Putting your personal statement together can be tricky. If you find yourself constantly putting it off because you can't work out what to say, or you're fretting about what to include, we have a suggestion: more study. Wait, come back!
We're talking about signing up for a MOOC (a Massive Open Online Course) with a company like FutureLearn. MOOCs are short courses that you do online: they're fun, they're free and they might help you get going on that statement. Read on to find out how, and for the chance to win £1000...
Show you're ready for uni
MOOCs are offered by top UK and international unis and cover topics including Dentistry, Modern Languages, Programming, English and Forensic Science. They'll give you real, useful knowledge about a subject.
Plus, talking about a MOOC in your statement shows that you're ready for the kind of independent learning that uni demands and that you have an appetite for your subject.
“If a prospective student were to show evidence they had completed a MOOC aligned with their subject of choice, then it would be a tangible demonstration of their interest in that area,” says Viv Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Education at the University of Leeds.
Stand out from the crowd
You don't need us to tell you about the importance of making your personal statement stand out, but it might seem easier said than done. Never fear: showing you've chosen to complete a MOOC can instantly add interest and value to your statement. It might even give your confidence a little nudge to help you get writing.
“I was looking for something that would make my application stand out,” says Nancy, an English student at Exeter uni. “I decided to take a course to give me a little more to talk about in my application and to show an interest in English. It definitely made me feel more confident writing my personal statement.”
Get a taste of uni study
Because they're put together by unis, MOOCs can give you a glimpse of the higher education world and how programmes are put together. You could pick an area that you can't study at school to get a taster of uni subjects like Medicine or Critical Thinking, for example.
An online course is a great extra-curricular activity to put into your statement that can help you prepare for uni study at the same time.
“I chose to take the course because I thought it would look good on my personal statement,” says Amy Hunter, who picked a Psychology MOOC titled ‘The Mind is Flat’ (offered by Warwick uni). “I found it incredibly interesting. It gave me an insight into the kind of things I might be learning at uni, which was great.”
Rock that interview
When you get to the interview stage (we have faith in you), you'll want some interesting things you can bring into the discussion. That's where your MOOC adventures can come in handy: they'll show that you've read around your subject; that you have a lively mind; and they'll also give you some hooks to hang a conversation on. Such as, “My interior design MOOC gave me some ideas that would really brighten up this dowdy old office of yours.” (Note: don't actually say this.)
If you're struggling for inspiration, a MOOC can really add value to your words, but there's another, more simple benefit: it's fun. MOOCs are social learning experiences so you'll interact with students from all over the world and from all kinds of backgrounds. Plus, you can access them anywhere, which is bound to be a better use of your phone on the bus than looking at smug breakfast photos on Instagram.
You can find out more about MOOCs from individual unis or through platforms like FutureLearn. They run all year, but why not investigate now and start beating that mental block around your personal statement?
FutureLearn is even offering the chance to win £1000 when you sign up for a course from its ‘Going to university’ collection before 1 December 2015, so it could well be worth a look. All you need to do is choose a course and sign up.
You'll chase away those procrastination blues and have a killer personal statement before you know it.