A guide to help student carers write their personal statement

If you are a carer, you will have probably gained many additional skills and strengths that are highly valued in higher education. UCAS has worked with Carers Trust and course providers to help you identify your key strengths – you could also use it to prepare for interviews.

Research shows that if you have caring responsibilities you may find it difficult to participate in activities (e.g. after-school clubs or local societies) or gain work experience, because your free time is limited. This might mean you feel you’re missing out on opportunities to build an impressive personal statement. However, caring for another person develops a range of important skills and characteristics, and thinking about these can give you a great starting point for your personal statement.

Here, you will identify your key strengths and skills by exploring your own caring responsibilities. You will probably think of lots of others when you start! You don’t have to go into lots of detail about your circumstances or responsibilities – just focus on the skills you use. Don’t forget to use this alongside UCAS’ personal statement tool to help you structure your ideas.

Getting started

Think about the skills and characteristics you will need for different aspects of your studies – make a list for:

  1. studying in general – what sort of skills do you think will help you to be a successful student?
  2. your chosen course – what specific skills and personal characteristics do you think this course requires, especially one that leads to a profession or career? Use the course description for ideas.
  3. non-academic situations – it’s not all about what happens in the classroom. What other skills and characteristics will help you settle in – for example, your day-to-day activities or social life?

Take a look at the responsibilities, skills, and characteristics below to help you. Remember these are just to get you started, and you may have others you’d like to add.

Responsibilities (I do) Skills (I can) Personal characteristics (I am)

Practical: e.g. cooking, cleaning, washing, looking after siblings/other family members

Financial: e.g. shopping, paying bills, managing the household budget

Emotional: e.g. listening and talking to someone who is distressed, helping someone communicate

Medical and professional: e.g. dealing with professionals, administering or overseeing medication, organising and attending appointments, arranging services

Personal and physical: e.g. providing personal care, helping someone get dressed, washed, go to the toilet, or get out of bed,

General: e.g. managing your own needs alongside those of others, juggling caring and work and/or education, prioritising self-care.

  • Advocacy (speaking or acting on behalf of another)
  • Attention to detail
  • Calm under pressure
  • Communication skills   
  • Decision making
  • Empathy
  • Encouraging others
  • Financial management and budgeting
  • Forward planning
  • Independent worker
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Initiative
  • Listening skills
  • Managing challenging situations and behaviours.
  • Managing risk and risk-taking behaviours
  • Meet deadlines (or take responsibility for adjusting if necessary)
  • Meet goals and targets
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organisation
  • Prioritisation
  • Problem solving
  • Stress management
  • Takes responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Understanding complex information
  • Commitment and dedication
  • Compassion/caring for others
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Flexible and responsive to changing situations
  • Hard working
  • Independence
  • Moral and ethical awareness, social justice
  • Patient and supportive when working with others
  • Perseverance
  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness
  • Responsibility
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-motivation
  • Sensitive to, and respectful of, diversity and difference