Essay topics are not in vain – stay on top of MBA programs

One of the more challenging admissions essays this year has been HBS question 4: In your career you will have to deal with many ethical issues. What are likely to be the most challenging and what is your plan for developing the competencies you will need to handle these issues effectively? As Cornfed MBA points out, what makes this question so vexing for applicants is the forward looking aspect, asking you to predict future challenges rather than reflect on past experiences like the Wharton and Columbia questions.

While many applicants struggle with this exercise, HBS is not asking this question in vain. In fact, the ethics essay is just the first step in your ethical education should you attend HBS. Last year, Harvard Magazine covered the mandatory, full semester HBS course Leadership and Corporate Accountability. It is an interesting read and will give you insight into what HBS and other business schools are doing to augment future leaders’ standards of ethics. Tuck just announced the addition of a social leadership program. Stanford‘s new individualized curriculum includes ethical analysis. Kellogg also requires students to explore the ethical relationship between business and society. Business Ethics magazine has even profiled the top business schools for social stewardship.

In general, as an applicant, it is important to stay abreast of new program developments at business schools. You need to be able to show schools that you are prepared to help them build up academic programs such as Wharton’s international opportunities, professional clubs and conferences such as Columbia Women in Business, or even social organizations like the Haas Culinary Club. That way your essays will include specifics on why you are a great fit for their school and how you will contribute.

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