It’s a relief to be done with the GMAT preparation and move on to the main MBA application. The most ominous part now is to write the MBA essays. The best-written MBA essays can open up the doors to the final round – MBA interviews. But, for many, an interview may never happen as the admission committee has already made up its mind (based on your essays) that you aren’t good enough for their programme for that year.
You may have done your research on what you should do when it comes to MBA essays. However, it’s also a good idea to have the knowledge of what to avoid in your MBA essays so that you don’t inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot. So here’s a list of eight things to keep in mind while working on your MBA application.
- Avoid Repetition (Or, in Other Words, er, Avoid Repetition)
You don’t need to discuss how you managed to pull through with a high GMAT score or other obvious facts already presented on your résumé or the main application form. Use the essays to your advantage by presenting fresh content. Build upon the objective data that you’ve presented and don’t just repackage the same content. If you feel you’ve reached saturation point, take a break, and start afresh later when the ideas flow more freely.
- Do Not Use Fancy Words or Sentence Constructs
Adcoms have to handle loads of applications, and they aren’t hunting for the next Shakespeare in their review process. So don’t try to impress them by forcibly fitting in fancy words or smart-sounding idioms into your essays. Don’t use your creativity in creating complex and awkward statements that would make it difficult for the admission committee to figure out what you’re trying to say.
- Do Not Go Off-track
MBA essay questions and topics are very focussed. Which, unfortunately, means that you may not have a chance to talk about many things that you might have wanted to share with the admissions committee. Don’t think of the MBA word count as a blank canvas where you can fit in irrelevant pieces of information. If it isn’t related to the question asked, keep it out. The reviewer would value relevant answers rather than impressive but unrelated excerpts from your past.
You may be able to provide all that additional interesting data in your optional essay. But again, don’t use that essay as a general dumping ground.
- Don’t Abuse Word Limits
Don’t think of word counts as something that you can manage at the last minute after you are done pouring out your life history. Bear in mind the word count and be precise in answering the question asked so that you don’t have to edit out a big chunk from your writing effort. We have more on this topic a little later.
- Avoid Reiteration from College Website Content
Adcoms know what is there on the website. They also know that you have read the website. In an attempt to prove that you’re a great fit for a particular school, don’t try to over-focus on a particular quality the school holds high regard for. Some candidates assume using the words and phrases used on the website will be an easy way to demonstrate ‘FIT’. There is no automated programme reviewing your application to count the phrase density match. But there is one for plagiarism checking. So don’t copy-paste content from the official B-school website or from samples that you’ve found from other sources. Narrate Your story.
- Don’t Do a Rush Job
Before you get called for the MBA interview, your essays are doing the talking for you. They tell the B-school reviewer about your past achievements, future goals, reasons for doing an MBA. They create the initial impression about you. So take the time to think about what goes into those essays. Which means a whole lot of time strategizing, structuring and planning for the essays. The writing part will become easier. Don’t be in a hurry to get done with your essays.
- Avoid Superlatives
Avoid mentioning that you are a super-achiever or a person with exceptional skills or talent. Even if it is true, it’ll sound as if you are bragging. Instead, narrate incidents that would actually reflect this quality of yours and give the admissions committee a chance to make up their mind about how good you are and what qualities set you apart. Give them content and facts. Allow them to use their judgement in deciding whether you are good or fantastic.
- Don’t End Up with a ‘Loser’ Tag
Transparency is good but not when it ends up showing you as a loser. Avoid mentioning repeatedly about the various failures you have encountered in life. Failures must be viewed positively, as a chance to know where to be cautious, learn what could have been better and move one step higher. You are a better person because of the roadblocks you’ve hit in life.
- Avoid Over-emphasizing Your Ambitious Future Plans Unless you’ve been asked about your career goals, try not to keep talking about your great plans for the distant future in every essay.
Your credibility lies in how much you’ve achieved and that’s what the admission committee is more interested in rather than reading about your ambitions or aspirations which are difficult to evaluate. The devil lies in the detail and these are just a few aspects to keep in mind when you start working on your MBA essays or writing for CMAT.