How to Write Business School Application Essays
Business school application essays play an integral part in admissions, answering the all-important question: "Why should you admit me?" In this piece of self-promotion, you're expected to discuss your background, qualifications, and motivations for attending business school. This is an incredibly important part of the application and it requires measured reflection. Your business school application essays are what sets you apart after passing the initial screening for GMAT / GRE scores, GPA, and work experience. The strongest essays provide compelling answers to the following questions:
Why Do You Want Attend Business School?
Articulate why you want to attend business school, and why now is the right time. Perhaps you've already accomplished a great deal in the first few years of your career and feel the need for a formal education in management to move to the next level. Or perhaps an MBA is a required credential in the field that you wish to specialize in, such as leveraged buyouts. The reasons that motivate applicants are as varied as their backgrounds, so there isn't a cookie cutter answer. The admissions committee should walk away thinking: "This person has a clear career vision and outstanding leadership potential."
What are Your Academic, Professional, and Other Accomplishments?
Delineate your qualifications for undertaking an advanced degree in business. Reference examples from your academic, professional, and personal life, and how each has prepared you for the depth and rigor of business school. Don't limit yourself to your professional accomplishments; also demonstrate that you're a well rounded person, with interest in broader social and political issues. If you faced and overcame major ethical challenges in your career, discuss them and how they shaped your values and philosophy.
What Are Your Career Goals?
Provide a preliminary indication of what career path you'd like to pursue after business school. For example, you might want to switch from strategy consulting to a line manager role in the pulp & paper industry to have direct P&L responsibility. Schools won't hold you to accountable for what you write; they're looking for evidence that you've started to (seriously) develop your career vision. Remember to discuss how an MBA will help you to accomplish your career goals.
Why Do You Want To Attend Our MBA Program, Specifically?
Business schools want to know that you have very specific reasons for applying to their program. Some potential reasons include: the program's curriculum, teaching method, strengths in particular MBA concentrations, specific professors that you want to learn from, as well as facilities, resources, or other activities that are unique to that institution.
(Optional) Why Did You Do So Badly In...?
If your grades weren't strong, or you have a gap in your CV, it may be opportune to insert an "apology" – a couple of sentences explaining what happened. Perhaps you were switching majors, or worked at a failed start-up for a year. If you have a glaring weaknesses and a legitimate explanation, you'll benefit from addressing it in your business school application essays.