Monday, October 20, 2014

What Makes You Tick? Writing a Successful MBA Application Essay

If you're planning to take up MBA, I recommend that the first thing you should prepare are your essays.
From among the application materials that you have to prepare, essay writing seems to be the most daunting task. And yes, it can be a daunting task without sufficient knowledge on how to approach it.  

The first step that you should do is know the essay prompt that you are required to write about. You can find it in the application form or website of the business school you are applying to.

Before starting to write the essays, I recommend that you read the book "65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays" by the Harbus Staff and the Princeton Review's "Business School Essays that Made a Difference" authored by Nedda Gilbert.
Both books provide tips on writing essays especially on what the essay prompts are really asking about. These books provide sample essays as well its analyses. You can gain a lot of insights from these books in writing your own essay. (By the way, I provided separate reviews for these two books.)

In reading the book, take down notes of the things mentioned which you can relate to or those very similar to your circumstance. These notes will help you in further reflection.

"What makes you tick?" is the question that you have to ask when thinking about what you will write in the essay. You have to convey to the admissions officer what makes you different from other applicants. However, this does not mean that you have to win a Nobel Prize at a young age. It is more on having a thoughtful introspection or reflection on what you have achieved and why it is important to you.

Also, convey in your essay your desire or appetite for learning and avoid divulging information that may shed negative impression on your application.

After your reflection, now you are ready to write your essay. In writing the essay, it is very important to think about and write a very interesting introduction which can capture the attention of the admissions officer. In your first draft, just write freely whatever comes to mind. After the first draft, set it aside and have a rest or sleep. Then read your essay again for editing and proofreading. You may have to do this several times (at least five times).

After coming up with your essay in better shape, then you may request your parents, colleagues or friends to critique what you have written. Limit the number of your critic to 3 persons (maybe 3 friends, 1 friend and 2 colleagues, etc.)

After getting their feedback, incorporate it in your essay and read it again for final editing and proofreading. After that, you now have an essay ready for submission

I would like to emphasize here my final point. Some schools give you an option to write about aspects of your life which were not covered in other essays. In this space, you can address some lapses in your credentials which could be absence from work or failing grades. Address this area in such a way as to convince the admissions officer that these lapses do not characterize you as a person. Say for example, your absence from work may be due to an ailing family member that you have to attend to. In so doing, you realize the importance of management in healthcare that is why now, you want to pursue MBA with focus on healthcare management.

With that, I wish you the enjoyment of challenge in writing your admissions essay. Enjoy the process for it offers a lot of learning and it will only come once in your life. Gambatte!!!

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