INSEAD 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Need some more INSEAD tips?INSEAD is bucking a trend – whereas many b-school applications have recently leaned toward “minimalist” essays, for INSEAD you still have to write several thought-provoking and challenging essays.  In the program with perhaps the most intensive global focus, verbal acuity matters, because the ability to reflect on, synthesize, actualize, and communicate complex ideas across cultures is central to global leadership. 

The INSEAD essays are divided into two categories: Job Description Essays and Motivation Essays.  The use of the word “motivation” should be forefront in your mind as you draft those essays; the concept should appear directly or indirectly in each.  It means that the adcom wants to know what drives you, what propels your choices, decisions, and actions.

Job Description Essays:

Essay 1.  Briefly summarize your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (350 words max)

The key to strong job descriptions is “results achieved.” Definitely provide the other requested elements, but the distinguishing factor will be those results. Quantifying outcomes usually shines a spotlight on your impact and contribution.

The second most important element is “major responsibilities.” Don’t list the mundane or the aspects of your job that everyone with your title will share. Where did you shoulder “major responsibility”? Focus on responsibility above and beyond what is typically expected of someone at your level. Be specific in these descriptions to differentiate yourself, especially if you come from a common professional group in the applicant pool.  Address the hypothetical next step question succinctly; a sentence or two will usually suffice.

Essay 2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. It should be written as if you were talking to someone at a social gathering detailing your career path with the rationale behind your choices. Discuss your short and long term career aspirations.  (350 words max)

Yup – this is a goals essay question, hidden within the “career summary” question hidden within the “job description” section!  The implication is that INSEAD sees your career goals as part of a continuum, and so present them that way – even if changing careers.  The emphasis on the decision points of your career trajectory underscores this implication.  The adcom wants to see how you conceive and conceptualize a career path as much as what happened in it.

Also, don’t confuse “full description” with “complete history.” Choose the most important elements — those elements that show contribution, leadership, and, since this is INSEAD, a multi-cultural and global perspective.  

Essay 3 (optional). If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the program starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the program.

State the facts straightforwardly  — not just what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.  If you have room and if it’s relevant, consider addressing why you are unemployed at the moment.

Motivation Essays:

Essay 1. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words max)

For a question like this I recommend two strengths and one weakness. If you can choose one anecdote that reveals both the strengths and the weakness, it’s efficient with space and can strengthen the essay. Don’t forget to discuss how these qualities influenced your personal development. For more on INSEAD 1 and writing about weaknesses, please see this video:

A word on weaknesses. Be honest without going overboard. Don’t make up a phony weakness. I attended an HBS info session a few years ago. One of the alumni said that he discussed a “phony weakness” in his essays (required for HBS that year), and his interviewer focused right on it, and basically said, “Come on. What’s a real weakness?” The applicant had to get real in a hurry. Take advantage of the essay: Give it some thought and respond with the benefit of that reflection. For more information, please see “Flaws Make Your Real.”

At a recent AIGAC conference one of the adcom members remembered that an applicant in response to a similar question had listed his weakness as “pitching new ideas in a meeting.” The adcom member felt that the applicant was specific, real, and showed self-awareness by revealing this flaw. In fact, by demonstrating these qualities in addition to the requested weakness that he was working on, the applicant actually enhanced his chances of acceptance with his response.

Don’t write about “weakness in pitching new ideas in meetings” as your flaw just because you saw it here. It will become the lame, stale example everyone uses. However, you all have weakness. Just be thoughtful enough and honest enough to reveal yours.

(NOTE: There is potential for some overlap in this essay with Essay 2, so look at both questions together and organize content before writing them.)

Essay 2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words max)

With only 400 words to describe 2 significant experiences, and the specified discussion points, you need to use stories that can be told without a lot of background information.  And keep in mind Essay 1 – don’t use stories that reflect exactly the same messages.  “Achievement of which you are most proud” is a high bar, and it can be from either work or outside of work. It also should be something that reveals qualities or attributes about you that are positive and relevant. I suggest using something from the last two to three years.  Luckily you don’t have to write about the failure about which you are most ashamed… ;-)   Discuss a failure that is specific, fairly recent, and meaty enough to have rattled you a bit.  Again, work or non-work topic is fine.

In discussing what you learned from the experiences and how they impacted your relationships, identify one specific thing for each point for each story – there isn’t room for more.  And there isn’t need for more, because one can be very powerful if it’s insightful.

Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way.  (300 words max)

In choosing your topic story, think about “impact” – often people describe being surprised or emotionally challenged by encountering new or different cultures, but that’s not enough to make this a good essay.  Impact is what happens after the initial response: how did the experience change your behavior, or change your perception, or inspire you to learn something, or cause you to reconsider beliefs/ideas – these are impacts.

Narrate the story succinctly, vividly portraying the impact on you.  The adcom wants to see that you are thoughtful, resourceful, and responsive in encountering cultural diversity, because it is a key attribute of their program.

Essay 4. Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words max)

Simply discuss the range of activities you participate (or have participated) in – those that are major passions, and those that are “just fun” – clarifying their relative role and importance in your life.  Be straightforward in how they enriched you – no need to strive for something “different” that no one has ever felt or experienced before….  Imagine you are meeting with clients or superiors – between the business dealings (and perhaps over a drink); you and they might chat about non-work interests – approach this essay like such a conversation.  Not quite as casual as with a peer, but still conversational, straightforward, and intended to connect on a person-to-person level.

Optional Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the admissions committee?  (300 words max)

Use the optional essay to explain anything that needs explaining and/or to give them one more reason to accept you. DON’T use it for a superficial summary, a restatement of your other essays, or anything similarly boring and trite. If you choose to write it, produce a tight, focused essay revealing something you haven’t yet discussed.

INSEAD Application Deadlines:

Deadlines for September 2015 Intake (Class of July 2016)*
Insead chart 1

Deadlines for January 2016 Intake (Class of December 2016)*insead chart 2

 

Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , 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.

 

Related Resources:

More BW Rankings: Best International B-Schools 2014

I hope you didn’t think we were done with this year’s Businessweek rankings! Next up…the top 20 international MBA programs.

Learn how to make the business school rankings work for you, not against you!

Here are some highlights:

• There are 2 new schools to the top 10 this year, both of which were unranked in 2012: ESMT (3rd place) and Cambridge Judge (6th place).

• ESADE fell dramatically from 6th place in 2012 to 19th place this year. The other school to fall from the top 10 this year was McGill Desautels, which dropped from 10th place to 15th

• Other schools taking a hit this year include Imperial College London (fell from 13th to 23rd); York Schulich (14th to 24th), Erasmus Rotterdam (17th to 25th), and Manchester (19th to 26th).

• New to the rankings this year are ESMT and Cambridge Judge (as mentioned above), as well as Cranfield (ranked at 13 this year), CEIBS (17th place), Concordia Molson (20th), Hult (21st), National University of Singapore (22nd), and Melbourne (27th).

BW provides a comprehensive chart where you can look at the specific ways these schools were ranked, including Intellectual Capital Rank, Employer Survey Rank, and Student Survey Rank. These are all explained in the ranking methodology section.

For Linda’s analysis of the BW rankings and their increased volatility, please see “Businessweek Rankings 2014.”
Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings? Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• Businessweek Rankings 2014
• MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?
• Top 10 B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates

2014 Economist MBA Rankings

2014 Economist Full-Time Global MBA Rankings:Download your free copy of MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

1. Chicago Booth (U.S.)

2. Dartmouth Tuck (U.S.)

3. UVA Darden (U.S.)

4. HEC Paris (France)

5. IESE Business School (Spain)

6. Harvard Business School (U.S.)

7. UC Berkeley Haas (U.S.)

8. NYU Stern (U.S.)

9. Stanford GSB (U.S.)

10. Columbia Business School (U.S.)

11. UPenn Wharton (U.S.)

12. MIT Sloan (U.S.)

13. UCLA Anderson (U.S.)

14. Northwestern Kellogg (U.S.)

15. London Business School (U.K.)

16. University of Queensland Business School (Australia)

17. Emory Goizueta (U.S.)

18. INSEAD (France)

19. Yale SOM (U.S.)

20. Michigan Ross (U.S.)

Top 10 B-Schools with the Highest GMAT Scores:

table

Top 10 MBA Programs for “Potential to Network”:

1. HEC Paris (France)

2. Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Belgium)

3. Thunderbird School for Global Management (U.S.)

4. NYU Stern (U.S.)

5. UC Berkeley Haas (U.S.)

6. Notre Dame Mendoza (U.S.)

7. Warwick Business School (U.K.)

8. USC Marshall (U.S.)

9. Melbourne Business School (Australia)

10. UVA Darden (U.S.)

A Poets & Quants article on the rankings states that at least 17 business schools declined to participate in this year’s rankings, many claiming that The Economist’s methodology is faulty. Some of these schools include Babson Olin, Toronto Rotman, Sauder School (British Columbia), Minnesota Carlson, McGill Desautels, Purdue Krannert, and, University of Manchester (U.K.), Imperial College Business School (U.K.), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Regarding methodology, 80% of the data used for the rankings is derived from surveys provided by the schools themselves. The remaining 20% of information comes from current students and recent grads.

John Byrne notes that since The Economist rankings launched in 2002, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton have never topped the charts. This year, the schools rank at 6th, 9th, and 11th place, respectively. In 2005, Harvard and Wharton weren’t included in the rankings as they declined to contribute data. (That year, those two programs also declined to participate with the Businessweek rankings.)

Matt Symonds, who wrote a critique of the rankings, “Leave no MBA ranking unquestioned,” provides these additional points:

• Booth took the #1 spot for the third year in a row, and the fifth time in the last eight years.

• There are only six European schools in the top 25; in 2008, there were 11. This year, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Saïd both dropped 15 places, to 52nd and 69th place respectively.

• The breakdown of the criteria used to rank the schools goes as follows: personal development/education experience (35%), open new career opportunities (35%), increase salary (20%), and potential to network (10%).

• This year, more than 20 schools rose or fell by double-digits (and thus the rankings have been criticized for their volatility).

• Big droppers include University of Bath School of Management which fell 23 spots from its previous 20th place; York Schulich fell to 41st place from 22nd last year.

• Big jumpers include Kellogg and Yale which both jumped 9 places up to 14th and 19th place respectively; Rochester Simon and Temple Fox both jumped 20 places to 58th and 57th place respectively.

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?
MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know
• Top 10 B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates

The Money will Sort Itself Out: IV with a Future INSEAD Student

Click here for more MBA applicant interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Hasmita Nair.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?

Hasmita: I’m a South African and was born in a small coastal town called Port Elizabeth. I later moved to a bigger city, Johannesburg, and studied Actuarial Science at the University of Witwatersrand. After that, I worked at Procter and Gamble as a financial analyst, then moved to Nedbank Capital where I worked in Market Risk, and for the past 4 years I’ve been at Anglo American in Treasury.

I love reading; my favourite book is probably A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Accepted: Congratulations on your acceptance to INSEAD! Why do you think this is the best program for you? What are you most looking forward to?

Hasmita: There were a few things that attracted me to INSEAD. First, the global appeal of the school. I loved that I could study in both Singapore and France. I also liked the fact that it is a relatively short MBA. Because I am self funded, the U.S. MBAs of 2 years+ were not really an option for me.

Accepted: Can you talk about how you raised your tuition money? 

Hasmita: I got a partial scholarship from INSEAD, and also got a loan from Prodigy for a portion. For the rest, I used money generated from the sale of my apartment and my car. As a last resort, I was going to cash out my pension but I’m glad I didn’t have to.

Accepted: Can you share a few tips for our applicants who may also be struggling with how to finance their MBAs?

Hasmita: I think that if you can get into a world class MBA, the money will sort itself out. Money is really not a reason not to apply if you believe you have the potential. There are so many scholarships out there, and student loans are always an option too. I like to think that my salary post MBA will make it worth being in all this debt now.

Accepted: Do you plan on returning to that industry after you graduate, or entering a new field? 

Hasmita: My hobby is freelance journalism, I write for a few magazines and a national newspaper, focusing on food and travel. I would love to merge my passion for writing with finance somehow. Perhaps strategy for a large travel company? I’m keeping my options open right now.

Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the b-school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?

Hasmita: Because the deadlines were all at similar times, and I applied to 8 schools, the application process was all consuming for a period of time. The application essays were grueling, and it took a lot of time and energy. Applying was also expensive; I just paced myself and took it one step at a time. I also project managed my referees, because asking them to complete 8x referrals was an equally grueling request. I made them aware of what needed to be done long in advance and all went smoothly.

Accepted: Can you tell us more about your blog? When did you start blogging? What have you gained from the experience? Do you plan on continuing to blog over the course of your studies?

Hasmita: My blog, Jozilicious, started as a way for me to express myself creatively. I’ve always been passionate about food and travel, and found myself giving recommendations to people a lot, so I thought that I’d be better off posting all my favourite spots online. About a year and a half ago, I was offered my own page in a national newspaper, and after that my freelance journalism career took off. It’s been great to have such a fulfilling hobby, but it does get difficult managing my time. I am definitely planning to blog while I’m in Singapore and France. I think my readers will be interested to see what I’ve been up to.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for INSEAD, check out our INSEAD 2014 MBA Essay Tips

You can read more about Hasmita’s b-school journey by checking out her blog, Jozilicious. Thank you Hasmita for sharing your story with us!

Navigating the MBA Maze

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1000+ Students to Compete in Europe’s 24th Annual MBA Tournament

Students from 13 European business schools compete to take home some sporting glory.

Students from 13 European business schools compete to take home some sporting glory.

This year’s MBA Tournament (MBAT), a three-day sporting event organized by HEC Paris students in which 1,150 students from 13 European business schools compete to take home some sporting glory, will take place this weekend from the 8th-10th. This year there will be 23 sport competitions, including cricket, rugby, football, poker, chess, and ultimate frisbee.

According to MBAT Co-President Katrina Senn, “The MBAT is one of the best things we do at HEC Paris. The competition brings classmates together as a team and lets us show other schools what we’re capable of. In fact, this year, we’re seeing increased participation from all of the schools coming to compete as it continues to gain in popularity.”

The event, which is the largest gathering of MBA students in Europe, provides students an opportunity to network, develop team skills, and have fun.

This year’s participating schools are:

University of Cambridge Judge Business School
• Cranfield University School of Management
IE Business School
INSEAD
London Business School
• Manchester Business School
• University of Oxford Saïd Business School
• RSM Erasmus University
• TiasNimbas Business School
• ESADE Business School
• IESE Business School
• Lancaster University Management School
HEC Paris

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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