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MBA - Application Process

What is the First Step to Tackle My Essay?

Diana Dai Forté Fellow

Diana Dai
Forté Fellow

As this year’s first round deadline for MBA application is approaching, some of my friends anxiously came to me for advice about the whole process, especially about essay writing.  And one of the most frequently asked question is what should I do first? After repeatedly sharing my two cents, it occurred to me maybe I should write down some of the tips I found useful to ace MBA application essays.

Before jumping into “dreadful” essay writing, SELF REFLECTION is crucial to strategize your application package, and the deliverable is the one or two key words you would like to emphasize on in your whole package, including the essay, the resume and the online application information.

Start by ask yourself several questions:

  • What are my most outstanding skills and characteristics?
  • What helped me succeed in the past?

Sometimes, it is difficult to have a whole picture of yourself if you dive too deep in your own memory. It is always great practice to ask others. Seek feedback from people who know you well, including but not limited to friends, your teacher, your parents, and colleagues etc.

  • What is their impression about you?
  • What unique thing did they found about you and why?

Remember to ask for specific stories and encounters.

Such quires will eventually land you bunch of stories and a list of adverbs about yourself.  Categorize them into two groups: skill and characteristics. And then pick up one or two most mentioned words from the two categories. Now you have your keys words for the whole package. This will guide you on story selection and essay structuring.

Some might find it difficult, especially to ask others for feedback. Take this as a process of self-exploring rather than a competing task can make you feel less stressed. Believe me, I’ve been there, and when I looked back at my application process, I feel grateful to those essay questions that drove me a better understanding of my past, present and future.

Diana Dai
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2015
Duke (The Fuqua School of Business)

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