Business school essays for MBA and MiM degrees can be looked upon as a variation of the elevator pitch. You’re sharing your credentials (within word limits) with someone whose decision may be a turning point in your life. You have to give it your best shot in order to grab their attention and create an impact.
Those in the admissions committee have a whole lot of applications to review; how is your application unique and what differentiates you from your competition?
Admissions committee officers are on the lookout for the best possible candidate profiles. They want to see how you can add value not only to yourself but to their MBA class as well. Your essays can play a vital role in communicating to the admissions committee why they should consider you over thousands of other applicants.
In this article, we’d provide a few MBA essay tips and key areas to focus on in order to come up with well-crafted essays. These tips are equally relevant for other related courses such as the MiM degree.
How to write MBA essays
Here are the 5 steps to write good MBA essays:
- Start early and familiarize yourself with the basics of essay writing
- Understand the essay prompts
- Evaluate and demonstrate your fit with the program
- Respect the word count
- Get your essays reviewed and edited
Let’s delve deeper into each of these steps.
1. Start early and familiarize yourself with the basics of essay writing
MBA essay writing should be a gradual and progressive process. It helps if you’re able to give yourself sufficient time to refine and fine-tune your essays. So it’s always a good idea to begin early.
Give yourself enough time for introspection. Jot down your ideas as and when they come up. Being in the right frame of mind and choosing a time when creativity, focus and concentration is at its peak would help you generate the maximum output. Brainstorming on specific areas of your profile can help you bring out facts you hadn’t thought of before.
Avoid flowery language that doesn’t develop the narrative. Avoid industry and technical jargon.
Once you’ve got your basic ideas on paper, it’s time to give it some structure. Prepare an outline.
Next, comes organising and managing the flow. Be genuine. Your story should be based on facts (that you can hopefully support with evidence, if needed). Doing this will put you in a comfortable position during interviews.
Let your story reflect your enthusiasm, excitement and passion for being part of the program. Make sure that your essays are in sync with your resume and recommendations, and also not merely a repetition. Your essays should be able to join the dots and complete the picture.
Do not simply use the same essays for multiple schools. Customize them for each application. Find out how to write business school specific MBA essays.
Avoid copying from the sample essays available online, no matter how impressive they may sound. Read this article why sample MBA essays won’t work for you.
2. Understand the essay prompts
Business school application essays may require just one long essay or multiple shorter ones. Each school will have its own set of essays, so read thoroughly to understand the essay prompt. Let each essay be unique and crisp. Provide sufficient insights to address the primary essay question.
Instead of just listing down your merits, be more descriptive and get into the specifics. Try to dig deeper to find out various occasions or difficult situations when you’ve displayed unusual traits, demonstrated motivational or leadership qualities.
Highlight your extracurricular involvement, whether it involved volunteering for a non-profit organization or pursuing any hobby or sports or any opportunity where you played a leadership role or took charge of organizing any event.
Read the common essay questions asked by your target MBA programs. You’ll find a lot of similarity across bschools.
MBA essay topics / questions: Here are some examples of essay prompts commonly asked – the ‘why MBA now’ question, ‘why this school’, long-term and short-term career goals, career failure essay. It may also include an optional essay question. The optional essay should be made use of only if needed to explain career gaps, breaks in education, low GPA or any other aspect that deserves some clarity to the adcom to avoid being wrongly interpreted. Read this article to know when to use optional essays in college applications.
A few schools like Vanderbilt Owen have a compulsory video essay while in some schools, the video essay may be optional. Get tips on how to tackle the video essay question.
3. Evaluate and demonstrate your fit with the program
What does ‘Being the right fit for an MBA program’ imply?
After shelling out $1,50,000 to $2,00,000 on the program, if your MBA experience was all about being a cultural misfit or realising that the college was probably not the right one to help you attain your post-MBA goals, the whole exercise would prove to be a colossal waste of time, money and energy.
That’s why it’s imperative that you do all the research that’s needed beforehand. Read what people have to say about the school, get in touch with school alumni to know what the school has to offer. Read more on how to know if you ‘Fit’ an MBA program and Business School.
As an example, Harvard Business School mentions on its official page that they look out for the following characteristics in a strong candidate – habit of leadership, analytical aptitude and appetite, engaged community citizenship. If you are planning to apply to Harvard, it’s necessary to highlight various instances and life experiences where you’ve exhibited these traits.
It works both ways. While you’re convinced that the college is the perfect one for you, your essays should reflect that you’re the ideal candidate they’re looking for.
The ‘right fit’ school would be different for each individual based on various parameters including the academic profile, career profile, GMAT score or the extracurricular involvement. Not everyone can make it to Harvard or Stanford! Be practical and apply to the best possible schools you find a good fit and where you have a good chance of getting in!
If you need help in short listing the business schools and having a review of your application strategy, our MBA MAP process can help you gain clarity before you apply.
4. Respect the word count
How seriously should you consider the essay word count?
Well, do not take it lightly. When you’re given a word limit for an essay, you’re expected to respect it – a slight variation may be acceptable, however try to adhere to it as far as possible. Some colleges may mention that a ±5-10% deviation is acceptable. However we’d still suggest, do not overshoot it. And on the other hand, don’t under-utilize it either. The reviewer may feel you don’t have much to talk about.
Avoid repeating facts that you’ve already presented in your resume or recommendations. Let your essays be as concise as possible. Editing for grammar and eliminating redundant usage can help shorten the length of the essay.
5. Get your essays reviewed and edited
After you’ve read your own essays a hundred times, it’s not unusual to develop blind spots. Having a second pair of eyes review your work will help you gain fresh perspectives as well as identify gaps or missing elements in your story.
Put your best foot forward and hope for the best!
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