Writing Your Application Essays for Business School

by Linda Abraham, President of Accepted.com
Writing Your Application Essays for Business School

The business school application essays are your chance to demonstrate your unique qualifications for and commitment to a career in business by discussing those experiences, people, and events that influenced your decision to enter the field.

That's a lot to accomplish. The key to success lies in focusing in each essay on a few illustrative incidents as opposed to giving a superficial overview. Remember: Detail, specificity, and concrete examples will make your answers distinctive and interesting. Generalities and platitudes that could apply to every other business school applicant will bore. If you use the latter, you'll just blend into the crowd.

Following "Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your Personal Statement" will help you write compelling, focused essays that will transform you from a collection of numbers and classes into an interesting human being.

For approaches to specific essay questions, please see "Putting the Puzzle Together".

Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your Application Essay

The Do's

1. Unite your essay and give it direction with a theme or thesis. The thesis is the main point you want to communicate. Make sure it answers the question.

2. Before you begin writing, choose what you want to discuss and the order in which you want to discuss it.

3. Use concrete examples from your life experience to support your thesis and distinguish yourself from other applicants.

4. Write about what interests you, excites you. That's what the admissions staff wants to read.

5. Start your essay with an attention-grabbing lead--an anecdote, quote, question, or engaging description of a scene.

6. End your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the lead and restates your thesis.

7. Revise your essay at least three times.

8. In addition to your editing, ask someone else to critique your personal statement for you.

9. Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud or reading it into a tape recorder and playing back the tape.

10. Write clearly, succinctly.

The Don'ts

1. Don't include information that doesn't support your thesis.

2. Don't start your essay with "I was born in...," or "My parents came from..."

3. Don't write an autobiography, itinerary, or résumé in prose.

4. Don't try to be a clown (but gentle humor is OK).

5. Don't be afraid to start over if the essay just isn't working or doesn't answer the question.

6. Don't try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.

7. Don't rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling.

8. Don't provide a collection of generic statements and platitudes.

9. Don't give mealy-mouthed, weak excuses for your GPA or test scores.

10. Don't make things up.

Should you write an MBA essay with an eye towards the other questions on the application? Absolutely! Never think that you're writing this essay in some kind of a vacuum. It is part of an overall picture made up of different pieces: your academic record, professional experience, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, personal background, and of course, other essays. Write an essay as one piece in a jigsaw puzzle representing you.

But wait. Before putting the pieces together, what if you are still not sure how to develop a unifying theme? Or perhaps you don't know which experiences to focus on, or simply lack confidence in your writing skills, or have suddenly developed an acute case of blank-screen-it is!?!

Remember, you can have one-on-one, personalized assistance every step of the way. Accepted.com's complete package is designed to give you the guidance and direction necessary to draft a compelling story and the comprehensive editing needed to perfect it.

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