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How to write a personal statement for business

So you have 4,000 characters of text and 47 lines in which to convince your chosen university to accept you to study Business. What could you include that will make you stand out from the competition?

Dr Sarah Preedy (pictured), lecturer on BSc (Hons) Business at Plymouth Marjon University offers her top tips for making a strong application. For more tips, please see the video below.

  • Show your passion for the subject area. How have you developed your knowledge of business so far and what commitment have you shown to the subject area? This would include reference to relevant qualifications.
  • Are you motivated to study business? Universities want to see a positive attitude to learning and personal development. How can you show your commitment to studying business and developing your knowledge, skills and experience?
  • Be enthusiastic ā€“ what interests you about business? What do you find exciting and what do you want to know more about? Is there a current business issue that intrigues you, if so what, and why?
  • Showcase your skills and experience ā€“ what skills do you have that make you suitable for the course? Draw upon relevant life and work experience to demonstrate communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving, initiative, leadership and entrepreneurial flair.
  • Outline your business related extracurricular activities or employment and volunteering experience, always explaining why you did it, what you learned and why it's relevant to studying business.
  • Check your spelling and grammar - proofread aloud and get your teachers, advisers, and family to check and then redraft until the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct.

Show video transcript

Dr. Sarah Preedy: Hello. My name is Dr. Sarah Preedy, and I've been working at Marjon University for three years now as the program leader for BSc Business and BA Leadership and Management for Business. I've got a passion for business and I've done so from a really, really young age.

The vast majority of my family have been business owners. I used to spend my summers as a child helping my granddad and my uncle in their clock repair shop. And I would eagerly watch as they made a sale, taking notes and trying to find out more about customer service. My dad owned a computer business in the very early days of home computers. And I used to go on the door to door sales calls with him, watching how he worked, what he did and trying to get some top tips and tricks for how to be successful in business. In my teens, I actually took my GCSE English at the same time as my mum taking her GCSE English. And that's because she wanted to leave her job. She wanted to retrain and ultimately she then used that qualification to set up her own business.

So business has been all around me from a really young age. It's in my blood. That's why I enjoy teaching what I do. In the photo that showing on the slide, I'm stood with a business planning tool. I created this so that I could make business plans more visual. I go into schools and colleges and I show this to students and it's really to help students know that coming up with a business idea isn't something that's scary. It's about being creative and you can apply that creativity in this way. As part of my role as a program leader, I receive the applications to business. So it's my job to read through those applications, evaluate them, and then make a decision on whether I think an applicant should come to Marjon to study business. In this talk I'll be outlining my top tips and tricks for making a business application to university.

So right in your personal statement, it's all about tackling a series of why questions. The first question you should be asking yourself before you make an application is why do we even have personal statements in the first place? Hopefully this is something that your tutors at school or college have spoken to you about before, but I'm going to talk about this in a bit more detail. Once you understand the motivation the reader has, then you'll know what to write and it'll become clearer.

So a personal statement supports your application to study at university or college. It's a chance for you to articulate why you would like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience you possess that show your passion for your chosen field. And that quotation there is taken from the UCAS website.

The key element to remember here is that personal statements support your application. So the other elements of your application are just as important. What program leaders like myself are doing is we are putting together a picture of what an applicant is like. Firstly, we look to your qualifications. If they meet the entry requirements, then we can move on to reading the application in more detail. If they don't meet the entry requirements, we will be definitely looking at that personal statement very carefully, because there may be examples of skills and experience contained in there that will make up for the lower qualifications. The personal statement is your chance to show off. You probably don't get the opportunity to put in writing how fantastic you are. So here's your chance. Don't be shy about your skills and experience. If it's relevant, tell us.

So the crucial question you need to ask yourself before you start typing that personal statement is why do you want to study business? If you resemble the stick figure on this slide when you think about yourself studying business for another three years, then great. It's probably the right direction for you. If you don't resemble the stick figure, then I would start to question yourself whether business is the right course for you. Three years is a really long time to study something. If you're not sure about it.

The great thing about studying business is the skills that you get alongside knowledge. It's not just about learning theories and reviewing how other people have done things within business. Study at HE level gives you hands-on transferable skills. There's also a vast range of potential jobs that you can go into with a business degree.

This slide here shows you some of the many potential careers you can go into with a business degree. The world really is your oyster. Let that shine through in your personal statement. Talk about what career you want. Show your ambition and show that study in business is your passion.

So now you have tackled why we have personal statements, which is to showcase our skills, achievements, and knowledge. And you've asked yourself why you want to study business, because it interests you. It's your passion. We now need to ask ourselves how? How do we craft a winning personal statement?

Here are some of my top tips. So number one, show your passion. How have you developed your knowledge of business so far and what commitment have you shown to the subject area? This would include reference to relevant qualifications. It can also include reference to work experience and extracurricular activities.

Number two, show your motivation to study at HE level. Universities want to see a positive attitude to learning and personal development. How can you show your commitment to studying? Studying a HE level is a massive step up from studying at college or school level. So how can you demonstrate in your personal statement that you are up for that challenge?

Number three, show off. Tell us all about your wonderful skills and experience. What skills do you have that would make you suitable for the course? Draw upon relevant life experience, but also work experience. And demonstrate key business skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, and leadership.

Number four, show us who you are. Outline your business related extracurricular activities. Or your employment. Or maybe you've been involved in volunteering with your local community. Outline all the things you've done, but always explain why you did it, what you learned, and why it's relevant to studying business. What we're looking for is a range of activities that our applicants have been involved in, and how relevant those are to the study of business.

Number five, the boring part. Proof reading. Please check your spelling and grammar. Proof read aloud and get your teachers, your advisors, your family, basically anybody who will listen, to check your personal statement. And then redraft it until the grammar, the spelling, the punctuation, all of it is correct. Never underestimate the importance of proof reading.

So now for a little bit about the business programs here at Marjon University. The best way to find out more about our programs is to book onto our Open Days. Here you can meet the team, see what you would be taught, ask questions about the programs, and really get a feel for what it would be like to study business at Marjon.

People often say to me, "Well, what's different about studying business at Marjon from any other university?" And I always say, "It's the environment that you will be taught in." Marjon really prides itself on its small class sizes. And this is no exception for our business courses. Another key area that we offer here at Marjon is exciting, practical teaching sessions. There's lots of opportunity to develop your business skills. And also there are no exams. Our programs are also accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. So you will graduate with an additional qualification.