While each school will have its own specific phrasing, many MBA essay prompts are relatively similar. Because most applicants to MBA programs will apply to 3-5 schools, using the same anecdotes and examples for most of your MBA essays can be a huge time saver. This is not to say that you can use the same essays. You’ll still need to tailor each essay according to the specifics of each school’s prompt and view that essay within the larger context of your complete MBA essay package. However, you don’t need to start from scratch with each school. A thorough brainstorming process will save you time and effort in the long run as you will have already chosen the best examples from your work and life experience to include in your MBA application personal statements.
Here are some tips on how to approach the four most common MBA prompts:
“Tell us about your post-MBA goals.”
For this prompt, admissions officers are looking for a clear vision regarding your career. Think big, and be sure that your answer reflects one or more of the following: leadership, a global mindset, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Remember that your response isn’t a contract. How your career evolves will be based on a combination of your vision and the opportunities available to you. Therefore, you want to strike a balance so that you describe a strong vision but also one that is grounded, feasible, and directly related to the program. Most of all, this essay should reflect passion and purpose in knowing what your goals are and having a strong sense of how to get there.
“Why this school?”
Since the program is asking for specific connections between their program and your goals for the future, avoid writing about the school’s reputation. This is a common pitfall particularly for applicants who hail from countries where praising a school’s reputation in an application essay is the cultural norm. However, avoid this for an English-based MBA program regardless of its location across the globe. Instead, show that you have researched the program thoroughly and connect the dots closely between the program and your career goals. By doing so, you will demonstrate that you are fully prepared to participate in the program.
“Tell us about a leadership experience.”
Although every MBA program is looking for professionals who are willing to take the initiative, this doesn’t necessarily need to be an anecdote about a time where you were at the helm. Examples of situations where you were proactive and did what needed to be done as part of a larger team can make for powerful and persuasive essay writing. It demonstrates that you view yourself as a person capable of making good decisions and a substantial contribution in every role. If you write about an experience where you were in charge, remember to include the other members of the team. Leadership is more than getting things done. It’s about guiding a group of individuals towards a common goal. In this essay, show that you have the ability not just to accomplish but to inspire.
“Tell us about a time you experienced a setback/received negative feedback.”
For this prompt, programs are looking for you to demonstrate an ability to learn from failure, setbacks, or criticism. Therefore, choose an anecdote describing a situation where you took responsibility and made a difference. It’s okay to write about how you were initially shocked, confused or unsure what to do next. However, don’t dwell on that aspect. Use this essay to show that you are an emotionally mature person who can integrate these experiences to become wiser, more flexible, and better prepared for such scenarios in the future.
Discover more writing tips for your MBA personal statement.