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GMAT Club Essay Review 9: Why MBA, Why Now #3?

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GMAT Club Essay Review 9: Why MBA, Why Now #3?  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Oct 2015, 08:50

Thanks for reading and welcome to the eighth post in GMAT Club’s Essay Review Initiative brought to you by Critical Square. Every week or so throughout the summer we’re going to review, comment, and tear apart a real essay from last year. The streets will run red (with ink)! So grab a cup of coffee and read on – this is a great way to see how our admissions consultants, and effectively, an admissions committee looks at your essays. What we like, what we don’t like, and how to avoid mistakes that can sink your application.

If you missed the first reviewed essay on “Career Goals”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the second reviewed essay on “A Time You Took a Risk”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the third reviewed essay on “Tell Us About Yourself”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the fourth reviewed essay on “Duke’s 25 Things About You”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the fifth reviewed essay on “Why an MBA, why now?”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the sixth reviewed essay on “Why an MBA, why now?”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the seventh reviewed essay on “Leadership Experience?”, you can catch up [here]!
If you missed the eighth reviewed essay on “Frustrating Experience?”, you can catch up [here]!

So, without further ado, our ninth essay!

The essay prompt:

Our ninth essay prompt revisits one we did earlier in the series – an oldie but a goodie! “Why MBA, Why Now”. You know the drill. 300 – 750 words (or so) focused on career goals and aspiration. An essay prompt as old as time itself. What do you want to be when you grow up? So let’s see what this applicant wrote about.
Let’s dive into this week’s essay!

At [FIRM NAME], I thrive on identifying strong investments and growing companies alongside management teams. While I enjoy buyouts, I am fascinated by earlier-stage investments where I can impact a company on the cusp of change. I intend to pursue growth equity which partners with companies generating positive revenue but in need of the right sponsor to reach full potential.

As far as starts to essays go, this isn’t a bad one. But it’s also a bit generic on a few different points. For example: while the writer is trying to share what s/he loves about their job in the first couple of sentences, it could be widely applicable to consulting or VC or PE or a host of other functions and industries. Also, phrases such as “cusp of change” are dangerous because if you use them and don’t back the claim up, they quickly become fluff. The final statement starts to hone into the plan (and we love the distinction where the companies s/he wants to focus on have revenue) but “full potential” is vague.

I aim to join firms such as [COMPANY], which has a solid track record of taking investments public, or [COMPANY], which engages closely on strategy and operations. [Working on leaner teams, my involvement will be even more proactive and multi-faceted.] As I rise in the industry, I hope to build a team that is both independently empowered and cohesively collaborative. We will bring distinctive edge to a portfolio of industry pioneers. [SCHOOL] is essential to realizing this goal.

First off, all growth equity, and even some non-growth equity, partners with their investments in terms of strategy and operations. That is just what they do. It’s the latter half of this paragraph, however, that we have more issue with. It’s nice writing, but it’s meaningless. Be more concrete. What’s stopping this applicant from joining growth equity now? How will this particular school help? They don’t need to mention everything here and now but it’s a thesis and a thesis must make sense. Talking about teams that are independently empowered and cohesively collaborative is a pretty sure fire way to end up either in the ding pile or, at the very least, be marked for additional review. Sounds nice. Means nothing,

While I have trained in deal execution, I need deeper understanding of business operations. [SCHOOL’s] tailored curriculum gives me a toolkit personalized for my aspirations.

Tailored how? And if truly tailored, how specifically to you as the applicant?

Just as appealing is how [SCHOOL] enables impactful learning.

And other schools do not? Careful…

Extreme Affordability allows me to drive developments that supplant the status quo.

Um…does it?

In Biodesign Innovation, I will steer a product from need identification to commercialization.

Why is this important specifically to the applicant’s goals? There hasn’t been much mention of industry either.

Such unique opportunities to engineer next-generation solutions will equip me to bring future growth investments from trailblazing to truly disruptive.

Why is this boots-on-the-ground experience important? Is it so the applicant will better understand the development ecosystem? Have a thesis and drive to it. This applicant is all over the place.

In addition, [SCHOOL] will provide me critical general management skills. As an investment partner, I need to secure trust and communicate dependability. As a manager, I need to make tough strategic decisions, offer clarity, and guide a high-caliber team. Leadership Labs will give me first-hand experience in how to best incentivize. Professor Grousbeck will put me in a CEO’s shoes, while Professor McDonald will prepare me to navigate an evolving financial landscape.

The entirety of this is weak. Just incentivize? Also, communicate dependability? An MBA doesn’t make you dependable. Be careful what you, as an applicant, advocate for here.

Above all, at [SCHOOL] I will explore perspectives. Broadening my appreciation for people and ideas is essential – whether in becoming a more thoughtful investor, effective mentor, or better friend. As part of a diverse, tight-knit community, my peers and I will further [SCHOOL’s] commitment to speculation, experimentation, and creation. Together, we will speak honestly in Interpersonal Dynamics and gain introspection in Lives of Consequence.

This is a bit of a head scratcher. We aren’t exactly seeing the tie to the broader essay and, again, a thesis at the beginning would have helped avoid this. Picking up diverse perspectives and meeting new people is always a good thing but we’re not sure how this goes from “good to have” to “must have” and “this school is perfect for it because of X”.

I am excited to share my passions and discover theirs, whether promoting WIM and Big Ideas, or trying a brand new sport in Ski and Snowboard.

This kind of comes out of left field and feels incredibly forced. This applicant doesn’t have a ton of word count to play around with so is the “Ski and Snowboard” experience perhaps the right thing to bring to light here? Especially at the end? Probably not.

I hope you will allow me to test my boundaries, continuously improve with, and contribute emphatically to the class of 20XX.

This is a decent enough conclusion. What we really like, actually, is the use of the word “emphatically”. Not a very commonly used word and it will stick in the reader’s mind just as it did in ours. It’s subtle memorability!


The trap for many domestic US applicants is prose. Flowery language that goes off the deep end. This applicant is a strong writer and she has a strong command of the English language as well as its literary vehicles. But the danger here is she ends up writing at too high a level. Because when you keep things at 10,000 feet, you can make them sound pretty. It’s when you get into the weeds, get your hands dirty, that more “real talk” is required. And most folks would rather have a nice sounding essay than one that communicates substance. It’s how we were taught!

So in this particular essay, our feedback is about shedding some of that desire and getting specific. This is a wonderful first draft and these are the types of essays we love working with clients through. We’re starting from a good spot and it will be a truly collaborative effort. But, that said, this applicant needs to really get past the fluff and into the hard “why”s behind her decisions and desire to attend School X.

Overall, as far as first drafts go, this is a solid start!

- The folks Critical Square

If you think your essay or resume could use a review or two, check out our Essay Editing and Resume Review services. Not sure where to start? Sign up for a free consultation instead!
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Re: GMAT Club Essay Review 9: Why MBA, Why Now #3?  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Sep 2018, 12:48
Hello from the GMAT Club MBAbot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: GMAT Club Essay Review 9: Why MBA, Why Now #3?   [#permalink] 01 Sep 2018, 12:48
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