PS Tip 90: Computer science personal statement

As a rule, computer science personal statements are amongst the worst received by universities. That’s a real shame, because it’s a difficult course, and vital to the continuing technological development of the modern world.

It’s worth noting that computer science, as you’ve probably realised by now if you’re looking into it, bears almost no resemblance to A-level ICT courses. In fact, whilst studying ICT at A-level does demonstrate your interest in the subject, very little of what you’ve learned there will be applicable to a computer science degree.

There’s one thing above all else that you need to sell here:

• Your ability to solve complex logical problems, sometimes in unconventional ways

If you have a strong personal interest in IT systems, how they work, and how they’re constructed, you’re well placed to apply for a computer science degree. Unfortunately, college-level education tends not to prepare students well for the problems they’ll have to solve in a degree like computer science, so your personal and work experience is probably going to have to plug a gap here.

And don’t feel that you have to pay homage to your A-level studies in your application, unless they’re actually going to help you get a place on the course. Maths, particularly decision-based maths, is definitely worth including, as are difficult sciences such as chemistry. You should be all means mention that you’re studying ICT, but unless you’ve covered areas relevant to the course you’re applying to I wouldn’t go much further into it than that.

Finally, you should absolutely include experience and knowledge that you’ve gained in your own time. As something of a computer geek myself, I learned a lot in my teenage years by breaking and fixing computers and computer systems. Chances are that you’ve got similar experiences, whether they be with hardware, programming, design, databases… the list goes on.

Whatever you’ve got, you can sell it to universities as an example of your inquisitive nature and problem-solving abilities.

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