First, by way of disclaimer, I have heard it said that academics don’t read personal statements or don’t set much store by them. I, on the other hand, see the personal statement as a great opportunity for an applicant to explain why they should be admitted to university to read their chosen subject. For me, it is an opportunity to demonstrate why that student should be admitted to read law.
I certainly read personal statements.
It’s not easy to answer the question “why do I want to read law”? Many students can’t have a strong sense of what studying law at a university like Cambridge will be like. You are unlikely to have studied the subject before. Legally Blonde or Suits or Silk are fictional accounts. You may think you want to work in law, but I’m more interested in why you want the law degree.
So, for me, part of the point of the personal statement is to be forced to undergo a process of self-examination. The outcome of that process is telling. The personal statement should answer some key questions: Why is it that you want to spend three years of your life working in legal study? How can you evidence an enthusiasm for the subject, a deep interest in it and an aptitude for it? Answering those questions is personal. Importantly, your personal statement must be your own. You are going to be the one undertaking a law degree. You will need to motivate yourself to finish it and do well. Aping someone else’s motivation won’t help you thrive in the law course.
I look for evidence to back up any generic statement such as “I am interested in law because it is the basis for society”. How have you demonstrated that interest? What do you think is the role of law in society? Why? You could draw on examples you have found in books, in the news, or from your own experiences. You could use your co-curricular and extra-curricular activities to show self-motivation and organisational skills as well as a wider experience of life. Work experience is not necessary. However, if you have found an illustration of why you want to study law while at work experience you could refer to that. Law is all around you, go find it!
Consider what sort of qualities might make a good law student. These could include abilities to read widely and critically, to evaluate arguments and evidence carefully, to analyse problems and come up with a practical solution, and to present arguments clearly and effectively while taking account of differing views. Your personal statement should demonstrate your best qualities. Again, merely stating that you can read critically is weaker than explaining how you have done so with reference to an example. Examples can be drawn perhaps from your A level studies.
The personal statement will also give me insight into the way you structure your writing, the sophistication of your language, your clarity of expression and your ability to be concise but relevant. You have a limited number of characters: did you use them to best effect? Lawyers are careful with language. Poor spelling, bad grammar and shoddy proof-reading are not signs of a good one.
Year 9 Students visit Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University
Monday 19th February, 30 year 9 students spent an inspirational day at Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge University. After a tour of the college, the students were given the opportunity to talk to undergraduates first-hand about life at Cambridge, their courses and future aspirations. Students also got to meet with Sandringham Alumni Kathryn Knight who currently studies Law. After lunch in the great hall they were invited to take part in a higher education quiz, and then see where Professor Stephen Hawking works at the college. Students commented that the day had opened their eyes to what a university is, and were inspired by the opportunities that an institute of higher education offers.
Category: Latest NewsBy Emma Walker