How to Write a Personal Statement That Gets You Into Business School
The personal statement is an important part of your application to many, if not most, business schools. Your personal statement provides insight into who you are and what personal goals have led you to pursue an MBA, and it also shows how your unique qualities and experience make you the ideal candidate for the MBA program you choose.
Yet for many MBA applicants, the personal statement is one of the more challenging aspects of the application process. Striking the ideal balance between telling your personal story in an engaging manner and demonstrating your professionalism and preparation for the rigors of a graduate business program isn’t always easy. All too often, applicants spend too much time rehashing their resume, or they write vague or generic essays that don’t provide any real insight into what makes them tick.
Because your personal statement is so crucial, we’ve put together a list of hints to help you nail this part of the MBA application.
Answer the Questions
Personal statements for MBA applications often include a business narrative in which applicants are asked to briefly name organizations for which they have worked and describe some specific roles and responsibilities that they have had. This narrative should only take up a small portion of your essay—ideally, no more than 10 to 15 percent—and you should be brief but very clear about what exactly you did.1 Applicants may also be asked more specific questions about their goals and their vision for the future, such as:
- Why are you interested in this particular MBA program?
- How might your experience in an MBA program contribute to your personal and professional development?
- How could you contribute to the growth of your MBA classmates, as well as your current or future organization?
- How would an MBA assist you in solving real world problems?
When answering these questions, be as honest and authentic as possible. Don’t try to answer the questions “correctly” or say what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Admissions committees don’t want to read essays filled with flattery and stock answers; they would rather see you be real and unique, and make meaningful connections between your personal goals, skills, and interests and the MBA program.
Don’t Be Generic
Above all, your personal statement should communicate exactly why you are a great fit for the MBA program of your choice.2 Generic statements like, “I am the ideal candidate,” aren’t going to get you anywhere, because they don’t tell the reader anything about you, much less why you are ideal. You need to show that you are passionate, that you’re a leader and that you have a specific vision for your career and your future.
Some key ways to avoid being vague in your personal essay include:
- Put the “personal” in personal essay. This is about you, not anyone else. Tell your story
- Use real-life examples. Share some anecdotes that provide insight into who you are. Don’t just say that you are a great leader: Tell a story about a time you demonstrated leadership
- Discuss times when you took risks. Even if your outcome wasn’t what you hoped in these situations, showing that you are willing to take risks is a desirable quality
- Show passion. Caring about your work is the first major step toward success, and it’s a crucial trait to demonstrate for an undertaking as significant as an MBA
Before you write, think about the things that make you special. What have you overcome, and what qualities have brought you to where you are now? These are the details that will get your statement noticed.
Focus on Your Goals
Your personal statement is not the place to rehash your resume and give your readers information they can easily find elsewhere. Instead, focus on explaining your trajectory: Where do you want to go? And how will the MBA help you get there? Be specific in the ways you discuss using your MBA to solve real-world problems, and frame this effort as a meaningful personal goal. Connect the dots for the reader, showing exactly how you plan to put your education to use.
Perfect Your Statement
Before you begin writing, consider creating an outline to organize your essay into discrete, manageable sections and to ensure that you hit all of your important points of focus.3 Refer to this outline frequently as you write to keep yourself on track and to make the process as smooth as possible.
Don’t forget to proofread your personal statement meticulously for grammar and to rid it of any typos or spelling errors. And if writing isn’t your strongest skill, don’t be afraid to get assistance with your essay: Ask friends or colleagues to read your statement to determine whether it really captures your goals and business acumen, and to uncover any potential issues. And even if you are a great writer, having a second set of eyes on an essay this important can never hurt.
A well-written and compelling personal statement can set you apart from other applicants and help you gain admittance to an MBA program. If you’re authentic and focus on telling your story, your essay will shine, and you’ll soon be on your way to earning your MBA. Learn more about how you can apply these strategies in your application to the Online MBA at CSU Monterey Bay by contacting an Admissions Advisor today.
1. Retrieved on May 1, 2018, from businessinsider.com/how-to-write-personal-statements-for-mba-students-2012-7
2. Retrieved on May 1, 2018, from princetonreview.com/business-school-advice/mba-essay-tips
3. Retrieved on May 1, 2018, from mbamission.com/docs/mbamission_personal_statement_guide.pdf