Nothing strikes fear into the heart of an MBA candidate like the personal essay. You might have a solid resume, glowing recommendations, and a 4.0 GPA, but the thought of expressing yourself in a few hundred words to complete strangers can be very daunting. Here are a few tips to make the essay writing process easier, and perhaps even enjoyable.
Be unique. Easy to say, not so easy to do, right? Perhaps this mental exercise can help: Imagine you're riding on an elevator with the head of the MBA admissions committee. What could you say to her in those few minutes that would leave her with a lasting positive impression of you? In publishing, this is called the "elevator pitch," and it's a great way to get to the heart of what makes you unique as a candidate. Once you come up with your elevator pitch, write it down and think about how you could expand it into an essay that uniquely reflects you as a candidate.
Be sincere. The personal essay is your introduction to the admissions committee. Let your personality shine through. Here’s a tip: Once you have a draft of your essay, read it out loud. Does it read smoothly? Does it sound like something you’d actually say to someone? Without referring to the text, try re-telling your essay to a friend, and notice whether you change your wording or emphasis. Then go back and put what you’ve learned into your written essay.
Be yourself. Forget all the usual business and academic clichés and buzzwords – let the other candidates lean on them. Write about your own dreams, goals, aspirations and even fears. Yes, fears! Show how the challenges you’ve faced in your life have shaped your dreams and goals. Let the committee see what drives you to achieve.
Be a good storyteller. Your personal essay is the story you tell about yourself. A good storyteller uses anecdotes, illustrations, and dramatic tension to keep his listeners engaged. People are more moved by a good story than they are by a recitation of dry facts. Let your resume, application, and college transcript speak to the facts – in your essay, strive to tell a good story.
Writing a stand-out personal essay is hard work, but it’s the one area of the application package in which you can break free of the limits of checkboxes and statistics and really express yourself. Take advantage of this opportunity to introduce yourself to your future school as a unique, gifted, eloquent, thoughtful person who will be an asset to their program.
- Business School Resume – Getting It Right
- Tips for Acing Your Business School Interview
- Some Tips on Entering an MBA Program: No Need to Disclose Career Aims
- Business School Application Essay: The Right Way to Adress Your Weaknesses