With the 2014-15 essays, the word count has increased, although not to the pre-2013 levels but a comfortable level that will allow MBA Applicants to offer context before writing about challenges and how they reacted to it.
Most Essays follow a well-defined format:
Situation -> Behavior (Driven by values and Experience) -> Self-Development (Learning through Failures & Successes)
For comprehensive Essay Writing Tips, Download our Essay Guide
Unfortunately, applicants use few words to describe the context in which the situation occurred. They assume that the AdCom will figure out the context, the rationale behind the behavior, and understand the learning opportunity that the situation offered. If the applicant fails to explain the situation with proper context, the essays will look like an analysis of her behavior, more than her ability to handle problems with maturity and integrity.
Ideally, the essays should look like this:
Situation -> Context -> Behavior (Driven by values and Experience) -> Self-Development (Learning through Failures & Successes)
Don’t assume that the AdCom understands context. On failing to explain the context, AdCom will typecast the applicant. Some of the popular typecasts are American investment banker, Indian IT applicant, and Russian energy trader. That is a far greater risk than getting overboard on essay word limit by 10 or 20%.
What are the various factors that define the context of the behavior?
Situation defines the problem while context gives AdCom a broader picture of the limitations, environment, and the framework in which the problem was solved. Here are three factors that influence context:
Any situation and environment will have power owners and distributors. The CEO, project managers, and team leaders have different level of power ownership. Someone working as a team member has power ownership over certain tasks and resources. In MBA application, leadership experience is read closely. Applicants, who had fewer years of experience or did not get a chance to lead the team, might hesitate to write about experiences that required efficient management of resources, although not human resources. This is a fallacy. If the situation required greater problem-solving skills and ownership of tasks and resources - collaborating with team members is an equally valuable skill.
When the disposable time is unlimited, admission team cannot measure your ability to solve a problem under true conditions. Deadlines make the problem-solving skills measurable. When applicants explain the situation, Ad Com should understand the time pressure under which they had to act. When the clock is ticking, and the stakeholders have serious doubts about the applicant’s ability to solve the problem, the pressure to complete the challenge becomes even more interesting.
The bureaucracy of bigger companies, nimbleness of start-ups or evolving processes in small to mid-sized Businesses; whatever be the communication framework in the company, applicants are more likely to face challenges while communicating crisis messages to major stakeholders. It requires courage, maturity, ability to take ownership for error spotting, and timely reporting of issues before escalation. AdCom will understand the applicant’s behavior in a much better way when she defines the boundaries of the communication framework: direction of commands, dos and don’ts of communication, and under which circumstances escalation was allowed.
The context is complete when applicants describe power ownership, communication framework, the deadline, and the environment.
For General Essay Writing & School specific tips, Download our Winning MBA Essay Guide
Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
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Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?
You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?
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Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay - Volunteering (Mental Health Awareness) (776 Words)
+ Stanford MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(399 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Booth MBA Essay #2: Leadership experience (Teach for America)(640 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay 2: New York for Marketing Professionals (244 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Marketing Lead) (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Technology) (248 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Essay #3 - Team Failure (Pharma) (244 Words)
+ MIT Sloan MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Personality Type (Accepted MIT Sloan Students)
Cover Letter Checklist
Sample Essay 3: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are
+ Haas MBA Essay Tips (2018 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit
Sample MBA Essay: Technology
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing
Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired
Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Sample MBA Essay: Leadership
Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help
+ Yale SOM MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Business Development (Mobile Start-Up)(486 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (442 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (452 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (492 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (497 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band (96 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a hidden talent to do Impression (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through the prism of an Entrepreneurial failure (94 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Consulting for a Pharma Giant (Made a Difference) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Three-Level Sanitation Campaign (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Water Conservation Kit (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Losing client (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Misreading Market Conditions (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Strategic Planning vs. Tactical Dominance in Chess (97 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone(extra-curricular) (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone (Daily Science Show) (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Simplifying Operations for Manufacturing (extra-curricular) (90 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Leadership and Culture) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Technology Project and Last-minute change) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Making Business metrics relevant to a Creative team) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Laziness)(100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Pessimism) (96 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Technology to Marketing)(299 Words)
+ London Business School MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
London as the Financial Hub
London as the Technology Hub
London as the Consulting Hub
Sample LBS MBA Essay (A Career Switcher from Hospitality to Consulting) (499 Words)
Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)
Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words) (Finance)
5 Examples with Images
7 Professional Gains
Sample Wharton MBA Essay 1: Gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (473 words)
Sample Wharton MBA Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value (388 Words)
+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths
+ How to write about your Weaknesses