Focusing Your MBA Admissions Essays From The Start

by on December 20th, 2011

Although you may want to include drama in your MBA admissions essay, you shouldn’t write your essays as slow-building stories. It is important that you tell the admissions member what the individual is going to learn about your character from the very beginning of the essay and then prove this to the individual with each part.

Some candidates enjoy structuring their essays to include mysteries. The candidate does this by explaining the hard situation that the protagonist is up against. The protagonist then continues to challenge and defeat every obstacle in their way. At last, everything becomes right and our hero achieves success! Business school candidates need to tell more about themselves at the beginning, so the person reviewing the essay will not have to wait to find out. Typically, this means putting the moral of the essay at the very beginning:

For a leadership essay for example, this means saying, “My experience working at showed me that leadership often means leading from below and questioning the status quo and beliefs about how the company can most effectively be managed.”

This does not mean: “I joined because of the company’s exciting goal of growing their market share in online ecommerce.”

For an achievement essay, this means writing, “Founding a micro-lending organization in the aftermath of South America was challenging, but it was my proudest achievement.”

This does not mean: “When Thomas received his first loan, he had no idea what was to come ahead.”

This isn’t to say that one has to take away all elements of their story telling to create a plain or boring introduction. To begin, the kind of writing that makes for the best introductions can still be engaging. Additionally, after introducing the MBA admissions readers to what they are about to learn about you, you can include more original storytelling sentences. Those parts about company goals or Thomas in South America are appropriate at a later stage; they still help set the tone near the beginning of your essay. However, they should not be the first sentence.

If you did write a mystery story approach, the positive news is that often this is not very difficult to change. Sometimes, your conclusion can make an excellent introduction. All you have to do is cut and paste your ending sentences that include the lessons learned and put them at the beginning of your essay. You would be shocked at how effective this is. If you have to decide between having a strong introduction and a strong conclusion, you should go with the introduction to engage your reader from the beginning.

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 to learn more.

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