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MBA Essay Tips: Dealing with silly mistakes after submitting applications

Written by Sameer Kamat

Hope you never have to experience how frustrating it can be. After spending days on your MBA essays and ensuring all the answers to the why mba, why now, why this bschool have been addressed, you hit the ‘Submit Application’ button. And suddenly it feels like a big load has been taken off the shoulders.

But then something draws you back to the MS Word document that you had used to prepare the drafts. Maybe it’s the desire to go back and appreciate the wonderful product that you’ve created. ‘I’d love to be part of the vibrant Kellogg community…’. Just a little problem, though. The application that you just submitted was for London Business School.

Suddenly the copy/paste feature of MS Word doesn’t seem all that magical. That’s just a small example where it’s just a matter of a single word that makes the best of MBA essays start drifting into slippery terrain.

Some of the errors and stupid mistakes in MBA essays could be less obvious – like misrepresented facts about the MBA program or the university. Or it could be typos which go undetected by the inbuilt spell-check engine of the word-processor – ‘The CEO congratulated me for being the most impotent member of the onsite team.

The instant urge is to shoot off a note to the MBA Admissions office of the business school requesting them to fix the issue. Before you do that, here are a few things to keep in mind.

As a candidate, you might feel the lightest after you’ve submitted your MBA application. But for the other side, the admissions team, their sleepless nights are just beginning. They have to deal with a whole of issues after MBA applicants have sent across their applications, specially if it is the last day of the deadline. Their servers get the maximum load and often folks complain that they’ve lost precious hours waiting for the server to be brought back on its feet. They are all on fire-fighting mode.

So, the fact is the admissions team isn’t in the most conducive position to humour your teeny-weeny requests. From your perspective, you might assume it’s a matter of a few minutes for them to access your application and replace a few words. And many considerate ones could actually do it for you. But to do so, they’ve had to leave some of their more important tasks and you’ve made them work harder for an error on your part. Not the best way to make a first impression.

Ask yourself how critical it is for you to get their focus on your little mistake. Or would you rather have them not give you too much attention (for the wrong reasons) and just focus on the big picture once the formal MBA application review and evaluation process begins.

If you’ve left out a substantial chunk of important data that could have strengthened your profile, and if it’s a genuine glitch (e.g. the online application page acted funny when you pasted your content and you suspect that it knocked off a whole paragraph), then do bring it to their notice. Use your discretion to evaluate whether it’s a stupid mistake that can be ignored or something more seriously that you need to fix ASAP.

Mixing up the business school name is a common mistake, and that doesn’t help you when everyone else is doing everything in their power to make themselves look good. So we aren’t saying that silly mistakes are a way of life and so we embrace them without bothering to try our best to eliminate them.

But from our experience, we’ve seen applicants who’ve come to us for interview preparation assistance and their MBA essays are riddled with ‘silly mistakes’ – grammar, typos and other howlers. But overall, their profiles were strong enough for the MBA admissions officers to ignore these minor hygiene issues.

So if you think that the rest of your MBA application had impactful content that makes you well-suited for their program, then you don’t need to rub them the wrong way even before your application has come up for review.

There’s an easier (but less exciting) way to ensure that the stress of dealing with MBA essay mistakes can be eliminated. Get somebody else to review it – a friend, a relative or a colleague. It’s easier for someone who’s looking at your work with a fresh pair of eyes to catch these obvious mistakes.


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Sameer Kamat

About Sameer Kamat

Founder of MBA Crystal Ball | Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter @mba_cb | Facebook