Big Do’s for the B-school essay

Do’s for the B-school essay

1. Communicate that you’re a proactive, can-do sort of person. Leaders take initiative and aren’t thwarted by roadblocks.

2. Put yourself on ego alert; stress what makes you unique, not what makes you great. You want admissions officers to respect and like you.

3. Position yourself as a stand-out from the crowd; emphasize your distinctiveness.

4. Make sure your leadership qualities really come through. Admissions officers want to hear about skills that enabled you to rally folks around your solution.

5. Communicate specific reasons why you’re a “fit” for a school, (but avoid vague, fluffy statements such as “I am the ideal or perfect candidate for you program.”) Do your research. Relate your specific interests to the school’s academics, specific professors, culture, quality of life, and location. If you use an essay for more than one school, make sure each is tailored to be school-specific.

6. Bring passion to your writing—admissions officers want to know what you’re really excited about.

7. Break out of your perceived mold. Use the essays to challenge any preconceived notions about who you are. Are you a numbers guy or engineer type? Challenge perceptions with unexpected portrayals that say, “There’s more to me than you think.” It could be that you’re passionate about cooking, or that you organize a game of hoops every Saturday.

8. Play up an unorthodox path to b-school. Admissions officers appreciate risk-takers. But be convincing about your ability to handle the program, especially quantitative skills that schools can take for granted in applicants in finance.

9. Use your gender, ethnicity, minority, or foreign background—but only if it has affected your outlook or experiences.

10. Avoid too many sentences that begin with “I.” Use examples and anecdotes instead.11. Be subtle. If you call too much attention to a problem, and becomes a bigger problem.

12. Fill your essays with plenty of real-life examples to support your thesis and bring your story to life.

13. Show a sense of humor or your vulnerability. These qualities make you likeable. They make your stories more personal.

14. Don’t write in a vacuum. Make sure that each of your essays reinforces and builds on the others. Think of each essay as one note in a song.


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