Considering studying Computer Science or a related degree at university but not sure how to boost your personal statement? Read on! If you’re currently studying Computer Science as an A Level or Computing/IT BTEC, evidencing your interest in the subject through your current studies is a good place to start but what do you do when you run out of ideas to write about?
This academic year has been challenging due to the lack of extra-curricular face-to-face activities brought on by Covid-19, so here are some ideas to consider to enhance that personal statement of yours.
Virtual Work Experience
Gaining work experience is not compulsory for a computer science degree but it is beneficial as it’s another way of showcasing your skills to an admissions tutor – the person in charge of the course you’re applying to, and the one who will read your personal statement.
Some work experience opportunities can now be accessed virtually, and as budding computer science students, you should be able to navigate this well. You will find a plethora of virtual opportunities through the online platform Inside Sherpa. (If the links do not work, try viewing on Chrome). Any work experience will be useful on this platform but opportunities specifically relating to computing include Software Engineering with JP Morgan, Careers in Tech through Commonwealth Bank or for something more data-driven and analytical, try the Virtual Data Analytics Experience with KPMG. You can also try Barclays Lifeskills who are offering virtual work experience at Freeformers, a digital transformation agency.
You can also try volunteering your time at your own school in the autumn term by asking a computing/technology teacher if you can assist their lessons in order to help younger year groups or try volunteering for tutoring opportunities through Vinspired. Other volunteering roles here include being involved in gaming forums or volunteering your digital skills to help the elderly. Opportunities are currently available on the website, but do enquire if they can be done virtually for your own safety during this current climate. You can also volunteer your time in your own community by asking your elderly neighbours if they need help with their digital skills.
There are some interesting learning opportunities available online where you can further enhance your skills. Try the Amazon Future Engineer secondary programme where you can access 20 hours of free content, design smart cities and create chatbots with Python or try IDEA where you can take free short courses in coding, blockchain and virtual reality amongst others. You can build your own computer game with SideQuest and enhance your digital skills with free courses offered through BT Skills for Tomorrow including Cyber Security – often a module included in many computer science degree programmes.
For something more academic, it’s never too early to increase your knowledge and get a head start. For a range of free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from the University of London and other universities, try the online learning platform Coursera. Courses include Machine Learning for all, Learn to Programme (The Fundamentals), Tools for Data Science and Building a Text Based Bank in Java amongst others. Do ensure that you check the time commitment of each course so that it’s feasible for you to complete.
You can also find shorter free online courses on FutureLearn and if you look under the Science, Maths and Technology section of the Open University you will find free options such as software development as well as courses related to Information Technology – all of which will help you develop your skills and enhance your personal statement. Try and choose something that you are likely to learn as part of your degree course, preferably a new area that goes beyond your current studies as this will convey initiative and independent research skills.
Keep up-to-date with current technology
Listening to Podcasts and watching documentaries are a great way of keeping up-to-date with current technological trends. Find out about the history of computer devices and how they have evolved, as well as current developments in the digital world by listening to podcast such as Computing Britain, Coding and Computers and the Technology documentaries – all available via the BBC.
Wider reading is also looked upon favourably, so why not keep up-to-date with current trends in computer science through the free online Quanta Magazine or have a read of the articles from the New Scientist.
And finally, remember that an admissions tutor also wants to see evidence that you are a well-rounded individual and that there is more to you than just computing so do include other hobbies and interests you have too. This may include sports, unusual hobbies, language skills or a musical talent – it just gives them a bit more insight into who you are as an individual.
These are only some ideas to keep you busy, but do keep an eye out for other opportunities too. For other similar ideas, check out the blog posts for boosting your personal statement in Mathematics and Engineering too.
For further advice on your personal statement, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Always be cautious and check any online forum or employer with your teacher or people at home first, as your safety is paramount!