Similar in style and scope to the statement of purpose, the personal statement is an essay that prospective business school students, or those applying for scholarships or grants, must write as part of the application process. It is a personalized declaration of your passion for your field of study, your plans for the future, and other reasons why you are the perfect candidate for this institution. It is a very important part of the application process, and should be taken very seriously by the student, but if properly planned for and outlined by a prepared and passionate student, then it should be a breeze to write.
If you happen to be in a situation where you will have to write a personal statement for business school, and are feeling a bit nervous about that prospect, we’re here to help. We will be discussing some things to keep in mind when planning and writing this essay, and how you may want to lay it out. If you’re applying to an MBA program now, and want some extra help, this article on the statement of purpose for MBA applicants, and this course on navigating the MBA admissions process should help out quite a bit.
Things to Keep in Mind
Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), there are a few things to keep in mind when starting to write your personal statement for business school. As we’ve already mentioned, and will no doubt mention again, the personal statement is meant to capture your voice, and there is no ultimate format to follow. However, there are certain things you will want to keep in mind when writing your statement. Below are some of the more general guidelines that will help to not only keep you on track, but should make your essay worth reading. If you’re feeling a bit rusty when writing the personal statement, this course on essay and paragraph writing might get you over the hump.
- Make a Connection
This is the “personal” part of the personal statement. Communicate in the essay how your personal interests and goals coincide with those of the school and its faculty. If you’ve already visited the school, or are familiar with the work of specific people there, mention them by name, and explain how they can help further your career and studies.
- This Is Not a Resume
A resume is somewhat cold and almost medical in its intentions, but your essay should be warm and inviting and paint a picture of you, both personally and professionally. Chances are, you will be sending in a resume with your application, so they will be seeing that later. The space on your personal statement is limited and precious, and a good rule of thumb when mentioning work experience should be as follows: 40% of the essay length when prompted to discuss your career, and 10-15% when not prompted to do so. If you’d like your resume to catch their attention, this course on making your resume stand out will help get you noticed.
- Connect Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
It is very important to mention your professional goals in your personal statement, and when doing so, weave them all together, telling a story about your past accomplishments, and how they and the school will play a part in your future goals, both long and short-term.
- Avoid General Statements
…Because they will take the reader of the essay out of the narrative. As soon as you start saying the things you think they want to hear, you’re going to lose them, and possibly your spot at the school. Be passionate, and be specific.
- Check Spelling and Grammar
Not only are spelling a large part of business, they are a big part of life, and if you plan to be taken seriously in the professional world, make sure you proofread your statement. If these are some weak spots for you, we can help out. This course on the rules of spelling and this course on using correct grammar when writing should help you get your English skills in order.
Layout of the Personal Statement
Like any essay of a personal nature, there is no one right way to do it. There may be parameters that are laid out for you to stay within, and those should be adhered to, but this is a personal statement, after all, and you want it to be personal, and unique, like you.
- Outline Your Essay
Any worthwhile essay is going to require some planning before writing, especially if it’s as important as the business personal statement. Make sure you lay out your essay beforehand, paragraph by paragraph, keeping in mind the word limit. If you follow our template below for the personal statement, or at least use it as a springboard to something else, you should get a pretty good grasp of what your finished essay will look like before you’ve even written it. And remember, this is just a suggestion of how to write it, and there’s no wrong or right way to go about it.
This is the first thing people will read, so you want your intro to really pop. Make sure you grab your reader, then explain your passion for your studies.
Paragraph 1- Like we said before, you want to open your personal statement with something that will hook the reader. After that, explain why you are passionate about business in general, as well as the specific area of study you have chosen to pursue. Make sure to mention your specific area of study, as well as the degree or position you are applying for, and how it will be relevant to your life.
In this part of the personal statement, you’ll want to address any specific questions that were asked in the directions, as well as tie them together with your personal ambitions and passions.
Paragraphs 2 through 4 – The length of your personal statement may vary depending on the specific requirements, but it’s in these paragraphs that you will want to really explain your qualifications for this business school. It’s here that you will want to outline your past achievements and interests related to your field of study, touching on your academic performance, any research you may have done, relevant outside reading and activities, or any other skills that may help with your future career. Remember to always tie in the school and your ambitions to your stories, remembering to not get too off topic. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, with the proceeding sentences backing up this first idea, and always staying on topic, while still promoting your talents and ambition.
This is where everything is tied together.
Paragraph 5 Not only should your conclusion wrap up everything you’ve been discussing up to this point, but you also want to tie it in with what you plan to accomplish should you get into this school. How will the degree you plan to get help you to accomplish your long-term goals?
The business personal statement is an important part of the MBA application process, and should be prepared for in a thorough manner, leaving nothing to chance. Even though some people might have problems writing at length about themselves, it’s necessary if you truly want to continue your studies. If you’re worried about your skills as a business writer, this course on business and technical writing will have you writing like a pro in no time.