Writing a Personal Statement for ASNC

The question of how to write an ASNC personal statement is one we get a lot in the department, so let me clear it up once and for all: don't. No really, I'm serious. Just don't.

Okay, perhaps I owe you a little bit of clarification. I'm not telling you not to write a personal statement. That's a really bad idea. Instead, I should say, don't focus your personal statement on ASNC. We are aware as a department that we are the only course in the world who teaches anything like our combination of subjects – and that's one of the coolest things about the degree! – but it also means that it can be a little difficult to figure out how to mesh it with the other subjects and universities you're applying for. We're aware of this, so we want to make it very clear that you do not have to mention ASNC in your personal statement. If you want to bring it up, then great! However, it won't bring any advantage to do so. One of the wonderful things about Cambridge is that you also get the opportunity to be interviewed, so those people who decide whether you would be a good fit for Cambridge don't have to work out who you are from a single sheet of paper. You'll also be given the chance in October to fill out the Supplementary Application Questionnaire – a form that allows you to expand (in the personal statement style) upon why ASNC in particular interests you. You won't lose out if your personal statement is geared towards other universities.


For example, we often get applicants who elsewhere are applying to read Classics, History or English. I myself applied for English courses elsewhere. As such, my own personal statement was almost entirely based around modern novels I had read. A single sentence dealt with some texts that were relevant to ASNC, but not in any detail. Similarly, please don't feel discouraged just because you don't think you have enough knowledge about the topics covered by an ASNC degree. It is a course designed for people who have had no experience of the topics involved – all we care about is enthusiasm. It is more than enough to just want to do the course! The best personal statements are ones that tell a story and invest the reader in who you are. Lists of things you have done can be incredibly impressive, but they are not unique. Instead, try to talk about your own opinions of things that you've engaged with. You don't need to know everything; you just need to show that you're capable of learning! Finally, while extra-curricular activities can be very useful, try not to let them dominate – the university is above all concerned with who you are as a student. For ones that you do include, try to show what skills they've taught you and how they might help you with student life.

 

Otherwise, be enthusiastic! ASNC is a subject for people who are invested and interested in things they haven't had a chance to study. It is a bit of a leap into the unknown, but it's also full of people who are genuinely curious and engaged with scholarship – so don't be afraid to let that show in your personal statement!

Kit Treadwell

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