National University of Singapore (NUS) hosts approximately 100 students each year in its full-time MBA program – 91% of those students come from outside of Singapore, representing 18 countries. The curriculum concentrates on global business with a focus on Asia in particular, and the program successfully places graduates in a variety of functions: 22% of the class enters consulting, 24% finance/accounting, 14% general management, 22% sales/marketing (with the remainder entering HR, Operations, and other functions).
Contrary to the global trend, NUS has not reduced the number of essay questions it asks of applicants this year. My tips are below in blue.
NUS has some short answer questions that you need to address, including:
Why is it important for you to embark on your MBA now? [500 characters]
This is a very brief (500 characters is about 5 lines of typical text) opportunity for you to explain what is happening in your professional and personal life that make now the right time to pursue this education and what business skills and knowledge you need to reach the goals you have set before you.
1. We would like you to tell us about your post-MBA immediate career goals and how your professional experiences have prepared you to achieve these goals. You may do so by a 300 words written essay or a two-minute video.
If you feel comfortable in front of a camera or know how to create fun graphic videos, the two-minute video offers you an opportunity to say a lot more than the 300-word essay can (in a practice session, I was able to read 430+ words with a calm, storytelling demeanor in the 2 minutes). Once you’ve decided on the delivery medium, the content of this essay will be straightforward: NUS wants to hear what job you will aiming for when you graduate and what skills and network you have already gained that have prepared you for that path.
2. The mission of NUS Business School is to advance knowledge and develop leaders so as to serve business and society. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. [300 words]
The phrasing of this question can be confusing, but what they are really asking for here are examples from your past when you advanced the mission of a business, organization, or society at large. Ideally, your examples of advancing a business will also have some benefit to society – minimizing waste, improving relationships with the surrounding community, for example – but that isn’t a requirement.
Given the word limit, you probably could provide 2-3 examples.
3. (Only applicable to re-applicants) Please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please do also explain your motivation for re-applying to NUS. [300 words]
This is a gift to re-applicants: you’re being granted 300 extra words to make the case that you are ready for the NUS education. Briefly comment on any improvement in your GMAT score and/or GPA, then shine the spotlight on the ways in which you have developed your leadership skills and made a greater impact on your company or community since you last applied. How has this year helped you see ever more clearly how the NUS MBA will help you reach your goals more quickly and effectively?
4. Tell us something interesting or unique about yourself which you think would be helpful for the Admission Committee to better evaluate your candidacy. [300 words]
I have a love-hate relationship with open-ended questions like this: on the one hand they are great for people with something truly unique in their background that doesn’t fit into any of the traditional MBA application essays; on the other hand, they strike intense fear in the hearts of most applicants in need of a more direct question!
As you analyze your profile, identify the one aspect that best distinguishes you from your peers: are you a great leader, community activist, analyst, athlete, or team builder? You may wish to ask your boss, peers, and friends what they think is really special about you, but you should only write the essay about a quality that is beneficial to the NUS program. Talking about something superfluous like your cooking skills or antique collection isn’t useful unless you use that skill to build community or make an impact in some way.
If you would like professional guidance with your NUS MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the NUS application.
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By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!