How to write your essays to make your MBA Applications Stand Out!
What do you think is the most important aspect of applying to a top MBA or MIM program? Is it to have a super high GMAT score? Or having top-notch companies on your resume? How about attending the most exclusive university in the country?
While having top scores, a great university and highly selective companies on your resume could give you an edge in the applications, they are still no match to this ONE characteristic that you can show in your applications!
Empathy, as per its definition, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
If you are able to show your empathy through your applications, there’s nothing stopping you from receiving an invite from the top schools. However, as you probably realise, this is easier said than done.
Let’s answer the first question that might be popping up in your mind as you read this - what do I even mean by asking you to show empathy in your applications? This is pretty simple: As an applicant, you need to understand the expectations and the requirements of the schools that you are applying to.
The first step towards understanding your schools is to research them and to figure out the different values that they are looking for in their students.
For example, schools such as Tuck place an extremely high value on community building. They have a small cohort size, are located in small towns, and so they keep communities and collaboration building as one of their topmost priorities. While almost all schools will say that they value community building, and they do, for Tuck it is one of the most important aspects of a candidate’s profile.
The second step is to read the application requirements, especially the essays, and realise exactly what is asked for by the schools.
While for a lot of questions it is quite straightforward to understand the ask, for some questions it may not be very straightforward.
For example, HEC Paris has an almost unique question about an ethical situation which the candidate had to face. A lot of candidates get confused with this question as they feel they might not have an experience which fits the essay!
As an applicant, you need to realise the broader understanding of the question in such a case. The admissions committees know that you may not have faced or made a huge ethical decision since you only have a few years of experience. However, ethical situations are not always about someone defrauding someone else. You can extrapolate it in a broader sense of the term as well - for example, situations where you had 2 choices which challenged you morally. Make sure that you illustrate the context very clearly so that the teams reading your essay can paint the picture easily in their minds.
The third step is to put yourself in the shoes of the admissions committee. This is probably the most difficult step of all.
As candidates work for several years in their industries, gaining expertise and communicating regularly with colleagues in similar professions, their world-view shrinks. It shrinks in the way that they start assuming that everything they can easily comprehend, can be easily understood by everyone else.
Hence you get essays written with free-use of technical jargon, industry-specific terminologies, abbreviations and the like. Everything typed perfectly.
On the other side, however, the admissions teams scratch their heads around the type of blockchain network the applicant wants to create or the highly complex networking theorem that the candidate used to create the largest bandwidth trading platform. The only thing missing in those essays - empathy.
Tell them what they want to hear, in the way they want to hear, in a language that they understand.
You need to empathise with the admissions team, who, most likely, don’t speak your language. You need to talk to them in the language they understand. Make it simple for them. Make it clear for them.
Believe me. Empathise, and you will hear back from them.
Piyush Ranjan is the Founder and Chief Consultant of Management Masters. His clients have received invites from top MBA programs such as Wharton, Tuck, Darden, HEC Paris and ISB among others.
You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org