5 Most Common Mistakes in your MBA essays and how to fix them

Assuming you’ve read our latest blog on 2nd MBA, it would be wise to go through the mistakes people make while writing their MBA essays so you can learn how to avoid them.

In this blog, we share some expert-backed common mistakes, that should be avoided while drafting your MBA essays. While these mistakes look innocent enough from the outside but when in a pool of hyper-competitive people, there is not a lot of room for slip-ups, simply because that could act as all the advantage for the other person to race ahead of you.

Mistake #1

Your MBA essay is vague.

A question mark is drawn on a chalkboard
Clarity of thought is sine-qua-non of your MBA essay applications. Make sure to not leave any questions in the mind of the evaluator.

When you’re writing, it’s easy to take it for granted that the reader will be easily able to comprehend your thoughts, intent, etc; but more often than not- it’s not the case. So, please make sure, you clearly set the background, and context in depth so there is no room for misrepresentation.

For example, take a look at this recent excerpt from a client’s essay-

I am looking forward to attending MIT Sloan MBA to gain global exposure and get into CXO level positions in supply chain focused organizations.

Looking at this excerpt as a reader without personal knowledge of the client, a few questions come to mind.

  1. Why does the applicant require global exposure?
  2. Among all global schools why does the applicant want to get their education from MIT?
  3. Why does supply chain as a domain exciting to the applicant?

While the answers to all of these questions may be clear to the author, they leave the reader confused and uncertain about what is being said.

Take a look at this improved version of the text:

Having worked in the e-commerce industry for the last 5 years, I understand that the margin in the industry is very thin and improving efficiency of operations is the key to unlock long term sustainable profits.

In the next phase of my career, I want to take up a leadership role in an e-commerce firm with global operations and MIT Sloan with its unique supply chain focused curriculum, industry connects, and diverse cohort will enable me to graduate as a thought leader equipped to engage in an international, highly competitive marketplace.

Expert Insight #1: Do not leave anything up to the interpretation of the reader. Demonstrate your insights and clear cut motivations to pursue MBA from the specific program.

Mistake #2

Changing who you are.

A lot of halved shell of eggs with one whole egg on a plain yellow background.
Your essays give you a chance to stand out. So tell your story, show your vulnerability. You don’t need to be like everyone else.

Your resume gives you a limited chance to stand out. It could be remarkably good but it doesn’t show who you are as a person- your perspectives, your motivations, your intent, etc. This is why essays are important- they give you a chance to convey your story. So, please use it well.

A lot of students tailor their essays in an attempt to appear as the perfect applicant but that wouldn’t do you any favor.

Also, if you have any bad score or employment gaps– this is where you tell the ‘Why’ behind it. Owning up to your past mistakes is far better than shrugging them off- after all, we’ve all made some!

Expert insight #2: Each individual is unique and so are their journeys. Of course you can take inspirations from the life of others, but do not superimpose their journeys and personality traits on yours. Ad com expects each student to add value to the peer to peer learning of the cohort.

Mistake #3

Recycling essays aka Copy-Pasting.

Recycling the same essay for different schools is big no. Make sure not to submit your essays in haste. Give each application it’s due time.

This is a rookie mistake and sadly, this happens very often. Copy-pasting one essay to numerous other business schools puts you at the following risks-

  • This leaves a chance for misreading the topic and in turn, not answering the exact question.
  • Accidentally leaving another school’s name and getting an automatic rejection.

So, please treat every application with consideration and give it the time and effort it needs. You won’t be disappointed.

Expert insight #3 : One size fits all doesn’t work. While you might be tempted to use an essay, which probably has worked for someone else, do note that essay is just one component of the application. There are other tangible and intangible components of your application that need to all be in synch and convey the same messaging.

Mistake #4

Not thinking through your career goals.

A business card that reads Paul Allen-Vice-President.
Remember Patrick Bateman’s obsession with climbing the ladder? It’s not wrong to have some of it, albeit healthily. Think about your career goals because you’ll be required to talk about them as well.

This could be the most important question in your essay! Think long and hard about where you see yourself in a couple of years- what you’d like to contribute and also share your ethical goals.

How and what you would like to give back to society? Clearly articulate your short and long-term plans for the future and the ‘Why’ behind them. The ad coms can sniff insincerity from miles away so be cautious and give this time.

Expert insights #4 : An International MBA requires a significant monetary and time investment. So you need to have a clear chalked out plan in your head as to how the MBA will help you recover the opportunity cost of pursuing it and create bigger opportunities for you which otherwise won’t get unlocked or will potentially take much longer time to unlock without MBA. You should be able to provide ROI justification of MBA not only in your essays but also in personal interview.

Mistake #5

Failing to make the case why a particular program is a right fit for you.

When applying to different schools, make sure to highlight why you are the perfect fit for the said school. What do you bring to the table? Why do they need to accept you at all?

Each school prides itself on the characteristics that make it different from others. Irrespective of your personal reasons for attending a particular school, make it clear why you’re attending ‘X’ program at ‘Y’ school. For ex- how this program will help your career or your skill set.

Failing to do that will show that you haven’t thought well enough about your career goals and that is a major red flag!

Expert insights #5: While there is a lot of overlap in the academic curriculum of many schools, your incentives to join a specific program should be aligned with specific aspects of the school — including and not limited to class size, value and principles, industry collaboration opportunities, positive feedback from known alumni, location, access to your dream company and role.

You should do significant primary and secondary research before drafting the response to the essay prompt “Why School [X]”

The Final Note

Your MBA essays are a chance to show your holistic personality. You are, after all, a lot more than your resume so use this chance to showcase your personality and get closer to the possibility of attending your dream school.

Please find a link to essays of some of the applicants we successfully helped in cracking their preferred choice of MBA program.

Here, at CrackAdmission, we guide students in their MBA preparation journey. Follow this link for a 30-minute FREE profile evaluation.

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