How can you separate yourself from the competition successfully? By crafting an excellent application essay.
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Which program are you applying to? No two people have the same history. Use stories and examples to make your background bright and stand out to demonstrate what makes you special. Discuss how your history has brought you to this point. What is there in your background that compels you to pursue an MBA at this time? Show your direction in the goals essay Use this opportunity to show that you have clear direction and purpose based on experience and planning. Use your optional essay to explain negatives in your stats If your GPA was lower than you would have liked early in your undergraduate education, use your essay to show how you learned from this experience.
Everyone makes mistakes. How you deal with your mistakes shows a lot to the admissions committee — determination, discipline, success, resilience, and breadth of experience are qualities that will serve you well in your MBA studies and later in life. Show that you understand the mistake you made, learned from it and changed as a result of processing the experience. That response shows maturity. Justifying — instead of learning or changing — is a sign of immaturity.
MBA programs want mature adults. Almost all of them have made mistakes. Say what you mean, and mean what you say Admissions committees read thousands of essays during each admissions round. A concise, well thought-out essay will have them reading yours to the end. You need examples and stories to support your statements and make your essay interesting and readable.
There are several ways you can do this. The first is writing in the active voice, where the subject of the sentence performs the action, as opposed to the passive voice, where the subject receives the action. Active should be used whenever possible because it makes the sentence more clear and uses less words — the goal of any shortessay. If your point is still clear or more clear without that sentence, cut it.
One of the most common word limits in MBA application essays is words. Whether a goals essay, a leadership essay, or a personal essay, this word count gives you just enough room to include meaningful, well-detailed examples without inviting you to wax poetic about your entire life story. So, considering how popular they are, what is the first step to writing a compelling MBA essay in words?
Take your ideas about word count, crumple them up, and throw them in the recycling bin.
Did that? Although most essays will have a word limit, that is not where you should begin — and it is definitely not what you should focus on while trying to develop your MBA admissions essay. In fact, trimming word count is the very last thing you should do before you finalize your draft.
There are three answers to this question: theme, story, and structure. But what are these exactly? Your theme is like your topic. It is the main thing you want your readers to know and remember about you while reading your essay. Everything — and I mean absolutely everything — in your MBA essay should pertain and relate back to your theme.
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Story is how you express your theme. An MBA essay can have one or multiple stories. Your stories are personal as in, they really did happen to you!
These must underline must relate back to your theme. Structure is how you combine the two in a way that makes it easy for your reader to get from one idea to the next. A strong structure will reinforce the meaning of your essay.
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All three of these elements are interrelated, and all are necessary for creating a truly compelling MBA admissions essay. In words, you should have ample space to fully explore your theme by telling an interesting, well-structured story. Though the predominant trend is for MBA admissions committees to reduce the number of words required for their application, a few programs still ask candidates or, in the case of HBS , allow candidates to write much longer essays, often words or longer.
Although this will vary according to the topic of the essay, the basic outline is often similar, as pointed out by Karen Schweitzer. The outline of your MBA essay will usually have the following format:. Keep in mind that this is only a basic outline for an MBA admissions essay , and there are other formats that may work just as well. You may find a different format works better for your message. In that case — go for it! No matter which format you choose, however, make sure your reader can clearly and easily understand and navigate the structure of your essay.
How do you ensure that your MBA essay is well-structured? Here, it is best to rely on the classic sandwich method. The sandwich method ensures that each of your stories the lettuce, meat, cheese, and other particularly yummy parts of your structural sandwich is surrounded by an explicit emphasis on your theme the bread that holds your structural sandwich together. You are going to need a few structural sandwiches for a good essay. Not only should the essay itself be one big sandwich, but each paragraph — each story — needs to be one as well.
In other words:. In your essay-structural-sandwich, your theme needs to surround your stories. The introduction of your essay should clearly present your theme and your conclusion needs to pick it back up. Each story needs an introduction sentence and a concluding sentence. Both of these sentences need to relate your story back to your theme. The sandwich method is a way to ensure your reader stays on the same page as you. They make it explicitly clear why what you are saying is relevant to the larger picture and how you got there in the first place.
In spring , we helped Axel from Argentina compose and refine his Stanford essays. Take a look at one of the stories he told to highlight this theme:. By connecting my hobby of space with my desire for change, I shared my knowledge of cosmology and mathematics and gained valuable lessons from people with backgrounds in education. This experience showed me that working to create change is as important as its positive effects. Your response must be a personal statement that describes much more than just your short and long term goals though they are, of course, the key to the whole essay.
This means that your own vision of your future career path must be crystal clear, since no elite business school will admit candidates who do not state clear, well argued goals. Assuming you have some rock solid goals in place, here are several tips that will help you turn your career plan into a winning essay! Try to think of the MBA goals essay as a story, and the important components of the story are your past, present, and future, and how they all connect.
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Specifically, how they connect should look like this:. Your story should flow well between these components, building upon each of them and creating a unified narrative. Organizing your essay in this way will provide clarity and a pleasing flow to the information.
Whether the question asks for it or not, a little bit about your work history is important to include in this essay. If the question does ask about your career progress to date, keep in mind the information the admissions counselors already have. Nonetheless, not everyone has a perfectly linear path where each step logically leads to the next. Your work history might look disjointed on paper, but the key is to emphasize growth and highlight your capabilities. All of this needs to add up to the next section: your future goals. Your essay revolves around your short and long term goals, which means you need to think through these two things more than anything else.
It is important that you explain the relationship between all the lessons you learned along your career journey and your future — how has your past prepared and inspired you for your future? This is your chance to really sell yourself to the admissions committee — why is their school the very best for your specific needs? You have shown the experience and knowledge you have, the goals that resulted, and now you need to prove that this program can give you everything you need to reach those goals.
This is no time to be vague. Standing out as a prime candidate to admissions counselors means writing a goals essay with clarity and purpose, showing that you are informed and visionary enough to see your goals through.