MBA Application Essays, What Not to Say

Posted by Howard H. Spencer November 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm Comments Off on MBA Application Essays, What Not to Say Category: Uncategorized



The MBA admission essays play a crucial part in the entire application process. In fact, a candidate with a comparatively weaker profile in terms of educational records and work experience can actually trump a stronger candidate just on the strength of these essays. As the old adage goes, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it”.

However, when writing your admission essays, it is as important to know what not to say as it is to know what to say. For example, never make extravagant claims you cannot back up during interviews or through recommendations. While it is normal to feel the need to embellish your essays with imaginary exploits, resist the urge. The admissions committees at the business schools are no amateurs; they have been doing this for years and are familiar with all kinds of exaggerations and misrepresentations.

Secondly, do not make excuses for any failures. While the admissions committees are interested to know about your failures, and some even mention that explicitly in the essay topics, their interests lie mainly in how you tackled the crisis and what you learned from it. It is an accepted fact of life that it is full of uncertainties and this is more pronounced in the corporate world. Your ability to navigate through such uncertainties and learn from your failures will distinguish you from other candidates.

Finally, refrain from criticizing your colleagues at work. Even in your MBA class, you will meet people you do not like. In fact, you will also encounter professors who seem to be far from amiable. However, once you get admitted, you will have to work with all of them. Therefore, your criticism can mark you out as a one who has trouble interacting with others, and rob you of that admit decision.

By Howard H. Spencer


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