To write the ultimate application essay for a business school, you need to be brief, reasonably talented in writing and very honest about yourself. If you have any significant life achievements, don’t be shy to mention them.
If You’re Famous, Essays Don’t Matter
According to The Financial Times, deans don’t usually read application packages from candidates planning to enter top business schools, as there are special people employed to do just that, i.e. the admissions officers. Still, sometimes deans are asked to look into the applicants’ essays (and other media sent by them, such as videos), especially if the applicant in question is famous.
Berkeley Haas dean, Rich Lyons, chose the first Korean astronaut, Yi So-yeon, out of 15 other candidates. He admits not even looking at her GMAT results, as her value was in her incredible life achievement.
New Essay Formats in Business Schools
Last year, China Europe International Business School, headquartered in Shanghai, admitted one out of four applicants. According to the dean, Yuan Ding, the essay is only one of several selection process factors, such as the GMAT, job experience and college grades. The essay allows the admissions team to learn about what candidates want from their future careers, why they chose to apply to this particular school and how good their writing skills are. A big no-no for the essay is exaggerating the truth or just plain lying.
People who want to apply to UCLA Anderson School of Management have 500 words to express their career aspirations and explain how an MBA would help them to become better professionals. Every essay is read by no less than two members of admissions staff. The key thing they are looking for in essays is something that makes the applicant different from others, like unconventional job experience.
This year, NYU Stern School of Business started asking applicants to make their essays more modern by describing photos, graphs or emojis, instead of writing a traditional essay. This innovation is well-liked by the admissions staff, as the new format brings out the candidate’s creativity and flexibility.
At IESE (Barcelona), there is no definite format to write an essay in. It’s perfectly admissible to send a video instead. Franz Heukamp, the school’s dean, is of the opinion that the content of the ‘essay’ is much more important than its form. For him, the best applicants are those that know how to explain their professional goals clearly.
Some b-schools, like SDA Bocconi School of Management, started making video interviews for applicants obligatory. The candidates also have to send two letters of reference and come for an in-person interview to Milan, as well as to show an exceptional performance in the GMAT test. For the Milan school, going such a long way to learn everything about their new students is acceptable – they only have 132 spots in their MBA program, and last year’s total number of applicants was 375.
The reason for changing the essay format lies not only in the schools’ desire to be modern and innovative, but also in the fact that only in video interviews or during creative tasks one can see the person as they are, without preparation.
Learn more about MBA application essays on MBA25 event in Frankfurt!