Essays are an integral part of the business school application package and deserve special attention. They are small prose works in the form of reasoning on topics proposed by the selection committee. Unlike formal test results, diploma grades, and resumes, essays allow the candidate to tell about himself in the first person and thus maximize his personality and stand out from the crowd.
Typically, the candidate is asked to write from 2 to 12 essays depending on the school and program. These can be either posed questions or essays on a free topic. The main purpose of such essays is to let the applicant tell about himself, even though the questions can sound completely different. The length of the answer is always clearly stipulated in advance and rarely exceeds 1000 words and from personal experience, I had spent a lot of time to edit my essay for a couple of nights.
Often there is a mini-essay format inside the Application Form, when an applicant is required to answer key questions, not exceeding the limit of 50-100 words, and sometimes characters. Also, recently, non-standard formats of answers to questions are gaining more and more popularity: videos, presentations, songs, crafts, etc.
Types of essays for MBA
Even though the wording differs in different business schools, and it changes from year to year - we distinguish only 5 main types of essay questions.
- Describe your career path, why MBA?
The answer to this question is based on the main emphasis of the essay. The question may sound differently:
The Past: What Motivated You to Need an MBA? What kind of experience? How did your ambition develop?
Present: Why do you think you need an MBA right now, at this stage of your career?
Future: What are you going to do after graduation, in the short and long term?
Why do you need an MBA program at all? Why don't you choose a specialized master's degree?
What attracts you to this business school?
The essay "Why MBA?" should describe how your past relates to your future through business school. You need to demonstrate that an MBA is a bridge between your background and your long-term plans. The past, present, and future can be described in any order, but in the end, you should get a harmonious perspective, from which studies at a business school follow logically, and then your further career path.
- Your weaknesses and failures
To properly cover the topic of this essay, you need to make it clear that the question is not whether you have flaws or not - everyone has them. The main thing that the selection committee wants to find out here is how you showed yourself in a difficult situation, how you reacted to criticism, and what lesson you learned. First of all, they want to know if you can look at the root of the situation if you can admit your own mistakes, and boldly talk about them.
If you try to hide them or shift the responsibility onto other people or circumstances, then the admissions committee will consider you, most likely, not a completely mature and weak manager.
The question of leadership (and teamwork) will be raised in one way or another in almost every business school. Admissions commissions ask him not only to find out if you have leadership qualities but also to determine exactly how you see a competent leader and work with people in general. Therefore, just having experience in a leadership position does not necessarily mean that you are good at it. In an essay, you must show what kind of leader and team player you are: how you influence others, motivate, inspire achievement, etc.
- Uniqueness and variety
This is where the admissions committee wants to know which of your background, ability, and achievement can be of particular value to your class and school as a whole. Unlike other essays where you convince the admissions committee that you fit into their overall MBA candidate profile, this one should instead show how you stand out from the crowd.
- Ethics and values
In the wake of the Enron bankruptcy, the 2008 financial crisis, Panamagate, and an ongoing series of major business leaders' loss of confidence scandals, business ethics has been under scrutiny. Business schools are often criticized for aiding in the enrichment of such high-level managers who are not burdened with morality. Not surprisingly, admissions committees are very careful in looking for “the right candidates.
However, the trick is that everyone declares eternal values and calls himself a decent person. And yet the world is full of crooks and crooks. Therefore, in an essay on ethical issues, you should not just spread your thoughts along the tree, putting on a white coat and declaring that you are definitely on the side of good and will never engage in the falsification of documents, deceiving depositors, insider trading, etc.
Instead, you can impress your readers much more by giving a real-life example of how you resisted temptation and personal gain.
How to write an essay for an MBA?
Essays are the main marketing tool in the struggle for success with the admissions committee, as they provide an opportunity to form the most complete opinion about the candidate and assess how promising he is and what contribution he can bring to a specific program. Therefore, it is necessary to thoroughly study the requirements of the admissions committee for applicants and show as convincingly as possible in an essay how ideally the candidate fits into the ideology of the School with his professional and personal qualities. It is imperative to support the ideas in the texts with a variety of evidence and examples from experience.
Before starting to write an essay for an MBA, it is useful for each candidate to conduct a serious introspection, think about what he would like to tell the selection committee about himself; how he differs from other applicants; what are his strengths and weaknesses and, finally, what are his interests and values. It should be noted that such work is not at all easy and takes time.