Tag Archives: UCAS personal statements

Ectastic, relieved, proud – son no. 2 has uni offers

It has been a momentous week. 17 year-old Ethan became Scottish Schools High Jump champion for the third year in a row and left school – for good – on Friday.

He had applied to do either marine biology or sports science at Glasgow or Stirling universities and has unconditional offers for both at both institutions.

It has been a rollercoaster of emotions these past few months, with free-spirited Ethan showing signs of restlessness within months of starting sixth year.

With 3As and 2 Bs at Higher he had a good clutch of qualifications, but wasn’t sure if it was enough to go on to study the subjects he wanted to.

Thankfully the news he had been hoping for came 10 days ago. So he put in motion withdrawal from school, submitting his Advanced Higher Biology assignment as a kind of a swan song and saying goodbye to teachers and pupils.

The UCAS application process was undoubtedly as stressful as I remember with Lyle with all sorts of dilemmas and doubts creeping into Ethan’s personal statement. It’s approximately 600 words that represent a watershed in a young person’s life.

Ethan was actually really honest about his dilemma in the application describing a fascination for the workings of both marine life and the human body and alluding to time he is going to spend deciding on which final course to take.

I dare say the next few weeks will be unsettling as he adjusts to life beyond school, but he seems really content with his next steps with a holiday in Portugal with some friends to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I am studying part-time, online for a Masters in Strategic Public Relations and finding the pull back to formal education tough.



The pain of UCAS personal statements


It’s 4,000 characters guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of the average 17 year-old.

Crafting a personal statement to accompany your UCAS university application is one of life’s early milestones, demanding that the young person is sufficiently familiar with their strengths, interests and career aspirations to jot them down in coherent sentences for the perusal of university admissions teams.

The trouble is that so many of them aren’t. When you think about it, it’s such a tender age to make such a momentous decision hence, Ethan, my 16 year-old, is wrestling with not only how to convince admissions that he is passionate about marine biology, but how to convince himself.

He is interested in marine biology, but also in sports science and just recently has taken more than a passing interest in neuroscience.

Arguably you could say that each involves studying the workings of the body – both human and animal – and the brain, so he has landed on this theme to tie his statement together. And is now turning his attention to hobbies, interests and achievements.

Fortunately his sporting abilities demonstrate the sort of dedication, determination and team work that universities – not to mention employers – are looking for. But, again, he is dubious when faced with friends who seem to have known from an early age that they want to be a doctor or a vet.

Where does that unshakeable belief come from? Have these young people felt a calling, or, more likely, been inspired to follow in their parents footsteps.

To all the other kids I say do as much research as you can to broaden your horizons by, for example, completing the My Strengths and About me questionnaires on www.myworldofwork.co.uk and then checking out the ‘Meet the Industries’ section to see which industries employ people with which skills and qualifications, and which industries are growing.

That’s boring is likely to be the lament, but not nearly as boring as working for 40 years in a job you’re not cut out for.