Archives For MBA Essays

hbs 2013 2014 essay analysis

We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Harvard Business School.

Harvard Business School (HBS) is taking a bold new approach to its application essays this year by offering just one question”and one that is much more open to interpretation than many applicants would probably like:

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extracurricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

Few things strike more fear into an MBA candidate’s heart than vague essay directions. Because of HBS’s lack of guidance with respect to word limits and its extremely open-ended question, knowing whether you are truly responding with information that the admissions committee wants and needs will be difficult. The committee further complicates things by specifically noting the information it will already have”transcripts, extracurricular activities, awards, etc. This may make you wonder if mentioning such information is a complete no-no and would weaken your chances for admission.

First, we would like to allay your fears to some degree and help you reframe your view of this question. Think of it as an opportunity to round out your candidacy in the admissions committee’s eyes the way you want, not within the parameters of a narrowly focused topic someone else has chosen. This is your chance to tell the school what you really feel it should know about you”what you believe makes you a worthy  candidate, deserving of a spot in HBS’s next incoming class.

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We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their first analysis, for Columbia Business School.

Introductory Note: Typically, Harvard Business School launches the MBA application season and then other business schools quickly follow suit. Earlier this week, HBS admissions director, Dee Leopold, announced that HBS would be releasing its essays during the final week of May. Meanwhile, Columbia Business School’s Admissions Director, Amanda Carlson, sent a message that she waits for no one. CBS officially released its essay questions today “ you will find the questions and our analysis below.

This year, Columbia Business School (CBS) continues a trend that has developed over the past three seasons, once again reducing the number of words applicants can use to tell their story. Last year, CBS allowed applicants 200 characters with which to respond to its short-answer question and 1,250 words total for its three essays”not much room to showcase one’s strongest attributes and set oneself apart from the pack. Now, CBS candidates have a mere 100 characters for the short-answer question and 1,000 words for the three essays.

Unfortunately, this reduced word count does not make your task as an applicant any easier”especially when you have only one essay (Essay 3) in which to discuss something outside the professional/academic realm and reveal your more personal side. Hopefully, our essay analysis can help you strategize

Columbia Business SchoolShort Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (100 characters maximum)

Do not pretend to be anything you are not. Reveal honest, ambitious goals that are also realistic.

These two sentences are 98 characters long. You can now see just how brief you need to be with CBS’s short-answer question. Yet you must still demonstrate that you can convey a point within such strict limits. So, we are sticking with the advice in our example. Do not misguidedly believe that admissions officers have a preference for specific professions or industries”they do not. Think about what you truly want to do with your career and state it directly. Then, be sure that the rest of your application provides evidence that this goal connects to your existing skills and profound interests, making your professed goal achievable and lending credibility to your statement here. If you can do this in 100 characters”and remember that we are talking about characters, not words”you will have answered this question quite well.

Essay 1: Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)

Because the CBS admissions committee is asking why you have chosen to pursue an MBA, you can justifiably delve into your professional career and explain how you identified your need for this particular advanced degree. However, take care not to overwhelm the admissions committee with an unnecessary level of detail about your career history. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough”the admissions committee does not want a recap of your entire resume”moreover, such detail would use up valuable word count. Approximately 100“150 words on your past should be enough to provide appropriate context.

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Original Schedule/Timeline photo by Peter Kaminski on FlickrThe folks at mbaMission always recommend getting started with your MBA applications as early as possible. By taking action now, you can dramatically improve your chances of gaining admission to a top MBA program in the coming years. It is never too soon (and certainly not too late) to take several crucial steps to shape your MBA candidacy. So they’re presenting a five-part series to provide a step-by-step timeline to help guide you down the long road of applying to business school. These guidelines assume that you are setting out a year ahead of the January deadlines. Even if you are starting later, you should be able to leverage this timeline to help you prioritize each step along the way. This week, they lay out what you should be doing May through July. For more information on mbaMission and how they can help you in this process, click here.

View Part 2 here.

May

Brainstorm and Start Writing Essays
We at mbaMission always tell our clients, You can’t turn a bad idea into a good essay. We insist on taking our candidates through a lengthy brainstorming process (which begins with a thorough questionnaire) to discover the stories that make each candidate distinct. Even as you uncover your stories, it is still important to consider them from as many different angles as possible. While this will help ensure that you understand the various weapons in your arsenal, Continue Reading…

by Jonathan McEuen, guest blogger

Jonathan McEueun is a Manhattan GMAT grad who is off to Wharton this fall. We asked him to share his application process with us. What follows is Part 4 of 5 posts in a series about his experiences. You can read Part 3 here.

Be A Score With A Story

How do you tell a great story in a few essays or a few minutes of dialogue? How do you make it compelling but not desperate, informative but not pandering? How do you make sure that your reason for applying to an MBA program comes through clearly, with goals that are both realistic and inspired?

It’s a lot for a couple thousand words to accomplish.  But in sitting down to the essay-writing process, that’s the end goal (at least, it is by my opinion). Continue Reading…

We are proud to welcome back, by popular demand, Jeremy Shinewald, founder of MBA Mission! MBA Mission is one of the leading admissions consulting firms in the industry, and we’re very fortunate to have Jeremy in to speak with our students in Chicago and New York.

Jeremy has agreed to conduct one-on-one FREE consultations with up to 20 of our students in Chicago on Monday, September 8th and Tuesday, September 9th between 4:30 and 9:30 p.m. Sign-ups are on a first-come-first-serve basis, and we expect that slots will quickly fill up. If you’re in Chicago, contact Dan McElroy (operations@manhattangmat.com) to get your name on the list. If you make the list, you’ll then submit your resume and other info so that Jeremy can review them ahead of time before meeting with you.

Jeremy, being a man on a mission (pun intended) will then head to MGMAT HQ here in New York for an Essay Workshop Thursday night, September 11th from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The question Jeremy will address is “How do you write essays that will grab the attention of Admissions committees?” Wouldn’t we all like to know! Click here to sign up for this event.

Last, Jeremy will be conducting more FREE one-on-one consultations in New York on Saturday, September 13th and Sunday, September 14th from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day. Here again, you should e-mail Dan McElroy (operations@manhattangmat.com) to register for a time slot.

We’ll post an update here when the slots fill up. So if you’re reading this and you’re a student in Chicago or New York, act fast!