With Round One deadlines for a number of programs just around the corner, it’s the time of year when many applicants are working hard on their application essays and learning more about their target programs in the process of rounding out their “why MBA/why school X” discussions. Keeping this important component of the admissions process in mind, we wanted to take the time today to offer some advice on how to polish this element of one’s file and get the most mileage out of this section.
1. Make it personal. Schools look for applicants who seem genuinely excited about their program, and the best way to bring this across in your essays is to come right out and say it. Many applicants submit well-researched essays but present their findings in the form of objective facts. The adcom will already know whether their program features a flexible curriculum, is very strong in marketing, or offers an international focus. What they don’t know – and what you should be explaining in your essays – is what you find exciting and appealing and why. Stating your interest in a school by connecting its offerings to your goals and interests is a great way to help the adcom understand (and ideally get them to agree with) your opinion that you would be a good fit with the program.
2. Cite your sources. In addition to hearing about your impressions of the program, the adcom will also wonder how you arrived at your conviction that their program is right for you. Did you attend an information session or an MBA tour? Visit the campus? Sit in on a class? Contact the heads of student clubs? Speak with alumni in your current or target field? Comb through student blogs and other online sources of information? Sharing the steps you’ve taken to familiarize yourself with the school will showcase the effort you have put into learning about the program and will also add credibility to your comments about your commitment.
3. Keep it tailored. Just as it’s important to mention aspects of the curriculum or community that make a particular school unique in comparison to others, it’s also essential that you highlight how your own interests and goals guide your discussion of school-specific elements. This approach will not only have the benefit of showing off the research you’ve done on the program in question but will also help you to stand out from other applicants by virtue of your unique goals and interests. Sure, it’s reasonable to mention the core curriculum, as this is an important aspect of the business education, but because this could be a draw for any applicant to a given program, you would be better served by focusing on those classes that are most relevant to your particular educational needs.
Of course, arriving at in-depth knowledge is the first step in this process, and those applicants who are looking to gather key facts for their essays may want to use the Clear Admit School Guides as a starting point. Good luck to everyone who is hard at work on this challenging element of the application process!