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Admissions Personal statement advice

  1. Dec 4, 2017 #1
    Hi guys. Im about to apply for uni, hows my personal statement?
    Any advice would be great!

    Physics is the fundamental science, the study of everything, and for someone who wishes to learn more about everything, what better subject could I possibly choose? My passion for physics stems from Science fiction novels from the likes of Peter Hamilton. Awestruck by some of the technologies I would research to see if they were actually possible. My research led me to become hooked into the properties of quantum physics, space-drive technologies, antimatter and the properties of an infinite universe. Unknown to me at the time, my research had strayed from the fiction to fact and I would spend a great amount of time teaching myself physics to the best of my ability, and the Physics just pulled me closer. I became aware that I wanted to be a physicist in year 10 of secondary school, and I have never strayed.

    I thoroughly enjoy losing myself in physics, and it is my dream to do so for the rest of my life. Recently, I have been reading 'The Road to Reality' by Roger Penrose. Although I do not completely understand it all, it has heightened my love for Theoretical Physics in particular, but it was yet another thing to show me how little I know;a flaw I seek to remedy. I have watched a great deal of lectures online, and I have read various textbooks. I an attempt to teach myself while I have been ill the last few years and I came across a text book on google by Professor Robert Brown from Durham University in North Carolina, who I contacted for advice and I went away with a great deal of work to do (the work he gives his own students), another text book and a source of reliable advice on how I am best to achieve my dream of being a physicist.

    Cosmology and Astrophysicists has proven to be my greatest area of interest. The concept of the Multiverse is awe inspiring, Dark Energy poses massive repercussions to our knowledge of the universe and I find Black Holes and Relativity to be something I really want to master. Not because I think it fun or easy, but because the more I read the more I know I am clueless and I hate not understanding. To me, not knowing just poses a challenge that I am happy to accept and a challenge that will just drive me insane until I am done. I am never happy if I leave something unfinished, and it is a trait that has served me well. I am determined to find answers, and I will not stop until I do.

    I consider myself an independent and dedicated person, capable to study and learn on my own. I actively seek to better myself in every way i can and this is present in how I work.I was doing A-levels 2013, but I was hospitalized in 2014 with Cancer, which meant I could not finish.This presented me with a great opportunity. I could start over and dedicate myself to what I love,which i had not previously done,a mistake i will never repeat. I never stopped learning in the time that I was out of education, choosing to keep advancing myself. I worked little since secondary school as a result of this. My only major job was a Warehouse Operative. In this job I needed to work efficiently to set targets and as a team. My numerical abilities and clear-thinking was noticed here, and I was soon transferred to stock control, where it was my job to check stock levels, solve any problems that might arise on the system and inform others on how to keep check and maintain order.

    I look forward to furthering my knowledge of the universe,a worthy cause to dedicate my life to. A cause that I believe I am worthy of.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    You could try to run your writeup through the Hemingwayapp.com and see what pops up. I did it and it said you're writing at an 11th grade level. It also showed some spots where you could use more active voice and a few sentences that were a bit complex.

    Be aware that Hemingway won't identify most grammatical errors but gives you suggestions to make what you say more assertive.

  4. Dec 4, 2017 #3


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    As a foreigner I stumbled over seeing 'who I contacted' instead of 'whom I contacted'. I have no idea how bad that is in todays usage of english at universities, though.

    I understand the purpose of your epistle is to present yourself to someone who can influence your admission. In that case I wouldn't dwell so much on 'dreaming of soandso' and 'losing oneself' , 'love for Theoretical Physics'
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  5. Dec 4, 2017 #4


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    Only through first paragraph, WHAT said is or seems to ME fine for a young person trying to get into an undergraduate program, but HOW you said it seems like not a real way to communicate. Too many fancy ways of trying to sound both enthusiastic and not genuine at the same time. One may get a feeling that you are overstating what you have learned from your so-called research.
  6. Dec 4, 2017 #5


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    I'll offer a few thoughts...

    Consider the goal of your personal statement. Presumably this is to gain admission to an undergraduate physics program at a university, but that's not clear from what you've written (here or elsewhere). When you're writing to convince someone of something like this, it's generally best to state what you're trying to achieve, and then delve into the reasoning. Not that I'm much of an English person, but I believe this is referred to as a "thesis statement."

    Also - know your audience. It's probably a safe bet to assume that the faculty on admissions committees to physics programs know what physics is.

    It's fine that your interest in science stems from science fiction (no need to capitalize), but I'm not sure I would lead with something like this. A lot of science fiction is really hand-wavy stuff that while making for interesting speculative plotlines, is only tangential to real science. Undergraduate physics is a lot more about the Boltzmann probability distribution, eigenvectors, and uncertainty analysis than it is about wormholes, warp drives and quantum entanglement.

    Also, remember your thesis. You don't really have to convince anyone that you love physics. That's generally a safe assumption about anyone applying to study it for undergraduate. Instead, you want to convince someone that this particular program is a good fit for you. Think about how you might complete the following sentence:
    I want to attend this university's undergraduate program in physics because...

    While interesting, Penrose's popular science ideas on consciousness are controversial and probably not the hook you want to hang your hat on as someone trying to enter the field.

    This latter part comes across much stronger to me - you took the initiative to contact a professor and started working your way through assignment material.

    Here you're "telling" instead of showing. And again, think about how it supports or doesn't support your goal. Can you give some tangible evidence to support your interest in cosmology - a project that you completed in high school, extra-curricular stuff?

    Make sure you self-edit this. A lot. The letter "i" needs to be capitalized when used to refer to yourself. The word "cancer" does not need to be capitalized.

    Congratulations by the way on surviving your battle with cancer. In an essay like this, I might add more emphasis on this because it's a personal adversity that you've managed to overcome. I would avoid talk about "starting over." Focus on what you've done that you're proud of.

    Your conclusion should come back to your thesis. I'm sure you are worth of "furthering your knowledge." What you want to do is convince the reader that you should be admitted to the program.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  7. Dec 4, 2017 #6
    Thanks for your help. How would you suggest I indroduce this? In the Uk,we have to apply for 5 different undergrad courses via a 3rd party(UCAS),whilst they dont need to be in different universities, i have chosen three different universities , in 5 different courses. 3 foundations(4 years instead of three,as i am having to do an access course to get in) and 2 different physics bsc's in lesser universities as they will let me straight in.( I hope to get into the University of Birmingham)

    Should i just generalise and say Undergraduate Physics Course?

    Also,as i am still undergoing treatment, i have no extracurricular activities besides study for the access course I'm doing and sleep.( my treatment finishes in march) What do you suggest i do? Also, would emphasising this look like I'm fishing for sympathy?
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