Friday, August 17, 2012

MBA Admissions A-Z: B is for Be Yourself!

One of the most common application mistakes applicants make is that they write what they think the adcom readers want to hear, and not about what the applicants actually think is important.  But friends, family, forums, and frequent flyers are always telling you to write something extraordinary, right? How are you supposed to relate your true essence to the adcom if you’re working so hard to come up with wild and crazy experiences to cram into your essays?

Yes, your application should be filled with vivid details of those extraordinary experiences in your life, but that goal shouldn’t distract you from your mission of writing about who you are and what you’re passionate about.

I’m not going to lie – if you are an internationally acclaimed harpist who has also climbed Mt. Everest three times, then you’d have a much easier time choosing the experiences you want to highlight in your essays. But few of us can claim such accomplishments; so what do you do if you really are just an Asian engineer whose claim to fame is that you hold the office-wide record for taking apart a computer and putting it back together?

Here’s the key: What makes an experience extraordinary is not merely how rare it is, but how much impact it has had on you and on others.

For starters, you can talk about your passion of breaking things down to their individual parts and then re-constructing them, and how this process invokes a deep understanding of how the final product equals the sum of its parts; or you can talk about how you find the details of electro-engineering majestic or beautiful and how these characteristics have motivated you to start your own business of recycling old computers – taking them apart and building new, greater, and grander devices from them.
Adcom readers aren’t ONLY interested in the yodelers and the underwater algae botanists. They’re interested in people who have passions and aspirations and who are looking to find a business school that will help them materialize their dreams and impact our universe.

If you’re never climbed Mt. Everest or have never heard the pluck of a harp string, don’t worry. Just be yourself and write about what’s important to you. THAT is what the admissions board wants to hear.

Are you looking for more advice on how to create an application that stands out while remaining true to yourself? View valuable essay content-related resources in
Topics for Your MBA Essay 101!
By Linda Abraham, founder and president of and author of MBA Admission for Smarties.

This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of

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