“You can write up to 4,000 characters of text that shows you’d make a great student – so it might take a few redrafts until you’re happy with it.” – UCAS Personal Statement
Applying for universities and getting accepted is arguably, just easier than trying to solve world poverty or achieving world peace, so yes, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and no few words that can be typed which would guarantee you a place at university on the course which you want. (I could claim at this point, that I`m exaggerating, but with a fresh perspective having just registered recently, that would be a lie). It`s the most gruelling, emotionally draining and intimidating application form that I`ve ever seen. Trust me, I`m familiar with a gruelling process, having recently applied for a part time position in a UK leading retail department store, known as Marks & Spencer’s.
There is not only a fat wad of details to fill in but having processed the primary details of name, address etc. You are then greeted with the oh so jolly requirement of a personal statement. At this point in proceedings the prospect of a stress induced meltdown or a panic attack doesn’t seem like such an unlikely possibility. I`m not stressy nor a panicker (yes I made the word up) but seeing “4,000 characters of text” threw me !! No word of a lie, I could most probably write a weekly shopping list that would use more characters than the limit given. I mean 4000 characters is just little over a page of A4 in size 11 – I use more words in English Research Assignments !
Not only do Mr and Ms University give us character limits but they also expect to be shown within that ridiculous limit, a delusional amount, about how great you are and why they would be fools to let you slip. I`m confident even Shakespeare would have been stumped. So 4000 characters what could they possibly want ? Oh don’t worry, surely with that kind of limit it can`t be that much….
Oh No !! They only want to know all about the hundreds of academic articles you’ve read in line with your chosen subject of study (because of course you have nothing but free time on your hands) with the added addition of work experience (because work experience is so easy to get – especially in fields of work bound by confidentiality), extra curricular activities (because achieving high grades doesn`t use a lot of your time), sport commitments ( obviously this makes you well rounded), volunteering (because your just a giving pillar of the community and practically a saint), ideas (because your ideas could rival that of scholars), passions, reasoning for chosen subject of study ( because evidently everyone`s born knowing what they want to do, so obviously this should be easy),all lectures attended which have “relevance” – well if your putting it in your personal statement then surely it is relevant urgh etc etc !! Anyway, in addition to all of the above, they demand high grades to have your application seen and not just binned. They want to know a “little” about you and expect you to compete against international candidates as well as those of your own country (not like there`s a lot of competition already) all to later charge us with a fee of a substantial amount for a common 3 year course of £27,000- the cheek !! All this effort and exhaustion for a degree to get a job which may not even be in demand after graduating so arguably won`t even get !!! How is this madness logical ?! Yet without a degree, no one will employ you (yawn). Oh and to round this whole façade off you can`t just list everything, because you know, that would be too easy, you have to form this elegant succinct statement containing this information. Oh, but don’t worry 4000 bloody characters should cover all of the above, no issues. After multiple drafts (not 3, minimum of 6) !!
Well honestly, Mr and Ms.University administrators I`m not afraid to tell you like it is, because well in truth if you don`t give me a place because of my perception then that’s your own loss (A university which accepts me is the one which is truly worthy of me and all that I can realistically offer and not just all the waffle written by the majority of students in their personal statements). Sadly, the same waffle I too will have to write.
Every student who you offer a place too, isn`t the exceptional being they demonstrate on paper in their personal statement so why are we having to waste our time writing, and you waste yours reading, when in truth they hold hardly any value seeing as they are all fake, box ticking pieces of literature, some of which may not even be written by the potential applying students but by pushy parents or other paid students.
Dear all universities,
The fight for university education and places is on, so for a change bring your A game because we always bring our A grades.
Sincerely A, and all those students unafraid to speak the truth about the system.