The business school application process can be an intimidating process with competition particularly fierce at top business schools. In general, candidates are screened based on the following;
- GPA and GMAT scores
- Personal attributes. Prior to being invited to an interview, the applicant’s “fit” with a particular program is assessed based on his/her essays and recommendation letters. Invariably, the essays and reference letters collectively must draw attention to the skills and characteristics that business programs seek including maturity, motivation, strong work ethic and solid communication skills. A great essay will provide color to your performance and potential.
To write a strong essay, you need to understand your audience. It is imperative that you understand what the Admissions Committee is looking for. From your admission essays, the Committee hope to better understand the following relative to other candidates:
- Depth of your academic and professional experiences
- Unique traits and interests that are not covered in other parts of the application
- Your commitment to the MBA program
In your essay, be passionate and sincere. Show Admissions Committee who you are and what you will bring to the program. Some hints are:
- Answer the question being asked. Many candidates gets lost as they write their essays. Instead of focusing on the question being asked, he/she rambles on and on without focus. Always come back to the question.
- Convey positivity and optimism. A typical essay question is “Write about an experience that has shaped your personality.” Very often, applicants write about an unfortunate event and writes from a perspective of being the victim. AVOID this perspective. Instead, focus on what you have learned from the experience.
- Use active voice. Be clear and use simple sentence structure. Often, essays have word limit and every word has to count.
- Resist the urge to describe. Applicants often spend the better part of the essay tediously describing an experience or event. The description is only a part of the essay. Demonstrate what you have learned including perseverance, stamina and knowledge.
- Don’t repeat information that can be found in other parts of your application. The essays are your opportunity to demonstrate who you are. Rehashing the same information/experience only makes you one dimensional; business programs seek candidates that have depth and are multi-dimensional.
- Don’t try to explain weakness on your record. It is almost impossible to explain poor grades and/or test scores without sounding defensive or worse, irresponsible. If there is a reason for an academic weakness, write in a separate short essay and avoid in the body of the essay.
As much as possible, you should craft your narrative around your achievements and experiences that have enabled you cultivate your strengths. Use the whole essay set to “speak” to the Admissions Committee about who you are and not just disparate traits that you think the school wants to see.