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How to write essays for MBA admission in US?
Let me start with an inspiring quote:
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve, also famous for playing SUPERMAN
As promised, I am back to share some more admission related experience with you. And this time we dig right in. I had originally planned to talk about GMAT but since Round 1 deadlines for many US Business Schools are very close I thought of giving some quick pointers on “Essay Writing”. I will of course cover Essay Writing in more detail, using Stanford Business School MBA essays as example, in a later article devoted to just that. (Yes! There is a lot of stuff that goes into writing a good essay!)
1. Don’t use a standard template. Never try to compose an essay to force-fit it into “your view” or others’ view of a standard business school essay template. First, your view may be completely wrong because there is a lot of incorrect information floating around and you don’t know about the more than 5000 applicants from over 50 countries that you will be competing with. Second, by following a standard template you really don’t differentiate yourself when differentiation is the key to your success. So be original.
2. Strictly adhere to the word limit. If you cant say whatever you need to in a concise, clear yet effective way, then anyway you will find operating in business environments very hard.
3. Don’t compose your essays in isolation. You may find it surprising, but when you ask your friends to evaluate you in a structured manner, you will find information about yourself that you didn’t know. Things like what are your strengths, weaknesses, what kind of work you excel at, do you act like a jerk when you are stressed etc. (I can post a template of questions to help you get structured feedback from your family and friends if I see enough comments expressing interest). This can be very valuable material to go into your essay. So get lots of feedback from people you know.
4. Don’t do it in one sitting. Iterations are extremely important for a high-quality essay to emerge. So you may think you have written golden words in one shot but all you need is a second pair of eyes to bring out logical gaps, clumsy/clichéd expressions, grammatical errors etc in your essay. An essay must go though at least 2 to 3 iterations of review and feedback by a close friend or family member to bring it to perfection. Yes, there is no short cut around this.
In my subsequent articles I will discuss what does the admission committe at Stanford Business School expect to see in your MBA essays.