I will wrap up this series with a few miscellaneous points.
Think you’re done with MBA goals? Think again… In the current global economic volatility, having a Plan B for your immediate post-MBA goal can be not only good planning for you, but also enhance your goal essay’s credibility. It’s particularly important if you’re targeting a difficult-to-enter industry (remember that VC-dreamer in the first post?) or changing careers. In fact, adcoms have specifically said that they welcome this recognition of reality; it gives them more confidence that you can get employed.
The challenge, however, is to discuss a Plan B without using a lot of precious space and without sounding undirected. In the goals essay, focus mostly on your main short-term goal. Then add one to three sentences about a reasonable alternative that you’d also consider, explaining how it also would be a good step toward your further goals. Example: an applicant is targeting an IT manager role post-MBA with the long-term goal of CIO; a Plan B could be a tech strategy consulting post-MBA job.
I’m always surprised at how few people do roll-up-the-shirtsleeves research on their goals before writing essays. Digging around on the web for a couple of hours or talking to people in careers related to your goals can yield rich detail for your essays. Moreover, mentioning this research in your essays enhances the sense of commitment to your chosen path. I suggest reading up on the industry and its current and future challenges, and conducting informational interviews regarding the industry or business function.
Taking this step will enable you to write sharply and engagingly about your goals. It enhances the interest factor of the essay. Also it will prevent big mistakes like those of that Wharton reapplicant in the first post in this series. By presenting selected tidbits of your research in your essay you’ll show you’re resourceful and committed, and equally important you’ll show you have something to say, i.e., contribute.
I’ve said a lot of “do this” and “do that” in this series. If you feel that having knowledgeable, experienced, committed assistance as you walk through this process would be helpful, please consider using Accepted.com’s MBA admissions consulting & essay editing services to help you perfect your application.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with Accepted.com.
Join us live this Wednesday (July 30, 2014) at 5:00 PM PST/8:00 PM EST. for a free webinar, How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats.
Register ASAP (free) and get ready to learn how to boost your strengths so that the admissions committee won’t dwell on your weaknesses!
Register here: How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats
See you soon!
“How Should You Structure Your Essays?” is excerpted from the Accepted.com special report, Ace the AMCAS Essay. To download the entire free special report, click here.
In this series we’re not going to talk about the actual writing and editing (we’ll save those technical elements for another time), but we are going to suggest HOW to structure your essay. After you choose your topic (that is, the stories/experiences that we talked about in our post WHAT Should You Include in Your AMCAS Essay?), you will need to sit down and make an outline that highlights the structure that your essay will take.
A successful essay structure usually looks like this:
1. Lead or hook
As a personal interest piece (see our post Why Do We Have Personal Statements?), you want your reader to read your essay out of interest, not obligation. The best way to do this is to draw your reader in with some captivating, spellbinding opening. “Hi, my name is…” or “I was born in…” or “I want to be a doctor because…” certainly won’t cut it! Stay away from the common and ordinary. Start with a catchy anecdote, question, bit of dialogue, or description that you think will capture your reader’s attention. Put your reader in the middle of whatever story you plan to tell.
You thesis acts as the core idea of essay. While a successful essay doesn’t necessarily need to spell out a main topic (for example, you don’t need to say “the purpose of this essay is…”), it should somehow be present in your essay – both as a guiding light to make sure that you don’t get lost in your writing and ramble on about a million different topics, and so that your reader remains focused and attentive to the point that you’re trying to convey.
The body of your essay is the longest section. In the body you’ll present evidence (specifics that add interest and credibility to your essay and distinguish you from your competition) to support your thesis. In this section of your AMCAS essay, you’ll want to order your points (and sub-points if you have them) either chronologically, logically, or thematically. You should always put your most interesting points earlier in the essay.
Your essay’s conclusion should restate your main idea or theme. You shouldn’t parrot what you introduced earlier in the essay, but you should find a way to include it and also relate an implication or two, for example, why this theme or story is important or revealing. Also, if you asked a question at the beginning of your essay, make sure you’ve answered it by the end.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
If you’re an international student applying to the U.S., you’ve probably asked yourself this question: what TOEFL score do I need to get in? You might have heard that making it to the 100’s will guarantee you admission, but you’ve also had friends who reached that score and were turned down from schools. Confused yet? We’d be too!
But before you give up hope, our friends at Magoosh TOEFL have good news for you! They’ve just released a new infographic that shows what TOEFL sores you’ll need to get into top graduate schools in the U.S. It’s based off their research on the minimum scores required at top schools as well as what other students at those schools score on average. That means you now have a place to start and a goal to aim for when you decide to take the TOEFL. Cue sigh of relief!
I just had a great time playing around (and learning) on the DrSmarts website, a test prep site for pre-med, med school, and veterinary school applicants and students. There are a number of features that I’d like to highlight here:
• It’s free!
I mentioned this first because I think this will really be a draw for students. Lots of programs make you pay lots of money to access their resources. This one doesn’t – DrSmarts is an entirely free educational resource to help students reinforce what they are learning in the class room as well as to help review materials in advance of exams. And while it may not have some of the feature that the paid sites have (like tutors and practice exams), it certainly has enough features to provide a complete (not to mention fun – I’ll talk about this next) learning experience.
• It’s fun!
One of my favorite features was the Brain Teasers section of the site. I found it slightly annoying that I couldn’t go from one question straight to the next (I had to go back to the dashboard in between questions), but otherwise, hands down, this was the most enjoyable part of the site.
• You earn points and win prizes.
Each time you answer a question correctly (like in the daily quiz section or the daily poll – both great features, by the way – or for referring someone to the site), you accrue points (called “eDivs”) to your account balance. At the end of each week, the students with the most points earned will get rewards for their meritocracy. And monthly, DrSmarts will give out more meaningful scholarships to the top point earners. This is why the company calls itself “the first incentivized learning community.” One of the basic tenets of the site is “Learn to Earn.”
• You earn points for charity.
For each quiz question answered correctly, DrSmarts will donate money on behalf of the students to their pre-selected charity or association. The other basic tenet of the site is “Learn to Give.”
• There’s a language lab.
This seems slightly out of place among all the science-focused work going on here, but I welcomed it with open arms! It looks like an incredible opportunity to strengthen your language skills. Powered by Mango.
• There are additional resources.
There are loads of practice materials – quizzes, e-books you can leaf through, and info about upcoming exams. And it’s all free! (Yes, mentioning that again.)
This is definitely a site worth checking out! See it here – https://drsmarts.smartsed.com/