News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Admissions Tip: Avoiding Common Pitfalls, Part II

Last week we offered some advice to help applicants avoid common pitfalls in writing their essays for the Round Two deadlines.  This week we’d like to offer some more advice.  Although these tips might not apply to everyone or to every school, these are some good basic strategies to employ.  For personalized advice about your applications, contact Clear Admit directly.

1.    Think strategically when delving into anecdotes that are highly personal.
  While breaking up with your college sweetheart may have had some impact on who you are today, you’ll want to be careful about using personal matters as the basis for an essay.  While there are certainly exceptions, we find that examples from the professional sphere or from extracurriculars typically make for stronger, and more compelling, essays, as they speak to the things that the admissions committee cares the most about, including qualities and skills that relate to professional success.

2.    Keep it current.  In considering which examples to explore in an application essay, one should choose college and post-college experiences to elaborate on, as these experiences will appear to have the most relevance for your application and provide the greatest insight into the person you will be on the campus of the MBA program.  In other words, if your essays prominently feature stories from high school, you are likely making a strategic mistake.  Younger applicants may find examples from college their strongest, as they may not have accrued the same leadership and teamwork experiences that older applicants with more work experience have.  All applicants, though, should include at least one recent story in their set of essays.

3.    Put yourself at the center.
  In talking about your future goals or in elaborating on your work experience to date, you will want to put yourself in the picture, indicating what you would like to do in the short and long term or what role you specifically played in the various projects or assignments at work.  Your application essays are meant as an opportunity to provide the adcom with greater insight into your candidacy and what sort of business person you are and will be in the future.  Thus, elaborating on what others have done or talking generally about the state of your industry of choice will not appear a meaningful discussion unless you can demonstrate how the material relates to you and pertains to your goals and interests.

4.    Follow the guidelines.  Many times applicants attempt to tweak the font size, spacing, or margins in their application essays in an attempt to stay within the various schools’ page limits.  The admissions committee, however, will not be fooled.  Rather than playing with the formatting, focus on making your discussion clear and concise.

Best of luck to everyone working on their R2 applications!  For one-on-one advice and counseling, contact us and set up a free initial chat with one of our admissions counselors.

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