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7 tips to help in MBA personal statement

A successful MBA personal statement shows the applicant’s potential to be a great leader. Writing such an essay may seem like a daunting task, but if you abide by the following guidelines, your essay will stand a much better chance of impressing the admissions officers.

The hardest part of writing a great personal statement for your MBA application is deciding where to start.  It takes a little confidence, some creativity, and a clear plan for the structure of the essay. These tips will help you plan and write your own successful MBA personal statement.

imposing a personal statement is arguably the most stressful aspect of the graduate school application process.

Should you emphasize the academic awards you’ve received? Discuss the research project that made you decide to pursue higher education? In just a couple of pages, what is the best way to convince admissions committees that you are the right choice for the program you’re applying for?

Although the writing prompt for a personal statement may vary from program to program, most universities are looking for similar information: It’s likely that all the programs that require an essay will require you to write in depth about who you are, how you came to be the person you are today, and how grad school will get you to where you want to go.

In this post, we’ll outline some tried-and-true tips that can help future graduate students write a personal statement that stands out.

MBA ESSAY TIP #1: FOCUS ON RELEVANT EXPERIENCE

You may have demonstrated incredible leadership skills when you were the star catcher on your high school’s baseball team, but an MBA program is an entirely different playing field. Admissions officers want to see more recent accomplishments. Spotlight the professional achievements you’ve had since high school: internships, fellowships, and even entry-level jobs can show off your capabilities without wading into the warm fuzzies of nostalgia.

2. Tell a story about you at work. 

Make the story interesting with details that emphasize your good business sense and ability to think on your feet. Show your actions in the most positive light. This is an opportunity to tell the reader who you are, beyond the admissions file with all the standardized transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation.  The way to do this is to share something about yourself that they will not learn from other parts of the application.

Let your personality and business acumen shine through your words. Be concise, specific, and personal in your writing style. Your story could be as simple as saving an account by correcting a serious software problem or successfully preparing a major presentation for a difficult new client. Did you have an idea for a bold tweak to a marketing campaign? Did you work overtime for months to go live with a new computer system or maybe you were part of a team that expanded into a different market? In my own case, I wrote about working for a year on the merger of my firm’s two mutual funds into a larger fund group and my dealings with the SEC. Keep the story short but detailed. Give the reader enough specifics to understand the importance of the story but to leave them wanting to know more about you.

. Showcase your writing skills.

It’s common knowledge that good writing abilities are essential to success in graduate school, so you should use your personal statement to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you’re capable of writing articulate and persuasive research papers.

What’s also important to realize, however, is that the way that you write can reveal other qualities about you. Strong writing skills can convey your ability to think critically, creatively, and strategically. Moreover, writing well demonstrates effective communication skills and strong organizational abilities, both of which are essential to the success of a graduate student.

6. Do your research.

You’re not in this alone: There are a vast array of online resources that offer services on writing a personal statement for grad school. How do you ensure that you come across as confident — but not arrogant? What are the five fatal flaws to avoid in your statement of purpose? What are the best ways to describe your passion for your chosen career path? On this website, you’ll find no fewer than 48 different articles, videos, blogs, podcasts, and webinars that address these issues (and many more).

A ESSAY TIP #2: TIE PAST EXPERIENCES TO FUTURE GOALS

The summer you spent mucking stalls at a horse farm might have given you a great opportunity to test your resilience and bravery. However, admissions officers might not be interested in reading about how you held onto a rearing horse unless you plan to launch an equine-related venture. Choose your anecdotes carefully and be sure they tell a story about who you are and where you want to go in life.

Because many internships are unpaid, they often go to people of higher socioeconomic status who can afford to work without pay. If you haven’t had a prestigious internship or post-college work that ties directly to your future goals, don’t be discouraged. Ask yourself what you learned from these experiences. Admissions officers will want to know how these experiences led you to this point.

4. Finally, why are you a good fit for this program?

You have the freedom here to tell the reader exactly how you will contribute to their program. You can seal the deal by summarizing what you have to offer the cohort.  This is where your confidence comes in and your creativity explodes in selling yourself: what will you bring to the table? Admissions readers want candidates that will bring solid leadership skills and passion to their MBA program.

Having a plan and good writing skills will make your MBA personal statement great. Proofread your essay, have someone else (friend or professional) read it for content and format, then proofread it again. The personal statement should give the reader a great impression of you and the value you will bring to the cohort.  Good luck with your application!

MBA ESSAY TIP #2: TIE PAST EXPERIENCES TO FUTURE GOALS

The summer you spent mucking stalls at a horse farm might have given you a great opportunity to test your resilience and bravery. However, admissions officers might not be interested in reading about how you held onto a rearing horse unless you plan to launch an equine-related venture. Choose your anecdotes carefully and be sure they tell a story about who you are and where you want to go in life.

Because many internships are unpaid, they often go to people of higher socioeconomic status who can afford to work without pay. If you haven’t had a prestigious internship or post-college work that ties directly to your future goals, don’t be discouraged. Ask yourself what you learned from these experiences. Admissions officers will want to know how these experiences led you to this point.

MBA ESSAY TIP #3: ABSOLUTELY NO CUTTING AND PASTING

You might think you’re saving time by cutting and pasting information from your résumé into your MBA personal statement, but doing so will cost you in the long run. Admissions already has your résumé—they wouldn’t ask for a personal statement if they wanted a rehash of of it. The essay is your chance to dive into the specifics of those experiences and show how they made you who you are today.

Repurposing material from old essays is never a good idea. Admissions officers can tell when something isn’t fresh, and it just makes you look lazy. Lastly, cutting and pasting increases the odds that you’ll forget to make an important change. If you paste an essay you wrote for another school and forget to change the school’s name, it’s extremely off-putting to the admissions committee. Imagine if the person you are dating sends you a message, only in place of your name they’ve carelessly used someone else’s. Avoid committing this same faux pas in your MBA personal statement essay.

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