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Mechanical Engineering Personal Statement help

Uploaded by venom.antim | Feb 11, 2006 | UCAS Personal Statements
venom.antim asks:

I am a guy, and would to get some help for writing my SOP . I plan to study mech engg

etutor answers:

Your Personal Statement is an increasingly critical factor in a universitys decision to make you a conditional offer. Since most university departments do not use interviews as part of the selection process, it is really the your only opportunity to make yourself stand out from other applicants who are equally qualified. University departments also use Personal Statements to confirm whether applicants are aware of the nature and demands of their chosen courses, and particularly where there are specific entry profile requirements or where they are unrelated to A level subjects. An excellent Personal Statement can also explain the reasons for disappointing earlier examination results, and can help selectors to decide in borderline cases once A level results are known. The Personal Statement represents a golden opportunity to stake your claim and to advertise your strengths and qualities. Some clear thinking and honest self-questioning now could save you a great deal of heartache and expense later on.

Your Statement must be extremely carefully set out, with use made, where appropriate, of sub-headings, underlining and italics, so that it really stands out, and thus demands to be read. It is probably a mistake to believe that the longer the statement the better; some of the most effective submissions do not exceed 300 words, and very carefully chosen words at that. UCAS advises that 53 lines of text and 72 characters per line will fit into the box, using Courier New font at 12pt. It is probably best to write in complete sentences. You must also make sure that your English is very clear, and that the Statement contains no errors of grammar, spelling or punctuation.

Try to find examples of Personal Statements written by students who have previously applied to courses in Engineering. This will give you an idea about the required format and content, though do not be tempted to lift impressive-sounding sentences or paragraphs! Remember that most courses now have Entry Profiles, and it is therefore essential that you research and consider these (use the university websites) before you start on your draft. You will need to provide specific examples in your statement of the particular skills, qualities and attributes that are sought.

The most effective Personal Statements are likely to offer about three separate paragraphs, and with a little space left between them. The principal aim (and by a mile) is to get across your enthusiasm for selecting your chosen subject. This means that most, probably two-thirds, of the statement will identify and reflect upon your academic interests. As a hard and fast rule specific examples are always far more convincing than very general statements, and so do not begin by stating I want to read mechanical engineering at university because I am very interested in it. Your interest is taken for granted; what selectors and interviewers want to know is what steps you have taken to foster and to develop that interest, and not simply in AS/A level classes. You should therefore start by outlining clearly the reasons for selecting the subject, since it is essential that you justify your choice of course. Explain exactly what it is that excites you about it, and make explicit reference to very specific examples of topics, issues, personal research, reading outside the A level specification, practical work, projects, coursework or fieldwork. Link your subject choice with examples of personal experiences that triggered or reinforced your interest, though do not fall into the familiar trap of beginning with ever since I was a child. You might, for example, refer to wanting to know how and why something worked in the way it did. Place a great deal of stress on the links between Mechanical Engineering and your A level subjects (which presumably include Maths and Physics) - show why the skills acquired through mastering this or that topic are so important to an engineer. The more you can say about practical work and projects, the better - be very specific about anything you have investigated, designed, created or made to work. You could also display some knowledge of current developments in the subject.

Since you are applying for a course that is in part vocational you should place more emphasis upon the career on which your heart is set, and therefore on the experiences you have had to date that have influenced your choice. You need to get across the idea that you are applying to university with a view to broadening or deepening your academic experience (and the skills that accompany it). It is often a good idea to explain how much you are looking forward to making a systematic study of a range of theories, interpretations and approaches that you recognise will often be in conflict, and that you are not looking for definitive answers to what are invariably complex questions. If you do find yourself having to explain away mediocre or disappointing examination results, make sure that you place the stress on the action that you are taking to redress the balance, and sound confident about your ability to bring about the necessary improvement.

You might go on to provide details of your academic achievements, such as scholarships, performance in AS level examinations, prizes awarded and any participation in external competitions. Avoid, however, references to achievements before the age of about eleven (unless they are truly sensational), especially where you are unable to provide concrete evidence of any subsequent development or reinforcement. You might here also want to give some brief indication of your career aspirations, if you currently have any, and, where possible, establish links between your degree course choice and your career choice, though (except where there is a necessary link between degree subject choice and career) be careful not to put too much emphasis on any suggestion that your choice of courses is simply a means to a career end. Any relevant work experience should also be mentioned here, placing the stress on how you benefited and what exactly you learned. If you plan to take a gap year, outline the reasoning behind your decision, and give some indication of what you have planned or are in the process of planning. Refer to any sponsorship for which you have applied. Any activity that is enabling you to develop one or more of your skills is particularly worth mentioning in this context. Indeed, you should include in your statement any information that demonstrates that you have acquired (and are using) particular life and study skills, including any associated with information technology, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, communication, and service to the wider community. Wherever possible, indicate how your various skills might be honed and exploited in your course, and in university life in general.

In the final section of your statement you have an opportunity to describe your personal strengths, qualities and interests, and thus to impress the interviewers and selectors with your likely contribution to university and college life. Wherever the opportunity arises, make sure that your interests and achievements match those that are specified in the Entry Profile. As a general principle, you should always try to get across what you have learned from involvement in your chosen activities, making particular reference to the skills that they have enabled you to develop. It is therefore a good idea to explain how and why you have become more resourceful, or creative, or inquiring, or ambitious, or aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. It is also important here that you get over the fact that you have seized the more rewarding opportunities that have come your way, and that you are looking forward to developing at least some of them at university, or to taking up new ones. Include examples of activities and interests that demonstrate your leadership or teamwork capacity, your enterprise or originality, your sensitivity to the needs of others and contribution to a community, or your determination to stick at a task. Select three or four prominent (and preferably contrasting) activities which bring out these qualities; they certainly do not have to be confined to school-based activities, and might well encompass sporting, musical, artistic or dramatic talents and achievements. Voluntary or charity work, team membership, direction of a play, responsibilities at school, performing in concerts or organising a rock group, and fascinating or unusual hobbies are simply a few of the possibilities. You can therefore use references to your extra-curricular activities to highlight your motivation and your ability to rise to a challenge. Try to offer evidence that you have plenty of energy and stamina, that you can work independently, that you can manage time effectively, and that you have a clear sense of priorities. Resist the obvious temptation to include long lists of sporting teams you have played in (since the age of seven!), foreign countries you have visited and activities in which your participation is no better than marginal or occasional.

The most common errors made by applicants are to write too much and to devote a disproportionate amount of space to non-academic considerations. Lists should be avoided at all costs, as should any content that is misleading, fictitious or trivial. The appearance of the dabblers charter is a route to suicide in other words, sentences such as I enjoy reading, travel, debating, sport, rock music, shopping, etc.. Pretentious language and quotations from books or learned authorities do not impress either. Avoid generalizations, platitudes, repetition and extensive quotations. Do not exaggerate, or make a meal of a particular interest or activity, and do not come across as smug and conceited, since this will give the strong impression that you feel you have little more to learn. Do provide evidence that you are a social animal and will therefore fit in at university, but do this via the outlining of the activities in which you are involved; under no circumstances declare that I like socialising, since this has been known to create unfortunate impressions of heavy drinking and party-going!

Remember that the aim of the statement is to establish that you are an interesting individual in your own right, with your own priorities, values and agenda, and therefore someone who will clearly benefit both from the course and from university life; this should be summarised in a short, though decisive concluding sentence. Something along the following lines might encapsulate what you have been attempting to say I greatly look forward to the challenge of a demanding degree choice, and am confident that I have the academic ability, determination and personal qualities to make a success of it.

I hope this is helpful. I am happy to look at a draft when you have completed it.

2 student responses

i dont want to help because you cant think you need us do ure self.if u thought i was going to help naa
responded Feb 15, 2006 6:57:02 PM GMT

Thanks for SOP help!

I learnt something

responded Aug 27, 2006 2:58:05 PM BST
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