The importance of MBA Essays in Business School applications is undoubted. Essays are the most critical part of the application package. In fact, they are the heart of the application package that reveal the humane side of the applicant which other parts of their application package cannot do. Unfortunately, some applicants do not put enough effort and time in their essays assuming their high GPA, great GMAT score, and impressive work experience is all they require for entry into the B- school of their choice. Therefore, they start writing their essays a couple of days before the deadline, which leaves them insufficient time to brainstorm and strategize ideas, resulting in poorly written essays that do not project them well. In this article, we have tried to cover the most crucial factors to inform the importance of Essays in B-School Admissions.
Reasons why Essays deserve your Time and Effort:
There are four primary reasons why you need to give equal attention, time and effort to essays as other parts of your application package, i.e., GPA, GMAT score, work experience recommendation letters, and interview.
Reason # 1 – Importance of Essays
- Firstly, B-schools use essays as means of getting information about you outside of the typical academic and professional environment. Your GMAT scores, grades, and work experience don’t tell them who you really are.
- Example: Essay questions like ‘an event or life experience that has influenced you the most'(UCLA) or ‘strengths and weaknesses that have shaped your character'(INSEAD) are designed to get a glimpse into your unique personality.
- The Schools use essays to see how you think and go through a thought process to come to a solution, so they get to know not only the answer to the essay question, but also about how you reached that answer.
- Example # 1: With ‘Goals’ essay they want to know what made you set these goals, what was your thought process, what were your experiences/ accomplishments that led to these goals, and how you plan to achieve these goals.
- Example # 2 Some schools ask candidates about their challenging experience, (Wharton) ,adversity/ a setback ( Tuck, Harvard ) or cross-cultural experience (INSEAD) that they faced because they want to know how you respond to these challenging situations, how you grow from these experiences , learn your lessons and eventually become a better person or a professional .
Reason # 2
- Essays are utilized by B-schools as tools to match the candidates with their particular programs. The match goes both ways.
- Example: Essay questions like ‘what will you contribute to … or how will your unique, history, and values enhance the xxx ?’are asked to ascertain what value you will add to their community.
- Questions like ‘how do you think this program will help you achieve your goals?’ are asked to ensure if your target school will help you accomplish your objectives/ goals.
- So you must have a clear idea of your future plans and should do a thorough research of the programs of your target school so you can be articulate in making a connection between your goals and the School’s offerings in your essays.
Reason # 3 – How and Why Essays are Important?
- Essays can be instrumental in admissions for those belonging to the competitive applicant pools: consulting, investment banking and IT. The essays provide you an opportunity to differentiate yourself from others with similar backgrounds.
Example: Your past accomplishments, your clearly defined goals, and your other personal (integrity, honesty, accountability, diligence) and professional attributes ( leadership qualities, team working abilities, initiative etc.) projected through your essays will give you a definitive edge over candidates having similar GPA, GMAT score and work experience.
Reason # 4
- Lastly, B-school programs are different from other graduate programs in the sense they push their candidates for networking, teamwork and the development of relationships.
- Since business is about two things primarily-competition and relationships, business schools need students who will survive and thrive in relationships with some healthy competition.
- EXAMPLE: Essay questions like ‘most meaningful leadership experience'(Tuck), ‘a time when you went beyond what was defined, expected, established or popular’, and ‘a time when you convinced someone of your ideas’ (MIT) are added by B-Schools to know if you possess these qualities to thrive in the business world.
To sum up, essays showcase that side of the applicants which other parts of their application package don’t reveal. Your essays bring to light how you go about making decisions, how you are influenced by other people, how you sail through challenges, and how you grow from those experiences. Secondly, essays are used as tools to know if you are a good match for your target school. Thus, well-crafted essays can help you stand apart in a competitive applicant pool. So use your essays as your greatest tools to reveal your personality to the Ad Com.
Now that you’ve understood the importance of essays in your Application Process, here’s a template and structure to craft your “Why MBA” & “Career Goals” Essay.
- 10 Key Essay Tips with Examples
- Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2020-21
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About the author
Poonam, one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club, is a master storyteller with more than three decades of experience in successfully helping students craft compelling stories for undergraduate and graduate school programs.
A Ph.D. in English, with three decades of teaching experience in India and the US, Poonam launched myEssayReview (MER) in 2011 to provide highly personalized and dedicated consulting services to Business School applicants. Since then, she has helped hundreds of students around the world get into top MBA, EMBA, part-time MBA, and specialized graduate programs. A full-time consultant, Poonam is passionate about her work and is highly committed to each of her students’ success.