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:
- team skills
- 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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Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
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Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back
Sample MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood)
+ Stanford MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample Essay A
+ Chicago Booth MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
#1. Modern Art = Make you Think
#2. Teamwork and Individual Ambition
#4. Diversity = Creativity
#5. Classroom Experience
#6. Harper Center
+ Columbia MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay – Most Passionate About
Sample MBA Essay – Free Day
+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample Cover Letter
+ Kellogg MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample Essay - Leadership and Challenges
Sample Essay - How you have grown and intend to grow
+ Insead MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample Essay 1: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses
Sample Essay 2: Achievements and Failures
Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are
+ Haas MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit
Sample MBA Essay: Technology
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing
Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired
Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Sample MBA Essay: Leadership
Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help
+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay – Investment Banker
Sample MBA Essay - Consultant
Sample MBA Essay - Technologist
Sample MBA Essay - Marketer
Sample MBA Essay - Entrepreneur
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band
Sample MBA Essay: Technologist (Idea to Action)
Sample MBA Essay: Creative Marketing (Idea to Action)
Sample MBA Essay: Consulting (Made a Difference)
Sample MBA Essay: Losing a Client (Resilience)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance to Marketing (extra-curricular)
Sample MBA Essay: I am Aware that I am different
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People
Sample MBA Essay: A valuable thing I have taught someone
Sample Essay – Part 2 (Short-term & Long-Term Goals, skills relevant to your career goals and how Ross
prepares you for the goals)
+ Wharton MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
8 Professional Gains
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
London as the Financial Hub
London as the Technology Hub
London as the Consulting Hub
How to Cite the Curriculum (Example)
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals - How Prior Experience & LBS MBA will contribute (486
+ Darden MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Case Study Method
What is valued at Darden?
Framework for Answering the Darden Essay Question
Sample Darden Essay: When your opinion evolved through discussions (499 Words)
+ Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua Short-Answer Essay Questions
Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)
Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words)
Essay 3: Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six")
5 Examples with Images
+ Sample Essays
+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses
Download Winning MBA Essay Guide (2018 Entering Class)