how to write a personal statement as a mature student

How to write a personal statement as a mature student

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It might sound controversial, but I genuinely think mature students overthink too much when it comes down to returning to education. The reason why I am saying this is because I used to do it too. I was overthinking every single aspect of my return to studying, including how to write a personal statement.

A possible explanation for this phenomenon it’s given by the word “mature” itself. I think that as an adult you have a much better understanding of how important higher education is. Probably, this is because you “touched” the real world with your hands already, and you want to get it right this time.

It turned out to be a lot easier than I initially thought. Personally, I applied for five courses in three different Universities, receiving an offer from all of them. It was actually harder to choose which one to accept!

Being honest, when I had to write my personal statement, I was attending an access to higher education course, in some cases also called foundation course. This made the whole process a lot easier, as I received useful tips from the academic environment.

University mature student

If you will have to attend an access course, they should guide you through the whole application process (hopefully). If you are not required to attend one as a pre-requirement to apply for University, you will have to do your own research and write it on your own.

Regardless of your situation, in this article I will help you understand how to write a personal statement as a mature student in 5 simple steps. Remember one thing, we are all different and we all have something unique: our personal story.

What is a personal statement

Firstly, let’s see what exactly is a personal statement. The easiest way to think about it, at least for me, is “cover letter” style, just similar as you would write it when applying for a job. You are trying to sell yourself by using your personal statement, it needs to be convincing and clear.

Some courses have really limited intake numbers, so the personal statement can play a massive role in the student selection process! Remember that on the other side there is someone reading it and trying to assess if and why you are suitable for studying in their University/College.

In terms of length, the UCAS guidelines indicate a limit of 4000 characters and 47 lines. I bet it sounds confusing, because it does. It basically means one page, approximately between 500-550 words (sounds better I guess). They also recommend to write in a concise and simple manner, as well as being enthusiastic (although not exaggerating).

personal statement stories and experiences

How to write a personal statement as a mature student

There is not a precise structure to follow when writing your personal statement. This is because, ideally, they should all differ from each other to a certain extent: is YOUR story, only you really know how to market it best. However, there are a few points that should be definitely included in your personal statements.

I have covered most of those points when writing mine, as well as some specifically for my status of mature student. Think about answering these five questions when writing your personal statement as a mature student:

1) Why did you choose this subject(s)?

A very important thing to remember here is to no to mention the exact course’s title nor University’s name. This is because, through UCAS, you can use only one personal statement, although it can cover all your course choices (up to five applications). Therefore you should ideally talk about the subject(s) in general, common themes and why you are interested in those.

Looking at courses’ descriptions might help you identify some key words with broad meanings. You could use those key words to justify your choice without mentioning specific courses’ titles. By doing this you will also demonstrate your interest in the chosen subject(s). Furthermore, you will show your knowledge through the use of a technical terminology.

Studying from home? I got you! Find below all I needed when I was studying from home

2) What qualifications do you have and how these relate to your choice?

When writing my personal statement, I split this question in two parts. In the first part I talked about my grades already gained when I was still in education back in the days. I have primarily discussed what I had enjoyed most and where I had performed best. In the second part I have talked about attending the access to higher education course.

Specifically, how the subjects covered throughout the course helped me understand better what I wanted to study at University. Regardless of whether or not you are going to go through an access to higher education course, I would definitely recommended doing something similar. It is important to somehow link your past/present academic experience to your future one.

3) How does your experience relate to your chosen subject(s)?

This is an important part to cover in your statement. As a mature student, I believe this is the strong point of your personal statement. Here you have to talk about the gap, what you have been doing while been away from education. Have you been working? Travelling? Caring? Parenting? You need to transform this gap in a strength. Explain how your experience led you to return to education, why now?

Importantly, you should explain what you have learned during that time. Another suggestion that I can give you is to use the “magic” words when discussing the skills gained in the gap. Words such as time management, teamwork, meeting deadlines, multitasking and so on.

Personally, I have structured this part around my years of work experience. Everything I learned from the industry I was working (hospitality), to the feeling of being stuck in it. This was one of the main driver to my return to education as a mature student. If you to read more about that, you can find it here: “I am stuck in a job and see no way out“.

4) How do your interests relate to your chosen subject(s)?

Similarly to your experience in question 3, in this case you should explain your general interest to the selected subject(s). In order to answer this question, think about how you keep up with the news regarding your chosen subject(s). Do you read about that industry/sector? Attended webinars and conferences?

Another part to cover in this section are your activities/hobbies. You can mention any sport you do, association you are part of, volunteering or anything that demonstrates other skills and values you have. Those will enrich your personal statement as a mature student to support your application.

5) Why should you be offered a place?

Here is your chance to stand out by showing your enthusiasm about being an University student. You can start by talking about why you will be a great students, immerging yourself in the academic life, making friends and actively participating and adding value to the University. This article can give you some ideas on Uni life “Studying online vs on-campus“.

Another part that you can cover is your future, your life after University, talk about your final goal. Remember that they always welcome students with high chances of success, since the more they are successful after University the higher is the reputation (and ranking) gained by the institution. Show them your ambitions!

Starting University? No worries! Below you can find everything I used around the campus

Student Essentials

Here you can find all you need for your University journey!

General Tips on writing your personal statement

Start big! My suggestion is to answer those 5 questions throwing in a lot of details for each. This should be easy, since it is your personal experience and feeling you are talking about. Surely you’ll come up with a lot of arguments when you really start thinking about those questions. Although it might sound that you will be repeating some parts, another suggestion is to answer everything individually at first.

If you are unsure about your writing skills, I would definitely recommend this guide; * How to write Essays & Assignments. This helped me a lot during my time at University. I am pretty sure it can help you write your personal statement. Moreover, it is definitely helpful for your future essays and assignments!

UCAS personal statement guide

Once you have done that, I would except that you will have exceeded the 4000 characters limit (highly likely). It is at that point that you can start your word cutting process. You will get rid of all those repetitive and less relevant parts. Once you are done, you will be left with the best quality personal statement.

Make sure that, after word cutting and joining all the 5 answers, the text is fluid. In order to do that, I would suggest reading it out loud several times. Moreover, you should adjust it in a way that contains an introduction-main parts-conclusion (or brief summary). You could also ask someone to read it and give you feedbacks.

Thank you for reading my guide on how to write a personal statement as a mature student! If you are still doubting if University is worth it as a mature student, you might want to have a read through here “Is going to University as a mature student worth it?


Please be aware that everything discussed above has been solely based on my experience when writing my personal statement as a mature student. Although I believe it is a solid structure, which got me the offers I wanted, it might not work for everybody.

I would therefore suggest you do your own in-depth research for your personal statement, thinking of this article as something to examine in more details. Obviously, the UCAS website is a must resource to check: UCAS personal statement. I would also definitely suggest having a look at various Universities’ websites, as they might have specific pages for personal statements.

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