Writing a personal statement for a college application

Some learning providers might ask you to write a personal statement as part of your application. Read on for some tips on how to write a good one.

A personal statement is a written piece of information about why you are applying for a particular course. It’s an opportunity for you to tell the admissions team about your skills and experience, and how this is going to make you a perfect fit for what you are applying to do.

Start by introducing yourself and say why you are applying.

Write a sentence or two that tells the college, sixth form, sixth form college or training provider about yourself and your current situation, such as:

“I am currently in Year 11 at ...” “My favourite subjects are...” “I like these subjects because...”

Next, write about your career aspirations, ambitions and why the course you have chosen fits with your plans for the future.

Here are a couple of phrases you could start with:

“I am applying for this course because...” “I am hoping that completing this course will help me become a...” If you do not have any clear career ideas at this stage, just include your reasons for choosing the course. So, for example, you could say: “I am interested in science subjects, particularly biology and chemistry. I would like to use them in a future career.”

Write about your achievements.

Mention any achievements and positions of responsibility you have held, such as being a form representative, looking after a younger sibling or caring for a pet. Have you helped at parents’ evenings, completed your Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, or mentored a younger student? You could also write about awards given in assemblies or prizes you have received for playing sport. Include skills you have gained from any work experience, part-time jobs, or voluntary work. Most courses require skills in communication, teamwork and time management.

Write about the positive qualities you have and give examples of how you have demonstrated your skills.

An example of this could be about how you led a small group of students on a class project, or gave a presentation about your favourite topic. If you’ve done voluntary work at a care home, write about how this developed your caring qualities and good listening skills.

Below are some different skills and qualities that you could include in your application. Remember to include examples of these skills and qualities in action!


  • Accuracy 
  • Communication 
  • Creativity 
  • Decision making 
  • Drawing 
  • Interpreting information 
  • IT 
  • Leadership 
  • Literacy 
  • Negotiation 
  • Numeracy 
  • Organisation 
  • Planning 
  • Problem solving 
  • Public speaking 
  • Team work 
  • Time management 
  • Working under pressure


  • Caring 
  • Competitive 
  • Dependable 
  • Enthusiastic 
  • Flexible 
  • Friendly 
  • Hardworking 
  • Honest 
  • Motivated 
  • Organised 
  • Outgoing 
  • Practical 
  • Punctual 
  • Reliable 
  • Resilient 
  • Responsible 
  • Tactful 
  • Trustworthy

Write about your hobbies and interests.

You could write about activities you have participated in, such as school plays, dog walking for neighbours, reading, going to dance classes, playing a musical instrument, going to the cinema, taking photographs or going to the gym.

Be honest.

The place(s) you are applying to will ask school for a reference, which includes information about your attendance, punctuality, attitude to learning and behaviour, as well as your predicted exam grades. You may be asked to talk about what you have written at an interview. If you haven’t been truthful in your application, it will be difficult to continue the lie face-to-face!

Be positive and enthusiastic.

Write about what you can do, rather than what you can’t. Use words or phrases such as ‘willing to’, ‘tried’, ‘overcame’, ‘interested in’, ‘successfully’ or ‘keen to’. Make sure your personal statement demonstrates why you are interested in applying for your chosen course. Keep your writing focused and relevant to the course you are applying for. Avoid copying someone else - write your personal statement in your own style.

Check the word count.

There may be a limit on the number of words you can write, for example, if there is a limit of 4,000 characters, the most you’ll be able to write is around 500 words. It’s a good idea to write your personal statement in Microsoft Word first, so you can keep an eye on the word count and do a spell check. It’s also acceptable to write less than the total word count, as long as you write about why you are applying.

Check for mistakes.

After you have finished writing, read it through lots of times. You could also get someone else to check - it’s easy to make mistakes when you are typing.