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3 Things to Keep in Mind When Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate School

If you’re applying to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, you’ll have to write a personal statement to submit with your application. The pressure is on to write one that will make you stand out among a potentially large pool of highly talented applicants.

So where do you start? And what should you say?

Let’s go over three things to include when writing an effective MBA personal statement.

1. Focus on Why You’re Writing Your Personal Statement 

Universities want to know why you want to earn an advanced degree from their institution. Most schools have a limited number of spots available in their programs — MBA in particular — so they want to ensure that you will put in the work since other students aren’t guaranteed entry.

The admissions committee wants to get to know you, including details about your goals and passions. They want to know how you envision yourself working to earn your degree and in your future career. Essentially, you need to sell the committee on why you are a worthy candidate for a place in their program. Finally, your personal statement offers you an opportunity to share or highlight important things that you can’t share anywhere else in the application materials.

2. Treat Your Personal Statement as Storytelling 

It’s important that you don’t confuse a statement of purpose with a personal statement. A statement of purpose focuses more on academic and research accomplishments. In contrast, your personal statement gives you the chance to share more details about what kind of student you are and how you plan to succeed in their program. School admissions teams often recommend that applicants focus on sharing challenges in their lives and how they worked to overcome them.

3. Approach the Writing Process for Your Personal Statement as You Would for a Class Essay 

While the stakes in writing your personal statement are much bigger than the grade attached to a class essay, the process is similar. Set aside some time to sit down to write your compelling story. Here are some key steps to take when approaching your personal statement:

  • Come up with some basic ideas, such as a few important moments or challenges in your life, but avoid oversharing or giving your life story.
  • Include a section that clearly communicates your personal, academic and professional accomplishments and skills.
  • Write your first draft with a focus on your selected topic that avoids vague diversions or rambling. Stay on track to keep the committee engaged with your story.
  • Proofread it and ask a friend or family member to read through it and give you feedback.
  • Write your final draft, and prepare it for submission.

Start Preparing Your Application Materials as Early as You Can 

As soon as you know the school you want to attend for your MBA, gather all the application materials and get to work. Getting the more regimented aspects of the process — like the application itself — out of the way early, you can set your sets on writing a meaningful and compelling personal statement that offers the admissions committee deeper insights into your motivation.

Remember that your personal statement is a chance for you to share something special about yourself, letting the admissions committee know why you’re the best candidate for the program.

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