Your MBA application is intended to introduce the adcom to YOU. It highlights what’s special and unique about you as a professional, as a community member, as an individual, and as a future business leader.
Here we’re going to talk about how to keep the focus on YOU in your MBA application essays, but instead of talking about who you are, we are going to talk about what you are NOT.
You are not:
1. Your family, boss, colleagues, or professors. Make sure that if you’re telling a story, that the focus of the story is on you and not on somebody else. For example, if you’re writing about how somebody influenced you (say, your mom), or about a sticky situation that you overcame that involved another person (say, your boss), make sure that you keep the focus on how YOU acted or reacted. How YOU were influenced. What YOU did in this sticky situation. Otherwise, your essay will turn into a story about the great virtues of your inspirational mother or about the horrors of your treacherous boss. Interesting, maybe. Application material, definitely not.
2. The universal you, we, or one. Your MBA application essay is not a philosophy paper. Drop the didactic tone, and instead talk about the YOU that is really I. Do not write your essay about humankind. Do not make any broad or sweeping statements about life or people in general. It shouldn’t be about you, the reader, or we, the people, or one, some theoretical person.
3. Your team or department. You may have led your team and you may be a potent force in your department, but those groups do not define you. While acknowledging the contribution of others, concentrate on your role within those groups and what you specifically did to contribute to the whole.
4. Just a [name profession]. You are a multifaceted human being with diverse interests, skills, and talents. Make sure your application introduces the adcom to your multidimensionality.
5. The guy that hangs out with his buddies and has one too many beers after the game. Or maybe you are, but that’s not the YOU to highlight in your MBA application. Instead, highlight the professional, the innovative, the fun (but not drunk), the self-aware, and the community service YOU. Present the YOU that you are most proud of.
Please see our MBA sample essays for examples of how to best introduce yourself to the admissions readers.