Prospective students of English and art courses at UK universities are most likely to emphasise their passion in their applications, while medics and accountants will more probably focus on their career aspirations.
This is according to an analysis by admissions service Ucas of 300,000 personal statements written by 18-year-old applicants this year, which looked at how often “passion” words and “career” words were used.
Alongside English and art, drama and music applicants expressed most passion, while sport science and marketing hopefuls joined accounting and preclinical medicine candidates in using career options to promote their suitability for the subject.
Meanwhile, the applicants who expressed the least passion were those looking to study economics, accounting and medicine, with less than half of the statements studied using relevant words.
The 18-year-olds who were least likely to use career-related terms were looking to study history, geography, English and physics.
Overall, young people appear more likely to state their passion for their chosen course than to express a career-related interest in the personal statement, which is limited to 4,000 characters and gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability and commitment to their chosen subject.
Drama, music, media and sport science stood out for their high scores on both counts, while physics, economics and chemistry students used comparatively few words from either category.
Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of Ucas, said she liked the “surprises in this analysis which tell me that applicants are highly motivated and not just following the money”.
“Students are most likely to benefit from higher education if they have both passion and purpose in choosing their courses,” she said.
The analysis was released ahead of the close of Ucas’s Love Learning competition, which asks current students to submit an essay or video describing why their subject captivates them. Entries will be accepted until 26 June.