Next to the interview, MBA admissions directors usually hold the application essay or essays in high regard.
Although every essay prompt is different and each business school applicant will be able to find a unique approach to their submission, there are some essential MBA essay writing strategies to follow.
Demonstrate your fit to the program
First and foremost, admissions directors are looking for class participants who fit the focus and values of their MBA program. Business school aspirants need to be able to communicate clearly and convincingly why they should join the program and how their participation will benefit their fellow students and the school as a whole. At the end of the day, the best way to acquire that amount of knowledge about the university is by doing extensive research into what the program offers. Stephen Sweeney, Director of Full-time MBA Recruiting and Admissions at McCombs School of Business (US), says:
We are also evaluating the level of research a particular applicant has conducted on our program and whether or not they understand how they are going to optimize their time in our program.
What are the program’s format, curriculum, career trip opportunities, and admissions requirements? What do alumni say about their experience and how have they managed to develop professionally after graduation? Finding answers to questions such as these will not only help you write the most relevant MBA essay, but they will also show you whether this is exactly the study opportunity you are looking for.
Know yourself and be yourself
In many cases, MBA essay prompts are somewhat personal in nature. Their aim is to push applicants to reflect on their unique capabilities related to business, leadership, and other professional areas. Applicants need to be able to take the essay question and apply it to their own experience, which will be different from the experience of any other individual. While it can be tempting to try and paint a spectacular picture of yourself, it is imperative that MBA aspirants remain true to their actual professional skills and personal values. Eric Lucrezia, Recruitment Manager at ESSEC Business School (France), reinforces this idea:
A lot of people try to project an image of themselves that may or may not be who they really are. […] If you’re not being who you are, it’s probably going to end up being not the right fit for you and it won’t be to your advantage. So, put yourself out there and be the best version of yourself, but be sincere.
Reflect on your experience
Writing a winning MBA application essay involves more than abstract statements of the program of your choice. Any admissions expert or consultant will tell you that applicants should refer to examples and specific accomplishments to strengthen their case. If you claim you excel as a leader, be sure to back that claim up with your previous professional roles, entrepreneurial endeavors, or other relevant examples from your experience. The GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) also advise paying attention to “the results you delivered or achieved, how your particular skill set made a difference, [and] any inconsistencies in your background and lessons learned.”
The challenges and lessons of past mistakes are just as welcome alongside the accomplishments described in an MBA application essay. Business school representatives can learn a lot about applicants from the way they talk about the difficulties they have encountered throughout their career. If you are able to showcase your personal and professional growth as a result of a challenging situation, this can only elevate your profile in the eyes of admissions directors.
Discuss short- and long-term goals
According to UK business magazine Business Matters, “stating your short- and long-term career goals in the admission essays serves two important purposes.” Firstly, it shows determination and proves that you are methodical and serious about your intentions. Secondly, it loops back to the point of you being the right fit for a particular program by showing how the MBA degree will get you closer to your career aspirations.
In fact, referring to your short- and long-term goals in equal measure can be so important that some MBA programs specifically make it one of their essay questions for applicants. The question may go along the lines of: “What are your short-term and long-term goals and how will the school help you achieve them?” So, do not underestimate the impact of your argumentation, and think through your answer well in advance.
Edit and proofread
It may sound insignificant or trivial to some, but careful proofreading is essential in the final stage of essay writing before actually submitting the text. Editing is necessary in order to determine if the structure, arguments, and logic of the essay are all there. MBA applicants should not think twice about consulting a colleague or a friend for a second opinion. Seek out fresh perspectives on what you could improve while you still have time before the submission deadline. Most importantly, make sure the text is not only free of grammatical errors and typos but that it also delivers your arguments in a convincing manner.
As long as you follow these guidelines closely, your unique voice will echo through the MBA essays you submit and that will bring you a step closer to getting admitted to business school.