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Improving your MBA statement of purpose — 12 steps at a time November 18, 2010

Posted by Sharehouse Jakarta in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
GMAT Jakarta


The following tips for your MBA personal statement are based mostly on the experience of Strata-G’s professional editors, not formal research. They are merely a starting point, since the topic of good writing doesn’t really ever finish.

Also, please keep in mind that some schools provide detailed descriptions of the function of the personal statement(s) within their recruiting/admissions process. Some also provide great online writing resources for personal statements. They will happily trash yours because you failed to read the instructions. On the other hand some schools leave it all up to to you.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

1.       Realize what the PS is – it’s an ad – and approach it creatively

2.       Quit your job — ah, so much more time to focus on the personal statement (PS)

3.       Read a few real (not “sample”) statements that pertain to your target field/ program (check the Internet donk).  Identity the standard PS themes/mechanisms such (a) opening anecdote (story) b) strategies for succinctly summarizing an entire academic or professional career in a few words c) how to conclude.

4.       Don’t read too many statements. It won’t help and it can hurt. Put the best examples aside and have another glance at them when you’re two or three rough drafts down the road.

5.       Start with roughly 200% word-length and then cut the PS in half. This way you keep the best parts.

6.       Spend plenty of time looking at the website, including alumni publications, of your target programs. Frankly, this is the beginning of the acculturation process. It will take some time to truly fit in. It’s beyond dreaminess. Imagine yourself being there and eventually you will be.

7.       Meanwhile, what does the admissions committee at your target school dream of? The same thing – they hope that you’ll fit in, excel, and support their programs after you graduate. They want to know that you’re a team player.

8.       Aim for the right balance between professional jargon/buzzwords and normal language. In general, the tone of a personal statement is not formal.

9.       Shoot for an effective balance between who you are and who you want to be.

10.   Don’t ignore the cultural context of the reader. The same level of politeness that may be 100% OK in an Asian context (halus gan) may sound obsequious (tapi kelewat) in the context of university admissions overseas.

11.   Be aware that many Western students will emphasize “overcoming hardship” in their personal statements. Tapi . . . at the same time, there aren’t a lot of good reasons to spotlight “privilege” either. Do you agree?

12.   Emphasize Indonesia (or something else that’s unique or interesting).



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