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Mature Student Personal Statement

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Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
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    Hi,

    I'm just about to start writing my PS and wondered whether I should attempt to explain the fact that my grades went from A, A, B, C at AS-level to B, C, D at A-level in my personal statement? Basically my family was falling apart at the time and my home-life was pretty turbulent and stressful, and this goes some of the way to explaining why my grades slipped. But should I mention this?

    Also, should I explain why I didn't apply to go to uni when I finished school but am applying now (at 24)?

    Thanks in advance!
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    I think so... according to suggestions from UCAS and universities, you can put something that do not show in your educational and work background.
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    You'd be better off getting your referee to explain this (in the positive context of having recovered your poise, of course). The PS is not the place for explaining away negatives.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    You'd be better off getting your referee to explain this (in the positive context of having recovered your poise, of course). The PS is not the place for explaining away negatives.
    Thanks for the reply Good bloke.

    In my case I'm going to ask an employer from 3 years ago to write my reference as I know the boss from the job I'm currently in will probably behave stangely towards me if he knows I'm planning on leaving (it's a small company and causes them upheaval and time and money to train someone new when someone leaves).

    Firstly, is this OK in the eyes of universities - a reference from an employer who I worked for a few years ago?

    Secondly, should I ask the person writing my reference to literally say that during A-levels I was going through a lot of personal upheaval and that my ability isn't reflected in those grades/I have matured since then, etc.?

    I'm keen to explain away my slip in grades as I don't want the universities thinking I just couldn't cope with the work.
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    (Original post by mattisalive)
    Thanks for the reply Good bloke.

    In my case I'm going to ask an employer from 3 years ago to write my reference as I know the boss from the job I'm currently in will probably behave stangely towards me if he knows I'm planning on leaving (it's a small company and causes them upheaval and time and money to train someone new when someone leaves).

    Firstly, is this OK in the eyes of universities - a reference from an employer who I worked for a few years ago?

    Secondly, should I ask the person writing my reference to literally say that during A-levels I was going through a lot of personal upheaval and that my ability isn't reflected in those grades/I have matured since then, etc.?

    I'm keen to explain away my slip in grades as I don't want the universities thinking I just couldn't cope with the work.
    In your case, while I agree with Good bloke that the PS is not the place for explaining away negatives, you can't expect a referee to mention circumstances they know nothing about. S/he can't just rely on your word for it that your grades would have been better otherwise. Also, while I appreciate you don't want to alert your current employer to your plans, at the same time if you can't provide a recent-ish academic reference you don't really want an employer reference that's very out-of-date. A lot can happen in three years.

    What are you doing to prepare yourself for university life? Are you doing any kind of studying, even if independently? What I'd suggest is that you do allude to the circumstances that caused you problems at 18 in your PS, but positively. As in "Family circumstances made it difficult to maintain the progress I had made at AS..... chose work experience after A2 (if this is relevant to your degree choice, so much the better).... learned this skill and that skill and the other skill..... developed interest in (course choice) by ..... and ....".

    I'm going to move this across to the mature students sub forum as you will find plenty of people in there who have grappled with the same issues.
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    Hi Minerva,

    Thanks very much for your reply, I'm definitely in need of some guidance with regards to the reference and really don't want it to let down my application.

    I want to study English Literature with Creative Writing so probably the greatest step towards preparing for that is reading classic and critically acclaimed novels and working on writing fiction in my spare time. I'm taking a short course with the OU (Start Writing Fiction) as well, which starts at the end of the month, although I've already read the material that has been sent. I've also started reading about the history of English literature for a more academic overview of the subject. Although I’ve been out of education for a few years, I’ve always enjoyed learning and do feel ready to study at university.

    As for the reference, I could ask my current employer and see how they react but it’s a gamble as to whether they would actually make an effort and write something helpful, whereas my old employer has no agenda and has said he would be happy to write a reference. Does the fact it was just over 3 years ago since I worked there make it an irrelevant reference? I have worked back there a couple of times since (when I’ve needed extra money and had time off from my current job) but does that really count? Would you advise taking the chance and asking my current employer because the reference would carry more weight? I can't imagine they'd have the right to fly off the handle - just might be a little awkward or they might not make much effort with the reference (or perhaps I'm being paranoid).

    Also, what sort of thing should a reference from an employer for a mature student say?

    Sorry about all the questions, have searched the forums on here but haven’t really found the answers I need.

    Thanks!
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    (Original post by mattisalive)
    Hi Minerva,

    Thanks very much for your reply, I'm definitely in need of some guidance with regards to the reference and really don't want it to let down my application.

    I want to study English Literature with Creative Writing so probably the greatest step towards preparing for that is reading classic and critically acclaimed novels and working on writing fiction in my spare time. I'm taking a short course with the OU (Start Writing Fiction) as well, which starts at the end of the month, although I've already read the material that has been sent. I've also started reading about the history of English literature for a more academic overview of the subject. Although I’ve been out of education for a few years, I’ve always enjoyed learning and do feel ready to study at university. Suitably edited, this is great stuff for your PS. Seriously.

    As for the reference, I could ask my current employer and see how they react but it’s a gamble as to whether they would actually make an effort and write something helpful, whereas my old employer has no agenda and has said he would be happy to write a reference. Does the fact it was just over 3 years ago since I worked there make it an irrelevant reference? I have worked back there a couple of times since (when I’ve needed extra money and had time off from my current job) but does that really count? Ah, if you're still working for them now and again, that should be fine. Would you advise taking the chance and asking my current employer because the reference would carry more weight? I can't imagine they'd have the right to fly off the handle - just might be a little awkward or they might not make much effort with the reference (or perhaps I'm being paranoid). No they wouldn't have the right to do that, and they may be more sympathetic than you think. I assume you've worked for them for a while? If they'd spent ££££ training you, and you were going to take that off to a competitor within 6 months they might have reasonable cause for being difficult, but not otherwise. People are usually supportive.

    Also, what sort of thing should a reference from an employer for a mature student say? Check out the UCAS site - there's guidance on reference content that you can download as a pdf and give to your referee. Clearly they aren't going to be able to comment directly on your academic ability - but on the other hand presumably you had to learn the job and associated skills - they could comment on how well you did that, for example.

    Sorry about all the questions, have searched the forums on here but haven’t really found the answers I need.

    Thanks!
    No problem - glad to be able to help.

    Post your PS in PS Help and someone will have a look at it. There's plenty of time so don't rush it.
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    Thanks again for your help.

    I think I'm going to bite the bullet and ask for a reference from my manager where I currently work. I'm slightly anxious about the conversation but think that it will be worth taking a chance as not only would a reference from where I currently work full time look better but also because part of my current job involves writing radio-style ads which might help with getting onto a course involving creative writing.

    Fingers-crossed.
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    (Original post by mattisalive)
    Thanks again for your help.

    I think I'm going to bite the bullet and ask for a reference from my manager where I currently work. I'm slightly anxious about the conversation but think that it will be worth taking a chance as not only would a reference from where I currently work full time look better but also because part of my current job involves writing radio-style ads which might help with getting onto a course involving creative writing.

    Fingers-crossed.
    Definitely!! Don't forget that even with a 'full-time' course you can very often manage some part-time work, which may be of interest to them given the nature of your job. Be creative in every way

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