Four Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Essays

Posted on November 1, 2007 | Filed in Admissions, MBA

Let’s face it — writing about yourself is difficult.

Just like a marketing manager launching a product or an attorney preparing a case, you, as your own representative, need to build a coherent, compelling and unique profile which is substantiated by real-life examples and supported by your actual experiences.

Here is some of our advice on what you should do to avoid common mistakes:

1.) Do not make repeated broad statements about how qualified a candidate you are. Remember your inner qualities should shine through your past successes and/or the way you have dealt with challenges in your life. Take a hard look at your own resume and think through both professional and personal anecdotes you may have to add more color to your essays.

2.) Do not describe your experience without accentuating your strengths that could be of main interest to the school you are applying for. Your essays are to focus on your key strengths which make you stand out from the crowd applying to the very same school. If you are particularly good at dealing with people, demonstrate those soft skills through describing the situations in which you have successfully resolved conflicts and/or promoted cooperation. The level of a person’s analytical skills is usually self-evident in a person’s resume and GMAT scores. However, maybe you also pride yourself on your thoroughness and great judgment. Then build a case that a combination of your analytical skills, thoroughness and great judgment has made you a consistent out-performer. Examples of your maturity level, adaptability, intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness to constructive criticism and a strong sense of self-improvement should be emphasized throughout your write-up.

3.) Do not use direct quotes from famous people or school literature. Schools are interested in getting to know you as a person and your perspectives on leadership, teamwork, innovation and global issues, not what others think. So unless there is a direct relationship between the quotes and the points you would like to make in your essays, avoid using them. However, if the quote serves a good introduction or transition in your write-up and makes your essays more interesting, then keep it in.

4.) Do not make simple mistakes in grammar, formatting, and the cutting and pasting of school/program names. Proof read them at least 3 times over a period. Alert yourself of the consequences of those mindless mistakes – a waste of your application fee and all the preparation effort, a bad image, and a rejection.

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