Business school admissions committees care about more than (just) your GMAT scores and GPA —they want to know who you are and why you belong in their program .
Your MBA essays are your best chance to sell the person behind the résumé. They should tie all the pieces of your business school application together and create a comprehensive picture of who you are, what you've done, and what you bring to the table.
Here's a roundup of our best MBA essay tips to keep in mind as you begin to write.
How to Write an Unforgettable B-School Essay
1. Communicate that you are a proactive, can-do sort of person.
Business schools want leaders, not applicants content with following the herd.
2. Put yourself on ego-alert.
Stress what makes you unique, not what makes you number one.
3. Communicate specific reasons why you're great fit for each school.
Simply stating "I am the ideal candidate for your program" won't convince the admission committee to push you into the admit pile.
4. Bring passion to your writing.
Admissions officers want to know what excites you. And if you'll bring a similar enthusiasm to the classroom.
5. Break the mold.
Challenge perceptions with unexpected essays that say, "There's more to me than you think."
6. If you've taken an unorthodox path to business school, play it up.
Admissions officers appreciate risk-takers.
7. Talk about your gender, ethnicity, minority status or foreign background....
But only if it has affected your outlook or experiences.
8. Fill your essays with plenty of real-life examples.
Specific anecdotes and vivid details make a much greater impact than general claims and broad summaries.
9. Demonstrate a sense of humor or vulnerability.
You're a real person, and it's okay to show it!
BONUS: Don't Make These MBA Essay Mistakes
1. Write about your high school glory days.
Admissions committees don't care if you were editor of the yearbook or captain of the varsity team. They expect their candidates to have moved onto more current, professional achievements.
2. Submit essays that don't answer the questions.
An off-topic essay, or one that merely restates your résumé, will frustrate and bore the admissions committee. More importantly, it won't lead to any new insight about you.
3. Fill essays with industry jargon.
Construct your essays with only enough detail about your job to frame your story and make your point.
4. Reveal half-baked reasons for wanting the MBA.
Admissions officers favor applicants who have well-defined goals. However unsure you are about your future, it's critical that you demonstrate that you have a plan.
5. Exceed the recommended word limits.
This suggests you don't know how to follow directions, operate within constraints or organize your thoughts.
6. Submit an application full of typos and grammatical errors.
A sloppy application suggests a sloppy attitude.
7. Send one school an essay intended for another—or forget to change the school name when using the same essay for several applications.
Admissions committees are (understandably) insulted when they see another school's name or forms.
8. Make excuses.
If your undergraduate experience was one long party, be honest. Discuss how you've matured, both personally and professionally.
9. Be impersonal in the personal statement.
Many applicants avoid the personal like the plague. Instead of talking about how putting themselves through school lowered their GPA, they talk about the rising cost of tuition in America. Admissions officers want to know about YOU.
10. Make too many generalizations.
An essay full of generalizations is a giveaway that you don't have anything to say.
11. Write in a vacuum.
Make sure that each of your essays reinforce and build on the others to present a consistent and compelling representation of who you are, what you've done, and what you bring to the table.
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During undergraduate school, while focusing on finance, I also took special interest in studying management. Constant interaction with people makes any type of management an ever-changing, thus interesting, occupation.
Towards the end of my first college year, I started working in the largest mortgage bank in my country. One of the first questions I asked during the job interview was whether the bank offers management training programs. Almost two years later, the organization’s training center publicized a tender for a new “Future Management Course”. The requirements included, among others, having commercial-banking experience, as well as a college degree – two demands I did not meet at the time. I did not let this stop me, however.
Knowing that I wanted to become a manager, I was determined to apply for the program. My supervisor supported this and gave me a recommendation for the tender, yet, he claimed that in such a large organization, applying without fulfilling all requirements was pointless. I had to persuade the admissions committee that I could handle participating in the program while completing my college education, and overcoming gaps in professional knowledge. The effort paid off. I was accepted into the program, thus creating two precedents: I became the first person to be accepted into this program before completing a college degree, and the first to do so without any previous experience. The program required that I move from the Mortgage Department to the Commercial Division, where I am currently employed as a Private Accounts Manager.
During college, I decided that when the time was right, I would acquire an MBA education. Now is the perfect time for me to do so. On the one hand, I have gained several years of work experience. On the other hand, I am still at the beginning of my career and believe that an MBA degree from a world-class business school such as Stern will help me mold an effective managerial style.
In addition to these considerations, I would like to make a career change. In my current, position I recruit new clients and market financial products. In the future, I hope to engage more with the essence of finance, rather than the marketing of it.
Upon completing my MBA, I hope to work as a financial consultant in a leading investment bank such as Goldman-Sachs or JPMorgan. More specifically, I would like to help companies develop their equity structure and financial strategy in order to maximize their financial utility. As a consultant, I will gain experience developing economic strategy by doing financial analysis, profit-cost considerations, and research regarding competing firms.
I hope to grow within my organization and become involved in the financial management of the firm, eventually reaching the position of CFO. In this role, I will be called upon to set the financial agenda of the bank, determining policy and deciding which industries to get involved in. I will be required to successfully manage dozens of people, having to motivate and guide them toward executing our strategy. Yet my aspirations do not stop there.
After gaining expertise in capital and equity finance, and acquiring leadership experience, my dream is to man senior positions in the public financial sector. I was raised on values such as actively contributing to my country’s security and future; my grandfather, a building construction contractor, helped build some of first towns in my country. He, my father and I have all been called upon to defend the country during wartime. While my grandfather built the country with a saw and hammer, I would like to build up its financial strength by developing its capital markets. I hope to assume leadership roles in such bodies as the Ministry of Treasury or the Israel Securities Authority. The path of gaining experience and expertise in international financial institutions, and then taking positions in the public sector, has been followed by a number of key figures.
My current position as a commercial banker has given me experience working with businesses from different industries, making credit decisions, motivating employees, and managing campaigns. To succeed as a financial consultant however, I will need to acquire skills in analyzing capital markets and quantitatively evaluating investment possibilities. An MBA from a program which combines a rigorous grounding in quantitative analytical tools will give me these skills.