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MBA admissions essays: Getting it right before you write

September 20 2012 By The MBA Exchange
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What the admissions committee really wants…

The professionals who read, evaluate and cull MBA admissions essays at the top business schools are looking for something far beyond your test score, transcript and your résumé. They want to know what makes you unique. What are your professional goals? How would this education enhance your plans to achieve those goals? How would your candidacy contribute more to the student body and campus life than those of other equally qualified applicants?

Don’t write yet!

Think about all of that and take some time for self-reflection. Before you write anything:

Be objective and focus on your strengths. How do your accomplishments and values mesh with the abstract notion of leadership? Think about other things that set you apart and that would contribute to future classmates, but don’t overly dwell on the abstract and anecdotal or you’ll get bogged down and quickly use up your word limit.

What are your weaknesses, and how can confronting them turn into opportunities for improving your potential? Don’t beat yourself up here. Just be honest and try to relate to the reader, who possibly has gone through the same personal and professional challenges as you.

What about your aspirations? Where do you see yourself 5, 10, or 25 years from now? Can you describe your ideal work routine in terms of how your qualifications lead to professional fulfillment? Don’t be generic on this one. Dream big but always connect it to your past or present for credibility.

In sum, what do you bring to the business school and just how can their MBA program help you? Important: Be sure to do your research to identify the aspects of each MBA program that relate most directly to your candidacy. Think about why you and the particular school would be a great match. A great way to get started is with a free, expert evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses.

When you do write, don’t make it like a term paper!

Experts advise that your admissions essay should be fun to read and all about self-discovery. Pity the admissions committee readers who have to read stacks of essays and, above all, try not to bore them. Again, lay off minutiae and write from the heart and the head!

Remember, you need to make sure that your admission essay does not read like it could be recycled for other schools and programs. Your story has to be personalized or else the admissions committees won’t be able to distinguish you.

Answer the question!

Stuck on where to start? Just answer the question or address the scenario posed in the essay instructions. One sure way to aggravate the adcom is to ignore them — and lots of applicants, sadly, are guilty of that. And, when you’ve drafted the essays, have someone you trust read them and try to figure out what questions were asked in the instructions.

Above all, be honest.

Remember that the admissions committee really wants to know you as a person. Trying to conceal yourself behind a flowery or overly stilted essay will only lead to failure. Also, be certain and consistent in your message about your career plans and how you intend to achieve your career goals. Don’t generalize. And never, never, never state facts that are untrue or can’t be documented. Background checks are becoming more common at the top schools prior to matriculation.

What admissions essays do.

Your essay shows how capable a communicator you are. Communication is a necessary attribute of a leader and writing skills are indicative of strategic thought process. So, stay on track and use a structure that makes it faster and easier for the reader to comprehend and remember the content.

Get expert help if you need it.

Essay editing is an exceptional strength of The MBA Exchange. With our input, clients produce powerful outlines and then narrative drafts that we carefully critique and refine for clarity and impact. Our editors are far more than proofreaders or grammarians — they are communications professionals with credentials from Fortune 500 companies. They understand business and business schools. And, unlike other consulting firms that may boast of being “speech writers” or “published authors,” The MBA Exchange never jeopardizes the authenticity of your essays by replacing your own unique voice with ours.

Every set is thoughtfully reviewed by experienced, skilled professionals from an admissions committee perspective. We help you turn good essays into great ones that capture your value proposition for each school. In fact, our editing skills have earned inclusion in the book, “65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays.”

So, contact us for the very best in MBA admissions consultation. Our team includes 9 former MBA admissions officers and 50 top graduates. We’ve been there and we help serious applicants get there!