Ucas head urges students to avoid ‘hackneyed’ phrases in personal statements

Admissions service even throws in an eleventh overly-used phrase - just for good measure

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Friday 22 April 2016 17:02

The head of Ucas has urged students applying for university to keep their personal statements personal as the admission service reveals the most clichéd phrases used in applications.

From the more than 700,000 people who applied for the 2015 cycle, almost 1,800 used the phrase: “From a young age, I have (always) been,” followed by: “For as long as I can remember, I have…” which was written 1,450 times.

Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas’ chief executive, described how using “hackneyed” phrases is not the best way for students to stand out.

She said: “Learning to write about yourself in a compelling way is a vital skill when applying for jobs.”

The top 10 overused phrases in 2015:

  1. From a young age, I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]… (1,779 applicants)
  2. For as long as I can remember, I have… (1,451)
  3. I am applying for this course because… (1,370)
  4. I have always been interested in… (927)
  5. Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed… (310)
  6. Reflecting on my educational experiences… (257)
  7. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… (211)
  8. Academically, I have always been… (168)
  9. I have always wanted to pursue a career in… (160)
  10. I have always been passionate about… (160)

The higher education admissions service also revealed an eleventh phrase applicants should avoid, which was used by almost 150 students last year - a quote from former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Ucas has said that those who are interested in applying to start university later this year can do so by make five choices up until 30 June. Those fortunate enough may still get offers if places are available.

The 20 hardest universities to get into

So, there you have it. Time to get original.

Couldnt have been all bad, though - according to Ucas data, a record number of 532,300 people entered UK higher education last year, 16,100 more than in 2014.

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