My Top 10 Most Common Personal Statement Errors - (10) Too generic

too generic

So I’ve reached the final installment of this blog series and I want to address one of the errors that is sometimes so hard to put your finger on.

As an experienced careers adviser I often read through sound statements from good students which, in theory at least, hit all the buttons. But upon reaching the end and reflecting, I just feel a huge sense of disappointment - as though it’s been a missed opportunity. I find myself saying to myself “but, I don’t feel I know anything about you. I have no sense of who you really are”. In these cases, the issue is usually that the personal statement has been just too generic. Yes, it may well follow a solid structure and contain all the elements that it should, but it gives me nothing more. The author hasn’t given me that extra detail/enthusiasm/personality/insight that I really want to read. As a result, I remain unconvinced by their application.

There can be nothing more satisfying than meeting a student for the very first time, spending just 5 minutes reading through their personal statement and by the end of it finding that you have been able to form a really clear idea of who that student is and what motivates and drives them - a valuable insight into their personality. Rarely are these the people with interests that include “reading, going to the cinema, and socialising with friends” (and if they are, in fact, genuine interests of theirs then they will certainly be telling me a little more about the genre of books and films that they are interested in or particular works that they have read or seen that have had an impact on them).

Don’t aim to be just like everyone else. Your personal statement needs to stand out from the crowd. It is called a personal statement for a reason - it needs to be personal to you. How you decide to do this is entirely up to you. It may depend entirely on what you can offer. Maybe it is related to your own personal story. Or perhaps it is more about the particular way that your story is told. The most important thing here is to be true to yourself and to write honestly. I know when I’ve read such a statement because I find that I am smiling by the time I reach the end. So aim to write a personal statement that is going to put a smile on the admissions tutors face.


Don’t forget that Momentum Careers Advice offer a personal statement review service for just £55. Email info@momentumcareersadvice.com if interested or read my blog post What is involved in a UCAS personal statement review?

If you want to browse through the other blog posts that I’ve written on the subject of UCAS applications then please click on this link.