Sarah had a great attitude to her personal statement and sensible started planning it and adding to her skill set early on.
My personal experience of the application process was fairly straightforward, as I’d known what I wanted to study for a while up until that point. I ended up submitting mine very early, in October, and going into interviews starting November, even though the pharmacy UCAS submission deadline was January. What I’d wish I’d done differently is speaking to the teachers writing my references and predicted grades, as my college tutors didn’t know about any of my extracurricular activities or volunteering and therefore didn’t have the chance to mention them, or let them influence their reference for me – if you speak to the teacher (or manager, or colleague) writing your reference and make sure they know you're a great student, it will reflect in whatever they write about you.
At the end of the day, the application is your chance to really sell yourself to admissions boards. Universities want to know what will make you the right candidate for their course, and too many students fall into the trap of simply talking about their academic achievements – which is important, but it isn’t the only thing you should be talking about. Don’t be afraid to talk a little bit about your hobbies as well. Any interest in things like books, music concerts, art and other culture is something to be shown off. In my personal statement I talked most about studying and appreciating Art, and whilst this doesn’t sound related to Pharmacy as a subject, I used it to show that I was well-rounded and spent my time pursuing something cultural, and as an added bonus it’s interesting to talk about.
By the time I came to write my application I had spent the summer of year 12 volunteering for Oxfam and working part-time in a restaurant, and whilst this was good experience to put on my CV for the sake of employment I mainly did it knowing I’d be writing my application in September. When writing my statement, I talked about this in depth and made sure to relate it back to why it made me a better candidate – charity volunteering especially pushed the idea that I am conscientious and empathetic, and my work experience shows responsibility and resilience. Work experience was an easy way to set myself apart from other candidates because a lot of applicants go into university having only ever been in education.