Ace your B-school essays

Applying to a one-year MBA programme is hard work and takes time, but it is also an opportunity to introspect. In many cases, if you’re a decent candidate and you get the process right, the outcome is very likely to be in your favour.

There are three stages of essay writing:

1. What is the MBA program you’re applying to looking for in their candidates?
Invest time in familiarizing yourself with the program’s requirements of its candidates – in terms of eligibility criteria, the type of students they are looking for and the type of candidates who’ve been accepted. Contrary to what you may imagine, different b-schools are looking for different types of people – the intake at ISB is quite different from that at IIM. One year MBA programs are usually more particular about admitting people with work experience. You may find some of this on the program’s website and in its promotional material, through online forums, or just by talking to past students. Write them down.

2. What do you have to offer?
Think about your inherent qualities and skills that you have picked up and determine which of these are aligned to what the program is looking for. For instance, business schools will never pick a stellar candidate that they think is unemployable unless you are able to demonstrate a solid entrepreneurial path and they’ll very rarely pick two people who’ve done the exact same thing. Differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack even if you come from a background like IT.

3. Why should the program accept you?
Once you’ve arrived at a match between what the school wants and your ability to deliver those qualities, create a set of messages you want to convey. Make sure your essays are engaging – your admissions officer may know nothing about the industry you come from and is most definitely reading hundreds of applications one after another. Back your case with solid evidence. It’s not enough to just say “I’m creative”. Provide an instance that demonstrates this quality, preferably from your professional life. Get a trusted outsider to read your application for flow and coherence. Lastly, triple check for typos – they reflect poorly on you and undermine your seriousness as a candidate.

Good luck!

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