Personal statements are a vital part of the application process for university places. They are the one written piece of work that the universities staff dealing with applications will read. This is the chance for the students to make their voice heard, demonstrate what they are really about and what they are interested in. This can and does have an impact on admissions decisions. With more and more competition for places, they are playing an increasingly important role.

I have written previously about personal statements for Innovate my School’s website and felt perhaps it was time to re-visit this subject from a slightly different angle. Let’s ensure the students not only feel the fear but follow their dream!

Teachers, parents and students alike have some apprehension and comments for debate on this vital document, which may be one of the first yet most important written pieces our children will have to produce. Schools and students nowadays have access to mountains of excellent advice and guidelines. Some of which is spot on for the majority of courses a student may wish to take.

Are too many students given the impression that university is the only option? Mark Steed returns to Innovate My School, and discusses a great alternative to higher education.

There are many reasons for going to university but arguably the most important three reasons are:

  • To have a life experience: making the first steps to independence by living away from home, living with like-minded people.
  • To gain an internationally recognised qualification, which will open doors into the job market.
  • To study - to learn skills and engage with a body of information.

British universities have had it good for a long time, with successive Governments encouraging ever greater student numbers, but I suspect that the tide is about to turn.

The arguments for going to university are not nearly as strong as they were in the past. Going away to university is a luxury that not everyone can afford

There was a time when going to university was a privilege for a minority that was earned by gaining a good A-level grades and was paid for by the Government, who saw fit to invest in our 'brightest and best'. Those days are gone. Universities are now businesses operating in a competitive market place and they are far from free. According to the National Union of Students the true cost of being a student outside London is £22,189 each academic year (£10,133 for course costs £12,056 for living costs - for the full breakdown of these figures see the

Today's undergraduates are likely to leave university with £50,000+ debt  (BBC Website: 'Average UK student debts 'could hit £53,000' 12/08/11).

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