Category Archives: Application Tips
November 18, 2008
IESE is an international MBA program based in Barcelona. Along with the traditional full time MBA, IESE offers a range of executive programs, including the Global Executive MBA. The Global Executive MBA program operates across …
IESE is an international MBA program based in Barcelona. Along with the traditional full time MBA, IESE offers a range of executive programs, including the Global Executive MBA. The Global Executive MBA program operates across several continents with sessions in Barcelona, Madrid, Shanghai, India, Silicon Valley and New York City. To learn more about the Global Executive MBA, you may want to attend one of IESE’s events.
The nice thing about this set of essays is the specificity of the questions. That is also the difficult challenge you will have as you apply your overall application strategy, with the strengths and accomplishments you wish to communicate. Many of the situational questions ask for examples within the last two years, which may be a challenging direction. While you may be attached to situations that are further behind you, remember that the key to any situational question is a clear and concise example that you can extrapolate larger learnings from.
The situational essays in this set allow you to approach the question from either a professional or personal perspective, and it will be important to choose wisely. Think about the correct balance of personal and professional, and which activities you want to particularly highlight.
Essay 1: Please describe your short term professional goals (post MBA). (200 word limit)
Essay 2: Please describe your long term professional goals (post MBA). (200 word limit)
These first two essays are the key components of every career goals essay, and should work together in the same way that a more typical career goals essay would while also remaining two distinct essays. Make sure your short and long-term goals are cohesive, and that your short-term goals lead naturally to your long-term goals. While not explicitly part of the question, you should certainly work in why you need an MBA, and specifically why the IESE MBA will be important to achieving your career goals.
Essay 3: Describe two substantial accomplishments and one failure in a professional or private endeavour. (600 word limit)
This essay question is very similar to the HBS question asking for three accomplishments , with the substitution of a failure for one of the accomplishments. It’s difficult to explain three distinct situations in 600 words. Focus on quickly recapping the accomplishment, making it very clear what the accomplishment was, and take some time to reflect upon the accomplishment and its larger meaning to you in your life or profession.
For the failure section of the essay, you will want to find a failure that can be described succinctly, that you learned from, and that you were able to ultimately redeem yourself through. Whether you turned the failure into a success in that exact situation, or faced a similar situation later than you were able to succeed in, ending on a positive note will be crucial for this question.
Essay 4: Describe a recent situation (within last two years) in which you used a contact from your network to achieve a personal or professional objective. (200 word limit)
Limiting the situation to the past two years may be frustrating to you, but the important part of this essay will be demonstrating that you are able to build and maintain a strong professional network. If you haven’t faced a major situation that required help from your professional network, like a job hunt, think about times that you may have reached out to your friends or co-workers to seek a new perspective on a problem, or to tap into their vocational expertise. The question also allows the use of the network for a personal objective, which may be a more common occurrence day-to-day.
Whatever situation you choose, this is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how you work with others, your collaborative approach to problem-solving, and how you may behave in a team situation at school, or as an alumna or alumnus of IESE.
Essay 5: Describe the most difficult project (personal or professional) that you have faced recently (within last two years). (200 word limit)
Difficult projects are a great learning experience, and you will want to be able to communicate clearly what you learned from this particular difficult project. If you were ultimately successful, that is a great result, but even if the project never reached completion in a satisfactory way, you hopefully learned a lesson that could be applied in subsequent projects. Though the word count is restrictive, be as specific as possible about the situation and how you approached it.
Essay 6: Describe a recent situation (within last two years) in which it was difficult to convince others. (200 word limit)
This essay is a great opportunity to demonstrate your leadership, teamwork and/or communication and negotiation skills. You will want to find a situation that was difficult, but where you were ultimately convincing. Clearly describe what was difficult about convincing others, and how you were able to ultimately succeed.
Essay 7: I wish that the application had asked me”¦ (200 word limit)
This essay is a gift for all of the extra material in your application strategy. If you had an important situation in your life that occurred more than two years ago, this is an opportunity to highlight it. If you have an interesting personal story, explanation for any weakness in your application, or other material that will help your candidacy, this is the ideal place for that material.
For a concise, thoughtful guide that will help you navigate the MBA admissions process with greater success, order our NEW book, The MBA Application Roadmap.
November 11, 2008
The Oxford MBA is a one year MBA program located at one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. For access to international business acumen and a diverse and close-knit class from 50 various nationalities, …
The Oxford MBA is a one year MBA program located at one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. For access to international business acumen and a diverse and close-knit class from 50 various nationalities, the Oxford MBA is an excellent choice.
Oxford MBA’s two essays will require discipline and focus, with only 3000 words available to market yourself.
Essay 1: Explain why you chose your current job. How do you hope to see your career developing over the next five years? How will an MBA assist you in the development of these ambitions? (1000 word maximum)
This is a variation of the classic career goals question, which focuses initially on your current job. You will want to provide some background to describe your motivation in your career thus far and how you set and achieved the goals you have accomplished in your career path up until now.
The next section of the essay seeks to understand your career over the next five years. This is a fairly brief window into the future, but you can at least set the stage for any long-term goals you have. Explaining your short-term goals very concretely will be the basis of a successful answer to this section.
The link between your past and your future is your Oxford MBA. Explaining clearly why you need an MBA at this stage in your career will be important. At the same time, take the opportunity to describe why an Oxford MBA is the right choice for you. To understand the MBA program as well as you can, take the opportunity to visit the campus and attend a class if you are able to travel to the UK. If not, you can attend an international event
Essay 2: Which recent development, world event or book has most influenced your thinking and why? (2000 word maximum)
This is a broad question and will require a strategy and clear approach. You could approach this like Stanford “What matters most” and similarly think about your life ”“ personal, extracurricular, and professional ”“ and what themes arise. Framing the answer around a theme that also fits with your career goals will provide focus and communicate who you are effectively to the admissions committee.
While you will want to have a plan for this question, understanding what you need to communicate with your answer, do not neglect the core question. You will want to choose an event, book or development that fits in with your overall theme and that can serve as a microcosm of your general attitude and motivations.
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November 4, 2008
Notre Dame offers both a one year MBA for applicants with an undergraduate business degree and a traditional two year MBA. The flexibility of the one year program may be appealing to candidates who are …
Notre Dame offers both a one year MBA for applicants with an undergraduate business degree and a traditional two year MBA. The flexibility of the one year program may be appealing to candidates who are already on their preferred career path, while career changers would be better suited for a two year program with an internship.
Whichever option you choose, you will want to evaluate your strategy carefully. Notre Dame starts with a classic career goals essay, and then provides the option of choosing two options from a set of five. Mendoza is looking for students who have a proven record of leadership through at least two years of work experience, and potential for personal and professional success.
Notre Dame is specifically looking for the following four leadership dimensions:
An integrated mind: with a balanced mastery of all functional areas of business and able to discern the implications of a problem””and its solution””organization wide
Broad perspective: with eyes open to the complexities of business in our communities both at home and globally
Heart: an understanding of how one’s values guide their actions and ethical decision making
Tenacity: the role of communication, motivation and mobilization in bringing a solution to life
To demonstrate these qualities to Mendoza, make sure you are able to communicate your leadership skills through one of your two additional essays.
I. What are your career plans immediately after graduation? Explain how your past experiences prepare you for your desired position. What are your long-term career aspirations?
This standard career goals essay asks for your background, and your short-term and long-term career goals. In the two pages you have for this essay, make sure your story follows a trajectory from past to present to future that is logical and focuses on key inflection points. Use solid examples from your past that support your career goals, and make sure you are able to connect your short-term and long-term goals.
In addition, Notre Dame does not explicitly ask the question Why Mendoza? However, it will be important to clearly demonstrate how the Mendoza MBA will aid in the development of your goals and why Mendoza is the right place for you to pursue your MBA studies.
II. Additionally, please complete any two of the following five essay questions.
1. Each MBA student at the University of Notre Dame is given the opportunity to contribute to the MBA community. What will you bring to Notre Dame and the MBA family?
Similar to the Kellogg essay on the same topic, this is an opportunity to highlight anything in your background that is diverse or interesting, and will contribute to Notre Dame. If you are not someone with a wildly diverse background, a significant community service or extracurricular involvement can also be a great aspect of your background to highlight in this essay. Whichever approach you take, you will want to thoroughly demonstrate your understanding of the Mendoza community.
2. What inspires you outside of your work environment?
This question is fairly open-ended and can be used to highlight many aspects of your application strategy outside of work. If you have a meaningful hobby or extracurricular involvement that you cannot discuss elsewhere in the application, this is the ideal place to explain it and discuss why it is inspiring to you.
3. How do you define leadership? Please give an example of someone you feel is a great leader and explain why.
This question is as much about you and your definition of leadership as the example you choose to provide. Think about the key aspects of leadership that are important to you, and perhaps are a bit unique, and provide an example of someone who embodies that definition. In addition, you should certainly talk about your own leadership path and how you hope to develop the leadership attributes to reach your goals in the context of this example.
4. Of which accomplishments are you most proud and why?
Similar to the HBS accomplishments essay, you will need to be concise with this question and clearly explain a few of your most important accomplishments.
At the same time, you need to thoroughly explain why you are most proud of these accomplishments. The best answers are extremely specific, yet allow the reader to understand your circumstances and sympathize with them.
5. Describe a failure or disappointing experience in your life. How did you react and what did you learn?
The failure essay can be quite challenging, especially when you are coming up with an idea. The best failure essays are honest and clear about what went wrong, while at the same time demonstrating how the situation was corrected and especially what you did to generate a positive result. It will be important to demonstrate introspection in this question and to admit that you have experienced setbacks and failure.
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November 4, 2008
Washington University’s Olin Business School focuses on evaluating candidates on both past evidence of achievement in leadership and teamwork across work and extracurricular activities, as well as future potential. Another key factor is a diversity …
Washington University’s Olin Business School focuses on evaluating candidates on both past evidence of achievement in leadership and teamwork across work and extracurricular activities, as well as future potential. Another key factor is a diversity of background and experience that candidates can bring to Olin and contribute to their teammates.
When approaching this short set of essays, evaluate your application strategy carefully and select your topics judiciously. The first essay calls for a succinct explanation of your career goals, with scarce room to outline some of your past experiences. In Essay 2 you will have the opportunity to describe a bit about your background and demonstrate your knowledge of the Olin Business School. Essay 3 is your opportunity to show your background and potential for leadership and or teamwork. Whichever option you choose, take the opportunity to provide a very specific example that can demonstrate your abilities and potential. Optional essays are generally used to explain any weakness in your application profile, yet in this case it would make a lot of sense to use this essay to tell a story from your strategy that you did not have room for elsewhere, especially on an extracurricular or personal topic.
Essay 1. Describe your short- and long-term career goals upon completion of the MBA. Please be as specific as possible.(300 word maximum)
A standard career goals essay, Washington University’s Olin Business School gives you very little room to describe your short and long term career goals while providing the necessary background information. Make sure you answer the question thoroughly and that your goals fit logically together.
You will want to be selective with the background you do provide in this question since you will need significant space for your goals. Choose examples from your background that fit logically with your goals and provide evidence of your passion for your goals. If you are not currently working in the field you are planning to join after business school, focus on the research you have done or the extracurricular experiences you have had that are relevant to your goals.
Essay 2. Explain your specific interest in the Olin Business School. In other words, why do you view Olin as a good fit for you? (300 word maximum)
To make up for the short career goals essay, you have an entire essay to explain why you are a great fit for Olin. This is also an opportunity to describe a bit about yourself. Focus on your career goals and the resources you will gain from Olin, while also discussing some of your extracurricular experiences and personal attributes that support your fit with Olin. Overall you will want to hit all of the aspects Olin would like to know about you, and also demonstrate your familiarity with the program.
Olin is receptive to providing you as much support for your application as possible. In addition to the opportunity to visit the program in person, you can interact with admissions at recruiting events sponsored by the Consortium and the Forte Foundation among others. The website also offers information on student life.
Essay 3. Respond to exactly one of the following essay topics (400 word maximum):
a. Describe your most significant accomplishment and why you view it as such.
This essay is similar to the HBS essay of the same topic, yet you have more space to elaborate upon your accomplishment and provide plenty of evidence. Taking the opportunity to highlight your leadership skills or teamwork ability would be an ideal focus for this essay. Elaborate upon what you did in the situation and how you approached the solution. End with reflection upon why you consider the accomplishment to be significant to you.
b. How do you define or describe successful leadership?
This is a fairly abstract question, and it will be important to offer examples ”“ preferably from your own experiences ”“ to make any descriptions or definitions concrete. You can approach this question by providing either examples where you have been part of a team with a great leader, or even when the team and leader have not performed as well. Either way, you should elaborate upon what you learned from the experience and how it has influenced your own behavior. Overall, communicating how you define or describe leadership by using real-life examples will both engage the reader and communicate effectively about your own candidacy.
c. What do you expect will be your greatest professional challenge upon completion of your MBA?
This essay is also fairly open-ended. One approach is to think about your strengths and weaknesses and discuss one of your weaknesses and why it would be a challenge. This could be a fairly risky strategy, however, and should be balanced with plenty of discussion of your strengths and ability to overcome any challenges.
Another approach could be more global and elaborate upon some aspect of your future industry that you consider to be a challenge. If you are someone who has a record of innovative thinking, this is a great place to describe some of the past challenges you have overcome in this way. Similarly you might be excellent problem-solver and can demonstrate that ability. In any case, think about the unique personal qualities you bring and can contribute to any potential challenge in your future career.
Olin Washington Essay 4 (optional). Provide any additional information about your application that you believe would be helpful to the Admissions Committee. (300 word maximum)
If you need this space to address any perceived weakness in your application profile, outline the issue briefly and spend some time providing explanations and not excuses.
Otherwise, this is a great opportunity to provide additional information for the admissions committee. If you have a unique or diverse background, have overcome a significant personal challenge or have been heavily involved in a community activity this would be a great opportunity to describe that situation. Focus on a solid example and provide some reflection upon the example and a reason why this additional information is important to your candidacy.
For a concise, thoughtful guide that will help you navigate the MBA admissions process with greater success, order our NEW book, The MBA Application Roadmap.
October 28, 2008
The London Business School is a close knit program with an international focus, set in one of the most exciting centers of culture in Europe. LBS is also one of the top ranked international options with US recruiters.
When approaching this set of essays, which has very specific questions, you will want to make sure you are also presenting your well-rounded self, with focus on career, extracurriculars and personal attributes.
Question 1 (600 words)
In what role do you see yourself working immediately after graduation? Why? How will your past and present experiences help you achieve this? How will the London Business School MBA Programme contribute to this goal? Why is this the right time for you to pursue an MBA?
This classic career goals question focuses more on your short-term goals than the typical school might. Make sure you can clearly demonstrate how your past and present career and personal experiences support your goals, and why you have settled on your particular aspirations. In addition, you will need to demonstrate why London Business School is the particular MBA program for you and why you are planning to pursue an MBA at this point in your career and your life.
In just 600 words to answer 5 distinct questions you will need to demonstrate your commitment and reasons throughout the essay. Through your narrative thread it should be obvious why you are pursuing an MBA, why now is the right time and how LBS will help you achieve your goals. If you are planning to switch careers and do not have the track record to demonstrate you are serious about your goals, it will be helpful to show your commitment through research you have done, extracurricular activities you have been involved with, or relevant accomplishments in your current position.
When researching the LBS difference for this essay, you might find some help in the form of the student blogs on the London website.
Question 2 (200 words)
Where do you see your career progressing five years after graduation and what is your longer term career vision?
As a continuation of essay one, this is your opportunity to talk about your long-term goals ”“ both those that are more in the short-term and those further down your path.
This essay should flow very smoothly from essay one. There should be a clear link between your immediate post-MBA goals and these two milestones, and all of them will flow from your current and past experiences.
Question 3 (500 words)
Please describe your experience of working in and leading teams, either in your professional or personal life. Include any specific challenges you have faced. Given this experience, what role do you think you will play in your first year study group?
This question offers the opportunity for you to demonstrate your teamwork skills and demonstrate your knowledge of LBS teams. You may want to refer to student blogs, the programme website or current or former students to understand the role of study groups at LBS and how you will likely fit in.
In providing your team work example, you have the option of a variety of settings, whether at work or in an extracurricular involvement and an option of discussing either working within or leading teams. Because the essay asks for several experiences, it will be useful to choose a few specific examples to cite, though you will want to be judicious due to the short length of the essay. Think about examples that most typify your approach to working within a team, and use these examples to support your speculation about the role you might play within your study group.
Question 4 (400 words)
Student involvement is an extremely important part of the London Business School MBA experience and this is reflected in the character of students on campus. What type of student club or campus community events will you be involved with and why? How will you contribute?
This question provides an opportunity to describe some of the community involvement you have been involved with and relate it to what you might do at LBS. Thorough research will be helpful here, whether online or in person. To be most effective in answering this question you will want to be specific and logical in your choices. What activities make the most sense in the context of your career and industry interests? What about your hobbies? Any community involvement you are currently pursuing and plan to continue will be especially credible here.
Question 5 (150 words)
Describe any significant experiences outside of your home country. What did you gain from these?
This question is brief and mainly seeks to understand your international experiences in breadth and depth. Any particular insight you gained from international travel will be helpful, and if you can tie it to your overall application theme, that’s even better. Since LBS is a particularly international program they are certainly seeking applicants who are well traveled and thoughtful about the rest of the world.
Question 6 (300 words) (This question is optional)
Is there any other information that you believe would help the MBA Admissions Committee when considering your application?
If you have a situation you need to explain, whether it is a low GPA or academic probation, this is the correct space to address it. Focus on explanations and not excuses. If you have additional material that you think will be helpful to your application this may also be an opportunity to offer another reason to admit you.
October 21, 2008
The Purdue Krannert School of Management is a program that offers a global focus and flexible programs. Krannert offers several specialty opportunities for study, including a new Master of Science in Finance program. In addition, …
The Purdue Krannert School of Management is a program that offers a global focus and flexible programs. Krannert offers several specialty opportunities for study, including a new Master of Science in Finance program. In addition, being part of the Purdue Krannert community offers the opportunity for joint studies in areas from Mechanical Engineering to Doctor of Pharmacy.
Learn more about Purdue Krannert at the many off campus admissions events the school is attending.
Essay 1: Discuss your long- and short-term goals, how these goals developed, and what you hope to gain from graduate study at Purdue Krannert. Limit your responses to no more than 500 words.
While this essay is similar to a classic career goals essay, there is a strong focus on understanding your past and the thought process that lead you to develop your goals. In addition, you will want to spend a fair amount of time in the essay in describing what is unique about the Krannert program and why it is the ideal next step in your career trajectory.
Essay 2: The Purdue Krannert community is comprised of a diverse student body. Describe an aspect of your personality, things you have learned, skills you have acquired, or life experiences you’ve had that could benefit potential classmates and will help you contribute to Purdue Krannert’s diversity. Limit your response to no more than 500 words.
Tuck and Kellogg have similar diversity essays, and the Purdue Krannert essay offers the same opportunity to differentiate yourself if you are not a classically diverse candidate. Think about the family background you come from, the experiences you have had that may be unique or that may be beneficial to others.
In this essay, try to focus on more than just your professional experiences. Delve into your personal background, your hobbies and your community involvement to present a well-rounded view of yourself and how you will contribute to your classmates at Purdue Krannert.
Essay 3: In 250 words or less, describe a character-building event or situation in which your involvement made a significant difference.
This essay is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate key leadership or teamwork experiences. It may be the ideal place to discuss an important accomplishment in your life, or even a mistake or ethical challenge. Think about an example that is clear and concise enough to explain in this brief space, and then reflect upon your example in way that showcases your personal qualities, leadership potential, and ability to work with others.
Additional Information (Optional) Please provide any additional information that was not captured within your application. If you feel you’ve already provided us with sufficient information about yourself, you need not add anything here. (250 words or less)
Optional essays are an ideal opportunity to communicate anything additional that hasn’t been expressed in your other essays. If you have an area of concern such as a low GPA or academic probation, this is an opportunity to explain. Stay away from excuses and focus on explanations and evidence of change.
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