Writing winning mba essays

A soldier who served on the front lines in Afghanistan. A process engineer challenged by a long series of early failures. And a female consultant whose passion became healthcare. Three students in the newest crop of MBA students at Harvard this fall. The school provides minimal guidance for applicants trying to make an impression. Proceeds from the sale of the guidebook go to benefit the non-profit foundation that supports The Harbus.

With application deadlines rapidly approaching at Harvard Business School and many other prestige MBA programs, these successful essays will, no doubt, give current candidates a bit of guidance. More importantly, the essays that follow are most likely to provide comfort, that there is no formula or singular way to craft a successful answer. In his 1,word essay, the U. Army applicant ties together his experiences of leading soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan together with staff postings in Army operations and logistics to paint a portrait of a dedicated and people-oriented leader.

Your Complete Guide to Writing Winning MBA Essays

Inspired by a selfless act from her nine-year-old mentee, this management consultant decided to challenge herself to make an impact in healthcare. In a word essay, she uses a particularly difficult turnaround situation which she was put in charge of as exemplifying her strongest skills: building relationships and uniting people around a common goal.

In a 1,essay, a process engineer opens up to a long series of failures in his early life.

It quickly becomes apparent that what appeared to be failures in the first half, actually proved to be successes or openings for new opportunities, given enough time and perseverance. Perhaps you can meet with a good friend to brainstorm and discuss why you are applying to a particular school and what your answers to the essay questions will be.

Authenticity is key and if an applicant is able to stress what makes them unique. Business school application essays may require just one long essay or multiple shorter ones. Each school will have its own set of essays, so read thoroughly to understand the essay prompt. Let each essay be unique and crisp. Provide sufficient insights to address the primary essay question. Instead of just listing down your merits, be more descriptive and get into the specifics.

Highlight your extracurricular involvement , whether it involved volunteering for a non-profit organization or pursuing any hobby or sports or any opportunity where you played a leadership role or took charge of organizing any event. Read the common essay questions asked by your target MBA programs. It may also include an optional essay question. The optional essay should be made use of only if needed to explain career gaps , breaks in education, low GPA or any other aspect that deserves some clarity to the adcom to avoid being wrongly interpreted.

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Read this article to know when to use optional essays in college applications. A few schools like Vanderbilt Owen have a compulsory video essay while in some schools, the video essay may be optional. Get tips on how to tackle the video essay question. Read what people have to say about the school, get in touch with school alumni to know what the school has to offer. As an example, Harvard Business School mentions on its official page that they look out for the following characteristics in a strong candidate — habit of leadership, analytical aptitude and appetite, engaged community citizenship.

It works both ways. Not everyone can make it to Harvard or Stanford! Be practical and apply to the best possible schools you find a good fit and where you have a good chance of getting in! If you need help in short listing the business schools and having a review of your application strategy, our MBA MAP process can help you gain clarity before you apply. The most common mistake we come across when evaluating our essay prompts is the applicant not actually answering the prompt.

Some applicants may respond with what they think we want to hear, but miss the mark. We are looking for applicants to clearly, concisely, and articulately answer the question our prompt asks. Typically, plagiarism is not an issue. Our essay prompts are very personal in nature and we want to get to know the applicant as best as possible.

We are also looking for clear, straight-forward business language, rather than verbose language. Outline the essay and the topics you want to write about. I would do a great deal of reflection before writing the actual essay. We have word limits so fitting everything that you want to write is a challenge. The more you reflect and plan, the better the end essay will turn out.

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The overall application along with essays are reviewed multiple times by multiple people on the Admissions Committee. We are looking at whether the applicant has truly answered the prompt. We are also evaluating the level of research a particular applicant has conducted on our program and whether or not they understand how they are going to optimize their time in our program.

For everyone, but especially international applicants, we are also evaluating English writing skills as well. Well, do not take it lightly. Let your essays be as concise as possible. Editing for grammar and eliminating redundant usage can help shorten the length of the essay.

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Having a second pair of eyes review your work will help you gain fresh perspectives as well as identify gaps or missing elements in your story. I am completed BE in Computer Engineering. I have 4.

How to Write #StanfordGSB and #HarvardHBS #MBAApplication Essays

MIS is the field my interest lie in. Also could you please let know the average total expenditure Tuition fees, Boarding etc that would be incurred. Also additionally any certifications I need to complete to get some brownie points while applying. Pay specific attention to any written advice from the admissions committees; they will sometimes post detailed guidance on what they are looking for. Here is an example from Stanford last year. Visit campuses and sit in on classes. Talk to current students and alumni in your personal and extended networks about the general culture and their experiences.


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Look at the classes offered and the extra-curricular activities and make note of those of particular interest to you. This may seem obvious but the next step is to read the question very carefully and think about what is asked and what the school is trying to get at. Some schools will want to know more about your professional experiences while others specifically say they do not.

Heed this advice! Some schools are interested in why you want to go to that school while others take this as a given and instead want to know more about what you will bring to the table.


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In some cases, personal experiences are more important than professional. Take an inventory of your own past and future aspirations and where they fit with the school.

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Once you have determined what the specific school is looking for, take time to reflect on your background, experiences, goals, interests and values and think about what would best fit with that school. How do your values align with those of the school? Where are your strengths vs.