The entrance essay to a business school often makes or breaks your chances of getting an MBA degree.
That is why it’s not at all surprising that thousands of applicants feel nervous about writing the essay every year. Today you will find out what MBA admission committees look for in an application essay and how to make sure your writing impresses the people in charge of making the decision!
What Do Business Schools Look For In An MBA Essay?
There are several reasons why MBA schools require their applicants to write an admission essay. Most importantly, the committee wants to assess your skills and traits required to become a successful business school student.
The first thing the admission committee will look for in your essay is your writing skills. In order to succeed both in your MBA studies and the world of business in your future career, you need to be able to express your thoughts in an elegant and concise manner. The best way to determine whether your writing and English skills are up to the school’s standards is through a writing sample. They will also evaluate your style and use of language while reading the essay. Another reason why MBA schools ask for an essay from all applicants is to find out who you are as a person. They will pay attention both to the things you say and the way you say them in your essay. Depending on the topic of your essay, your writing can demonstrate many of your personal qualities, including the ability to admit your past mistakes, a planning skill, clear understanding of what you want from the future, and your empathy.
One more thing that should definitely be featured in your MBA essay is a brief description of your background and past experiences. A very important thing here is that your past accomplishments should be absolutely relevant to the program and institution you’ve chosen for your MBA. The admission committee looks through the essays to find the students who will mesh well into the school community.
Finally, don’t forget to mention your personal and professional skills that you believe will help you do a great job with your MBA studies. Such skills as communication, leadership, and problem solving, should already be mentioned in your resume. In this case, the admission essay is another chance for you to describe how these qualities are present in your own life.
MBA Essay Sample Prompts
In most business schools, you will be given a prompt for your admission essay. The prompt can be a combination of several questions or just one question the school wants answered. Most essay prompts given out by MBA programs today can be divided into the following groups:
- Personal growth
- Short- and long-term career goals
Here is a quick guide on each of those groups and how they should be represented in your essay.
Open-ended essay prompts allow you to express your own thoughts and opinions without any limitations. Often the prompt will sound like a variation of the question “What should we know about you before accepting you to our MBA program?” Surprisingly enough, many applicants find this prompt to be particularly challenging simply because there are so many things they want to talk about.
Usually it’s up to you to decide how long your essay is going to be. However, it doesn’t mean that you should write a 15-page essay explaining why you are the best candidate. Keep your essay brief, concise, informative, and straight-forward. A popular strategy of answering the open-ended question is to explain how you managed to overcome the biggest obstacles in your life.
As the name suggests, in this essay prompt you will need to demonstrate your experience as a leader and a leadership skill set. Leadership is considered to be one of the most important career qualities and is always a welcome sight in an MBA admission essay.
If you are asked to describe the last time you got to display your leadership qualities, your job is to be as specific as possible. Set the time frame, specify the company and the challenge, and inform the readers of your team. If you happened to encounter any difficulties in that challenge, don’t hesitate to describe them. It will give your essay more depth and demonstrate your ability to overcome challenging situations.
When you are given this prompt for your MBA essay, your mission is to describe how you have changed until now and how you plan to change in the future. Unlike some of the other essay prompts, this one requires you to get more personal than you would normally do. In this essay, the committee wants to see more of your personality rather than plain listing of your past accomplishments. Talk about the specific events that helped facilitate your growth.
Here you will need to talk about the professional reasons for obtaining an MBA degree. What is your dream profession and field and how exactly will an MBA diploma help you get there? To answer this question, you can research the careers of other MBA graduates from the same school to see where they landed after completing their education.
The MBA admission committee is looking for individuals that will not only work towards achieving their career goals, but will also enrich and strengthen the school community and culture. What exactly from your cultural background, experiences, and identity will make the campus a better place? Talk about the things that will make you a valuable addition to the already diverse group of students and teaching staff.
7 Tips For Writing A Winning MBA Essay
You need to possess a particular set of skills to write a convincing MBA admission essay, but there are some universal tips for making your writing stronger.
- Start early and practice
You’ll only get one chance to submit your essay to the committee, but it doesn’t mean you can’t practice writing the paper as often as needed. You will need a minimum of several drafts to make sure you’ve done everything possible to create a strong essay.
For most students, the best writing strategy is to start with an outline. The outline allows you to always stay on topic and will give you an idea of what to write about when your mind is suddenly blank. If you’re not 100% confident in your writing skills, you can always go to a college essay writing service and ask professional writers to craft a custom essay for your MBA admission.
- Use examples
Every MBA admission committee will scan your essay for specific traits and experiences they find valuable. However, in order to impress the committee, it’s not enough to simply state “I have outstanding communication skills”. Using examples from your past, demonstrate a few instances where your communication skills helped the group achieve their goals or benefited the community in another way.
- Find your goals
Clearly stating your short- and long-term career goals in the admission essays serves two important purposes. First, it tells the committee that you are a determined and career-oriented person. Second, it demonstrates your ability to do a quality research and find out how exactly an MBA degree can help you in your career. That is why you need to do plenty of research before formulating your career goals for an MBA essay.
- Keep it succinct
In most cases, you will be given a maximum word count for your admission essay. Never, under any circumstances, exceed the recommended word count. The essay is not the way to find out who can write more words; it’s the way for you to express your thoughts briefly and convincingly. For the same reason, you should not use too much flowery language in an attempt to impress the committee. Moreover, read your essay once again before the submission and remove any information that isn’t absolutely relevant to your story.
- Be self-aware
The job of your essay isn’t to portray a superhuman who can do no wrong. No matter how hard you are trying to impress the committee, make sure your MBA essay not only describes your strengths, but also touches up on your weaknesses. For example, when you’re talking about your personal growth, you can mention the way you managed to overcome a quality that isn’t considered to be a positive one in business — for example, shyness.
- Be personal
It would be a mistake to treat your essay like a confession, but it needs to be rather personal. It is impossible to talk about things like personal growth and past challenges without mentioning something personal from your life. MBA essay graders always consider it to be a positive sign.
- Proofread and edit
It goes without saying that grammar and spelling mistakes, as well as wrong use of language, can undermine even the sincerest attempts to create a winning MBA essay. You will need to proofread your essay at least a couple of times before the submission. Pay special attention to the logical flow and structure of your writing. If you are not completely confident in your skills, you can ask someone to proofread your essay for you.