Most MBA programs have already published their updated essay questions for Fall 2015. Writing the MBA application essays is usually the hardest part of the MBA admission process. In the next few weeks we'll bring here a few MBA essay tips and guidelines to help you successfully negotiate the essay writing process.
Today we'll start with some general essay tips:
1. Prepare your strategy
Before writing the MBA essays, take some time to familiarize yourself with the MBA program’s requirements of its candidates and with your qualities as a candidate. Below is an example of some recommended basic steps:
- Note the candidate evaluation criteria used by the MBA program you are applying to. You may consult the program’s website, current students, alumni, online forums and guidebooks in order to draft an up-to-date list of criteria.
- Write down what you, as a candidate, can offer in respect to each one of these criteria. These are the main messages you seek to convey through the MBA essays.
- Allocate each message to one or more essays. Use the aforementioned criteria weights to determine the extent of and emphasis used to present each message.
2. Convey clear messages
Life isn't so clear-cut. Attempts at describing the path we have taken thus far, and our plans for the future, often require complex explanations and descriptions.
It is important to remember that the reader of your essays may be unfamiliar with your industry. Moreover, remember that application essay readers go through hundreds of essays within a short period of time. Your messages must be clear, crisp, short, focused, and easily identifiable in order to help the reader.
3. Make use of conjunctions
Use conjunctions (such as However, Therefore, Thus, Furthermore, Moreover, Nevertheless) to connect phrases and/or paragraphs. Smooth transitions will help you write clearly and coherently. Moreover, such transitions help the reader follow the text and stay focused.
4. Be personal
Use concrete, personal, and factual examples to illustrate your point. It is a good idea to avoid general statements, stereotypical phrases, and clichés.
5. Vary your vocabulary
Using a thesaurus is highly recommended. Essays that make use of a limited vocabulary with often repeated words tend to wear out the reader, and often fail to achieve their objective.
6. Do your homework
Writing a strong “Why our school” essay requires comprehensive research on each university you apply to. Sentences such as “I made Columbia my top choice because of its strong alumni network, distinguished faculty, and excellent reputation” are an effective way to ensure rejection. These kinds of sentences show that you failed to recognize the program’s unique character.
In addition to reviewing the university’s website, speak to students and alumni. Make use of online forums to gather up-to-date information about the school, so that you can present a compelling case as to why you chose this specific MBA program.
7. Be unique
Write a unique, personal essay. You want the readers to pore over your essay not only as part of their duty as Admissions Committee members, but also because they are intrigued. Like any good author, use techniques such as suspense, subheadings, an intriguing introduction and a little humor to capture the reader’s attention.
8. Answer the question
It may seem obvious, but make sure you remembered to do it: Answer the question!
No less, and not much more.
Next week we'll go deep and bring you advanced MBA essay tips!
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