MBA essays are designed to allow prospective students to express themselves in formal prose. In doing so, applicants convey to the Admissions committee why they should be considered for the program not only through the content of the essays, but the style and tone in which they are written. It goes without saying that the grammar, spelling, and punctuation must be impeccable. If that sounds daunting, or you’re struggling with writer’s block, you’re not alone. Each year we post a few tips to “unlock” the admissions essays so that you can put forth your best application.
Essay Question #1: Please state your professional goals and how you plan to achieve them.
Completing the MBA is a big decision. Students at this stage should be able to accurately demonstrate how the MBA will help them achieve their professional goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean unequivocally stating your final destination upon graduation. Knowing your future function and industry is important, but not critical to admission. We’d rather see a thoughtful response that is authentic. Some students have always known what they want to do post-MBA, while others are using the education to help them discover career options that will fulfill their purpose. Either response is acceptable provided that it demonstrates a certain amount of research and consideration has gone into drafting the professional goals and how an MBA would support that.
Essay Question #2: Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have received recently. Please detail the circumstance and your plan to address it.
This is a common question asked by top MBA schools and we thought it fit well with the ethos at Rotman as well. For example through our Self Development Lab we are fostering a developmental versus evaluative culture. We provide students with real time feedback on many dimensions and teach them how to respond for a better effort next time, whether it be through a presentation or a one on one dialogue. In addition, our career coaching model stresses an accountability partnership between the student and coach. Students set career goals for themselves throughout the year along with an action plan to achieve them. If goals are not met, coaches can help students identify underlying issues and help them get back on track. In answering this question, we are looking to identify students who are not afraid to admit that they have made mistakes, or have areas to develop and are taking action toward that.
Reflection Question: List 3-5 attributes or characteristics that best describe you.
This is one of our favourite questions! Corporate employers repeatedly tell us that self-awareness is paramount. The response to this question will help signal to the Admissions Committee which applicants really know themselves and are not trying to be like anyone else but themselves. There are definitely no right or wrong answers here, but an important tip, your word choice will need to be congruent with the rest of your application (essays, interviews, video interviews etc.) Additionally, when you arrive on campus, these five words will help you and your personal Career Coach begin to build your personal brand, an important part of your job search strategy.
Best of luck to you as you complete your essays – we look forward to reading them!