anything and everything that comes to mind

Writing a personal statement

Writing a personal statement is one of the most difficult projects I am currently working on. Not being a naturally boastful person I struggle with ‘blowing my own trumpet’ and I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the excessive use of the word “I”. So this post is, in part, an exercise in self-promotion as well as a collation of tips to bare in mind when writing a personal statement.

My particular need for a page of self-centred babbling is for a Masters application but the same rules apply for prospective undergraduate.

Tip 1:

Research the course. There’s nothing worse than describing what you believe the course can offer you when in fact it doesn’t involve anything of the sort.

My course: Publishing MA, particular module of interest: history and culture of publishing.

There is no doubt that being specific is harder for an undergraduate as one personal statement has to do for all five university choices. However, particulars are important when applying for a Masters as each application is individual.

Tip 2:

With a Masters be mindful of what the university is asking of your personal statement as the phrasing of the question can vary course to course.

In a similar manner to essay writing, link each point back the question. Remember PEEL (point, evidence, explanation, link).

Tip 3:

Where will this course take you? What are your future plans? Be clear in stating how you can personally benefit.

My benefits: a career in the publishing industry, opportunities for work experience and networking, studying in a globally recognised centre of publishing.

Even if you’re not entirely sure what career path you are aiming for still try and suggest a possible, realistic future post-study. I certainly had no idea of what I wanted to do until a few months ago, and I’m still not sure which avenue to pursue (marketing, academia, research, fiction, non-fiction, educational etc). Just because you mention an interest in a PhD doesn’t mean you’ve committed to further study but it does show a recognition of the possibilities beyond the next couple of years.

Tip 4:

If you say you have read a book – great! this shows an ability to read around the subject and can demonstrate interests beyond your subject of choice – make sure you actually read it! Don’t be caught out at an interview.

Tip 5:

All work experience is relevant.

I have no experience in publishing, and all attempts to find  placement have fallen flat, but I do have a work history in hospitality and supervisory roles. This demonstrates responsibility, team leading skills, trustworthiness etc (I’m feeling more accomplished by the minute)

Even a Saturday job is worth mentioning (it doesn’t matter if pot washing has no relevance to Medicine or English), state explicitly the skills you have learnt – team work, time keeping, initiative etc

Also, any volunteering gives you extra brownie points.

Tip 6:

Universities are as interested in your hobbies as they are in your academic records. They look for people who will take part in all that the university has to offer – it could be sport, film, music, ‘home hobbies’ such as reading, blogging or even knitting. Universities have societies for everything imaginable, and if one doesn’t exist feel free to express an interest in creating a new society.

Tip 7:

Be unique.

During my research into personal statements I have read a fair few examples online and the amount of people beginning the first paragraph with a quote or dictionary definition in an attempt to sound clever and well-read simply sound repetitive. Admissions departments read thousands of applications and they are not interested in Plato, the Oxford Dictionary, or David Cameron and they especially do not want anything from Wikipedia. They want you.

I have tried to get past my aversion to self-promotion and started my statement with “By nature I am…” (I wont repeat any more here in fear of plagiarising myself).

Tip 8:

By all means use a thesaurus but be wary. Remember Joey in Friends?

Take Monica’s advice and be yourself.

I only use a thesaurus when I’ve repeated myself, generally I use words like “experience” “interest” and “enjoy” too often. Just make sure it all makes sense afterwards, perhaps have someone else read over it.

Tip 9:

Include technical language where relevant to show understanding of the subject.

Also, always explain abbreviations and avoid shortening words. Use full sentences and remember all those rules we learnt at school. Don’t be too informal, a personal statement is a message to a professional stranger, not a drunken boast to friends.

Tip 10:


Let others read it (friend, parent, tutor).

Proofread again.

And again.

Finally, send it off… and relax.



The Human (Spider) Problem

They always appear this time of year, as soon as the leaves begin to turn and air feels damp with chill. God knows how they find their way in, we’ve blocked up all possible entries and yet here they stand.


Strange creatures they are. With two legs and two arms they use for climbing. Quite ungainly in way, ill-suited to the game of cat and mouse, and yet they evade our efforts to eliminate them.

My mother believes placing conkers in the corners of our den will dissuade them from invading. Each autumn she takes the grand-spiderlings off for a day of frolicking in fallen, golden leaves, picnicking in cool autumn sun, and conker-gathering. I useimages (2)d to believe her tales of a house free from pests until, one morning, I awoke to find a pest sitting, quite calmly, on top of my biggest conker. Two legs swinging back and forth. A grin on that sickly smooth, pale pink face and a challenge in its two, forward facing, arrogant eyes.

I say arrogant, because they are just that. They feel at home in my den, believing they have a right to belong in a cluster they contribute nothing towards. I’ve often found it strange how such a small, insignificant creature can survive with only two eyes, especially as, unlike most prey, their peripheral sight is severely limited by the placing of those eyes on the front of the face. They are quite unconcerned with the dangers of the modern world.

We all have different ways of attempting to deal with the mass of human inhabitants in our dens. As mentioned, my mother listens to myths and herbal remedies; I have long given up clearing our den of humans, and let’s face it, they don’t do much harm. My daughters squeal at the sight of one scuttling across the floor, lifting their eight hairy legs off the ground, two or three at a time, before clambering onto the nearest web-hammock. The braver of the girls approaches the sprinting human before it can scamper into safe hiding and brings a great weight down on its soft body, squishing it flat.

My sons see their sisters’ efforts of human-evasion as vastly amusing and seek to capture a human, mostly achieved by gently lifting them up by their skinny arms (yanking too hard often causes amputation of the limb and the human escapes to die elsewhere), they then throw the pests in the direction of their sisters. Even if they miss, they are not great bowlers by any means, the girls claim they can feel little legs crawling all over them minutes after. Of course, such outrageous stories and dramatics means the whole scene is repeated once a new human is spotted dozing in a den corner.

My wife, bless her pincers, cannot bear to cause suffering to any living creature. She’s a great insects-rights campaigner, protesting against the battery farms for flies which produce cheap, but poorly reared meat. Anyway, she carefully places a glass over the human (I find the expressions on their deceptively innocent faces hilarious when they realise they are trapped), slides a piece web-paper underneath, then takes them outside. Those poor creatures do stamp their feet so and shake their fists as they shiver in the autumn mist. I think they believe it makes them look threatening and angry. I think they look like spiderlings having a tantrum when my mother refuses them fly-pops.

(all images courtesy of google)


‘Everyday Sexism’

everyday sexism

If you haven’t heard of Laura Bates’ @Everyday Sexism campaign it’s definitely worth a look.

How to spread the message?

My brother’s a good boy, I like to think I’ve taught him well, but I still want him to, if not read the entire book, read extracts. I want him to show his friends, I want everybody at his secondary school to read, to study, to believe and to change.

Yet, when I consider how extracts would’ve been treated in my GCSE English or Life Studies lessons a few years ago I shudder to think of the comments my fellow students would’ve made. Laughing it up, having ‘learned’ by age 16 that sexism is okay, that making lude remarks and innuendos is ‘cool’ and ‘popular’. I am also saddened by the thought that female students, if they didn’t join in explicitly, would have laughed (albeit uncomfortably) – not wanting to be deemed ‘frigid’. I am ashamed to say I would have been one of them.

Perhaps 16 is too late to introduce such a controversial idea as equality. The issue stems from early childhood with the clear separation of boys’ toys (cars, science sets, pirate books etc) and girls’ toys (dolls, make-up sets, fairy books etc) which suggest defined gender roles and instil the notion of difference. For children this notion is innocent, but as they grow gender difference is confirmed, emphasised and ingrained.

This is what needs to change. Why can’t a little girl’s interest in cars be encouraged into a career in mechanics? Why can’t a little boy set up home with dolls and later pursue social work? Hopefully early education can help in correcting ‘Everyday Sexism’.

About Me

Hi there,

Thanks for dropping by 😀 (does that sound too cheesy?)

I am a 22 year old full-time hotel worker and part-time Sociology student looking to pursue a career in publishing. Due to illness my university education has been somewhat disrupted over the past few years, a situation I wish to reverse next year by returning to full-time study at Oxford Brookes reading an MA in Publishing.

I often have stray thoughts floating through my mind at odd times and this is me immortalising them in writing and opening them up to the virtual void of the blogosphere.



Here we go again

This is my second attempt at keeping a blog. My last one trailed off a couple of years ago, hopefully this time I can maintain the enthusiasm 😀 Wish me luck


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