The Essays

Unlike undergrad, I very quickly discovered it is NOT enough to just slap your multifaceted identity on a page and hope for the best. For MBA essays you MUST explain logically and clearly WHY you NEED to go to business school.

  • Yes you can certainly bs the why, BUT an adcom must be able to quickly and logically connect why you need a degree from them- they don’t take many long shots from what I understand. So if you currently work in non-profit program management, it is not a stretch to say you want to go into non-profit consulting, BUT it will probably require some impressive essay writing to clearly lay out how you plan to become a Goldman Sachs investment banker after an MBA.

  • My two takeaways on the essay are

    • MBA programs are businesses at the end of the day: they want to ensure you succeed and they want a return for their investment in you. Your essay should convey that you have been successful to date and that you need the program in order to take the next step in your career and that they are the best if not only program to help you achieve this goal.

    • You should be able to demonstrate you have researched what you want to do professionally and the program itself to somehow connect it all so that it flows logically for the admissions team to be able to identify you fitting into the program. So if you want to become a brand manager at Amazon and you failed to research the fact that the program does not even offer brand management courses you probably won't be hearing back from them...

  • Business school essay writing does not appear to be the type which calls for emotional heartstring pulling.

  • For all of the partying and traveling that happens in MBA programs, at the end of the day- it is still business school. Schools want you to be able to get through accounting and finance core courses without failing so they are looking for a strong quant score or another reassurance that you will succeed in their program. If you do not have a strong GMAT score, you can opt for the optional essay

  • The optional essay

    • Ah yes, the extra essay adcoms have to add 5 more minutes to their review of your admissions packet reading

      • It should be short and straight to the point i.e. My low undergraduate GPA can be attributed to a health issue which has since been resolved (a line which can be applicable to suffering from alcoholism, addiction, mental health issues other health related issues during college). 

      • A low GMAT score can also be quickly acknowledged by noting you plan on retaking the exam shortly (within a month of the application deadline is reasonable) and will submit your score immediately upon receipt. If you work in a quantitative field currently you can also note this is the case and the GMAT score is not demonstrative of your skills or ability.

        • You can also pursue the alternative transcript by enrolling in an undergraduate calculus, statistics or algebra class at a local community college (gunning for a good grade!) either before or during the application process and share the transcript with the programs. I heard from one adcom that they hate when people use the optional essay to say they are ‘going to enroll’ in a class and then when asked for a transcript can’t provide one. #DING so definitely only say you are going to take an undergraduate math class if you ACTUALLY are going to take an undergraduate math class.

  • Get help with your essays!

    • This can mean paying someone to assist with the composition, having family and friends assist or some combination of the two. The key is that it can’t be 100% you. Even though you know yourself best (or maybe not), I GUARANTEE you can’t write a clear and concise essay free of typos. Personally, I had both paid and unpaid help which ensured my essays were solid!