Top of the Class

#5 College Tips - A Deep Dive into the UK Personal Statement with Crimson Strategist, Abbi Colwyn

March 03, 2021 Season 2 Episode 5
Top of the Class
#5 College Tips - A Deep Dive into the UK Personal Statement with Crimson Strategist, Abbi Colwyn
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Top of the Class
#5 College Tips - A Deep Dive into the UK Personal Statement with Crimson Strategist, Abbi Colwyn
Mar 03, 2021 Season 2 Episode 5

If you're aiming to apply to universities like Oxford or Cambridge, then nailing the UK personal statement should be high on your priority list.

In this episode of College Tips, Oxford graduate and Crimson Education Strategist, Abbi Colwyn, takes a closer look at what makes a successful personal statement.

She shares some her favourite essay writing formulas, mistakes to avoid and memorable essays to help you get a great head start!

Show Notes Transcript

If you're aiming to apply to universities like Oxford or Cambridge, then nailing the UK personal statement should be high on your priority list.

In this episode of College Tips, Oxford graduate and Crimson Education Strategist, Abbi Colwyn, takes a closer look at what makes a successful personal statement.

She shares some her favourite essay writing formulas, mistakes to avoid and memorable essays to help you get a great head start!

Podcast Host  00:00

Welcome to top of the class, hear from education experts and get insights from high achievers to learn how you can do the same get into those top schools ready. Proudly presented by Crimson Education, the world's leader in university admissions support. Hello, and welcome to college tips. Today, UK application strategist and Oxford graduate Abby Cohen discusses the UK personal statements. She shares some of her favorite essay writing formulas, techniques to refine the essays and examples from successful applicants. Let's chat with Abby Cohen. Hi, Abby, it's fantastic to have you on the show. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?


Abbi  00:41

Yeah, great. Thank you for having me. So I'm Abby. I'm a UK strategy consultant here at crimson. So I work with students aiming for top universities in the UK. I myself studied at Oxford, I did English Language and Literature specializing in medieval ism, actually. And then I did my masters at London School of Economics in international policy.


Podcast Host  01:03

Wow. So you've been at both Oxford and LSE. So you've seen some of the top universities both in the regional parts of London, I guess you could call Oxford and Cambridge, regional in that sense. And also right in the centre of London, right in the heart of London, what was the biggest difference for you between that experience from Oxford and LSE?


Abbi  01:22

I mean, so. So the biggest difference, I would say, was the collegiate system at Oxford. So being part of a college itself, not just the university, I absolutely loved that. It made it super easy to make friends, there was lots of college events, which I found really nice sense of belonging that side of things. Whereas at London I lived in private accommodation with friends already had. So that made things a little bit different for my masters. But I loved London life, the networking, the environment, being on a tube, not so much. But everything else I really, really enjoy, but definitely different living experiences. For sure.


Podcast Host  01:57

I've been lucky enough to visit both Oxford and LSE. Just as a tourist, of course, not as a student, I wish as a student. But yeah, it's LSE, I found to be fascinating, because you barely know it's there. Some of the times like you're walking past the buildings, and you'll just see these like little inconspicuous LSA signs. So it's so integrated in the heart of London, and obviously Oxford Oxford, is very much owns the town in a way. But let's get into what you're wanting to chat about today, which I believe is personal statements. Why did you choose personal statements as your topic of choice? Hmm,


Abbi  02:30

great question. And so ultimately, I love working with students on their personal statements, I find it such an interesting process, because it's one of those parts of the application that you can really make individual. So it's a chance for me to have meetings with students and actually just get a sense of what their interests are, and have great debates in our sessions as well. So with working with students across different subjects, I'm learning as well, I'm learning about all these different areas of physics, or maths or humanities that that students really, really care about. And so I just find it really, really rewarding experience and to get students from, you know, just initially describing being a bit shy, maybe about I've read this, but I don't really know what to talk about. So then seeing a finished product, something tangible at the end, where that'd be insightful and really, really engaging. It's just a really, really nice thing to see and to work on. So definitely something that I'm passionate about in the application process.


Podcast Host  03:23

Yeah, absolutely. I can hear that passion in your voice, which is awesome. So I'm looking forward to asking you some questions here and learning more about the personal statements. My first one being, what role does the personal statement play in the application process? Like, at what stage? Is it likely to be read? Is there likely to play a role there after? Like, what are your views on the importance or the role that the personal statement actually plays?


Abbi  03:49

So I guess it's the big personal pitch. So it's really a student's opportunity to give a sense of who they are as a student. So it looks a little bit different in the application process. So students will ultimately write their personal statement as one of the first things they do for the application Admission Test interviews come much later. So that's the first thing they do. Whereas in the application process, it's actually one of the last things, especially for Oxbridge and on top universities that they look at. So they'll start with the kind of the numerical of grades, academics, admission tests, and then they come to look at the statement. So it's really important that that is your big personal pitch that it talks about your interest in the course beyond just what you're good at academically and what you excel in, it needs to very much be about what have you done that demonstrates your interest, your passion, your curiosity, and what are the experiences you've had that makes that relevant? So the role that that really has in the application process is making you an individual making someone who isn't just a carbon copy of what we think universities love to see, but actually someone that's really put in the effort to find out what it is that that they love about their subject and I would say for non Oxbridge universe Because there might not be an interview, it really is your one opportunity to do that you don't have a second chance of giving off your personality and talking through those interests. So it's really worth making the most of that.


Podcast Host  05:11

And if you could put like a weighting roughly on the personal statement, is that something that you're able to do? Or does it really depend on your university that you're applying to etc,


Abbi  05:21

ignoring kind of medicine, but med dentistry, which is a completely separate ballgame, I would say you're looking at 75% on academics. And then 25% is the personal statement with all the extracurriculars in there with the wider reading subjects engagement. So it's not the biggest factor in your application. But it's certainly something that can push your candidacy and make them make that decision, medicine, dentistry, that med medicine, personal statement becomes less important. They really only use that for the interview stages. And for borderline cases, pretty much everything for those applications will be work experience academics, and the admission test.


Podcast Host  06:01

So one of the things that I thought was always interesting, and talking to a former admissions officer who came to Australia, who was a Stanford former Stanford admissions officer, but he said one of the things when you're writing a personal statement for the US, which is another whole topic that we're not going to get into today, but he said like you need to be kind of cognizant of your audience and who you're writing it for. And he said, like the majority of people who are reading these, you know, personal statements in the US and humanities backgrounds type of people, that if you go too heavy in the technical language, they might kind of glaze over and not really understand what you're trying to get across. Is that the same in the UK in that, like the majority of people are reading the personal statements are kind of humanities backgrounds, people who enjoy reading, or is it more kind, of course specific experts who are likely to read the personal statement?


Abbi  06:52

Hmm, yeah. So you really have to break this up for kind of Oxbridge and non Oxbridge just because it works completely differently. So, so non Oxbridge, its general admissions officers. So yeah, not necessarily a humanities background. But it will be people who have elected and being, you know, ultimately employed to look through that part of the application process. And so for that kind of application, it does mean being super clear with what you're trying to say you can use specific language to show that you've got knowledge of your course. So we do want you to be very subject specific in your statement, because we don't want it to feel like a humanities statement. We want it to feel say like history statement. Or if you're applying for a stem subject, not just a general stem statement, but a math statement. So you do have to give those specific areas of knowledge with the way you write it needs to be extremely direct and extremely clear. Because it's a general admissions officer, or Oxbridge. It's a completely unique process, because it's tutors that will be reading your statement, not general admission staff. So these will be the people that might interview you, and ultimately could be your tutor in a one to one or two to one tutorial or supervision. So for the Oxbridge application, that very much means going above just here's my interest, but actually making sure that you stand out as someone that a tutor says, right, I want to chew to you, the way that you really do that is by showing your academic character. So by that we mean, showing that you're curious showing that you're an independent thinker. Don't just paraphrase the reading, evaluate it show that you're being critical and analytical. And through that they get a sense of your academic potential for for university levels for Cambridge, that you're not just memorizing a curriculum or memorizing a book. But actually, you're doing something a bit further, something a bit deeper. So that really is the difference, I guess, with who reads it between those universities.


Podcast Host  08:43

So am I right in saying that? No, you only have one personal statement to write. So if you're applying to say Oxford or Cambridge because you only apply to one. And you also have LSE UCL, those kind of universities on your shopping list as well. Who should you address your personal statement to I mean, knowing that there's a little bit of a difference between the two approaches, right, should you say, Alright, I'm going to go hard or go home. I'm aiming for Oxbridge. And that's what I'm going to be pitching my personal statement to? Or should you take the more conservative approach and try and write the one personal statement that might strike that middle ground and appease everybody?


Abbi  09:21

So we say to all students, or applicants make it an Oxford statement, because if you're if it's an Oxford statement, it will suit the non Oxbridge. It's just that the Oxford has that extra bit of depth, that extra bit of academic reading, but if you're not applying to Oxford or Cambridge, you don't necessarily need to have to get those spots. And so ultimately, the key thing for the whole one size fits all rule. One personal statement for all five choices is just making sure that your course selection is right that you're not picking vastly different courses that your statement is going to alienate one, but target another that if you are applying for slightly different courses, say you're applying for some politics Philosophy, economics GPA, and others just politics and economics. But your main dominating disciplines in there are the politics and economics but with a little bit of philosophy. And so that's really the only thing that you need to account for with the whole kind of one statement for all is just that you're not picking these very, very difficult choices.


Podcast Host  10:17

Okay. Well, my next question is about formulas. Because often when it comes to statement writing, whether that be in the US or the UK, I think a lot of people like to start off by understanding the formula is their old kind of way of thinking that once you know the rules, you can break the rules type of thing. But is there actually a typical formula that most students would probably try and follow or emulate if they're writing a personal statement for the UK?


Abbi  10:45

Yeah, I mean, so we see kind of what a typical successful statement looks like. And I mean, pretty much all of them have a very, very personal introduction. I know it's similar in the US in terms of having a really bold and impactful opening. So for the UK, that introduction, just needs to really give us a sense of why you're applying for the course. So the example that I give students is really what does it stem from? So not just my parents are lawyers, I want to study law. But actually, is there a debate that you've all discussed? And what was the debate? And what was the particular discussion point that you grappled with? or Are you frustrated by something, something really personal, I would say is a safe formula for that introduction, kind of moving on from that, I guess, main body paragraphs, depending on how long your paragraphs are, because the word count at the same it's so small for the UK, it's 4000 characters. So pretty much 600 words, it's tiny, is really making sure that those main body paragraphs still show depth, even if they're slightly shorter. So we usually say make sure there's a key interest in there, make sure there's some evidence of how you're going to be on the curriculum, and then make sure you've got some analysis, some evaluation of that evidence, what did you gain? You know, what was your big takeaway from the internship you did, or from the book you read, and then really just making sure that that conclusion ties everything together, but really gives a sense of what do you hope to gain from the degree? Have you got a career path in mind? Or really, what do you bring to the degree, so I really push all my international students to lean into their background, because that's what sets them apart from domestic students. So actually, having lived in maybe two different countries, or knowing five languages, what does that add to this degree? Why does that set you apart? And then I guess, in terms of the tone of the statement, the formula that works, is really just being authentic, being genuine. Having senses that aren't just plausible, but really a well conceived that we can see that you've put a lot of time and effort into coming up with the insights, and making that analysis. And a crimson, we have these fairly cheesy saying these five key pillars, but that really does work. And I know spiky pillars, you know, insight. Are you showing those takeaways? Are you engaged and curious? Is it well structured? well written or quality of prose? Is it personal? So only you could be the only feasible author? And then is it is it authentic? And for me, those five things really do work for students?


Podcast Host  13:04

Love it. Okay. That's an awesome summary. Thank you so much for that. Abby. I feel like I, I understand, I've been working with Crimson now, nearly five years. And that's probably the best breakdown. I've heard of the personal statement. So thank you for that. Should that formula change at all? Like should you have, you know, if you're applying to a very technical subject, spend more time in your body of your essay talking about the technical sides of your application that you might want to bring to the fore? Or is it all you know, pretty much the same, no matter what chords you're applying to.


Abbi  13:58

So definitely can change definitely. So that's, I guess what I've gone through is, if you like a kind of a general skeleton, a general structure, just that is that kind of basic level what it looks like, but certainly, so if you are applying for say medicine, something a bit more professional based or technical, there's different things that they look for. So they want to see work experience, they want to volunteering, they've got a list of kind of key qualities and selection criteria that students have to demonstrate. So you know, honesty or empathy or problem solving that need to be in there. And same really with with some other technical subjects, they engineering, they like to see practical application as well as the academic reading. So it certainly can, that basic skeleton structure can change. And also it really depends on the student's profile. So I work with some students where those three big main paragraph works really well, because a lot of their activities are reading links naturally with one another and there's connections to be made that make the paragraph flow rather than a list, but for other students that I work with, you know, They might have loads of different extracurriculars they've done, they've done an essay competition, they've done work experience, they've made a blog, that don't necessarily all link. And so it makes more sense for them to have slightly smaller paragraphs that are still coherent than try and shove everything together in one long paragraph that actually just doesn't make sense. So we can play around with that structure a little bit. And really, in terms of Oxbridge, the only difference is that they just want to see extra academic engagement. So we roughly say about 80% academic exploration. So that doesn't mean just curriculum, or just reading it might be you've done a research paper or an essay competition, but making sure you're showing that academic potential through your analysis through what you're saying and reflecting on,


Podcast Host  15:42

I always like looking at the common mistakes that students might make. So in the personal statements case, what might they be is it maybe even as simple as exceeding the word limit or writing too short or going off topic or, you know, that whole idea of my parents are lawyers, therefore, I want to be a lawyer type of thing. Like, it's been kind of vague as to why students want to be there. But from your side of things, having worked with a lot of students on the personal statement, what do you see as being some of the more basic common mistakes that our listeners might be able to avoid?


Abbi  16:12

So as you mentioned, cliches, the big one, I see that so many times, yeah, I've always wanted to be a doctor, I really want to save lives. And that's lovely. You know, we want everyone to save lives. But it needs to be a bit more unique than that, you know, three or voluntary hasn't been a particular patient you engage with that stood out to you and why? So that we avoid the sense of kind of, you're just being pushed into a direction. But instead, actually, you've chosen this direction, it's something that has been an educated choice. So definitely avoid those those kind of cliches. And with that, a lot of students tend to quote people I've seen most recently, actually, that they they think they need to, in reading academic material, use a quotation and actually you really don't you want to be use your own voice as much as possible, rather than using anybody else's. If you are set on using a quote, make sure it's sure and make sure that you don't just have put it in there that you actually engage with it, you know, why are you using the quote? What are the limits of the quote, you know, what do you think the quote, links are more broadly in the issues and insights of your course, the other thing we see a lot is listing, we see a lot of, you know, I need to tell you all my achievements, because they're really impressive. And I'm really happy about them. And that's great. But we don't want it to just be a long list that a tutor is having to read hundreds and hundreds of these that they just go right? Yes. So you want it to be engaging, you want us to get a sense of why these different extracurriculars are relevant to your course and how they build on one another, you know, did you gain different perspectives from different books? Did you, you know, gain a more practical application of doing something. And so the big thing we say, cheesy again, but really discuss don't list. So really get that evaluation with that as well. We say show don't tell. So don't just tell me something, Don't tell me you're creative, or you're critical, or you're independent, show me that show me through what you've done. And that you have those skills? Those would be the main things, I think,


Podcast Host  18:05

right? Right. Well, this is an interesting one, because I would have liked to a thought that I was a good English student at school. I don't even know if that sentence was structured correctly. But basically, you get the gist. I thought I was a pretty good English student at school, I would get some decent marks in my essays, etc. is a student who is good at English at school, likely to be at an advantage when writing the personal statement? Or is it pretty much a level playing field because it is a piece of writing that is unlike the majority of pieces of writing that students are likely to engage with at school? Right, you know, you mentioning the quotes and those kinds of things. That sounds like, you know, the the structured essays that they're putting together for their, you know, school assignments in analyzing a text or whatever it might be. So yeah, there's the whole concept that this is a piece of writing that students don't typically engage with, there's a kind of level the playing field.


Abbi  18:59

Yeah, yeah, that's a really interesting question. I guess I guess it it does. I mean, there's some things you know, about structure, that obviously they're looking for that they want to make sure it's well structured. But it's it's well conceived that, that students are being complex and the way they're thinking, but I think that's an important distinction to make that actually, it's not about having complex convoluted language, because they'll absolutely see through that, that doesn't give you any advantage, if anything, it's just hiding and clouding what you're trying to say. So yeah, it's much better to be clearer, straight to the point direct, saying, I have developed a particular interest in this. Here's how. And so in that sense, I guess, yeah, you don't have to be the top of the English class to write the best statement. It's about the student who is genuinely engaged with that subject, and is talking them through what they've done that demonstrates that interest. So let me try and give you an example here. I had a student last year who applied for economics. English wasn't wasn't his first language, but he wrote an amazing personal statement that was so straight to the point I'm so reflective. I mean, he got an interview to Oxford. So one of his paragraphs, you know, he had work experience in a supermarket, which isn't necessarily life changing doesn't really lend itself naturally to these big analytical, maybe complex, convoluted arguments. But actually, it did, because he said, Look, while working at a supermarket, I noticed that items I level, they were sold most quickly. And he connected this to something you read about I level is to buy level and all about consumer spending consumer behavior. And so actually, yes, he wasn't the best English student. Yes, he didn't have English as a first language. Yes, he didn't have these outstanding extracurriculars that were academic. But the way he reflected on it and the way he wrote it was so direct, that what he was saying was, was complex, as opposed to how he was saying it, if that makes sense. So you know, definitely think that it levels the playing field in that sense. And, as you mentioned, it is unlike essays at school. So this is also why we say to really start this process early. Because the tone of it is completely unique to anything you've ever written before. And probably the only thing you'll ever write again, that actually as long as you take the time and rewrite and edit, and, you know, talk to your strategist or or talk to your teacher and follow those steps, that actually anyone can write a very, very good statement as long as they're being reflective.


Podcast Host  21:21

Well, that leads me to my next question, roughly, how long should students put aside to write their statement?


Abbi  21:27

Definitely longer than a week. I mean, I I wrote, I think I wrote like eight to nine drafts of my personal statement before I sent it. I mean, this really is a process of rewriting so. So I would say, you know, if you're applying for the early deadline, if you're applying for that October 15, deadline, you want to be starting in May or June, if you're applying for the late January deadline, maybe you've got a bit longer, you know, start in summer, July, August time is probably okay. We also want to think you want to submit earlier than the jam deadline, just because offers that are on a rolling basis, but separate issue. And so really, the reason we say to start early is because there's so much to fit into 600 words. And actually, I think the 600 words, 4000 character limit makes it harder, because you have to still be impactful and show depth and be analytical. But not just talk about one thing, you've got to talk about three or four things and get all your extra curricular and all your reading that you want to mention him. But a lot of our students are just like, how do I narrow this down? And so it takes a while to select what you want to talk about. It takes a while to draw connections so that you know which book which extracurricular belong in the same paragraph, which don't. So that takes some time. Then once you've written it, you might want to restructure the organization, which paragraph do I put at the top? Which is my best one? Where is my insight? A bit common? A bit, you know, generic? How can I deepen that? Do I need to read an extra article? You know, here, I mentioned sports, but I'm applying for medicine, you know, how do I make that relevant, or I need to go and read an article that looks at sports medicine. So it really does take a while to refine exactly what you want to say. And because of the short word count, and because you have to be as concise but as impactful as possible. It does mean that a lot of times, especially near the end, you're spending quite some time taking out those those last 100 200 characters without losing any meaning. And so that in itself can take some time, too. So yeah, definitely, definitely start early. I know that all teachers say that. But if you want this to be something that says to universities, and says to Oxbridge tutors, hey, I really care about my application I've really put the time in, they will be able to see that in the structure and the quality of your statement.


Podcast Host  23:34

I really love what you did in the middle of that answer, which was kind of ask yourself those questions to get your statement to that next level, kind of that reflective questions. Is this too cliche? Is this too generic? Have I linked this properly to the course that I'm applying to? Do you have any other tips for that editing, drafting, rewriting process that students might be able to use no matter what I say that writing whether that being a personal statement or any other essay? Sounds like you've done this quite a few times. So I'm going to guess you'd have some tips for students, whether that's to read it out aloud from your side, is there any particular tips that you have for students are going through this drafting process?


Abbi  24:14

With the kind of the narrowing the shortening the word count? I say to students, you know, you've said this in two sentence, can you say it in one? So I guess the question they can ask themselves, there is, I might say the same thing twice, but just in a different way. Because that's something that we see as well. Also, in normal essays, you can see that because you really want to make your point and you want to make sure that you're being compelling. You can actually say things twice over. And that's just a waste of word count. So that that's the first thing. I also say students, particularly for this idea about being personal being genuine. I get them to say right, is this sentence just plausible. So as a reader who doesn't know anything about me, they've never met me. They've never spoken to me. Is this sentence believable? So that's number one. Once you found out Yes, it's believable. It's plausible, then is it more than that? Is it actually well conceived? Is it something that's thoughtful, something that I haven't just said, I've done work experience? Let me prove that to you by telling you what department I worked in. But going beyond that, and saying, here's a meeting that I sat on specifically, this is what I learned, I guess is the other question I have, is this specific enough? Or could anybody have written it? And so especially talking about reading, because you know, a lot of these these big books that are on the recommended reading list that students read, you know, that's fine, that's fantastic. But imagine that another 100 students are reading that book, are you saying the exact same thing that they're saying? Or are you saying something different? And that can be a way of making sure that even though you're using really academic and rigorous reading, you're still standing out, you're still being that critical thinker? And also coherence wise? Does every sentence build on the one before? Do you have that flow, as opposed to just this stream of consciousness and thoughts that actually don't link? Is it very much a sense of right, this is a sentence that tells them my interest, this is the sentence that goes deeper, this is the sentence that provides my evidence. So it's really important that you get that sense of building blocks. So I get students to think about that, especially if they're mentioning more than one extracurricular or reading. It's actually a case of well, why are you mentioning both? How does one link to the next does one provide a different approach? Do they disagree? Do they agree? And then what do you think having synthesize the two together? So it's really about those building blocks that they can ask themselves about?


Podcast Host  26:24

Well, you're certainly making 600 words sound a lot more complicated than it usually could or should be great when students think 600 word essay, they're like, Oh, yeah, easy, right. But there's so many questions that go into making a really good essay. And I think or personal statement in this case. And I think, and knowing those questions, and knowing how to reflect on the importance of those questions, and knowing what to do, when you find the answer to those questions, they're all the things that go into making a great personal statement. So from your side of things, do you remember a great personal statement? One that kind of jumped out at you I know, you mentioned the student who was applying for economics. But is there any other essay that you can think of where you read it? And it may have been the first time that students submitted it to you or may have been like a third or fourth draft or whatever it might have been? Could have been your own essay? Who knows? And it's a way you're like, oh, wow, they have just nailed this. And can you talk us through I guess, why? Perhaps that essay stands out to you.


Abbi  27:25

You know, there's so many, because, like I said about it being like being an original being unique. There's so many times I've read a statement and just go, Wow, you've really understood the connections that I want you to make here. And so Okay, one from this year then. So I had a student who, like, Yeah, let's go for a nice car. So I had a student who applied for for anthropology at most universities, and then at Oxford, apply for it, and eventually has gotten into anthropology and archaeology, which accepts something crazy, like 40 students per year across all colleges, so it's absolutely tiny course. And I think what was impressive about this, the students statement was she never studied archaeology before or anthropology. So both were new subjects. And so what we really worked hard on was using, okay, what can be done in your curriculum that we think is relevant, say, in history or in English, that we can then use to help further your interest in in anthropology, archaeology. And one of the things we started with so one of her paragraphs, she started with Look, I'm deputy editor of my school magazine. And she spoke about the skills she gained, you know, the qualities, the analytical side of it. But then she went into one of these specific articles that initially, she started looking at, from a history perspective, a historical perspective. And then she thought, actually, maybe I can use this for my archaeology anthropology side. And I specifically remember coming to the meeting and saying to me, Abby, I found this ivory salt cellar. And I was like, Okay, cool. Tell me about this ivory salt cellar. And we ended up just having a chat, we ended up reading these articles, she went away, she looked at religion, she looked at culture, as you're at this amazing paragraph all about how this ivory salt cellar, could show us through material culture. The relationship between people in Sierra Leone and the Portuguese, I think in like the 1500, some sometime around then. And she spoke about African themes, Christian motifs, and the impact of trade on Coltrane, it was it was superb. But actually, what stands out most to me was that, once you've done that, once you drink this article for a school magazine, that yes, relevant to the course she's applying for it. In the end, she then had this fantastic sentence at the bottom that said, retrospectively, now evaluating what I did in my newspaper, here's what I would have added. Here's a perspective, I didn't have chance to include them. But I want to tell you about now. So she was showing these, you know, tutors that she done this amazing extracurricular, she done this incredible analysis, but there's still more to do. There's still more to be curious about. And she went and tried to start answering those additional questions. And I think that's a great example of actually you can apply to something you've not studied yet, and still be curious, analytical, engaged, and still managed to make your extracurriculars relevant and draw those connections between your cause And something you've done at school.


Podcast Host  30:01

I love that anecdote. That was awesome. Thank you so much. That was great. I really, I really felt like I was reading along with you that student's personal statement. Yeah, it's great as a feeling, you know, for a tutor or mentor, to see a student absolutely nail something like that. You're like, yes, this is going to work. Right. That's a very exciting moment. Is there any other advice that you would give for students before we depart? Yeah, so


Abbi  30:27

I think I might have said this earlier. But don't be a carbon copy of what you think universities want to see. Be an individual, find your own interest. And don't shy away from giving your own opinion. They want to know if you agree with a book, they want to know, if there was any limits, and maybe a project that you did, did you face a challenge, like you couldn't find the data you needed? Or actually, in engineering, you made a project that just didn't work? That's fine. So long as you talk about how you overcame it or retrospectively what you would have done differently or what you've learned from that process. Maybe you've learned perseverance. So don't shy away from that and do engage with what you're doing. And ultimately, go and explore go and do loads of reading, find out those niche result sellers that you want to talk about, because that is the things that you know if I remember it, that's also what a tutor will remember as well. So, so be memorable in that sense.


Podcast Host  31:17

Abby, it's been fantastic having you on college chats for students out there who would like the opportunity to work with someone like Abby. On their application, there's going to be a link in the show notes to a free one hour consultation with an academic advisor. But otherwise, Abby, enjoy your lovely day there in London, and look forward to sharing the episode far and wide.