Starting to think about where you want to study for sixth form? Perhaps you’ve already narrowed down your selection and are looking for further guidance on how to write a personal statement for sixth form.
As part of your application for a sixth form place at a college or boarding school, you may be asked to submit a personal statement. The purpose of this is for the school to understand your motivations, interests and future ambitions, but it’s also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your successes and strongest attributes - highlighting to the college why they should offer you a place.
Personal statements can be quite a daunting task at first, especially if you’ve never had to write about yourself before. But they don’t have to be. To help you get started with writing yours, read our guidance on writing a personal statement for sixth form - and make sure you submit the best application possible.
Essentially, your personal statement is written information about you, your experiences and future aspirations. It summarises your skills, experiences and attributes that are relevant to the subjects and sixth form are applying to - illustrating to prospective admissions officers why you are a perfect fit for their college.
Most importantly, your personal statement should be professional and always written in your own words. This is your first chance to introduce yourself to the sixth form you want to study at, who only have a very short snippet of writing to make their initial assessments.
Admissions staff are curious, they want to know who you are and why you want to study the subjects and courses that they are offering. You want to always link back to why your personal attributes and achievements make you the ideal student for them, and what you can contribute in terms of academic ability, confidence and interests.
Often, the most difficult part of writing your personal statement for sixth form is knowing how and where to start. How do you begin introducing yourself in a way that isn’t too generic or overly confident?
If we’re being totally honest, there isn’t a right or wrong way to start a personal statement. As long as it’s effective at capturing the attention of the admissions officer reading through your application, it’ll do perfectly.
Some students like to begin by introducing themselves, where they study, and their ambitions for the future; some like to introduce themselves by talking about what personal qualities they have; while others like to start with a quote that has inspired them throughout their education.
The way you choose to introduce yourself to the reader will ultimately fall down on you as an individual - the way you write, the way you like to interact with others, and how you want to set the tone for the remainder of your personal statement. It’s best to just try writing a selection of sentences that introduce you in different ways, and then choose the one you think best reflects you and your personality.
And if you’re really stuck on how to start your personal statement, we recommend writing the main body of text to help you get into the headspace of writing in this way. Once you’ve finished talking about yourself, your achievements, interests and goals, you’ll have set the overarching tone for your personal statement, making it easier to return to the start and have another go at writing your introduction.
Personal statements offer a great opportunity to talk about your various achievements and aspirations. They are an open platform with which you can talk about all the reasons as to why you’re an ideal fit for that particular sixth form.
With that being said, there are still certain things that you should remember to include. Let’s dive into these in a little more detail.
One of the big questions that admissions officers will have about your application revolves around why you want to attend their specific college or sixth form. Therefore, it’s important you dedicate at least part of your statement to talking about your reasons for wanting to study there.
Before submitting your application for sixth form, it’s highly likely that you have already conducted lots of research about the college, including the A-Level subjects it offers, the facilities it has, as well as its previous performance reports.
Use this research as an opportunity to talk about all the things at the sixth form which captured your interest and made you want to study there. For example, if the college you are applying to is recognised for its science facilities, perhaps you could write something about how you believe their excellent science faculty - with all its resources and specialist equipment - will help you to excel in the future.
Of course, there are many aspects of a sixth form which you can include as part or all of your reason for studying there, including the following:
The schools’ ethos
Facilities and equipment
Its academic specialism (if applicable)
The teaching staff
The subjects it offers
Careers and university guidance support
The extracurricular activities on offer
Secondly, another key thing to talk about within your personal statement for sixth form is to talk about your goals for the future.
Sixth form colleges are passionate about making sure students are able to achieve their full potential, and they’ll want to understand your aspirations so they know whether they can offer you the support to make that happen.
When writing your personal statement, remember to leave plenty of room to discuss what your plans for the future are, and why that sixth form can help you get there. Explain how the subjects you’ve applied for, as well as the college’s facilities, staff and students can help you achieve your goal.
Even if you’re not sure what you may want to pursue beyond sixth form, you should still talk about all the opportunities the sixth form could offer you. For example, does the college have a variety of extracurricular clubs and activities available, where you can build a portfolio of skills and experience? Or do they have a reputable careers and guidance service that can help you to narrow down your options?
Your personal statement is an opportunity to really build a positive image of yourself, highlighting why you are the most dedicated, passionate student that the college could wish for.
Therefore, when writing about your aspirations for the future, it’s important to try and include any relevant experience that proves your commitment to your chosen subjects and, (if decided on) career path.
Here, try to illustrate how these experiences have given you new skills or made you think about your future plans. For example, has babysitting made you consider a career working with children as a teacher or child psychologist? Or has your paper round taught you how to manage time effectively, ensuring that you always get the job complete on time?
There really is no limit to the type of experience you can include in your personal statement. In fact, the more relevant experience you can add, the better it will be at helping to prove your commitment to pursuing a particular career path or subject in the future.
Just remember to only include relevant experience and link it back to your reasons for choosing the subjects and college you’re applying for. Personal statements usually have strict word or character limits, so you don’t want to waste words talking about experiences that won’t help to illustrate your dedication to a particular subject field.
Another important aspect of your personal statement for sixth form needs to include some detail around your personal qualities and attributes, and how they can help you excel during your time at the sixth form college you’re applying to?
Now, this doesn’t mean you should simply write down every single good quality about yourself. Instead, it’s about selecting a few but well-descript qualities that you presume to be your best, as backed by solid evidence or experience.
There’s no limit to what type of qualities you may want to include in your list. But a good place to start could be thinking about what type of qualities you think would shine well at the sixth form college you are applying to.
Would you consider yourself to be a hard worker? Polite? Reliable? Well-organised with your time and tasks? You can even read through the sixth form college’s syllabus to see what type of words they use to describe their students and ethos and then incorporate the ones you have into your personal statement.
Remember to always back up your claims with specific examples. E.g., is it common for your teachers at school to call you a polite or hardworking student? Can your school mates depend on you during project work to complete your tasks ahead of deadlines? The more concrete evidence you have to support your points, the better - it gives more validity to everything you’re saying about yourself.
Finally, another important element of your personal statement for sixth form is to talk about what you enjoy doing in your spare time, including any hobbies or clubs you participate in.
Sixth form colleges will be using your personal statement to gain insights about you as an individual - not just as a student at their college. Therefore, you should try and provide some details about what you do outside of school so they can gain a better understanding of you as a young person.
What are some hobbies or activities you enjoy doing in your spare time and why? How often do you do it? After doing these activities, have you gone on to develop any skills? Are any of these skills transferable to the subjects you hope to study or your plans for the future?
It’s also important to include any that have gone on to earn you any certificates, medals or awards. For example, include any musical gradings you have obtained, any sports team awards you have won, or any extracurricular awards you have obtained, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award.
The more information you can include to demonstrate your hard work, commitment and effort - the better. Sixth form colleges will be curious to learn more about your personality and see whether it fits nicely with their ethos and current student body.
Although we’ve covered the five essential elements of a personal statement, it’s important to be aware of some additional do’s and don’ts when writing your personal statement - to make it the very best it can be.
Write formally, using your best English: Be meticulous with your spelling and grammar checks to ensure there are no inaccuracies. Any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors may indicate that you’ve not taken the time to carefully proofread your work, which doesn’t present the best initial impression.
Show your enthusiasm: Include as much detail as possible about your dreams for the future and how the sixth form can help you achieve those dreams. The college will want to see that you are enthusiastic about studying with them, and will also look favourably on students who are passionate about learning, excelling themselves, and reaching their future goals.
Ask your friends and family to read your personal statement: It can be really beneficial to ask your friends, family, teachers and/or carers to read through drafts of your personal statement. Coming at it with a completely fresh view, they’ll be able to identify areas for improvement, highlight anything you may have missed, and ensure your spelling and grammar is perfect.
Leave it until the last minute: It’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to plan out exactly what you want to write in your personal statement, have time to draft a couple of versions, give it to others for feedback, and have room for final spelling and grammar checks. Don’t put off writing your personal statement until it’s too late for you to be able to produce your best version.
Exaggerate any details: If you are invited to interview at the sixth form college, you may be asked to talk about what you have written in your personal statement. Here, anything you’ve exaggerated will become obvious, and the admissions team won’t look favourably on those who have twisted the truth to advance their application.
Let your nerves get the better of you: Writing a personal statement for sixth form can be nerve-wracking, especially when sitting down to write your first draft. Don’t let your worry stop you from applying - most colleges and sixth forms base their decisions on a combination of requirements, including your grades, interview and school references - personal statements make up only a proportion of the decision.
Writing your personal statement for sixth form is an opportunity for you to share information about yourself, your goals and achievements, in the way that you want to be portrayed.
Colleges and boarding schools want to know all about you - what you want to study and why, what you do alongside your academia, and what matters the most to you - it’s a chance for them to understand what makes you tick and where your passions lie, so they can be sure you’re the ideal student for their institution.
When writing your personal statement, keep in mind the various points we’ve included in the article above, so you can be sure you’ve covered all aspects of the personal statement which are most important to the sixth form college or boarding school.
As daunting as it may sound, your personal statement really is a chance to help sell yourself to the school - so use it as a ground with which you can show off everything that’s so great about you. Your application is made up of several other factors, and your personal statement is only one part of that overarching submission.
Just remember, as long as you plan far enough in advance for you to be able to write a few drafts and obtain feedback from friends and family, you can take comfort in the fact that you’ve submitted your best possible statement. Keep calm, draft it out, and most importantly - good luck!
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