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 Geography applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Oxford University. The Geography Course at Oxford provides a holistic view of the workings of physical and human environments, the ways in which humans are transforming the world and the implications for human societies.
Read on to see how this candidate managed to navigate the many disciplines and topics of Geography.
Here’s a breakdown of the Personal Statement:
The universities this candidate applied to were the following:
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Geography Personal Statement
Geography is outward-looking, dynamic and topical. It allows me to gain insight into daily news stories on immigration and Middle Eastern conflicts for example, by highlighting their complexity and the challenge to find and evaluate solutions to these problems for the future. The diversity and vital relevance of Geography makes it an immensely valuable subject to study in-depth and I would relish the opportunity to pursue further study in the field.
The area that is of particular interest to me is development geography and specifically global aid. I was introduced to the use of aid in closing the wealth divide in my A2 case studies, where bottom-up aid on a local scale was consistently depicted as a sustainable solution. I was forced to question these views, however, after reading ‘Dead Aid’ by Dambisa Moyo. Her critical comments on charity-based aid particularly caught my attention as they offered a stark contrast in perspective on my case studies. I found it interesting that the factors which contributed to the success of many of the case studies, including small-scale, intermediate technology and low cost solutions were the very aspects of aid that Moyo calls ‘band-aid’ solutions implying unsustainability. The book also touched on the controversial issue of whether aid remains a successful or even acceptable solution when the $50 billion of aid given to Africa annually is arguably not producing significant economic development or improvement. To investigate this further I read ‘The End Of Poverty’ by Jeffrey Sachs which explained how well managed aid can indeed offer an answer to closing the wealth divide. This led to my research into the Millenium Villages of Ghana. Here aid, coupled with local leadership, appears to have delivered a long-term solution to serious economic and social problems. This divergence in opinion over a controversial issue has excited me about exploring these issues in more detail.
To investigate these issues further, I have been prompted to take a gap year to experience the workings of an international NGO. I will be joining the work of education promoting ‘Empower A Child’ in Uganda for 3 months. I hope to gain a rewarding insight into the practical relevance of Geography in the field of non-profit aid and specifically to test Sach’s belief that investment into education is a viable solution to ending poverty.
My other subjects complement my understanding of economic, physical and scientific elements of development and Geography in general. Reading ‘Driven to Extinction’ by Richard Pearson highlighted how Biology and Geography are inextricably linked in our study of the physical world, particularly with regards to the role regulatory systems have in levels of biodiversity. Chemistry and Physics have been relevant in equipping me with the skills to devise data collection programmes and to analyse the results; skills which were necessary to my fieldwork visit to Dartmoor.
My academic background is complemented by my extra-curricular activities. I was the Organ Scholar and Choir Prefect at my school. My responsibilities included conducting and directing the Chapel Choir on a weekly basis. I was also a fully committed and dedicated member of other choirs and ensembles. I relished the challenge of arranging and conducting in the House Singing competition which required me to inspire and motivate team work within the house. I have gained 3 Grade 8’s in Organ, Piano and Flute and am currently working towards my Piano Diploma. I was involved in leading the school’s Christian Union through which I have catalysed fundraising for organisations such as Mary’s Meals. In my gap year I am working as Organist and Choir director at St Luke’s Church Grayshott before going to Uganda. These activities demonstrate leadership skills, commitment and an enthusiastic approach to challenges, all of which will equip me well for the study of Geography at university.
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Good Points Of The Personal Statement
This is a very good personal statement and is well-written. The student is clearly interested in many aspects of geography, which is very important as geography is a multi-disciplinary subject. The student describes several areas of geography which capture their interest, demonstrating their interest and commitment to the reader. The student justifies their decision to take a gap year well, and the relevance their activities will have to the subject of geography and their interests in global aid.
Bad Points Of The Personal Statement
The student misspells the word ‘millennium’ in the second paragraph. The second paragraph is also very long. It is hard for the reader to stay focused when reading through long paragraphs, and it would have been better if the student had separated the second paragraph into two. The final paragraph is also very long, and it is not clear where the conclusion begins. As a result, the end of the statement does not deliver the impact which the student has intended to produce. If the student separates the sentence ‘These activities demonstrate leadership skills, commitment and an enthusiastic approach to challenges, all of which will equip me well for the study of Geography at university’ into a new final paragraph, this would have made the final statement much more effective.
UniAdmissions Overall Score:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a very good statement. The student has a wealth of experiences and clearly highly motivated to study geography. Some paragraphs are very long, and this reduces the impact that the statement has on the reader. With some restructuring, this could be an excellent statement.
This Personal Statement for Geography is a solid example of demonstrating a wealth of knowledge, motivation and interest, vital to Admissions Tutors.
Remember, at Oxford, 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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