Putting together a Superb Application (Part II)

Posted on November 10, 2008 | Filed in Admissions



Business schools often ask candidates several essay questions. Generally, schools ask about the applicant’s professional goals and experiences, achievements and/or leadership roles, impact, ethical dilemmas faced, specific events/role models that led you to where you are and where you want to be, and disappointment and how it was handled.

The goal of the essay is to fill in the picture that the admissions committee has of the applicant. The essays should be seen as your opportunity to show, explain, and support your candidacy. In the essay portion, the admissions committee wants to get to know you better and understand why you want an MBA, why now, and why at their particular school. Also, they want to know how an MBA is going to help you achieve your goal in both the short and the long term, as well as what you uniquely have to offer. For some applicants answers to these questions are clear; for others, they require greater introspection. Regardless of whether your answers to these questions come easily or with difficulty, you must be sure that your essays answer these questions. This is one of the foremost concerns of admissions committee and it may seem elementary — but you must ANSWER THE QUESTIONS. They ask the particular questions they ask for a reason, and they want answers to those questions, not to other ones. Your answers should be precise, clear, and straightforward, even if you employ creative styles in your answers. Do not leave them guessing.

Optional essays are an opportunity for you to provide additional information about yourself. You can explain pitfalls, gaps, hardships, or highlight items that have not been properly illuminated in other areas of the application.

Once you have decided on where to apply you are ready to begin attacking the essay portion.

  • Create a list of different experiences you’d like to cover in the essay section. You may consider categorizing these according to leadership, team experiences, and growing/learning experiences.
  • Read over all essays, required and optional, for a given school. Determine which experiences you’d like to cover in which essays or if any experiences are best left out as a result of being difficult to match with a particular school.
  • Outline Essays. Your outlines should include a thesis, supporting points and specific examples.
  • Write freely. Do not concern yourself yet with whether or not a particular point is helpful or harmful, just write.
  • Edit. This will most likely be an ongoing process. Admissions committees want to see well-edited, clear, concise prose—this may require the help of a trusted friend or seeking out an admissions consultant. The committees read your essays several times so even minor mistakes are likely to be noticed.
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