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How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School

June 08, 2020
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At Seattle University, a personal statement is not required to apply for our Online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) or Online MBA. However, it can be a powerful tool in making your case to be admitted.

Read below for our tips on making your personal statement stand out, and if you are applying to the MSBA program, what questions you should consider addressing in the essay.

First, ask the right questions.

The one thing your personal essay should not be is just a copy of your resume. The admissions team will already have that, so this is your opportunity to tell them something they cannot find out from your job history or GMAT score.

Is there a reason why you’re interested in this program at Seattle University? What do you hope to accomplish with your degree? You can also consider examining the unique perspective you can bring to the program.

When applying to the Online MSBA at the Seattle Albers School of Business and Economics, we encourage students to respond to one of the following suggestions:

  • Describe any work you have done analyzing data to solve a problem, the process used, and software you may have used.
  • The Online MSBA program is very quantitative in nature. Highlight your experience with quantitative analysis.
  • How might your Online MSBA experience assist your future organization?

Remember, this is your chance to let the admissions team learn more about your past accomplishments, current experience, and future goals.

Create your talking points.

Now that you have had a chance to reflect, it's time to create an outline of your essay. It might be easier to think of these as your talking points, at first. What are the main points about yourself that you want the admissions committee to know? Write them down and then consider examples or beliefs you can use to support each of those points.

For example, you might want to highlight that using data to solve problems has been something you've wanted to pursue for some time. To support that statement, you can explain why you believe big data is changing your industry. Or, give an example of how you have taken the initiative in your current role to use data to influence strategies or went the extra mile to better understand a new programming language or analytics tool.

As you do this, you might find that you don’t have enough information to back up an assertion you’ve made about yourself. If this point is more of a goal or a skill you’d like to develop, you can phrase it as something you hope to learn from the program. You can also decide to combine two related talking points into a single stronger one.

Write your essay.

Now that you have an outline drawn up, it's time to sit down and get to work. Many writers find it helpful to initially start on a "first draft," meaning a very rough version of their essay. Instead of trying to make each word choice and sentence perfect, they give themselves the freedom to just get their thoughts on the page, no matter how rough or disjointed. If you do not consider writing to be your strong suit, a rough draft can help ease the pressure of staring at a blank page.

Once you have completed your rough draft, editing begins. It will be easier now to see how you can complete those half thoughts and half sentences; you will also be able to see if you left out any important information or if you failed to describe something as clear as you thought you had.

Take a break and look again.

One key thing for a personal statement is to give yourself plenty of time to write. Of course, the act of writing an essay requires a certain amount of time, but you need to make sure you give yourself enough space to reflect and review what you have written.

Ideally, that means looking at your personal essay more than once. Being able to take a day or two to clear your head and then look at it again with a fresh pair of eyes is a crucial step.

Further, it's also important to ask a trusted friend or colleague to read through your personal statement. Having someone else’s opinion and perspective can be invaluable for proofreading and for content. What seems perfectly clear to you may read as confusing to someone not familiar with your background. Also in many cases, a colleague can point out skills that you failed to highlight or remember a situation where your input made a real difference.

Submit your application to SU today.

As you're finalizing your essay, be sure to double check that you've not only responded to the prompts given to you, but that you also have the other required materials for admission including transcripts, application fees, and your GMAT or GRE score.1 Be sure to confirm you need to submit those materials in the first place. For our Online MBA and MSBA programs, test waivers are available and certain Seattle University graduates are eligible for the alumni admissions pathway.

Before you get started, learn more about the admissions process to Seattle University’s Online MSBA program.

  1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the GMAT/GRE testing requirement is now considered optional for anyone applying to a non-law graduate program that begins in the 2020-21 academic year (summer of 2020 through spring of 2021).