Personal Statement Opening Lines Economies Of Scale

Fine tuning the opening sentence of your personal statement is a task most students dread, particularly because so much attention is given to the opening sentence as it should catch the reader’s attention. You’re told that there needs to be a wow factor involved and that your sentence should set the tone and quality of the rest of the personal statement. No pressure, eh?

In fact, writing a strong opening sentence is relevant to more than just university applicants. You'll also need a strong opening statement for applying for an apprenticeship or a school leaver scheme so sorry guys, you’re not off the hook.

We’re not going to lie — the opening sentence is pretty important, but it’s also important that the personal statement doesn’t go downhill from there. Think of your personal statement like a football team — even if you have the best goal scorer in the world, if you have a dodgy defence or mildly-interested midfield, it’s not a great recipe for success.

Overused Opening Sentences

Whatever you do with your opening sentence, make sure you use something different to the most overused statements.

“But how do I know which opening sentences are the most overused?” I hear you cry. Well, we did some research and found an article by UCAS that listed the most overused opening sentences. Here they are:

1. From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]… (used 1,779 times)

2. For as long as I can remember I have… (used 1,451 times)

3. I am applying for this course because… (used 1,370 times)

4. I have always been interested in… (used 927 times)

5. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… (used 310 times)

6. Reflecting on my educational experiences… (used 257 times)

7. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… (used 211 times)

8. Academically, I have always been… (used 168 times)

9. I have always wanted to pursue a career in… (used 160 times)

10. I have always been passionate about… (used 160 times)

11. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world… (used 148 times)

The (over)use of the quote from Nelson Mandela about “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” is particularly cringe worthy — if you’re going to include a quote, make sure it’s more than just a popular quote that you once saw on Instagram. Show that you’ve done some reading around the subject and be prepared to properly explain why you like a particular quote.

Writing Your Opening Sentence

Aside from avoiding overused quotes and words such as ‘passionate’ or ‘deeply fascinated’, we recommend being original and referring to personal experiences as a way to draw attention.

For example, if you were writing a personal statement for a History course, you could open with something like, “Making an evacuation suitcase at the age of nine made me realise for the first time how historical events had affected real people.”

Not only does this draw on personal experience and highlight your knowledge of a certain area of history, it also provides you with an opening to elaborate upon your interest in social history. If you already know what graduate job or scheme you want to pursue after university, then you can further relate your opening anecdote to your future plans.

Don’t sit in front of a blank page for ages and furiously try to come up with the perfect opening sentence. If you’re stuck on your opening sentence, then perhaps try writing it last. After all, writing the rest of your personal statement will allow you to see the finished piece before adding the token opening sentence. The best opening sentences refer to your experiences, so think hard about what stands out in your memories in regards to your relationship with your chosen subject. Jot them down and then make one of these memories attention grabbing for someone who doesn’t know you.

Opening sentences are tricky, but they don’t make or break a personal statement. For more information on how to write a personal statement, check out these articles:

When more units of a good or a service can be produced on a larger scale, yet with (on average) fewer input costs, economies of scale are said to be achieved. Alternatively, this means that as a company grows and production units increase, a company will have a better chance to decrease its costs. According to this theory, economic growth may be achieved when economies of scale are realized.

Economist Adam Smith identified the division of labor and specialization as the two key means to achieving a larger return on production. Through these two techniques, employees would not only be able to concentrate on a specific task but with time, improve the skills necessary to perform their jobs. The tasks could then be performed better and faster. Hence, through such efficiency, time and money could be saved while production levels increased. 

Just like there are economies of scale, diseconomies of scale also exist. This occurs when production is less than in proportion to inputs. What this means is that there are inefficiencies within the firm or industry resulting in rising average costs.

Internal and External Economies of Scale

Economist Alfred Marshall made a distinction between internal and external economies of scale. When a company reduces costs and increases production, internal economies of scale have been achieved. External economies of scale occur outside of a firm, within an industry. Thus, when an industry's scope of operations expands due to, for example, the creation of a better transportation network, resulting in a subsequent decrease in cost for a company working within that industry, external economies of scale are said to have been achieved. With external economies of scale, all firms within the industry will benefit.

Where Are Economies of Scale?

In addition to specialization and the division of labor, within any company, there are various inputs that may result in the production of a good and/or service.

  • Lower input costs: When a company buys inputs in bulk - for example, the potatoes used to make French fries at a fast food chain like McDonald's Corp. - it can take advantage of volume discounts. (In turn, the farmer who sold the potatoes could also be achieving economies of scale if the farm has lowered its average input costs through, for example, buying fertilizer in bulk at a volume discount.)
  • Costly inputs: Some inputs, such as research and development, advertising, managerial expertise and skilled labor are expensive, but because of the possibility of increased efficiency with such inputs, they can lead to a decrease in the average cost of production and selling. If a company can spread the cost of such inputs over an increase in its production units, economies of scale can be realized. Thus, if the fast food chain chooses to spend more money on technology to eventually increase efficiency by lowering the average cost of hamburger assembly, it would also have to increase the number of hamburgers it produces a year in order to cover the increased technology expenditure.
  • Specialized inputs: As the scale of production of a company increases, a company can employ the use of specialized labor and machinery resulting in greater efficiency. This is because workers would be better qualified for a specific job - for example, someone who only makes French fries - and would no longer be spending extra time learning to do work, not within their specialization (making hamburgers or taking a customer's order). Machinery, such as a dedicated French fry maker, would also have a longer life as it would not have to be over and/or improperly used.
  • Techniques and Organizational inputs: With a larger scale of production, a company may also apply better organizational skills to its resources, such as a clear-cut chain of command, while improving its techniques for production and distribution. Thus, behind the counter employees at the fast food chain may be organized according to those taking in-house orders and those dedicated to drive-thru customers.
  • Learning inputs: Similar to improved organization and technique, with time, the learning processes related to production, selling and distribution can result in improved efficiency - practice makes perfect!

External economies of scale can also be realized from the above-mentioned inputs as a result of the company's geographical location. Thus all fast food chains located in the same area of a certain city could benefit from lower transportation costs and a skilled labor force. Moreover, support industries may then begin to develop, such as dedicated fast food potato and/or cattle breeding farms.

External economies of scale can also be reaped if the industry lessens the burdens of costly inputs, by sharing technology or managerial expertise, for example. This spillover effect can lead to the creation of standards within an industry.

But Diseconomies Can Also Occur…

As we mentioned before, diseconomies may also occur. They could stem from inefficient managerial or labor policies, over-hiring or deteriorating transportation networks (external diseconomies of scale). Furthermore, as a company's scope increases, it may have to distribute its goods and services in progressively more dispersed areas. This can increase average costs resulting in diseconomies of scale.

Some efficiencies and inefficiencies are more location specific, while others are not affected by area. If a company has many plants throughout the country, they can all benefit from costly inputs such as advertising. However, efficiencies and inefficiencies can alternatively stem from a particular location, such as a good or bad climate for farming. When economies of scale or diseconomies of scale are location specific, trade is used to gain access to the efficiencies.

Is Bigger Really Better?

There is a worldwide debate about the effects of expanded business seeking economies of scale, and consequently, international trade and the globalization of the economy. Those who oppose this globalization, as seen in the demonstrations held outside World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings, have claimed that not only will small business become extinct with the advent of the transnational corporation, the environment will be negatively affected, developing nations will not grow and the consumer and workforce will become increasingly less visible. As businesses get bigger, the balance of power between demand and supply could become weaker, thus putting the company out of touch with the needs of its consumers. Moreover, it is feared that competition could virtually disappear as large companies begin to integrate and the monopolies created a focus on making a buck rather than thinking of the consumer when determining the price. The debate and protests continue.

The Bottom Line

The key to understanding economies of scale and diseconomies of scale is that the sources vary. A company needs to determine the net effect of its decisions affecting its efficiency, and not just focus on one particular source. Thus, while a decision to increase its scale of operations may result in decreasing the average cost of inputs (volume discounts), it could also give rise to diseconomies of scale if its subsequently widened distribution network is inefficient because not enough transport trucks were invested in as well. Thus, when making a strategic decision to expand, companies need to balance the effects of different sources of economies of scale and diseconomies of scale, so that the average cost of all decisions made is lower, resulting in greater efficiency all around.

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