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Three Strategies for the Strongest MBA Essays

Admissions expert EssaySnark shares the "secret sauce" for identifying your best material and writing a kick-ass MBA application

By  Business Because

Mon Mar 4 2013

This is a guest post by BusinessBecause partner and admissions essay expert EssaySnark
EssaySnark is thrilled for the opportunity to contribute to BusinessBecause!
We're kicking off our participation on this amazing site by trotting out some of our best bits of advice for planning out your MBA application strategy.
Here's the secret sauce – these are EssaySnark's most sophisticated methods for identifying your best material and presenting who you are in your application to business school.
1. Reflect on what leadership means. You already know that most top bschools are interested in seeing your leadership qualities. Business school is about developing future leaders, and the admissions committees want to admit students who have already proven that they are leaders in their career and their communities. You may also recognize that there's a myriad of ways to define leadership. What exactly does it mean?
In order for you to present your strongest examples of how you have been a leader, spend some time thinking about what exactly a leader is. Is it defined by behaviors? How can it be identified? What actions can you observe that qualify a person as a leader? Who in your life is a leader, and why? What characteristics of famous leaders make them so? Having a solid understanding and personal definition of “leadership” can go a long way for you in articulating your own positive traits and qualities in your application.
2. Focus on where you've had an impact. No matter where you end up on your brainstorming session around the concept of “leadership”, we think you'd agree that one characteristic of a leader is that they have an impact on the world around them. When you start to dig into your past, looking for possible stories to include in your applications, a good place to start is those places where you've made the biggest contribution. How have your deeds affected others? How have you made the world a better place? It doesn't have to be a grandiose thing – it could be a small thing, like starting a recycling program at work, or getting your colleagues to run a 5k with you.
Look for the areas in your life where you've helped others, where you've changed the status quo, where you've left things different than you found them. Those are often the perfect situations to feed into your b-school application.
3. Use stories to convey your experience. You've probably heard the advice to “show, don't tell” – but maybe you don't quite know what that means. The best way to give the adcom a sense of who you are – your accomplishments and achievements, challenges you have overcome, even your value system –  is to show them who you are in action.
When you tell a story about how you pulled off something significant in your life, based on what obstacles you had to tackle and the actions you put forth to do it, then you're conveying who you are in the most effective way. (Hint: This is why strong essays require significant time – and significant rewrites! Any writer will tell you that it takes work and revision to make a good story shine.)
If you're just starting out the process of applying for an MBA, you're in a very good position to take full advantage of these techniques. Developing an application for business school that gets noticed by the admissions committee is a detailed, time-intensive, and very involved process. Good for you for getting started so early!
Doing your research, connecting with others here on BusinessBecause and leveraging the excellent resources available, and spending time thinking about who you are and how you have added value in different parts of your life are all high-value tasks that will help you so much along the way of polishing your pitch to the schools. Good luck with it!
Want to get help on every step of the MBA admissions process? EssaySnark covers all angles, and we dish the straight scoop on what it takes to get into a top MBA program. Find practical tips and useful advice every weekday at the EssaySnark blog.
If you're especially brave, you can even submit an essay for a free review posted (anonymously) on the site! Hundreds of helpful articles are available at Increase your odds of success with The 'Snark!