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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Deconstructing the Business School Admission Essay
About a month ago, I wrote about the recipe for the perfect business school essay. Of course, there is no such thing, but there does appear to be an emerging and recognizable desire from business schools for the candidate who can offer "confidence with humility". Many of the top schools around are rummaging for this ideal, which, at the very least, gives business school candidates some parameters as they sit down and being their narrative for the personal statement.

The ideal MBA candidate, it would seem, is one lathered with skills who doesn't like to gloat about them. Arguably, this is a struggle for business school candidates. What entrepreneur ever made it big without a little arrogance? Playing the financial markets?-not for the faint of heart. Yet business schools don't want to hear about what you can or might do, but simply, what you have done. With some modesty, please.

A recent interview with the managing director of admissions at Harvard Business School is illuminating in this regard. She notes that the admission essay isn't as important as business candidates might think, but in the same breath, remarks that the admission essay is, in fact, "very, very helpful for the candidate". How can students make the admission essay count? She uses the phrase "dejargonize", and encourages "verbs" (, don't tell). Candidates with business backgrounds often find it tough to strip their stories of titles and jargon ("analytic metrics", "data-driven", "pricing management and revenue director"); be careful or you might unwittingly lull your reader's mind into thoughts far away from the task at hand. And then there's the bragging.

I suppose the idea is that, if you are fantastic, that fact will be obvious to your reader from your scores and work experience. So while that admission essay is a great branding opportunity, be sure to self-market delicately.


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