7 Tips for Perfecting Your MBA Admissions Essay
With many current and future professionals rushing to get their Master of Business Administration every year, the application process can often seem cutthroat and intimidating. If you have been spending time putting together an application, or if you’re simply considering whether to get an MBA, it’s important to pay attention to often under-emphasized application components. Sure, your undergraduate GPA, your GMAT/GRE scores, and your professional experience are important, but many underestimate the impact that can be had with a strong personal statement and essay.
The truth is that even the “best” students with high test scores can be turned down from an MBA program if their essay or recommendation letters lack substance. Inversely, students with lower-than-desired grades can drastically improve their chances of getting in with an impactful essay. Read our tips for perfecting your business school essay, and get ready to pursue your life-changing MBA education!
1. Demonstrate that you are a doer.
Business schools desire leaders—individuals that can stand out in a crowd. Don’t just say you are a leader, prove it. Think of specific experiences in your personal and professional life where you’ve been a leader and tell it in a compelling way. In your essay, be sure to use examples that demonstrate you take initiative. Use active voice and power verbs in your description of specific events. The STAR method is an easy way to engage readers while highlighting your abilities. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results. This acronym will help you stay focused and write an answer that provides background, tells exactly what you worked on, and what results you achieved.
2. Demonstrate you have real life experience.
Anecdotes and detailed stories make a greater impact than general claims. Put some life into the skills and experiences on your résumé. Admissions officials know that you are more than the work you do. Don’t be afraid to use examples from your personal life to demonstrate how you have overcome obstacles or developed a passion for your work.
3. Tailor your essay to the individual school.
Why are you the right fit for this school’s program? You’ve heard it time and time again that you should tailor your application materials to schools and jobs. We’re going to tell you one more time. Make sure your essay is unique to each school! Admissions officers will know if you’ve copy and pasted the same essay. Do some research about your prospective program and incorporate specifics into your essay. For example, when you are telling a story that demonstrates your skills, describe how they apply to the program you’re applying for. Mention specific classes, professors, or other unique things that the school offers. Doing so will communicate to admissions staff that you are a serious candidate and that you will be an asset to the program.
4. Get your voice to shine through.
If you can bring enthusiasm through written communication, it will likely excite admissions personnel that count on participation in the classroom. Your essay is your opportunity to show the admissions team that you’ll be a valuable asset to the program.
5. Avoid industry jargon.
If you work in digital marketing, tell the story—but remember, your essay reviewer probably does not know what a CPL is. A great way to ensure your essay is digestible is to have someone outside of your industry read it. They can help you refine your essay so it is clear, concise, and compelling.
6. Make it personal.
You are a real person—demonstrating humor and/or vulnerability is key. Admissions officers are real people, too, and will likely find a unique essay far more compelling than the cookie-cutter essay you might think they want. Think of how many essays your reviewer has to read in a week. Which one will be most memorable?
Being personable and being professional are not independent of one another. You can still show your potential as a future business leader while still demonstrating your charisma and humility.
7. Review and Revise
Have a colleague, supervisor, or trusted friend read over your work before you submit it. On the most basic level, an editor will point out any grammar and spelling mistakes. An editor also ensures clarity, continuity, and cohesiveness. Having someone you trust review your essay will help you identify weak points or missed opportunities. An added bonus is that they probably have their own unique perspectives on the events or skills you’re describing, and can add some extra insight you might not have had otherwise.
Even if you feel that your résumé speaks for itself, you should never overlook the importance of a strong essay. Take the time to write thoughtfully, and you just might outshine other competitors in your applicant pool. Need help with the rest of your application? Abound: MBA has plenty of advice to give, from looking for a school to mastering your business-school classes. We’re excited to join you on your journey to professional success!