This is an example of a personal statement written for an application to an English course at University: (alternative)
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours” (Bennett, 2004).
This is what I was aiming for with my personal statement. I wanted something which stood out, as if my hand were reaching out from within the page and taking yours. It’s what made me think of the Bennett quote. Try as I might, though, I’ve not been able to achieve this.
Personally I blame the guidance I’ve been given. Provide examples which will support your application, such as helping out at school open days. Reading through the list, I’ve done all these things, from Young Enterprise (going to meetings after spending all day at school) to the Duke of Edinburgh Award (standing in mud after spending all day at school). I also have a part-time job and play the violin, some more things I’m meant to write about, but it all strikes me as a bit dull. I read a few example personal statements online and a lot of them were really boring – everyone seems “fascinated” by English for some reason, but many of them are just like CVs with a narrative.
I would like to study English at University because I enjoy reading fiction. That sounds simple, perhaps, but expressed in any other way I end up sounding pretentious. It’s a cliché that books are portals to other worlds but it’s a cliché I’ll happily trot out because it’s fundamentally true. I’m not a big film watcher and my friends annoy me when they talk endlessly about soaps because, for me, there’s nothing parallel to a good book. Even a bad book is still infinitely better than Hollyoakes.
One of the reasons I enjoy reading it because I like being tricked. Take the quote from opening of this statement. These words are uttered by Hector, a teacher who molests his pupils. Typically vilified across society, no pedophiles garner public sympathy yet Bennett creates a predatory character whom the audience adore. The broader point is made that words aren’t just words: they are powerful. In addition to educating us, entertaining us and informing us, they can also persuade us, manipulate us, or trick us.
I also enjoy creative writing and I would like to develop these skills at University. I find that I’m heavily influenced by other authors but recognise I need to develop my own style. My favourite author is Donna Tartt because her work is crafted; however, whenever I’ve tried to emulate this I’ve not had much success and my work gets too wordy. My English Language tutor underlined all the adverbs in my last piece and it was a sea of red. I’m not the finished article, but this is another reason I want to study English at University, in order to develop these skills.
I hope you will be able to consider my application.