The MBA Essay: How to Stand Out From The Crowd?

If you’re applying to graduate school, you’ll quickly find out that MBA applications will include a question that asks about your reasons for wanting to obtain an MBA. Some application questions will ask you to tie these reasons into your background and your professional goals. Even for schools that don’t offer this specific direction, you should plan on such a discussion of past and future, as it provides essential context.

“Why MBA?” is often the first question asked and without a doubt the most important essay you will write. It includes essential information about whether you’re qualified, whether you’re prepared, and where you’re headed. The other essays fill in details about these fundamental points, but a strong answer about, for example, how you overcame a failure will not revive a candidacy that failed based on a lack of career focus.

Every answer should contain the following elements, unless the application has separate questions addressing them individually:
1. Your long- and short-term goals.
2. Your relevant past experience.
3. An assessment of your strengths and the gaps in your experience/education.
4. How an MBA program will bridge your past and future and fill in those gaps.
5. Why this particular MBA program is a good match for your needs.

Occasionally there will be overlap with other answers, and you will have to use your judgment on the extent to which you should reiterate important ideas. For example, some schools will ask about your goals in separate questions. In that case, the bulk of your discussion should fall under the goals question, but you will have to bring over key points from that answer to establish context for your reasons for obtaining an MBA.
There are no groundbreaking reasons for pursuing an MBA. This is not a place to aim for bold originality. Rather, you should focus on articulating detailed reasons that are specific to your situation. Moreover, there is plenty of room to distinguish your self when discussing past experience and future goals; it’s just the reasons themselves that come from a more limited set. That said, you should not try to drop buzzwords for their own sake. Make sure you tie your specific objectives to other aspects of your application.

A successful applicant would provide a unique background and a focused interest in becoming an entrepreneur within a particular field. He paints a clear picture of past and future before making the following transition: “In order to accomplish this goal, however, I must deepen my knowledge of the field. Despite my experience, I still lack some important knowledge and management skills, especially in finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Since dealing with aspects of international business will be an integral part of my job as an entrepreneur, it is essential that I fill in these gaps.” Only after an applicant establishes sufficient context about his personal situation should he attempt to assert his reasons for pursuing an MBA. This approach ensures that you’re not simply stating the obvious, generic reasons without personal insight.

In another example, an applicant may begin with an extensive discussion of a specific industry or business climate before going on to describe the background that makes him qualified to pursue his vision. In contrast to the previous applicant, he discusses goals prior to history. Either approach can work effectively; your best bet would be to start with and highlight what makes you unique, whether it’s a vision you have or a past accomplishment. After that, the important thing is to ensure that everything is coherently focused.

Each approach mentioned here sets your MBA essay apart from other applicants and provides meaningful context to any admissions committee. When seeking prospective student, admission counsels seek those on the path to a meaningful education that can be applied to the real world.