The following is one of the essays of CMU:
Please describe a failure or setback in your professional or academic life. How did you overcome this setback? What, if anything, would you do differently if confronted with this situation again?
I have an experience when I am in the IXth standard (Age 16), an academic and personal failure, but a crucial turning point in my life. Can I write about this experience in the above essay?
Or is the admission committee looking for any recent failures? (My current Age: 25 and I took my bachelors at the age of 21)
Another essay is asking to write about ethical dilemma - what are the kind of experiences that should be considered here?
Should we reflect positively here or is it ok if we say we have taken a wrong choice, but we learnt lessons from it? Any insights????
If the experience from eight years ago was really seminal, then yes you can right about it, but keep in mind that the question asks for a failure in your "academic or professional" life, so make sure that this experience fits that qualification. IN fact, I generally prefer that the answers to failure questions be a few years old so you can show change and growth since the failure, but going back nine years is a little longer than I normally recommend. And going back to high school is also farther back then I normally recommend. Nonetheless I can imagine situations where it would work.
Please keep in mind that a dilemma by definition has no obvious right or wrong, usually two wrongs. It is a situation where values collide and no matter which path you take, in some respect you will be doing "wrong."
For more tips on answering an ethical dilemma question, please see #3 in "Solving the Puzzle"
Co-Author of: MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools
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