Written by: Michelle Miller, CEO ARINGO Americas, [email protected]

The essays are among the most important components of the application packet you will submit to business schools. The essays are the one area of your application where you have the best opportunity to illustrate your knowledge of the program, showcase your talents and accomplishments, and most importantly, demonstrate your “fit” to the business school. Part Four of ARINGO’s Hacking the Apps series will discuss how to approach this crucial step.

Before you begin writing, build a strategy. How well do you know the program? How do you see your own skills and goals aligning with the school’s values and specializations? Think back to why you were attracted to this school to begin with, and start here. Write an old-fashioned outline: Introduction, Body, Summary, and notate key points to include in each. Keep in mind that each essay will have a word limit and plan accordingly. If there is no word limit, plan conservatively. Admissions committees will read hundreds of essays each round – don’t waste their time or grandstand. Be succinct and clear in your answers.

While this next step may sound obvious, it is a common trap: answer the question! Don’t mistake the essays as an open space to write about whatever you choose. The essay prompts were carefully chosen for a reason: absolutely connect your responsibilities, accomplishments, and goals wherever relevant – emphasis on where relevant. Make sure your tone is honest, mature, and modest. The Haas School of Business at University of California – Berkeley stresses key values like “confidence with humility” – a valuable mantra to keep in mind while writing your application essays (to any school!).

A final word of advice in writing your essays is to be careful in recycling your essays. The surest way to avoid stagnating your work is not to recycle your essays! Start fresh each time to ensure that you are effectively capturing how your profile contributes to the school’s unique culture, values, and mission. Of course you are the same candidate, but you can showcase specific strengths and goals to the right schools.

The admissions essays are a critical part of your application. Start early, develop school-specific strategies, and get writing. And remember, the experts at ARINGO are just a call away!


NEXT: Hacking the MBA Applications – Part Five: Selecting Recommenders and Letters of Recommendation for your MBA Application