As an applicant, you know that essays are important. The last thing that you want to do is make an error that creates the wrong impression and damages your candidacy. Having read tens of thousands of business school essays, I have seen some common issues. Here are the top 5 MBA essay mistakes:
Failure to answer the question.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, including submitting a response to another school’s related essay instead of starting over for each prompt. Another frequent cause is answering in generalities, because you feel like you need to obscure the fact that your answer isn’t very strong. (A prime example of this would be failing to state a clear short-term goal because you don’t really know what you want to do when you graduate.)
Choosing the wrong topic.
Before starting to write your essays, you need to think holistically about your candidacy. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how do you compare within the pool? Are there pivotal stories that are integral to your candidacy, and that the committee needs to hear but won’t learn from your resume and recommendations? Choose your topics strategically, to enhance your strengths, stand out as an individual and mitigate areas of concern.
Telling the committee what you think they want to hear, not your real answer.
Be genuine. When asked about weaknesses, don’t say that you work too hard, if your biggest developmental challenge is your propensity to procrastinate and then make careless errors right before deadlines. Also, if you truly want to switch from engineering to marketing, please don’t say that you want to progress into a supervisory engineering role, just because you think that your goal may seem too ambitious and unrealistic. Schools [...]