Business School Aplication Essays

Essays are an incredibly important part of the application process, says Stacy Blackman, an MBA admissions consultant. Seemingly straightforward questions require a great deal of introspection. Make sure you budget time to draft and redraft, try new approaches and carefully edit so that each line packs the maximum punch 

1 As soon as you know that you are going to apply to business school, you can start to prepare in a low-stress way. Keep a notebook and jot down anything interesting that comes to mind. An inspiring lecture, a disappointing performance review, an enlightening conversation with a friend, a travel experience, running a marathon, a stimulating book—all of these can be terrific material for your essays. Don't agonise over whether it will make a great topic, just jot it down. You will find that you quickly have a plethora of material to choose from. 

2 As you begin to approach essay-writing time, consider putting together a “brag sheet”. Write down all of the things about you that would not necessarily appear on a résumé: languages you speak, all extracurricular involvements, family traditions and more. This can also be mined for essay content. 

3 Once you have the essay questions in hand, there may still be a few stumpers. Even with lots of content, when you are faced with answering a question such as “What matters most to you?” it is difficult to decide. Here is an exercise that stops you from over-thinking: set your alarm clock for 3am. When you wake up, ask yourself the question. The first thing that comes to mind might surprise you. Do this for a couple of nights and you may come up with a few options or find that you are building a consensus around a certain topic. 

4 Before you actually write the essays, take the final step of mapping out the general topics you will cover in each essay. As you map a topic to a question, check it off on a master list of stories you want to cover. This way, you can make sure that a given school is receiving all of your key stories, and that you are spreading out different stories across an application and not being repetitive. 

5 Everyone works in different ways: some work best first thing in the morning, others are night owls. Some need to outline concepts on paper, others go straight to computer. So develop a plan that supports your individual style. Many find that the first application can take around 40 hours of work—brainstorming, drafting, editing, refining. As you approach this process, make sure you have the time. Tackle one application at a go. Do not take work leave or attempt it in a single week. Essays require time to gel. Therefore make sure that you have plenty of time to do it right. You may require six weeks, or you may even want 12. 

6 Many applicants are inhibited by perfectionism. They can sit at the computer for hours, unable to generate that “perfect” essay, rewriting so furiously that they don't get past the first few sentences. It is often easier to edit than to write. So just type. A page full of so-so text is less intimidating than that blank page. 

7 It is essential that you research your target schools and understand how to appeal to each of them. Each will have a slightly different ethos and look for something different in their students. But… 

8 …you can also save yourself a bit of work. There are certain qualities that all business schools want to see in a successful applicant:

  • leadership
  • team skills
  • ethics
  • communication skills

Just saying “I am a strong leader” is not enough. Every claim you make must have supporting stories that help the reader believe you. You do not need to check off every quality on the list. Select a few that apply to you and reinforce those in an honest and compelling way. 

9 Nobody is perfect. The schools know this and you need to show them that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity—in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws—can often help the admissions committee to like you. A story about how you learned from a failure, improved upon a weakness or struggled with challenges can be compelling. The other side of this is the ability to demonstrate that you can really benefit from the MBA degree. If you know everything already, an admissions committee may wonder why you want to return to school. 

10 Get some help. Even the most meticulous writers benefit from a second or third set of eyes. Ask someone to review your essays, look for typos and tell you if you are hitting all of the points in the right way. Is your attempt at humour coming off correctly? Do you seem too humble, too cocky, too serious, not serious enough? After you have been buried with your essays for weeks, a fresh perspective can often help you see the application as an admissions-committee member does: for the first time. Enlist someone who knows about the application process and make sure they are not just reassuring you that all is well, but are actually giving you some quality feedback. 

 

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Admission Essay & Personal Statement Development Services
Business School / MBA Sample Essays
I have been hoping and planning to earn an MBA for the past six years since graduating from college and am excited to now be on the cusp of making that dream a reality. I’ve come a long way from the painfully shy college freshman who initially could hardly even stomach the thought of being a resident advisor because it would involve so much interaction with students I didn’t yet know. I conquered those first fears and went on to become the Resident Hall Council President and Freshman Orientation Leader...
In my experience one of the best places to learn true leadership skills is on the playing field. There are few situations in this world as intense, fraught with danger, and adrenalin inducing as participating in full-contact competitive sports. I have played soccer in a league for over __ years, and while this pastime is certainly not the focus of my life, the camaraderie and interpersonal skills I have learned from it will last me a lifetime...
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be here in the United States earning my education because I know how easy it would have been for this never to take place. Moving here all by myself from Shanghai to attend college was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I had never been away from my family before, I hadn’t even traveled outside of China prior to this trip, and I knew I was in for a big change...
Question: In 250 words or less, discuss your leadership or managerial style as it plays out in an organizational or group setting.

I have had the good fortune to work on several teams consisting of disparate people in a corporate setting. While many individuals shy away from trying to bring un-like minded people together, I see it as a challenge in which, if handled carefully, everyone can bring something unique to the group that will ultimately help us move the selected project forward in a more complete manner than if we all had similar ideas and styles...
Question: In 250 words or less, please describe your career goals and your educational objectives in participating in _____ University’s program.

I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is the home of my heart even though I relish traveling to other countries and experiencing and learning from other cultures. I am in the United States now in order to further my education, improve my English, and make sure that I have the skills to work effectively with business leaders from everywhere in the world...
I come from a land of unparalleled physical beauty but sadly one that is also still struggling to overcome a strict class system that does not reflect the changing values of today’s Argentine people. I am one of the fortunate ones who has had access to an education and the opportunity to go to college in America, but many in my country are not so lucky...
Lying on my back, looking up at the stars while the camp fire crackles beside me, I can feel the utter peace of the ranch this I have loved since I was a boy. I would say that it would be a paradise to spend the rest of my life trekking through the rugged lands that, even though I have traveled them from my earliest memories on, still hold mysteries and new found beauty every time I come here...
Question: Please describe your experience of working in and leading teams, either in your professional or personal life. Given this experience, what role do you think you will play in your study group, and how do you intend to contribute to it?

Though I have had two work experiences outside of college, one as an accountant and the other as an investment analyst, in which I have had the chance to work on teams, contributing valuable experience and information that has been used to make multimillion dollar decisions, I still think my most vital experience of leadership took place in college simply because it was my greatest challenge to step up and take on a leadership role at that time, whereas in my jobs it was expected and I was prepared to do it...
Question: Student involvement is an extremely important part of the MBA experience and this is reflected in the character of students on campus. What type of student club or campus community event do you envisage yourself initiating? How would you set about organizing this, and how would you communicate it to the wider School community?

Having already learned first had the importance of becoming a part of clubs on campus during my undergraduate years I will most certainly be an active member, and possibly founder, of new ones at ________ University. My transition from Japan to America was made much smoother by my active participation in the Japanese Students Association, and if there is not yet a chapter such as this at ____ University, you can count on me to found it...
Question: Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force. Tell us about an external influence (a person, an event, etc.) that affected you and how it caused you to change direction.

There is no event that has so affected my life trajectory as much as my decision to move to the United States to pursue my education. Prior to making this decision I was living what many would consider a perfectly satisfactory life in Cairo, Egypt. I come from a middle-class family, my parents are educated and kind, and I get along well with my two sisters...

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