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How to boost your personal statement for Arts & Humanities

There are tons of great opportunities you can get stuck into outside of your academic classes at school, both locally and nationally. Getting involved in schemes such as poetry competitions, essay competitions, and arts awards can help you explore different subjects you may be interested in, develop your communication skills and creativity, and give you a talking point on your personal statement and applications. 

We’ve compiled a list of different opportunities you might be interested in applying for, along with handy links and a little information about which each programme is like. They can all fit in alongside your studies and other priorities!

Poetry Competitions

There are lots of competitions you can enter as a young person, and the Young Poets Network is a great first stop in seeking competitions to enter. They list many free competitions which open for entries every year, including the Foyles Young Poets competition which selects the top 100 poems with the opportunity to win prizes and publication. Entering poetry competitions can be an easy way to win mentorship, build a portfolio, and improve your creative writing skills.

Essay Competitions

Lots of universities offer essay competitions, especially for Year 12 students who are looking at applying for university. They can be a great chance to practice your research skills and demonstrate your writing abilities. Most also offer cash prizes which is a nice cherry on top! For example, you could check out the Orwell Youth Prize, which asks you to write about a social issue (this year’s theme is climate change) in whatever form you like − journalism, essays, short stories, blog posts − anything goes. You can enter if you’re in school years 8 to 13.

There’s also the New College of the Humanities Year 12 essay competition, where you can enter a range of topics from creative writing, to history, to law, to psychology, and many more. First prize wins £1000 which is a great incentive to get together a 1500 word essay on a topic of your choice! Girton College at Cambridge also offers a humanities writing competition. And just googling ‘UK Year X essay competition will show you many more you can enter too!

Arts Award

You can take an arts award through many different providers in your local area in a variety of different arts areas – for example, theatre, creative writing, journalism, fine arts and many more. There’s five different stages − Discover and Explore (designed for primary school aged students), and Bronze, Silver and Gold for students at sixth form and high school. You complete a series of activities within your chosen art form and develop a portfolio to display what you’ve completed during the project. Find out more about the Arts Award here and a list of providers here.

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