Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MBA Admissions A-Z: E is for Essay

Next up in our MBA Admissions A-Z series is E for Essay, a topic on which we could very easily write an entire book. (Hey – we DID write an entire book. Scroll down for details.)
Here we are going to focus on 4 critical MBA admission essay mistakes. Make sure that your essays DON’T include any of these:
1.    Buzzwords
Try this on for size: “I plan on penetrating the B2C e-commerce bubble by starting my own synergistic company. Additionally, I want to lead empowering seminars about diversity awareness in the workplace for the human resources space.”
Unfortunately, creating an MBA application essay isn’t as simple as piecing together a string of keywords. Many applicants think that if they include industry buzzwords in their essays, then they’ll come off sounding like experts in the field. Recipe for success? More like recipe for disaster. Buzzwords don’t make you look smart; they make you look unoriginal. (Of course, you can use a few buzzwords when absolutely necessary. Just make sure they clarify and inform as opposed to confuse and obscure.)
2.    Grandiose Statements
Don’t merely discuss a value or belief; illustrate it. “I want to give back to my community.” Okay, thanks for the info…now tell me something else: HOW? Or WHY? When have you lived this value in the past? How do you plan on focusing your energy on helping your community in the future? Furthermore, why do you feel a calling to contribute to your community? Give me some details here!
Maybe this is what you meant: “When I was suddenly orphaned at 16 years old, my local church bent over backwards to help revive me and my twin brother after the paralyzing tragedy. The community members went beyond simply feeding and clothing us, by caring for us and loving us in the absence of our parents. Their boundless kindness inspired me to found my not-for-profit organization; it helps teenage orphans keep their heads above water after tragedy strikes by supplying material as well as emotional support.”
3.    Whining
Complaining about your application blemishes only draws attention to them. If you aren’t happy with your GPA, then take responsibility for your low grades, and if relevant, provide context that explains why you did poorly…and then move on. If possible, portray your liabilities as assets by discussing the ways in which you’ve grown from your experiences, or  point to times when you excelled in similar circumstances. But please, keep the tone mature. Nobody likes a crybaby.
4.    Typos
This is one of the most common MBA essay mistakes, and yet is also one of the easiest errors to fix. Rule of thumb: Don’t hit “Submit” until you’ve edited and proofread your application essays. For the best results, read your essay aloud so you can identify errors with your eyes, as well as your ears. And remember, the only thing better than one set of eyes and ears, are multiple sets. Have your mom, best friend, neighbor, co-worker, or editor help you identify and then fix all spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and stylistic blunders.
MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools will lead you through the MBA admissions process beginning to end and includes lots of advice on how to approach the MBA essay writing process with examples. Download the first chapter for free now!
By Linda Abraham, founder and president of and author of MBA Admission for SmartiesThis article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of

1 comment:

  1. Great article! very useful tips.
    I found it while looking for essay tips, here is another good article on that subject if anyone's interested: