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  • Writer's pictureTrudy Horsting

How to Write a Strong MBA Application Essay

The application essay is a critical component of MBA applications. However, many prospective students dread the admissions essay. There are few clear-cut rules to essay writing. Although you can study for the GMAT, preparing to write an essay on your personal accomplishments and strengths is less straightforward.

As a prospective student, you want your application essay to be memorable. You don’t want the admissions officer to forget your essay amongst the rest.

Although intimidating, the essay is a phenomenal opportunity. It allows students to present themselves to the admissions committee and explain exactly why they are such a good fit for the university and the program. Students can elaborate on what they might bring to the MBA program and how they plan to use their degree following graduation, strengthening the name of the university.

Schools want a diverse pool of candidates. You do not need to be a cookie cutter, straight A student to succeed. Use the application essay to share how unique you are and how you can support the collaborative and interdisciplinary environment at the university.

Here are five tips for writing a strong MBA application essay.

1) Share Your Strengths

This may seem obvious, but your essay should highlight your strengths. Perhaps less obvious, ideally your essay should highlight strengths that the admissions committee hasn’t already read elsewhere on your application. For instance, if the strength is already listed on your resume, try including some other factor that makes you stand out. Another option is to provide an additional example of a skill presented on your resume that you didn’t have room to explain.

Remember that the admissions committee wants to know what you can bring to the program. Be direct and be strategic. Think about the professional, personal, and academic experiences you have had which make you unique.

2) Answer What is Asked

You need to find a way to layer your strengths into the question prompt. Some schools provide a very general prompt which offers a lot of leeway. Others offer a very specific question to be answered. It is important to follow instructions. No one will care how great your experiences are if you share experiences which are not relevant to the question.

A great way to ensure you stay on track answering the question is to outline your essay prior to writing. Ensure that every bullet point ties back to the question at hand.

3) Be Succinct

It is also critical to be succinct and to limit flowery prose in your essay. There is a difference between a well-written essay and a well-written novel. Stick to the page count and ensure that the reader’s attention will be captured by every word.

You want the admissions committee to find the value in every word on the paper. Be clear, concise, and direct. Every admissions committee has limited time. Ensure the time spent reading your essay is valuable for understanding who you are.

Remember that this isn’t the only component of your application. Be strategic about what you place where. Your essay doesn’t need to list every accomplishment you’ve ever had. The fewer things you discuss, in greater depth, the more the reader will get out of the essay.

4) Be Authentic

It is important to be authentic when writing your essay. Admissions officials don’t want to read an essay which simply regurgitates what students think they want to hear. Add your own personal story to the essay and share why you are unique. Remember that they already know your basic background based on your other admissions materials. This is the opportunity to share what makes you special. Don’t pretend to be who you are not.

Remember that this is not an essay writing competition. You do not need to write in a specific style. Use your own voice and don’t play it safe.

5) Be Thorough

Start the essay writing process early. Take time to outline and plan what you want admissions committees to know. If you ever feel stuck, read some example essays online. There are plenty out there!

Once you are done, ask for feedback. It can never hurt to have more eyes on your essay. Ask someone you trust to read your work and provide feedback. Make sure that the essay is clear, error free, and sells your greatest qualities. Anyone who reads your essay should be able to understand it. Admissions committees are diverse and it’s critical that anyone from any background can understand your essay and what you bring to the table.

It’s also critical to edit your own work. Don’t be afraid to change your initial written word. Take the feedback you receive seriously and implement any necessary changes. The key to a good essay is being flexible and willing to adjust.


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