academic interest – after all, the goal is to study the discipline for at least three or four years and admissions tutors want like-minded people in their faculty. Thereafter, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities permit further definition of the individual. Involvement, diverse interests and the ability to lead, communicate and enjoy the opportunities available at School of which there are plenty at Hutchesons’ are all indicators of a student who will thrive.
In the final analysis – sometimes pupils forget something very important.
Admissions Tutors are indeed the gatekeepers, but before all of that – it is the pupils who are choosing them. Self-knowledge and deciding on the correct course (as well as suitable grades, appropriate subjects and attention to detail) will lead to a successful application.
If the suggestions above are all followed then the university involved will be very lucky to have them.
You can find out more about our Career Development and Higher Education department here.
You can register for our Open Mornings here