As my clients prepare to write the “Why MBA?” essay that most business school applications require, I am frequently asked the question “what do I need to know about these schools?” First, you need to know enough about the schools to know if you even want to apply. Many applicants forget that you are the customer! Business schools are printing brochures, tweaking their programs, traveling around the country in order to convince you – a prospective student – to consider their programs. Since each application will cost you a couple hundred dollars and hours of preparation, make sure that the programs in which you decide to apply have most of the important things you want from a school.
Once you have determined which schools are right for you, it’s time to focus on your essays.
So what do you need to include in your application essays? I can’t tell you how many first drafts I’ve read that cite the “unmatched student body, world-class faculty, and committed alumni network” as the reasons for applying to a particular MBA program. This says nothing about the applicant. You need to get specific to demonstrate that you’ve taken time out to research the school and that you have some legitimate reasons why you think their program fits with your needs. You can effectively research schools in just a few minutes. Check out the following offerings/traits of the school to see in what ways they mesh with your professional goals, learning agenda, personality and preferences:
- Program format: case vs. lecture, traditional vs. accelerated, “hands on” learning
- Academic offerings: specific classes in your areas of interest
- Faculty: certain specific professors that you might want to meet with, help with research, etc.
- Initiatives: often schools will emphasize certain disciplines or issues for several years, hosting events, developing new classes, etc.
- Field studies: faculty support for independent research, business plan development, etc.
- Cross-registration opportunities: what other resources does the school have to offer?
A few sentences of solid material on “Why our program?” should set you up nicely. Remember, you usually will have tons of other material to cover about your career progress and other topics, so no need to go on and on telling them about themselves.
For more robust guidance on your MBA application essays, check out the Stacy Blackman Consulting Essay Guide Series – school specific guides with essay tips, sample essays, information on what your target schools value and more.
Visit http://www.stacyblackman.com/essay-guides/ to learn more.