Tips to “Unlock” the 2015 Rotman Admission Essays

Leigh Gauthier, Director of Recruitment & Admissions for the Rotman Full-Time MBA program

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!

11 thoughts on “Tips to “Unlock” the 2015 Rotman Admission Essays

  1. Hi Leigh, thanks for the tips. I have a doubt regarding the first question, I know what I would like to do in terms of function and industry, however I don’t know if its the best fit for me (e.g Can my potential be exploited at maximum in a different industry and I simply don’t know?) , how often do you see this insecurity in the essays?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Fernando,

      If you aren’t 100% sure what you want to do yet that is totally ok! As long as you have some idea(s) about where you’d like to take your career and what you would do to get there, it’s perfectly fine.

      Also, sometimes we see students come in totally set on one career path but later in their time at Rotman, decide another career path is a better fit. This is completely fine as well- and thanks to us having a 2-year MBA program, our students have the luxury of trying different things to see what is the best fit for them. Hope this helps!

  2. HI LEIGH,
    Thank you for the tips provided . With regards to the first question i have a query, that is do i have to be specific about the industry or the domain in which I want to become an entrepreneur or is it sufficient to specify why i want to be become one and how do i want to achieve them

    • It really depends on your situation. I would be as authentic and transparent as you can. Let us “in” to what you are thinking about your future goals!

  3. Hi,
    Thank you very much for these helpful tips.
    I noticed on my online application that Essay Question #2 is absent. The platform shows only Essay Question #1 and Reflection Question. Am I missing something?

  4. Hi, I am applying for Fall’16 MBA batch but I am a little confused on the number or essays that I need to prepare for. On the “How To Apply” page, it says a total 2 essays and a video essay. Can you tell me what I am missing here? Please share a link if any where I can get the complete list of essays.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Sajal – Apologies for any confusion here! There is one traditional essay, and one reflection question for the formal written component. We require a video interview and new timed written question as the ‘on demand’ part of the application process this year. Hope this helps to clarify, and good luck!

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