Admission Essays: Your story in your own words

The Essays are a crucial part of your application. It is an opportunity to show your creativity and make admissions committee know about you as an individual. It also gives you a chance to explain any extenuating circumstances that may have affected your academic performance. Essentially, it affords you a chance to provide admissions committee with all the details you would like them to know before they make a decision on your application.

 The whole purpose of your application is to convince the admission committee of your candidature for the MBA program – of why it is imperative for you to pursue the program now, how it fits into your short and long term goals and in what way you would contribute to the program. Your essays are the key element of your application packet as they become your voice to reach the admissions committee. So the main objective of your writing becomes to present yourself as an applicant who simultaneously fits-in and stands-out in the applicant pool. Your essays are a testimony to your story, so they should convey who you are and not what the committee wants to hear. In order to make the process of writing essays come through easily it is crucial for all applicants to research well and choose schools that they fit into aptly.

Like your application process where you need to schedule and plan, your essay writing is a task that you need to organize and monitor. The best of writers work in a disciplined schedule rather than through inspirational spurts as planning compels you to think about what you are going to write before you actually put pen to paper. Most applicants write their essays in separate parts in the hope of gluing them together later. The problem with this approach is organizing these pieces; for more often than not, you lose the train of thought. This results in going back to the drawing board and starting all over again.

The following suggestions should help you avoid this problem and help you with your planning. The best way to have a good idea is to have lot of ideas. And these are generated through research and reading. Your targeted schools’ literature, information sessions, and web site will give you an idea of what their respective admission committees are looking for in a prospective candidate. The best way to research a school is to interact with current students and alumni, who are undoubtedly the best source of inside information.

Know the question being asked. Understanding the question is the first step in writing a good essay. Most applicants do everything right except understand what is being asked. Remember, the admission committee goes through thousands of essays and you can help your chances by sticking to the central theme asked in each question. Throw away anything that deviates from this theme. This will ensure coherence between the different components of your essay. Essay questions range from the extremely specific to the abstract. Most schools have guidelines on what they expect from your essay. Read them thoroughly and abide by them. Avoid repeating what you have already mentioned in other parts of your application package. You may even use the essay to explain a possible discrepancy or weakness in other elements of your application package. But, as stated earlier, always answer the question that is being asked. Some of the questions that you will frequently encounter while filling the applications for various business schools are:

1) Why MBA?

This is a favorite among most business schools and the reason is obvious. This essay spells out your reason for wanting an MBA. The admission committee wants to know if you are clear about your future goals and how an MBA fits in.  They want to make sure you are not just one of the many applicants unhappy with their job situation and taking up an MBA program because they don’t have anything better to do.

2) How would you contribute to our school?

Schools are always looking for a diverse student body and would like to know how you would contribute to this diversity without appearing as an oddball. You need to stand out and at the same time fit into the school’s student body. One reason for this is to gather as many different viewpoints from varied professional backgrounds during discussions. A diverse student body will add more value to the program with their individual skills and experiences than a homogeneous student body.

3) Your career progression to date

This question helps the admission officer assess your professional/academic background and your progression to date. For applicants with unconventional jobs, this is the best chance to make the admission officer understand the responsibilities that come with your job. Although unconventional jobs add to the diversity, a school would admit you only if you are able to substantiate this uniqueness with business acumen. This essay will help you serve the dual purpose of highlighting your singularity and providing a clearer understanding of your working background.

4) Your strengths and weaknesses

Applicants rate this as one of the most difficult essay questions they need to attempt. How do you state your strengths without sounding boastful and your weaknesses without appearing pitiful. An honest self-appraisal doesn’t come easy to most people and most applicants find it harder to be honest about their shortcomings. A little introspection before you begin writing this essay will go a long way. You could also ask your family members or your close friends to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

5) Failures in the recent past and what you learned from them

This question presents an admission officer the opportunity to grade your maturity level by assessing whether you are mature enough to admit your mistakes and more importantly if you possess the ability to learn from your past failures.

6) Hobbies and extracurricular activities

This is one of the least seriously taken by most applicants, which is a shame because this essay enables you to position yourself the way you want. Select a hobby or extracurricular activity, which reveals your biggest strengths, your leadership potential and most importantly your uniqueness. A skydiving accountant, an investment banker who is also an amateur painter or a marine who is an excellent jazz singer are some unusual combinations which will make the admissions officer sit up and take notice.

7) Ethical dilemma

Business schools concentrate on business ethics as much as they do on other business related issues. Your essay gives an admission officer the opportunity to understand your standpoint on this issue.

 

So go ahead and get crack your dream with the help from Leverage essay expert team!

 

Bidyut Dutta,

SVP & Head – Admissions,

bidyut@leverageedu.com

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