Cover Letter Oxford University

One of the most common misconceptions of the university admissions process is that students need to send in a cover letter. Some people think a letter like this needs to be sent in to all universities, whilst others think that only the top places require students to send in such a thing.

This notion is false.

No university at undergraduate level requires a student to send in a cover letter. All universities only require a personal statement, including Oxford. You might be asked to send in some other written work, but it will not be a cover letter, it will be some previous work that you have already done in school. At this point, students tend to wonder if there is a meaningful difference between a cover letter and a personal statement.  In this article, we will deep dive into the difference between the two.

Cover letters:

Cover letters are letters that come attached to a CV and are intended to be part of an application for a job, not for a place on a university course. As such the focus is quite different.

As a consequence, a cover letter is more formal. Candidates are not expected to delve into personal experiences that shaped them. Additionally, it is recommended that people write a cover letter for each job they apply to. A personal statement is far more general because it one piece of work that gets sent to multiple universities.

Because cover letters are more specific to the job, candidates are expected to name check the company directly, bring up specific details and skillsets that match the company, and spend time running through their track record in the working world. These are all things that are not expected in a personal statement.

Cover letters also tend to be longer than personal statements, because companies want to be able to see you be able to justify yourself as a good fit for them. Personal statements are limited by UCAS and students need to spend more time showing how well rounded they are and how they are a good fit for education, rather than for how they are in a specific job role.

There are plenty of small differences as well: A cover letter is specifically addressed to a department or company, whereas a personal statement is submitted through a portal. Cover letters don’t have fixed lengths, and can be formatted in any way the author pleases.

The difference between the personal statement and the cover letter is going to grow over the next few years. UCAS has introduced a new scheme that starts in 2024, where students will not write a  personal satetment on a blank page, but rather they will be asked a series of smaller questions that they answer in turn.

So what about Oxford?

Bring this all back to the original question- students are NOT expected to write a cover letter. Students are applying for dynamic degrees where there are a variety of assessments and module choices. Students are not being paid, and their level of performance does not lead to more or less money. In other words, they are not applying for a job, so a cover letter is inappropriate. This should help students breath a sigh of relief. If you want to receive some great advice for writing a personal statement for universities like Oxford, please click here.

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