Navigating Short Essays 3. Maintaining Focus in Long Essays How is a typical essay structured? What makes a good MBA essay structure? Goals Essays 4.
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A Word on Feedback. Though there are many elements that make up a successful MBA application , one of the most important is your admissions essay. Writing admissions essays that cut through the noise and help the admissions committee connect with you and your ideas means getting in to your target business schools. As anyone who has attended an MBA info session can tell you, the admissions process for elite business school is a holistic process that takes into account numerous factors about your profile. In addition to your GMAT score , the admissions committee also takes into consideration your university grades, career progression, and letters of recommendation.
Though a great admissions essay cannot overcome a poor GMAT score and sub-par job performance, it is one of the greatest differentials among you and other highly-qualified candidates. Luckily, such a tool already exists. In fact, the importance of storytelling has only become even more entrenched as research on the topic emerges, meaning stories remain one of the most efficient means we have to transmit information to others. One of the most essential elements to a compelling MBA admissions essay is your structure.
Your structure is like your map: it helps your readers get flawlessly from A to B. Your stories may be fascinating — but only if your reader understands why they are reading about them in the first place. In other words, structure implicitly emphasizes relevance. Most of our clients are extremely ambitious, forward-looking people, however, writing your MBA essays requires keeping one eye on the future and the other on the past. For example, while brainstorming his essay topics , a recent client was struggling with the fact that his corporate finance job felt to him like a lot of financial reports and Excel spreadsheets.
Not only did this example show his ability to negotiate and communicate across cultures, he was also able to show how he generated meaningful results for his company and positively impacted people in an entire country.
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Here, just make sure the examples you choose truly answer the question. Your theme is the main message of your essay. Your choice of theme will depend on the essay question. A theme is important for your MBA essay because it is what ties everything you say together. Instead of random stories that have no common thread, your theme is what allows you to use multiple stories to reinforce what you really want to say about yourself. You can choose practically any value that you can relate back to your personal experiences. However, it is essential that you choose a value you truly believe in — faking it to sound good will be immediately obvious to any admissions board.
A good theme also relates back to the school and its values. Each school will have different, individual values. If you find yourself struggling to determine these, this is something that Ellin Lolis Consulting is glad to help you with. For example, when applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business , their values include the following:.
Global awareness, community-oriented, integrity, collaborative team leadership, passion, intellectual vitality, etc. Keep in mind that your choice of theme must answer the essay question. While this might be easy in open-ended essays, some answers may require much deeper thought to determine your underlying values.
The most common problem pertaining to theme often comes down to this: too many or too few. How can you have too many themes? You may begin your essay by exuberantly exclaiming the importance of teamwork while emphasizing how much your community means to you in your conclusion.
This discrepancy will not only confuse your reader, it will lead to a weak message and a weak essay. On the other hand, your theme must be explicitly clear. You cannot assume that your reader will simply understand your theme after reading your essay.
Mba Essay Structure
You must state this for them multiple times. Either option will cause your theme to feel unclear to your reader. Make sure you have a single theme even if it might represent multiple values! I have always been fascinated by cosmology and astronomy, not only because they relate to the study of the universe, but because they are an exercise in thinking beyond limitations.
I first encountered these concepts at a young age. After presenting a perfect report card to my parents at age seven, I was rewarded with a book on spacetime. Diving into the realm of the cosmos inspired me to think about reality in imaginative ways free from the constraints often imposed by society and connecting me to the great thinkers of the past who made groundbreaking discoveries that changed the world. What do Copernicus and Phil Knight have in common?
I learned about Copernicus after receiving a book on astronomy from my parents that awakened my childhood passion for the cosmos. I first learned about Knight from his book, Shoe Dog, but became more familiar with him much later in life while working with Nike, a client in my portfolio. What both have in common, however, is that they were agents of change. They refused to accept the status quo and revolutionized society with simple yet groundbreaking ideas that changed humanity forever.
This version is much more compelling. Copernicus and Phil Knight seemingly have nothing in common, so figuring this small puzzle out moves the reader forward and ultimately ensures they become immersed in the story.
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Though MBA essay word limits are notoriously small , using an interesting hook that is related to your example is a good investment, as it will ensure the admissions committee member perusing your essay keeps reading and, ultimately, calls you for an interview. They should be based on your personal experiences and are the most tangible element of your MBA admissions essay.
How to Write an Unforgettable B-School Essay
The choices here are endless, and may come from the workplace, school, or your personal life. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, this article in The Economist offers some good starting points. The stories you choose need to relate to your theme. Your theme will relate to your stories. The two of these — and choosing them — go hand in hand.
You may first brainstorm inspiring stories from your past and then choose which theme aligns with them. Or you may want to start by contemplating your theme and then deciding where it has been exemplified in your past. Either method will work, as long as you use honest examples and really believe in your theme. How many stories you tell in your MBA essay depends on your theme and the topic of the essay and possibly your word count!
In some cases, you may need multiple stories while in others a single story will suffice. The main problem you see with stories in MBA essays is that they do not match the theme. If this is the case, you need to rethink your story — or your theme.
In contrast to your theme, you cannot have too much information here at this stage in your essay. Remember here that although the details about what happened, how you felt about it, or why an event was significant may be clear to you, it will not always be clear to your reader.
How to Write a Great MBA Personal Statement
Including sufficient information about context, your motivations, and what you learned is essential to make sure your message is clear. This is where a second set of eyes is absolutely necessary. Our editors here at Ellin Lolis Consulting are good at spotting the details that may be implicit in your essay, but have not been stated clearly enough for all your readers. Another common problem is not highlighting your role in the story.
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