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8 Things to Avoid in Your MBA Personal Statement

09 Apr

There are many ways to write an effective MBA personal statement, and it’s never a bad idea to take a look at MBA essay examples and tips. However, there aren’t many resources to help you identify common errors to avoid. Here are eight things to leave out of your MBA personal statement if you want to increase your chances of getting into the program of your choice.


Avoid stretching the truth, or trying to overstate your accomplishments. This may be the most obvious of MBA essay tips, but the temptation to do it occasionally proves too great for some. If you embellish too much, it may become obvious. Remember, the admissions board wants to get to know the real you, your sense of yourself, your resilience and your capacity for change.1

Vague Writing

Impersonal, vague, one-size-fits-all essays are easy to ignore. Bring yourself and your passion to your writing, and write a new essay for every program you apply to; that way you can ensure that each MBA essay you compose is specific to each program. Why are YOU a good fit for THIS program?2

Your Entire Life Story

Too much detail can be as deadly as not enough. An MBA essay that meanders through your younger years is just as likely to lose your audience as a bland essay. You might have been a great athlete in high school, but if it doesn’t add to why you are pursuing an MBA, leave it out of the essay.3

A Recap of Your Resume

Your MBA personal statement and your resume should work together to give admissions officials a sense of who you are. Your resume should reflect the breadth of your experience, your personal statement should reflect the depth of your experience. Focus on current, professional successes (and setbacks) that shaped your worldview and brought you to the decision to go to business school.

Off Topic Answers

A rambling MBA essay that stretches to include personal achievements but doesn’t actually answer the question you were asked could make it look like you can’t follow instructions. It may cast doubt on your ability to be an asset to the program if you’re admitted.

Technical Language and Jargon

Admissions officials don’t need to know every detail about your past jobs, but you’ll need to strike a good balance since the person reading your MBA personal statement might come from a different background than you. You don’t want to drown the reader in technical lingo that may distract or confuse them, so aim to give just enough detail to make your story resonate with all kinds of readers.

Grammar and Spelling Errors

An MBA essay riddled with grammatical and spelling errors looks unprofessional and sets off a red flag about your fitness for graduate studies. Be sure to use spell check, proofread your work and consider having someone else take a look to catch anything you might have missed.

Salary Goals

While it’s true that earning an MBA has the potential to increase your earning power,4 that’s not a good enough reason to invest the time, energy and money that getting an MBA requires. Admissions officials are looking for candidates that have clear, articulate, actionable career goals, so leave the dollar figures out of your MBA personal statement and include stronger aspirations instead.

Remember, your personal statement is just one part of your MBA application. Even if it’s not as perfect as you had hoped, employing these MBA essay tips along with submitting good test scores, a solid transcript and resume, and strong recommendations can tip the balance in your favor. Learn more about what it takes to be admitted to KU’s online MBA program here.