Aside from the GMAT, essays are quite possibly the toughest part of the MBA application. As you go to school information sessions and attend panels at events such as the Forte Forum, you will hear many tips on writing a great essay. Below are the four that were most helpful to me.
- Answer the question you are asked. When you’re writing so many essays, you may feel the urge to recycle some or you may get lost as you’re writing. When you read you essay, be certain that it answers the question asked. It doesn’t matter how great the essay is, if it doesn’t answer the question, it is not useful for the admissions committee. Perform a test: give someone the essay to read first, and then give them the question. If they feel they can answer that question from the essay they just read, you’ve answered the question.
- Heed word limits. It’s one thing to write 250 words for a 200-word essay, but 400 or 500 words, is going a little overboard. The admissions committee is reading hundreds if not thousands of essays, the clearer and more concise you are, the better.
- Ask your friends to read your essay. When you get stuck on a question, especially on a personal statement, ask your friends for help. Those who spend so much time with you know you very well and will be able to tell you things about yourself that you may not have been aware of. They will also be able to help you brainstorm for the personal statement. They’re also great for helping you edit your essays.
- Get creative about the process. When I was writing my personal statement, I created a dating profile as a brainstorming tool. These profiles ask many questions about you prompting you to think hard about likes, dislikes, goals and other aspects of who you are. You don’t have to use a dating profile, but look for creative ways to did deeper about who you are and get to know yourself better. Many schools are now accepting creative ways to do an essay such as a video or PowerPoint presentation.
If you still find yourself stuck, MBA Mission has some fantastic resources on the MBA application process, but one of my favorites is the Personal Statement Guide. You can find that and other free resources on their website.
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2015
University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)