MBA Essay Tips

Round 1 can be brutal. Most of you who applied to Harvard and Stanford were rejected. Recuperating from the injury to your self-esteem, many take a break. The week-long break becomes a period of sulking and self-defeating thoughts. Many call me in the first week of November when most results are published and ask ‘what should I do.’

What was the error in my strategy?

How should I approach the essays in R2?

Should I aim lower?

The number of GMAT test takers peak in December, just before the Christmas break. Then there is a mad rush to create new narratives and sometimes rephrase the ‘creative’ Harvard essay for other schools. Many assume that a turn of phrase praising their stint as a class monitor would offer a balanced perspective on their potential.

Identify Large Prime NumbersLet us start with the definition of a Prime Number.

Do you remember?

A natural number that can be divided by only 2 numbers – 1 and the number itself is called a prime number.

The first prime number that comes to our mind is “1” but if you had paid attention to your Math teacher, then you will know that: 1 is neither primer nor composite. The reason behind this conclusion is a topic for another post. Let us look at identifying prime numbers.

6 – Prime or Composite?

Steps to identify prime numbers

1) Divide the number into factors

2) If the number of factors is more than two then it is composite.

Ex: 6 has three factors 2, 3, 1. So 6 is not prime
6 = 2 x 3 x 1

Before going into shortcuts to find large prime number, here are a few properties of Prime Numbers

1) The lowest even prime number is 2

2) The lowest odd prime number is 3

3) All prime numbers above 3 can be represented by the formula 6n + 1 and 6n -1 for n>=1

Prove It!

Take 5 = 6 x 1 -1
Take 7 = 6 x 1 + 1
Take 47 = 6 x 8 – 1

Give an Example of an Ethical Dilemma you faced. How did you handle it?

Ethical Dilemma stems from any action that violates information asymmetry or takes advantage of the power dynamics in an organization. The protagonist – you, would feel uncomfortable as the choices are not easy and the ‘right’ path have consequences both on you and for your organization.

The most common ethical dilemma involves the information disparity between a client and the employer. As a service provider, most sales team have a thorough understanding of the client needs. The add-on services and clauses that capture additional revenue from the client might be a strategy that is good for the company’s bottom line. The problem arises when they are abused.

Depending on your job function and industry some of the unethical practices might have become mainstream with no one batting an eyelid to question the practice. Citing examples that demonstrate a complete shaking up of a system or your organization’s common practices might not be believable as the admission team realizes the limited power you had. However, if you were part of a core team in a start-up environment, mentioning such example is ideal.

For a larger organization, the ethical dilemma could arise in six forms:

Tell me a time when you made a Mistake. What did you learn from it?

You might have written, re-written and edited the creases out of the failure essay. So when the admission team asks you again about failure, it might not come in a straightforward manner. Most Alumnus would rephrase the question to - what would be the biggest mistake you have made. Don’t get fooled by the wording. We all make mistakes, every day. That is part of learning. The question is not that.

When someone asks you about failure, face to face, looking for signs of pain, it better be authentic. We as humans have improved our lie detection technique. Interviewers trained with a primer in unravelling incongruent stories would grill you down to the last details, forcing you to connect events, particularly the reverse sequence as authentic applicants could slice and dice the chronology and expand on any aspect of the failure. Even the most well-crafted failure essay if made-up could break down inconsistency when details on location and timeline are re-examined. The applicant making up the story would forcefully slowdown as he connects the story or makes silly grammatical mistakes. Slowing down of narrative might be misconstrued as a process of reflecting on the results, but if the pace varies while reflecting on your biggest mistake/failure and picks up while narrating about the greatest accomplishment, then the alumnus would judge your story as a lie.

Business School admission team have the hard job of choosing candidates who have demonstrated a balance in academic rigor, professional growth, extra-curricular and volunteering experience. The most common reason for rejection in admissions is lack of experience.

With close to 25-35% of the applicants receiving interview invites for most top schools, interviews are a relatively easier hurdle to cross.

Any shortcuts – working 2-3 months and getting recommendation letter/experience certificate indicating 2-3 years of experience or made up stories on volunteering are revealed during one on one conversation.

While preparing clients during mock interviews, we reiterate the need to have at least 3 narratives on extra-curricular and volunteering with preference shown to experiences in the past three years. The more far off the applicant go back to cite involvement in the community, the more likely that they would face rejection.

Why School needs proof of volunteering?

According to a 2016 labour survey in the US, the lowest volunteering age was in the 20-24 age group with the highest in the 35-44 and 45-54 range. To break the trend, MBA Applicants who typically start their professional career at the age of 22 would have to break the stereotype, plan or emulate the ideals of their role model or parents. An applicant with no role models or ideals is tough to mould in an academic environment.

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