English Literature and French Personal Statement

I am a contemplative and dedicated person, widely-read and prepared to work long and hard to fulfil the goals I set for myself, both now and during my English Literature and French degree. My family and I are very close, and they have taught me to have confidence and individuality combined with politeness, humility and generosity. These essential qualities form the basis of my behaviour as a young adult; for example, each Saturday I donate a tenth of the wages I earned that week to various charities such as Save The Children and Action MS, and several customers of the shop in which I work have praised my friendly and helpful manner.

To keep fit I walk with my father and dog in the countryside, and take weekly horse-riding lessons; the latter has built on my respect for nature and the importance of teamwork, since it is impossible to partake in such a potentially dangerous sport unless the riders are able to work with each other and their animals. As well as the physical health and strength gained, it has developed my sense of responsibility, social skills and self-confidence: these benefits of sport add further depth to my character, also aiding me as a student.

English Literature and French interconnect perfectly; they balance lofty, infinite possibilities with effort. To clarify: when studying Hamlet, I contemplate if Ophelia was truly such a shrinking violet, or if her submissiveness and subsequent madness was a defence mechanism to escape the bullying misogyny so present in Elsinore; whether or not her "woe is me" speech is sincerity, sarcasm, or both, ad infinitum. An hour later I may have a French study period for grammar drills, self-imposed vocabulary tests, and re-reading marked essays to see where I have gone wrong.

The next day, the situation may be reversed: analysing specific word choices in William Blake's poetry and unearthing the subterfuge of lust in Andre Gide's "La symphonie pastorale". Both subjects are a double-edged sword, as in reading Sartre's "Huis clos": as well as simple enjoyment and new vocabulary, I wondered just what he meant in creating his presentation of hell. The aforementioned play also clarified for me the concept of formal and informal second-person pronouns, illustrated by the three protagonists' relationships.

"Talk for your life, Danny boy. Tell 'em a story." So thought Dan Goldberg to himself at the climax of Philip Pullman's "The Tiger in the Well", voicing in beautifully simple words what has become a life philosophy. In the novel, the wily Goldberg prevents a riot against his fellow Jewish immigrants in Victorian London by standing between two furious mobs and summarising the dangerous situation in a succinct tale (complete with bawdy jokes), forcing the crowds to acknowledge the other side's humanity. In using fiction as a vehicle for the truth, he saves countless lives; the power of language and stories is immense.

This scene has been my favourite in all of literature since I first read it, and on each perusal of the tale it fascinates me still more. Although Goldberg is respected and formidably intelligent, he is neither arrogant nor pretentious, feeling his education is wasted if he does not use it to help others. I seriously doubt I will ever have the skill or opportunity to avert mass injury: nevertheless, the privilege I have of working for a degree will come to nothing if I keep such knowledge to myself. Once I have completed my undergraduate course in English Literature and French, I will do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education then find a job as a secondary school teacher (I will receive my first taste of this in my upcoming work experience), preferably in a poorer area. There I hope to share the passion I feel for my chosen field with my students, and in turn nourish that passion in them.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by clairish for application in 2000.

clairish's Comments

I had to write this very quickly to meet the deadline for Oxford applications, having suddenly overcome my nervousness about applying there, but I'm proud of it. Throughout I tried to emphasise my love for my chosen subjects and the work needed to study them, and that I'm not just going to university for the sake of it or to get a better-paid job.

Ratings

Statement rating:*****

Comments

Thank you. This was a great

Thank you. This was a great help in molding my own statement. It was, in my opinion, the best of all the statements I have read and I hope you got the course you were itching for.

I thought it was quite good

I thought it was quite good but the opening gave the wrong impression (probably) that you arent very modest. You then continued to discuss your horse riding and family which seemed a bit too irrelevant for a literature course, and if applying to Oxbridge this could give the impression that you are rich and may work against you. I thought the stuff about literature was much better, but the ending suggested you wound bound to get your degree at this course, and that you wished to teach in a poor area could perhaps make you seem like a rich girl wishing to help the poor in a bad way.

Many unis are put off by

Many unis are put off by elaborations upon charitable or political inclinations, they can come off as pompous or preachy. No one likes to be preached at. Instead of saying how wonderful you are, write about what you've done, and how you'd be good for the uni, let THEM decide if you are a charitable person or not.

i think this statement is

i think this statement is exactly not what a university wants to read when choosing potential candidates, you opened with a pompous and unbelievable account of yourself, then moved on to your love of horse riding, hardly relevant, and spent a whole paragraph saying nothing about english and french.
finally you are applying to oxford yet the only author you list is Philip Pullman, a good author agreed but hardly intellectual challenging.

Agreed. Oxford have millions

Agreed. Oxford have millions of statements to read- yours does not show any particular aptitude.

You're applying for English- talk about English! Not your horse-riding.

change the intro

your shooting yourself in the foot at the very beginning

Did you actually get into a

Did you actually get into a good Uni? This is what I want to do at Uni and I was just wondering..

this one actually made me

this one actually made me laugh a little. was this serious, do they really have to know exactly how much she gives to charity? very sweet naive littlerich girl, i'm sure oxbridge will suit her and her ponies just fine.

Can see you care

'preferably in a poorer area'

I'm sorry, but this put me off. It's great that you want to help the less privileged than yourself (we don't all have ponies) but the way you say this sounds your desire to do this stems from the need to make yourself look good, or charitable. Anyway, this was 12 years ago now. I hope you're doing something worthwhile.

What is this?

This is so pompous.

I liked your enthusiasm. I

I liked your enthusiasm. I didn't think the statement was pompous, although I wouldn't have chosen to start with extra curricular, particularly since Oxbridge don't care about it. It was interesting for me to see what a fellow Oxford applicant wrote. Also, I wanted to point out to the person who believed owning a pony would make this applicant 'fit right in' - or something to that effect - that Oxford is for the brainy, not the wealthy. The two do not always go hand in hand.

does't deserve the 5 stars

too pompous

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
Please complete the check below to help us prevent spam comments.