Welcome to our popular Personal Statement series where we present a successful Personal Statement, and our Oxbridge Tutors provide their feedback on it.
Today, we are looking through a Land Economy applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Cambridge University. The Land Economy Course at Cambridge is intellectually challenging, emcompassing Law and Economics, with aspects of the environment, business finance and resource management.
Read on to see how this candidate wrote a Personal Statement that helped secure their place on a reputable degree.
Here’s a breakdown of the Personal Statement:
The universities this candidate applied to were the following:
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Land Economy Personal Statement
My interest in economics has grown out of two diverse sources. On the one hand, an international perspective and a critical attitude to global issues is my lucky inheritance, given my mother’s engagement in international media and my father’s interest in Latin American culture. As I grew up my mother was employed by the International Herald Tribune and euronews while my father worked as a Spanish translator. This background has given me a particular openness to the world around me, a fondness for understanding different cultures and a critical sensitivity towards social issues. On the other hand, from an early age I enjoyed the benefits of having an aptitude for mathematics and the pleasure of abstract problem solving. After long speculation I have come to the idea that I should combine these two diverse interests, in the social world and that of abstract rational thought, through the discipline of economics.
The fact that my initial interest in mathematics grew with time is due to the excellent education I received at Berzsenyi Daniel, one of the top grammar schools in Hungary. I benefited from the advanced math classes (8 hours a week) and summer math camps with knot and game theory being this years theme. These intense learning experiences were valuable not only due to the content taught, but also as teaching was structured around improving presentation skills, developing source analysis and the rules of academic writing. The warm and encouraging atmosphere of these camps as well as the inspirational, if competitive attitude taught at Berzsenyi has set me onto a trajectory of exploring mathematical and economic issues during my own time. As such, I ended up reading some works by John Harsanyi and audited lectures at ELTE’s first year applied economics course, with units that included microeconomics and basic function analysis. An additional dimension where Berzsenyi provided a privileged educational focus was the area of languages. Emphasis was placed not only on the idea that students should become adapt speakers (of English and German in my case), but also that they become open to the cultural background and history of the nations where these languages originate. It is from these classes that my interest in English and German literature springs, with Oscar Wild and Thomas Mann taking top spot.
There has been additional influence that remained a persistent factor in my personal development. This has been the importance of community based team work. I grew to understand the significance of this, partly by getting elected co-chairman of the Student Council and partly by having played water polo. The first experience taught me the importance of political representation and responsibility, while the second the significance of discipline as well as creativity when treading collectively towards a common goal. Extracurricular activities also played an important role at my school. I took part in a UNESCO competition which focused on climate change and scarce natural resources. While the team achieved third place, the competition was an invaluable experience that further propelled me towards wanting to understand the relationship between national economies and environmental issues.
I feel that exploring the discipline of economics would be the most ideal way to combine my interests as well as develop the skills I have gained during my education so far. While the diverse multicultural environment of the UK has remained an important factor in my choices, it is the historic tradition of higher education that has attracted me the most. I strongly believe that it is this tradition; with its central focus on the individual student, with high expectations, excellent resources and internationally renowned scholars and teachers, which would be the best place for me to develop my natural abilities and ambitions.
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Good Points Of The Personal Statement
The statement portrays the student as capable and well-educated, with a clear and developed interest in Economics. They seem to have a good grasp of what studying Economics at degree level will involve, and are confident they will be able to handle the work (in particular the mathematical aspects of it), a claim that is supported by their academic accomplishments. They address the particular environment of university study, which is unusual, but beneficial to the image of a mature, competent student who has made a clear-headed decision to study Economics, on the basis of interest and ability.
Bad Points Of The Personal Statement
The student emphasises their excellent education. While it is perfectly fine to admit the advantages a good education has given you, this does little to stress your own accomplishments as a student, or to demonstrate that you’ll be a good candidate for further education in Economics (it might even have the opposite effect, since a much larger portion of learning at university is done through independent study). This time would be better spent discussing their own efforts, and the way their interests have developed and how they’ve pursued them, rather than discussing the structure of courses they’ve been lucky enough to attend. Where they do discuss their own interests (their favourite authors, for instance), they do so in little depth.
The writing is clunky and forced, and reads as trying to be impressive by inserting superfluous adjectives and connectives, e.g.: “There has been additional influence that remained a persistent factor in my personal development. This has been the importance of community based team work.” Sentences like this are clearly not written in the student’s natural writing style (but, rather, the style they’ve developed for A level essays, which require formulaic structures involving making a point, giving an example, and expanding on it). More naturally, it would read something like “The importance of community has been a persistent factor in my personal development”.
UniAdmissions Overall Score:
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The student ought to take a more personal approach to their statement, by focusing on their interests and achievements they’ve secured through their own efforts, as well as relying on their natural writing to convey their personality, rather than couching the statement in an attempt at academic speech. Despite this, the essay is strong; they elaborate well on how their education has benefitted them, and why they want to study Economics further.
This Personal Statement for Land Economy is a great example of demonstrating academic interest and initiative. The candidate’s interest and passion are clearly shown which is vital to Admissions Tutors.
Remember, at Cambridge, these Admissions Tutors are often the people who will be teaching you for the next few years, so you need to appeal directly to them.
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