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Georgetown / McDonough Essay Topic Analysis 2014-2015

Today we’ll be turning our attention to Georgetown / McDonough’s MBA application essay for 2014-2015. Like so many of its peer schools, Georgetown has reduced its number of required essays between this year and last, dropping from three essay responses last season to just one for Class of 2017 admissions. Moreover, McDonough has dramatically shortened the essay prompt itself, asking a mere two-word question of MBA applicants. This represents a fairly significant reduction in the opportunity that candidates are afforded to share information about their candidacies, and will require that applicants be fairly judicious about what the write about and at what length.

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s McDonough prompt:

Essay 1: Why You? (Hint: we are looking for an answer that cannot be found from research on our website; 750 words)
This terse prompt can most likely be taken to imply the expanded question “Why [should we admit] you [to our program over other interesting and well qualified applicants]?” Once unpacked, the reads like a fairly straightforward question about the applicant’s interest in, knowledge about, and potential to contribute to the MBA community. In addressing this prompt, candidates will likely want to introduce their reasons for applying, touching on their post-MBA plans and reasons for applying to Georgetown in their pursuit. The bulk of the essay, however, should likely be spent explaining what the applicant has learned about the program and its culture, how he or she believes this fits with his or her background and personality, and what impact he or she expects to make as a student.

The hint that accompanies this essay indicates that McDonough is particularly interested in applicants who have gone beyond the website and made an effort to learn about the program by visiting the campus or through direct contact with students, alumni, and even faculty. Demonstrating this level of knowledge will therefore be important to an effective response. Of course, another way to interpret the hint would be read it as an expression of the adcom’s interest in learning about the applicant’s experiences and personal qualities rather than having a list of courses and clubs recited to them. Given this ambiguity, the optimal strategy may lie in a combination of these two interpretations, balancing information about oneself with content about the reasons one feels a fit with the McDonough program.

Optional Essay 1: If you are not currently employed full-time, use this space to provide information about your current activities. (250 words)
This is a straightforward request for information from a sub-set of applicants, and should only be answered by applicants who aren’t working full-time.

Optional Essay 2: Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500 words)
This will be an appropriate place for applicants to address potential concerns with or liabilities in their candidacies, to explain unusual recommenders or gaps in employment, or to comment on extenuating circumstances that affected past performance. Given the length and wording of this prompt, this response may also be an appropriate place to share more general information that wasn’t covered in Essay 1, though candidates should exercise good judgment in determining whether this additional response will add materially to their candidacy and justify the additional time required for the admissions officer to read it.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

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