This is a guest post from Yael Redelman-Sidi, founder and owner of Admit1mba.com, an admissions consulting company advising students on MBA application strategies, MBA essays, interview prep, school selection and more. If you need any help with your MBA application essays, you may reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Your MBA Decision and Dream
You’ve made up your mind: you want to get into a top MBA program and know you need to get busy and write the essays themselves. You have probably read hundreds of articles about what schools are looking for and what you should talk about in your application. You’ve seen (or bought) sample essays by students who got into Harvard, Stanford, LBS, or INSEAD with a scholarship (or with a 650 GMAT). Now it’s your time to create your own story.
Don’t re-use any public text or other people’s essays – NO Copying
Don’t even think about it. Most schools today use software that compares applicants’ essays with text published on the internet, or their database of essays from previous years. It is a good idea to look at some other essays, and to analyze what you like (and don’t like) about each one – Did it flow nicely? Did you like the examples? Did it come on too strong? Not strong enough? Try to identify the themes and aspects that make an essay attractive for you, and run the same analysis on your essay questions.
Don’t pick an MBA career goal just to stand out from the crowd
So many applicants are worried that if they let the school know that they want to go into consulting, banking, finance, PE or marketing, they will be automatically placed into a “boring category.” I’ve seen people describe a career goal based on their perception of what would be a less-risky transition based on their background, or something that could be a good fit with the school (media for NYU, banking for INSEAD, or entrepreneurship for Stanford). It is so easy to spot when a candidate isn’t truly enthusiastic about her career goals, or just doesn’t know enough about why they want to do something. Further, don’t forget that you will need to talk about “why you want to go into healthcare/marketing/tech” when you interview, and if you aren’t a trained actor it will be difficult for you to present something that is not a true reflection of your interests.
Don’t use “replace-all” for school-specific essays – NO Find and Replace!
Yes, you can replace “Columbia” with “Wharton” when talking about the strong curriculum in finance, or “NYU” with “Columbia” when talking about the benefits of living in NYC, or “LBS” with “Harvard” when talking about the intensity of the program and the power of the alumni network, but that’s not enough. Further, changing the names of the clubs or the business plan competition won’t cut it either. You need to have a better understand of what makes the schools unique, and the specific benefits that you will get from this program.
If you use the “replace” method while adjusting to the different word limits for each school, you might end up with a choppy essay that has no flow or soul. An easier way would be to think about what you like about each program, covering various aspects (from the curriculum to the school’s personality and value) and just writing about them. It might take you two more hours but it is worth the investment.
Do you agree ? What else should you NOT do ? Your thoughts .