MBA admissions essay writing tips

It has been more than 2 months since I wrote a blog. Returning from my internship, excitement of meeting new friends coupled with the weight of new subjects and to a large extent kind of my laziness, kept me occupied. However, thanks to one of my friends I got the motivation to squeeze some time from my daily sleeping quota and return to blogging.

In my last article I covered the best practice of conducting informational interviews for short listing B Schools. Hopefully that was helpful. Next comes writing admission essays. Essays are undoubtedly most important, toughest and time consuming. Here are couple of my thoughts on how to write essays that make you standout:-

  1. Deeply reflect on your past and jot down everything at one place.

Strain all your brain cells, go back in your past and jot down all your achievements – academic, sports, extracurricular, any social activity or movement you were part of, no matter how small your participation was. At this point don’t think much about how it is going to help in your application.Take about a week for this activity. Keep thinking non-stop about this, even when you are doing your mundane daily activities. The moment you think of something, immediately write it down lest you forget it later. Once you have everything written down, you will be surprised to see how much you have achieved in your life till then. Give yourself a pat on your back.

 

  1. Now jot down what you want to do in life or are really passionate about.

Well, this in a way answers your short term and long term goal questions. For people who have a clear cut idea of what they want to do in life or are really passionate about need no guidance.- they deserve a big Wow and Congratulations! Put your hands behind your head and relax on a rocking chair, there is nothing much to tell you awesome people except have fun for next 3-4 days. For the rest I have all the sympathy, since I was also in the same boat when I was applying for my admissions. I used to think that it is really unfair for B Schools to expect or force 25-26 year old students to have their life goals all planned and sorted out by now. Thankfully, I was wrong. B Schools don’t expect you to have everything planned out well in advance, but at least have a general sense of what your passions are, what your tentative goals in life are or give them a general sense of direction you want to take post MBA. That should be doable. For those who are still struggling,my suggestion would be to figure out what your strengths are – analytical skills, people management, data analytics, client management etc.,etc. Then look at what different industries and job roles your strength compliments the most and choose that career path. This approach may not be the best, but again life is not always fair and under given circumstances this looks to be your best approach. You will have all the time while doing MBA to have a relook at your career ambitions and modify these accordingly.

 

  1. Why an MBA and why XYZ school?

 Explain why or how an MBA can act as a bridge between #1 and #2. Connect the dots and try to show a coherent theme with your past activities and future goals and how MBA would fit into this whole set of things. People do MBA when they really want something or are running away from something. It can be a career change, career advancement, building networks or just taking a break from corporate world. Do detailed research on the school and mention how you intend to leverage school resources or what attracts you the most in the school. Pour out your heart on why you are so passionate about that school.

  1. Write as if you are narrating a story to a 5 year old kid.

 No. Seriously, write your essays as if you are narrating a story to a 5 year old. Illustrate your skills/strengths with small stories. Stories leave a big impact, even on adults and especially on Admission officers (AO). Stories stick. An AO may not remember 100 names, but will definitely remember 500 stories. When a school receives 5k essays, all filled with catchy synonyms highlighting applicant’s strengths, it only helps them in segregating the good applicants from the rest. Conveying your strengths in a story format is what differentiates a powerful application from a good application.

 Ensure simple and plain English. When an admission officer is racing against time to read 100 applications in a day, some of them super boring, the last thing they want is to put any strain on their mind by reading essays written in flowery Shakespearean English.

  1. Project your whole personality, be creative and add a bit of humor

 Don’t restrict yourself by mentioning only academic achievements. Highlight achievements in other fields like sports, dance or social causes that you were part of or any initiative you took no matter how small it was. The key is to share the learning or takeaways. Also try to add a bit of humor in your essays if you can, but don’t go overboard with it.

  1. Proof read your essays and get different opinions.

 Lastly, once you are done with your essays, make sure you proof read it multiple times. There are many a software that you can use to help you catch any grammatical errors. I would also recommend that you share your essays with your close friends or mentor and ask for feedback. See if they can relate to your essays/vision or story that you want to highlight.

 Please let me know if you found this article interesting. If you have any success stories or amazing experiences during your application process, please share them in comment box below. Thanks!!

(Disclaimer: The writer is currently a student at Kelley School of Business and is a volunteer at Hoosier Host – a students outreach program at Kelley for prospective students. However  the views expressed over here are writer’s personal views and have no relation to Kelley School of Business)