Why Our School?
What to do with this?
Below are instructions for creating an answer to the “Why our school” essay question. Use these instructions when you are working on writing a “Why our school” answer.
Most top schools (about 80%) ask that you answer this question: “Why our school?” (or: “Why are you specifically interested in our program?” or: “How will our program help you achieve your goals?”).
Most schools are more inclined to admit candidates who seem specifically excited about the school. Schools are concerned about yield (what percentage of the admits decide to join), because yield impacts some of the school rankings. The more excited and committed the candidate seems, that stronger the school’s feeling that the candidate will join if admitted. As a result, the school’s tendency to accept the candidate will be higher.
Therefore, specific, personal, fact-based and convincing reasons are likely to increase admission chances.
Moreover, by mentioning the names of students, alumni and school staff that you spoke with, and of events that you attended, you show that you did your research and that you are focused on the school.
Immediately upon completing the data mining phase, it’s time to start working on developing your “Why Our School” answers. It often takes a few months of networking and researching to formulate very strong answers.
Your answer to “why our school” cannot be generic, it needs to be specific, as well as match your career goals.
Notice that some schools only ask “why do you need an MBA from our school in order to achieve your goals?”
In such cases, you want to narrow the focus of your answer to this particular question rather than to explain all the reasons for “why our school” (unless these other reasons are exceptionally impressive).
Your “Why Our School” essay is likely to be stronger if it includes answers to some of these questions:
- What skills you still lack in order to achieve your career goals, and how will this school enable you to get each of these skills?
- What knowledge you still lack in order to achieve career goals, and how will this school enable you to get this knowledge?
- What else do you still lack in order to achieve your career goals? Experience? Contacts? How will this school enable you to get these things?
- Is this school really your number one choice? Can you provide any fact that proves this?
Will you go there if admitted? (if you will, definitely state that)
- Did you speak with anyone related to the school? (give names). What did you learn from them? (could be that they led you to one of the conclusions mentioned below).
This includes students, alumni, professors, admission staff.
- Which courses seem particularly valuable to you and why? (in light of your career goals)
- Which professors are you looking forward to studying from and why? (in light of career goals)
Run their names in Google (and www.scholar.google.com) to find research they published. Find publications that connect with your goals.
Check “about our faculty” pages on the school website, tips from current students and alumni, and school “news” pages such as http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news.
- Why do you like the location?
- Why do you like the school’s culture? Why does it fit with your culture, nature, character?
- Why do you like the school’s teaching method?
- What are the school’s strengths and why is that important to you? (in light of your goals)
- What clubs would you like to be active in? (in light of your career goals)
If you see your future in marketing, did you get in touch with the president/vice president of the marketing club of the school? What did you learn from this conversation?
If you are interested in ice hockey, did you get in touch with the relevant club? How did it motivate you to join this school?
- Which companies that you are interested in working with (in light of your career goals) are headquartered in (or have an office in) the school’s area? Do they recruit on campus? Is the student placement office of the school known to have strong ties with these companies?
- Did you get in touch with companies in your target industry, who told you that this is one of their top schools for recruiting? Be specific – can you mention the name/position of the person who told you this?
- Does the school offer any field studies/projects with companies? In case it does, what companies are you interested in doing a field study with (in light of your career goals)? Are any of them close to the campus physically or have close connections to the campus (e.g. were part of the school’s field projects in the past)?
- Which special school projects would you like to take part in? Why? What part will you take?
- Did you read any blog/forum message/student diary that made you think “I belong to this school”? What did you read? What made you think that?
Blogs and student diaries may be found on the school site or in MBA forums/information sites, or by typing expressions like “NYU MBA blog” on Google.
- Did you learn about the school through a conference/reception/chat? Which one? What did you learn from this (could be that it led you to one of the above conclusions)?
- Can you name a mentor/role model that went to this MBA program and explain that you want to go there because you see him as a role model to follow? (best if you two also have the same background)
- Did one of your relatives/parents study there?
- Any childhood experience that made you focus on this school since childhood?
Sources of information
- Students and alumni – LinkedIn is the best way to start. Most MBA students or alumni will reply to a polite request. You can also try to find them through school website, campus visit, online forums, student diaries, blogs, conferences and receptions, magazines, school marketing materials.
- Admission Blogs – for example http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/blog.html
- Student Blogs – for example, http://theboothexp.com
- Employment reports- on their websites, every school has “employment report” or “career report”. The information in these reports can be relevant for explaining why this school will help you achieve your career goals. For example: https://statistics.mbacareers.wharton.upenn.edu/full-time/
- School events – most schools offer at least one MBA event in Israel every year. You can see the full list here
- Student clubs: on their websites, every school has a list of student clubs dedicated to Business and Social goals. Feel free to reach out to the student admins of the different clubs, for more information on how you can benefit from participating in the club’s activities, as well as some valuable “namedropping”. For example: https://statistics.mbacareers.wharton.upenn.edu/full-time/
- MBA sites- see full list below
Periodical sites/rankings/blogs/forums, for example:
Hope this helps!
Much much luck with the process,
The ARINGO Team