It might feel like your business school application essay can never be good enough. So how do you know when you’ve got an essay that’s ready for showtime?
Every B-school application essay is different, but there are some key requirements an essay has to meet to stand out in the competitive MBA application evaluation process.
Here are some simple questions you should ask yourself to make sure your essay is doing what it’s supposed to – winning over the hearts of the adcom reading it and convincing them that you deserve a spot at their prestigious school.
– Does it answer the question?
The first item on your checklist should be to confirm that your essay still fundamentally addresses the question it’s supposed to. In the course of rewriting your essay, it’s possible to lose focus on the original point.
You want your essay to feel like it’s direct and speaks to the essence of the prompt. And you certainly don’t want adcoms to feel that you’re wasting their time by answering a question they didn’t ask, so be sure to verify that your essay is actually on topic.
– What’s the “so-what”?
Once you have an essay that answers the question, think through why the answer you’re giving is important. What’s the big idea in your story that you want to capture?
Remember, the goal here isn’t just to answer the question and check off another item on your application to-do list. You want to actually convey something concrete that will add another dimension to your application and help you stand out in the minds of adcoms.
So ask yourself what the takeaways of your essay are and what new light it sheds on who you are as a candidate.
– Does it flow?
Application essays are read super fast. That means you want to structure your essay in a way that’s logical, clear and easy to follow.
If you make your point in a way that’s clunky and meandering, you’ll lose your reader. On the other hand, an essay that’s concise, to-the-point and easy to read will help your main ideas jump off the page and ultimately make your essay more memorable.
– Is it interesting?
Adcoms read a lot of application essays. Part of the task here is to differentiate yourself and not write a same-old-same-old essay that will be forgotten as soon as it’s read.
That means you want to avoid sounding like everyone else. Be bold enough to share aspects of your story that aren’t commonly seen in B-school applications. And ask yourself whether your essay helps set you apart as a candidate.
– Are there blind spots?
You already know all the details behind your story, but the adcom doesn’t! One trap applicants fall into is failing to provide enough context.
Step back and read through your essay from the perspective of the adcom to see if they have enough context to grasp the important points in your story.
For example, what made the project you’re describing exciting, challenging, a huge win? All the relevant information is in your head, but the adcom doesn’t have access to that!
– Are there any silly errors?
The last step in making sure you’ve got an application-ready essay on your hands is going through with a fine-tooth comb for typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, and so on.
Remember, even if you start off with a perfect essay, the editing process can introduce new errors, so check again for trivial errors at the end. After all the work you put into crafting your application essay, you don’t want to sabotage it with a typo!
Writing an MBA application essay that makes you stand out involves figuring out your personal brand and then creating an essay that reinforces that personal brand in an engaging, concise and memorable way.
We’re happy to help with this process. We have extensive experience editing application essays and helping candidates effectively communicate their personal brands, so feel free to get in touch!