Don't be Redundant, and Whatever you do, Don't Repeat Yourself

With the trend towards shorter essays, There has been a dangerous problem in MBA applications which can only be described as “redundancy.” 

Shortening the essays has resulted in more questions and even mini-essays or micro-essays within the application itself, where often applicants end up repeating information about themselves that is found elsewhere in the application.

The shorter essay requirements have essentially elevated everything else in the application in importance to the point that each component needs to be firing off something unique and of value to your candidacy. 

You simply cannot afford to say the same thing twice. 

Don’t talk extensively in the essays about job duties or volunteer experience which is covered well on your resume.  Don’t weaken your case by repeating yourself in the description of your Post MBA goals or some other kind of mini-question what you already presented somewhere else.  Don’t let your recommenders simply regurgitate some example you yourself also provided.  You can expand on an idea, but merely churning the same thing throughout the application is a sure recipe for failure.  Get it?   The idea is to hit on all cylinders in the application, leveraging each section to communicate fresh information which ultimately builds a strong, comprehensive case for admission.   When you repeat yourself, you are not reinforcing ideas, you are wasting precious word count and appearing as if you don’t have much to offer. 

In the old days of long applications, this phenomenon would show up mostly in the optional essay only.  People would use the optional essay to try and clarify something in the application or to make the case “better.”  Schools got to the point of specifically requesting applicants avoid saying things they already said, but still applicants would still repeat themselves. 

Now, we see repetition much more often across the whole application.  How do you avoid it? 

Make sure when your application is almost finished that you (and ideally, someone else too) sit back and read the entire application from beginning to end.  Ask yourself if there is any redundancy, or if instead, you sense a balance of good, persuasive evidence for admission.  In the areas you feel are redundant, are you skillfully reinforcing a point, or is it truly just a repeat of something else that’s already in there?  If it’s the former, and you feel the characteristic or trait is worth reinforcing, try to do so in a different way.  Tell a different story or provide more detail.    It’s good to have a theme or thread throughout your application, just make sure it’s not just telling them the same thing over and over.

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