Essay Prep

Whether you’re applying in Round three, Round four or waiting for Round one to get here, you’d better get busy prepping for your essays.

MBA applications have become pretty similar processes no matter where you decide to go, which actually makes preparing to write your essays a little easier than it used to be when schools were trying to out-maneuver each other with creative, even zany essay questions. Most business schools now ask similar questions, but all business schools are looking for the same thing.

In a nutshell, schools want to see leadership, maturity, teamwork skills and some solid work experience. 

Exactly how these elements come together in the essay questions can vary, but your job as an applicant is to make sure you are demonstrating these core profile characteristics throughout your essays.  To be clear, even if the questions do not ask you for these things directly, you must make sure you weave them in.

This is exactly why essay preparation is so essential to crafting a winning application.  Writing good MBA admissions essays is more than just stream of consciousness pontification over your life achievements, it’s strategically approaching your story in a way that puts you in the best position possible for consideration.  The most important thing to remember is that you are in charge of how to present your information, not the school. 

Your MBA application is the one opportunity you will have to present a case strong enough to earn an interview.

So how to get ready for such a daunting task?  One of the best ways to get started is to keep a journal.  Start by asking yourself the big WHY questions.  Why do you want an MBA?  Why is now the right time to go back?  Why would you leave your job in this economy to go back to school?  Some of these questions will be directly related to the essay questions themselves, and other big-picture questions will simply get you thinking the right way about how to cast your story in the most favorable light. 

Writing a personal statement can be a valuable exercise.

A personal statement is a one or two page walk through your life thus far, particularly a walk which points to why and how your decisions have been made.  This exercise can be a great way to orient yourself towards your own story and what about your experiences have helped shape the leader you have become and plan to be in the future. I have seen countless clients either use parts of their original personal statement in their essays or at least draw from their ideals considerably.  In the end, any efforts you put into preparing to write will make the actual writing process much more painless and accessible.

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