When you apply to an MBA program, it involves more than filling out an application form and providing the school with your GMAT test scores. Many MBA schools also want to learn more about you as a potential MBA student. This means you can expect to write an MBA essay as part of the admissions process.
Your essay can instantly make a positive or negative impression on admissions departments, so it’s important to know how to do it well. Learning how to write a strong and impressive essay, as well as what topics to avoid, can help your application stand out among the competition. Keep the following information in mind while you start thinking about what you might want to focus on for your MBA admissions essay.
MBA Essay Tips: What to Do
Writing your MBA essay isn’t quite like writing a regular essay for an undergraduate class. For this essay, you’ll need to have solid writing skills, but you’ll also need to dig deeper or go further in terms of content. Your essay provides admissions departments at business schools with a portrait of who you are and what kind of experiences, skills, and goals you have to offer. Admissions departments should read your essay and be able to determine if you’re a good candidate for their MBA program. This essay gives you a chance to shine and set yourself apart from other MBA applicants. Put these essay tips to use to help ensure you have a winning essay.
Know the Admissions Requirements
No matter how strong your essay is, it won’t mean much to the admissions department if you submit it after the deadline or fail to follow other requirements, such as word count limits. Make sure you check the essay requirements before you start writing yours. You should know when you need to submit your essay so you can ensure that it gets there on time. You should also find out the school’s preferred topics. For example, some schools might want you to write about an inspiring experience or your post-MBA plans. Pay attention to other essay requirements, such as word count limits, so you don’t submit an essay that’s too short or too long.
Communicate That You Are a Leader
One of the main impressions an admissions department should get from your essay is that you’re a leader. Don’t tell them you have leadership skills, show them through your essay. For example, write about a time when you were in charge of a project, or describe your experience managing a team. Business schools are interested in finding MBA applicants who know what it takes to be a leader and have been able to demonstrate that in their personal or professional life. Regardless of what topic you’re expected to write about, you should make sure you find a way to communicate your leadership skills. Doing this can help ensure that your essay makes a positive first impression.
While it’s important to make your leadership skills known in your essay, you should be careful about the tone you use. Avoid making it sound as though you’re bragging. For example, if you’re writing about an accomplishment or leadership experience, avoid putting yourself on a pedestal through your writing. Keeping your ego in check in this case might include giving others credit for helping you accomplish a goal or focusing on collaboration or teamwork. When you let your ego take control in your writing, you can end up giving admissions departments a negative impression of you as an MBA candidate. Business schools want applicants who are leaders, not glory hounds.
Discuss Why You Are a Great Fit for the School You’ve Chosen
Admissions departments at business schools want to know whether or not each candidate is a good fit. If not, they can continue looking for those who are more suitable for their school’s MBA program. Keep this in mind as you write your essay. Communicate what makes you a good fit for the school. Instead of simply stating you’re a suitable or perfect candidate, explain why you feel this way. Think about why you chose to apply to this school’s MBA programs and discuss why you’re a good fit. In order to do this effectively, make sure you learn more about the school, its mission and goals, and what they look for in a candidate.
Be a Relatable Human
Your MBA essay provides a chance to show admissions departments who you are and what you have to offer. While it’s good to talk about your strengths and successes, make sure you do so in a relatable way. Showing vulnerability is a great way to do this. You might discuss the hardships or challenges you had to overcome in order to achieve a goal or find success. You can also show that you’re a real person in other ways as well, such as the tone of your essay. When appropriate, you may even want to include a touch of humor.
Celebrate Your Uniqueness
No two people are exactly alike, and your MBA essay should reflect this. Since you’re an individual, let your personal characteristics and experiences shine through. Depending on the experiences you’ve had or the challenges you’ve faced, you might want to discuss your upbringing or factors that have had an impact on your life, such as your ethnicity or gender. Celebrating what makes you a unique person can help you make a strong impression on admissions departments.
Be Specific and Include Examples
When writing your MBA essay, you should avoid making general or vague statements. These can make your essay come across as generic rather than insightful or informative. Instead, your essay should include plenty of details about specific experiences you’ve had. Include examples from your life. Offer insights from inspiring experiences you’ve had or observations you’ve made when traveling or actively engaging in something. Including a number of real-life examples and details can make your essay much more memorable and relatable.
MBA Essay: What Not to Do
Having a good idea of the things you should be doing in your MBA essay is good but knowing what to avoid is just as important. Silly mistakes can get your application sent directly to the rejection pile.
One of the most important things to avoid is failing to answer the essay question. If your essay does not directly address or answer this question, admissions departments will reject it for being off-topic.
You should also avoid making grammatical errors or typos in your essay. Check it over carefully and ask a friend or family member to do so as well before you submit it.
Other mistakes to avoid include missing the essay deadline or writing about certain topics, such as deeply personal tragedies or a famous person you admire. Some topics, such as sports successes or volunteer experiences, have been done so much that they verge on cliché.
MBA Essay Examples
While essay questions can vary from school to school, certain ones are considered common. You’re likely to come across one or more of these essay prompts.
- What are your interests outside of school or work? Work on community events or involvement with community organizations are perfect in a response to this essay question.
- During a situation where you led a team, what kinds of difficulties or challenges did you face, and how did you handle it? Discussing how you were able to create a collaborative environment to tackle problems is a good way to show leadership and teamwork skills.
- What are your career goals, and how do you think having an MBA might help? Talk about what you hope to accomplish in your career, and how an MBA can help you get there by allowing you to develop your skills and learn additional skills.
- Who do you admire the most in your life? Instead of choosing someone famous, talk about someone in your personal or professional life who has been a source of inspiration.
- What is a non-academic personal failure you’ve experienced, and how did it help you grow? Answer this question honestly rather than sneaking in a positive experience masked as a failure. Talk about a genuine mistake you’ve made and what kinds of life lessons you learned from it.
Putting these tips and advice to use can help you write an outstanding MBA essay, one that makes a good impression on admissions departments.
If you’re still looking for the right school to apply to for an MBA program, please contact The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Gary W. Rollins College of Business. We can provide you with more detailed information on our MBA application process and assist you in finding the MBA program that meets your needs, from our fully online MBA for busy professionals to a flexible MBA program that offers in-person and online classes.