How to write compelling MBA admission essays

MBA admissions writing

Already getting overwhelmed about writing your MBA essays and you haven’t even started yet? I’ve been there. Everyone has their own trusted process and unique story to tell, but here are three quick tips that helped me put my best foot forward in the admissions process:

1. Start by writing down your truth - just for yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in imagining how an admissions member, mentor, or best friend might perceive your essay. Thirty minutes later, you’ve backspaced every thought you’ve had. Knowing your audience is an important part of crafting a final essay, but writing an honest story is sometimes easier to get down on the page when the audience you’re writing for is yourself. If you’re having trouble eking out a first draft, set aside some time to start with a blank page and write out everything you want to say without any filter. Know your truth, and then refine it later.

2. Open the actual application as soon as its released

Most MBA programs will have their main essay prompts listed on their websites, but oftentimes there are more short answers, options to discuss extracurriculars, and additional detail on word/character counts in the application itself. When the application is released, open the application and copy down every prompt in a Google Doc that you can draft your responses in. This can help ensure that you’re not surprised by any short answers the night the application is due.

3. Test your own conviction and expect to reflect

When friends and mentors inevitably ask you “Why an MBA?” or “Why now?” use it as an opportunity to test your own conviction. You have to own your reasons before you can convince anybody else. As a bonus, the more reps you have telling your story to different people, the more concisely and powerfully you’ll be able to tell it. Friends aren’t afraid to be direct and can ask you questions you probably haven’t thought of. Mentors will encourage you to think deeply about how your professional pursuits and passions have intersected. Expect for the essay writing process to be deeply reflective and embrace being challenged by others along the way.

Sabrina graduated from Harvard College with High Honors in Economics and a minor in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. She is currently pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School and an MPP at Harvard Kennedy School. Sabrina is also experienced as a Management Consultant at both Bain & Company and the Boston Consulting Group.


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