The purpose of this section is to get you acquainted with the task that confronts you. The first step is to understand your audience and what your readers will be expecting. But you should view this knowledge as a groundwork from which to build your own creative composition, not as a set of limiting factors. Once you understand the context of your assignment, you must approach the brainstorming process with a free and open mind. Allow yourself to reflect without the interference of preconceived notions. Create a long and varied list of possible topics, and then narrow that list down using the criteria we give you.
The preparation process is as essential here as it is for any important project. If you don’t identify and develop the optimal set of ideas, then no degree of effective structuring or engaging language will make the essay as strong as it could have been.
Keep in mind that the whole process of preparing these essays effectively will be of incalculable benefit to you later on, when your business school interviews take place. Candidates who do a good job with their essays invariably have learned more about how to explain and present themselves and thus typically bring greater confidence and skill to the interview situation.
EssayEdge Extra: Using the Same Essays for Different Schools
“For whatever reason, applicants frequently try to combine our essay questions with essay questions from other schools that they are applying to, and I can tell immediately upon reading the first couple of paragraphs that they are not really answering our questions. It is important to answer the specific questions of the school you are applying to.”—Stanford University, Graduate School of Business
Some business schools’ questions at first glance seem similar but are not really the same. Don’t fall into the trap of 1) not noticing nuances that make a difference and affect the way the question must be answered; and 2) sending identical essays to different schools despite the fact that their questions are not actually exactly alike. Admissions officers at major business schools usually know what other top MBA programs are asking applicants, and they are unfavorably impressed when a candidate submits another school’s essay to them.
That said, if two questions are similar, you should not feel obligated to write two answers from scratch. Often you can use the same details about a particular experience, and change only the framework for those details. The difference can come in the insights you draw from the experience and the context into which you place it.
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