The personal essays are one of the most critical parts of your business school application package, and you’ll spend the bulk of your time working on them. So do yourself a favor and avoid these 10 common blunders:
- Not providing new information: The admissions committee has seen your transcript, your resume, and your work experience. So make sure your essays provide them with new information about you, and not just facts that they can find elsewhere.
- Not being honest: Admissions officers can spot this a mile away — not to mention, it’s unethical. So stick to the truth and make sure that your essays portray the real you.
- Going the cookie-cutter route: Business schools are looking for people who stand out, so don’t be afraid to highlight the qualities that truly set you apart from the crowd.
- Talking about the same topic twice: Essay real estate is precious. Don’t waste it by repeating yourself.
- Not answering the question: Always read the question carefully, and make sure you answer it precisely and fully. A great essay for the wrong question won’t help you because it won’t give the admissions committee the information they are seeking. Not to mention, it could make you look inattentive.
- Not using concrete examples: Admissions committees are looking for concrete evidence of your claims, so make sure to include real life examples from your personal experience in your essays. These will also add color and personality to your essays.
- Using poor structure: Don’t allow the content of your essays to get lost in a confusing, meandering structure. Plus, admissions committees want to know that you can think logically and convey arguments in a clearly articulated manner. So state your thesis up front, provide supporting arguments, and then close with a conclusion. It may sound boring, but it will make your essays that much more readable. (And if you think these things can be painful to write; think of what the admissions officers must feel reading through thousands of essays!)
- Forgetting to proofread: Don’t be tempted to submit an essay without proofreading it, just because you’re tired of looking at it. Typos and grammatical errors make you look sloppy, or not sufficiently committed to the application process, and neither bode well for you.
- Being overly “creative”: No haikus. Enough said.
- Not taking a risk: The essays are the one part of your application where you can truly show a more personal side of yourself. Business schools aren’t looking for a bunch of GMAT scores, GPAs, or resume titles; they’re looking for people who will create a dynamic community among their students. So don’t go overboard (see point 9), but if you show a little personality, you won’t regret it.