Online learning admission boards sift through thousands of personal statements from prospective students each year. We’ve put together ten tips aimed at helping you write a personal statement that will enable you to stand out and avoid common mistakes.

  1. Write a draft
    If you’re working to a strict word count – for example, the University of Roehampton asks for a personal statement with a maximum of 400 words when applying for one of its online masters degree programmes – write a rough outline of points you intend to cover in your statement. This will ensure a more effective use of your word count and save you time in the long run because you’ll have less editing to do.
  2. Explain why this degree programme is for you
    It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose track or go off at a tangent when writing your personal statement. Remember, you are explaining how you meet the application criteria. Answer questions like: why do you want to study a masters in project management or an MBA? What are your career goals? Show that you have researched the degree you are applying for and explain, using specific examples, how you are going to be successful.
  3. Check it once; check it twice
    Don’t just write your personal statement all in one go then press “send”; remember to proofread what you’ve written! Don’t forget to run a spell-check and double-check that what you’ve written makes sense and reads well.
  4. Avoid using quotations
    Even if you admire the leadership of Nelson Mandela or the duty of care Florence Nightingale possessed, using their quotes in your personal statement is probably not a good idea. After all, these are the words of others and it is for this reason that the board of admissions will skip over them. They want to hear from you.
  5. Try not to generalise or use clichés
    Don’t use sweeping statements or clichés that are not grounded in fact or bear no direct relation to your personal experience. Here are examples of what not to say: “I can talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to business management”; “I have always had a passion for psychology”; “I want to climb to the top of the career ladder in the field of education.” Give specific examples that are rooted in fact, not fiction: talk about your own career!
  6. Think of layout
    Make sure your personal statement is presentable. Use the same font consistently throughout your writing and avoid solely using capitals.
  7. Evidence your achievements
    If you feel that you possess good leadership skills, or you believe that you are an excellent teacher or project manager, explain using evidence. For example, describe a specific time when you demonstrated or proved your ability as a confident leader.
  8. Demonstrate critical thinking
    Being an online university student requires the ability to think analytically and independently when contributing to discussions or writing module assignments. You can present yourself as a critical thinker when writing your personal statement by being reflective, showing self-awareness of your abilities and stating achievable plans for the future.
  9. Don’t plagiarise
    Hopefully you’re well aware that copying and pasting from the internet will definitely not work in your favour! The board of admissions uses software to detect plagiarism. If you plagiarise, your application will automatically be disqualified. Write from your point of view and not in the third person. The university only wants to read your words and hear your opinions.
  10. Be positive!
    Focus on your achievements and successes, things you have done that have made you and others proud. You don’t need to dwell on the reasons you dropped out of college, or why you didn’t sit your final exams. Keep it positive and keep it real.

The University of Roehampton, London Online believes that you should have access to learning that has the power to improve your own life and the lives of those around you. Find out more about the online masters degree programmes offered by the University.

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