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Question on Central Theme of Applications

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Author Message
Affiliations: CPA
Joined: 07 Jun 2007
Posts: 29
Schools: Yale
WE 1: Tax - Big 4
Followers: 2

Kudos [?]: 9 [0], given: 10

Question on Central Theme of Applications [#permalink] New post 20 May 2010, 08:37
Hi Scott,

Thank you very much for answering my previous question a few months ago. A few days ago, the HBS essay questions for 2011 were released. Despite the example being specifically directed to HBS, I would like to know if that in general, tying your responses from different questions on the application to each other would be a positive or a negative? Specifically, is it better to have your application tie to a central theme, or will I just be too repetitive if a few answers tie into others?

For example:

In HBS's essay, one of my three accomplishments relates to an academic honors program that I was heavily involved in, and believe have made a great impact upon. In this question, I plan to specifically address what did, the challenges I faced, the end result on the campus and myself from my involvement, and what I had learned from my involvement with this program alone.

However, I also plan to answer the "What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to Know about your undergraduate academic experience?" question, in which I plan to address my academics holistically, which also includes my involvement with the honors program. This will be one minor piece of this essay, but I was wondering if I should omit the honors program experience in essay 1 since it also has to do with my academic experience and instead focus on another accomplishment?

Furthermore, in the mandatory "mistakes" question, I plan to write about a particular hardship that I have faced from a poor decision and have learned from. The essay will describe how I fell into the situation, how I realized it was affected myself and those close to me, how I overcame the hardship, and how I feel it has changed me as a person afterwards.

As overcoming this hardship had made a big impact in my life, I wish to obtain an MBA to create a program to help others that are similarly facing that specific hardship. As such, it will be the focus of the "career vision". While the prior essay describes the hardship and how it affected me, this essay will focus on WHY, as a result of the hardship, I wish to pursue this as a career, and HOW I plan to do so with an MBA from HBS. Would this be too repetitive, since I will be referring to the same incident/occurrence for both questions, even though I do answer both questions directly and from different angles? (essay A to describe the situation and how it changed me, and essay B to explain how the change has inspired me to pursue X as my career vision)

Thank you very much for your advice!
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Re: Question on Central Theme of Applications [#permalink] New post 21 May 2010, 14:24
Expert's post

Generally speaking, it's okay to tie your essays together when doing so helps to reinforce a strong theme in your application. However, two things to think about:

  • That question, more than anything, is there to give you a chance to explain a weakness in your undergrad transcript. That doesn't mean you MUST use it that way, but to just use it to discuss how much you enjoyed the honors program (for example) is probably a waste of valuable real estate in your application.
  • Recycling stories form one essay to the next can backfire if you give the impression that you don't have much to talk about. It's like the crazy uncle who tells the same three stories over and over... That's all he's got! Not good...

BTW, we just posted an analysis of the 2010-2011 admissions essays on on blog. I think this may answer your other questions: ... s-for.html

Good luck!


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