Applying to b-school? Here’s how you can nail your MBA essay
Getting into the business school of your choice isn’t without its hurdles.
Apart from narrowing down the number of schools you plan to apply for, there are other nitty-gritty details to nail.
This includes studying and taking the GMAT, getting your transcripts and letters of recommendation, preparing a résumé, paying the application fee and meeting the English language requirements if you didn’t attend an undergraduate institution where the primary language of instruction is English.
Another essential step of the MBA application process, however, is the MBA essay.
The essay allows the business school’s admissions committee to learn more about you, your career aspirations, as well as why you think you’ll be a good fit for the programme as well as the school.
Despite that, completing the MBA essay doesn’t have to be a stumbling block with the right preparation. Here are some tips to get you started:
Common MBA essay questions
Carve some time out of your day to read up about some of the common MBA essay questions that you will likely have to tackle during the MBA application process.
They typically include the following:
- Why you want to pursue an MBA and/or why you’re a great fit for the institution
- Your interests outside of work
- What you’ve learned from your failures
- Your personal achievements
- Describing a situation where you’ve led a team
- Who inspires you
Each question may have different word limits.
For example, Wharton has a 500 word limit for the question, “What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA?” and 400 word limit for, “Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community?”
Read the questions carefully and be sure to highlight your current and professional achievements, rather than dated achievements from your time at school.
If you’re answering a similar essay for another business school application, be sure to check that you’ve updated the copy for the current school that you’re applying for.
Tackling the MBA essay questions
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you write your essays:
Be specific with your answers
If you have plenty of materials to include, consider filtering your ideas and making an outline of which topic you plan to cover in each essay.
This gives you room to develop your thoughts and experiences, rather than being overly general by attempting to cover numerous thoughts within one essay.
Your essays don’t have to be robotic and impersonal – instead, consider writing about personal experiences that have shaped you, such as your status as a minority or your foreign background, for example.
Don’t forget to support your claims with examples. For instance, saying that you’re a strong leader won’t cut it.
Highlight details such as the challenges you’ve overcome while leading a team, along with what you’ve learned in the process. This shows – rather than tell the admissions committee of your leadership prowess.
Edit your work
The MBA essay will require you to write, rewrite and edit your copy, so plan your schedule in such a way that you’ll have enough time to redraft your work to ensure that you’re left with the best copy possible to submit.
If you’re stumped for ideas for your MBA essay, Stacy Blackman, an MBA admissions consultant, encourages applicants to jot down anything interesting that comes to mind in a notebook, which will help you collect materials that you can potentially use for your essay.
At the end of the day, an MBA essay is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to the admissions committee why you deserve a spot at their school, so be sure to take the time to get it done right.