|Go big or go home|
The second, and most critical, part of the business school application process is the essay portion of the application.While preparing for the GMAT is important, the essays are where you get the chance to show your personality and how you would fit within a given school’s culture. You can think of the essay like a cover letter when you’re applying for the job.
The ultimate purpose of this exercise is to get an invitation for an interview. You can test like a champ and be as charming as anyone in an interview, but if you aren’t able to write compelling essays, your odds of being admitted are significantly reduced. So how can you make sure your essays will not miss the mark?
I’ll start with the easiest part – make sure you answer the essay question completely. For example, one of the questions when I was applying to Kellogg was:
“Why are you interested in pursuing your MBA while continuing to work full time? Why have you selected an evening program and what do you feel you can contribute to it?
If I wrote an essay that only addressed why I was interested in pursuing my MBA while working full-time and why I selected an evening program then I’ve completely missed part of the question – the part asking what I can contribute to the program. Not addressing all aspects of an essay question shows a lack of attention to detail at best and an inability to follow simple instructions at worst. Neither of those are qualities a top business school is looking for in its students.
The next thing you want to do with your essays is tell a good story. I can’t emphasize this enough – people love a good story! Whether it’s in school or in work, this always holds true. I have seen first hand that being able to tell a good story can be the difference between winning and losing a client. In this case, the client is that top tier b-school you have your sights set on, so take this seriously.
The final thing you want to do with your business school essays is be creative and make sure the story you tell is uniquely yours. You can achieve this through subject matter of your eassy (try to write about something your reader hasn’t seen before) or by telling the story in a way that has your personal spin on it. If possible, try to do both. At the end of the day, your essays should reflect your character and give the reader a reason to remember you. If will shift things in your favor when it’s time to decide between you and a comparable candidate. Every little advantage counts.
Now that I think about it, I guess it’s not that different from writing a blog. If you tell a good story that’s identical to that of 1,000 other applicants (or bloggers) and told in exactly the same way, its much more difficult for you to stand out. Another way of saying it is if you don’t impress me on paper, why would I want to interview you in person (come back to your site)? The answer to this should be pretty clear at this point…
So the moral of the story is: poorly written essays = no interview = no b-school admission = game over, thanks for playing.