How to Avoid Cliches in Your Personal Statement

How to avoid cliches in your personal statement

When you sit down to write your personal statement for the first time it can be really tempting to use age-old cliches like ‘I've always been fascinated by…' or ‘I have a deep and enduring admiration for nurses/doctors/midwives'. However, you can quite easily avoid these cliches and I'm going to show you exactly how in today's blog and video.



Typical personal statement cliches to avoid

One personal statement cliche you should avoid is defining the subject you want to study. Frankie, a reader of my blog, wrote to me saying:

“I'm really struggling in starting my personal statement for BSc Geography! I don't know what to say, and whether it should be a cliché definition about what geography is? Any tips?”
Another cliche is the typical, ‘My mum and dad are doctors/lawyers/vets so I want to be one too.” Katie wrote to me with this exact problem:
“There are some things I do not know how to express [in my personal statement] so that it doesn't sound like a cliché. My mother is a doctor and she's doing some really interesting research. My parents' work has brought up many interesting conversations that have both educated me and have additionally fed my passion for Science. For this reason I would love to include it in my statement and at the same time make it not sound like the clichéd sentence “My parents are doctors and I really like their job. Therefore, I want to be a doctor/scientist as well.”
In today's video I'm going to explain to you:
  • Why using these cliches is a bad idea
  • How to avoid using cliches in your personal statement


Watch the video: How to avoid cliches in your personal statement

Personal statement resources mentioned in the video

My vlog on How to Stand Out in an Oxford or Cambridge Personal Statement or Interview really delves into how to tell your story in your personal statement (and isn't just for Oxbridge applicants – it will help everyone!) – which is the surest way to stop yourself from using cliches. After all, you're unique so your story is not a cliche. It's all about delving below the surface of your story/cliche to find the individual motivations, inspiration and curiosity you have for your subject.

There's a collection of all my university application resources on the page How to apply to university: everything you need to know.

Finally, if you want the quick, simple and easy way to go from blank piece of paper to done (avoiding all cliches in the process) take a look at my e-course for writing personal statements Your Complete Guide to a Winning Personal Statement.

It's easy to avoid using cliches in your personal statement once you know how Share on X

Over to you…

In the comments below I'd love to know:

  1. Are you struggling to avoid cliches in your personal statement? Which cliches are you trying to avoid? Using the tips I've shared in this video, how do you think you can get around the problem?
  2. What's behind your desire to study your subject at university? Share your story in the comments below to inspire and motivate others (and I'll give you some feedback about whether it's strong enough).

Wishing you all the best of luck with your personal statement!

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