A good application essay is comprised of both anecdote and analysis, the what and the why of your personal experiences. Telling a straight story (anecdote without analysis) will leave your essay flat, with no depth or insight into your character or motivations; on the other hand, an essay that rattles on about the why but omits the what will be boring and overly theoretical, lacking substance and voice.
Your goal: To create an essay that balances these two components, that’s full of descriptive details about what happened (your experience) AND why such things occurred (or how you reacted or responded).
Essay Component #1: Anecdote
The first component of a compelling essay is the retelling of what happened to you. This is the story element of your MBA essay. Most applicants launch their essays with an anecdote to draw in your readers. Good idea. (For important storytelling tips, please see our free special report, From Example to Exemplary, or the on-demand webinar, Essays that Stick.)
Essay Component #2: Analysis
For this second component, you’ll want to talk about your motivations for pursuing the experience in question or the lessons learned as a result of it.
The questions below will help you shape the analysis component of your essay. After thinking of a good anecdote, a key experience that you’d like to share, make sure your essay also addresses the following:
- Why is this experience one that you wanted to bring to the adcom’s attention?
- What makes you tick? Why did you make the decisions you made?
- How did a particular experience motivate action in the future?
- What did you learn from this experience?
You’re applying to b-school, so your quant skills are probably pretty good – so let’s put this in solid math terms:
Anecdote + Analysis = Your Awesome Application Essay
For more essay writing tips, please see MBA Application Essays 101, a resource guide containing special reports, webinars, and blog posts on every aspect of the MBA essay writing process.