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"How would you contribute to the school?"

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"How would you contribute to the school?"

by sarangjn » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:02 am
Hi,

I have seen many schools ask "How would you contribute to the school" in their applications. What is the right way to approach this question? I know that just mentioning specific clubs is not enough. What does an ideal answer contain? What are the AdComs looking for in such a question?

Thanks,
Sarang

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by MBAPrepAdvantage » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:46 am
This will make a good blog post but let me write down an answer quickly to get you on your way. Before approaching how to answer the question make sure you understand the MBA Admissions Criteria and research the program thoroughly.

How is the question asked?

Schools can ask a contribution explicitly like McCombs does as part of a question "Please discuss why McCombs is the right program for you, what you hope to gain from your time in the Texas MBA Program both personally and professionally, and how you will contribute to your classmates' experiences?" Schools can also ask a contribution implicitly as Fuqua does in "When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you." I have also had clients use the optional essay to answer this question when the students background and/or visualized impact is strong and something the applicant should highlight.

What are MBA admissions committees looking for?

MBA admissions committees can gauge your strengths in various criteria such as overall fit in addition to different aspects of leadership, teamwork, global, personality characteristics, etc. But also schools want to directly know what your impact will be because of the greater need by MBA administrators and faculty to have business school students impact the school than the need is by undergraduate school administrators and faculty. Let's face it. In comparison to undergraduate schools, MBA schools have students for half the time (two versus four years), but are more dependent upon their business school students to lead in even a greater variety of ways.

How do I answer the question?

Try a thought exercise. Assume this is Day 1 of your two years at XYZ Business School. What leadership roles would you assume in which areas and specifically how would you impact these areas? Does this tie into the school's overall mission in any way?

So, map different aspects of your background. But do not regurgitate what is found elsewhere in your application and resume merely reference this (as implicitly giving your answer more credibility). Also, do not regurgitate what is on the school's website. The school can see your background and they know what they offer. What they do not know is the connection between your background and what they offer, factor your interest too. Remember your answer to this question should harmonize with the rest of your application.

I am lost. How can I visualize impact when I am not yet at the school?

You can impact a school in many different ways from within the classroom to its student organizations to its conferences to within the greater school and city community to a number of programs to academic research, etc. You also can impact a school not only for the two years you are there, but also for the rest of your life. How do you discover all the different ways you could impact McCombs? Start with the website.

Research every facet of the school. Contact students. Schools that ask this question and other schools like NYU Stern that explicitly asks "What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?" want to know that you would go to the program if accepted. If a student copies and pastes another generic contribution essay swapping out clubs, the school can tell.

How do I research a school?

Start with the website but do not stop there. School have similar structures to their websites to help you access pertinent information. So let's go back to McCombs.
  1. Read through the Student Life section (which includes Student Profiles, Day in the Life, Student Organizations, Austin, Diverse Community and Families & Partners). Do any organizations or does any aspect of what you read resonate with you and can you envision your impact? You will see there is a contact email for each student organization so reach out to organizations that interest you.
  2. Read through Academics which includes (Curriculum, Concentrations, Dual Degrees, Faculty & Research, Learning Environment and Academic Advising) and Hands-On Experience (which includes Texas MBA+ Leadership Program, International Opportunities, Fellows Program, MBA Investment Funds, Washington Campus and Academic Challenges).
  3. Connect with the school through the Admissions Events (which includes On-Campus , Off-Campus and Online , Women's Forum and Diversity Forum Events) and Social Media (which includes Admissions Blog, Student & Alumni Blog, Career Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram pages. Schools usually have Student and sometimes Alumni Ambassadors. Note that is another way you can contribute too.
Hopefully, this has started you on your way and I have not delved down too deeply into "the rabbit hole" in any one direction.

Best of luck,
Michael Cohan
MBAPrepAdvantage Founder & AIGAC Board Director
305-604-8178
www.mbaprepadvantage.com

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by sarangjn » Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:04 am
Wow. Thank you so much for such a detailed answer!! :)

Yes. This reply should definitely go into https://www.mbaprepadvantage.com/blog/! I am sure it will be very useful for all applicants!


MBAPrepAdvantage wrote:This will make a good blog post but let me write down an answer quickly to get you on your way. Before approaching how to answer the question make sure you understand the MBA Admissions Criteria and research the program thoroughly.

How is the question asked?

Schools can ask a contribution explicitly like McCombs does as part of a question "Please discuss why McCombs is the right program for you, what you hope to gain from your time in the Texas MBA Program both personally and professionally, and how you will contribute to your classmates' experiences?" Schools can also ask a contribution implicitly as Fuqua does in "When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you." I have also had clients use the optional essay to answer this question when the students background and/or visualized impact is strong and something the applicant should highlight.

What are MBA admissions committees looking for?

MBA admissions committees can gauge your strengths in various criteria such as overall fit in addition to different aspects of leadership, teamwork, global, personality characteristics, etc. But also schools want to directly know what your impact will be because of the greater need by MBA administrators and faculty to have business school students impact the school than the need is by undergraduate school administrators and faculty. Let's face it. In comparison to undergraduate schools, MBA schools have students for half the time (two versus four years), but are more dependent upon their business school students to lead in even a greater variety of ways.

How do I answer the question?

Try a thought exercise. Assume this is Day 1 of your two years at XYZ Business School. What leadership roles would you assume in which areas and specifically how would you impact these areas? Does this tie into the school's overall mission in any way?

So, map different aspects of your background. But do not regurgitate what is found elsewhere in your application and resume merely reference this (as implicitly giving your answer more credibility). Also, do not regurgitate what is on the school's website. The school can see your background and they know what they offer. What they do not know is the connection between your background and what they offer, factor your interest too. Remember your answer to this question should harmonize with the rest of your application.

I am lost. How can I visualize impact when I am not yet at the school?

You can impact a school in many different ways from within the classroom to its student organizations to its conferences to within the greater school and city community to a number of programs to academic research, etc. You also can impact a school not only for the two years you are there, but also for the rest of your life. How do you discover all the different ways you could impact McCombs? Start with the website.

Research every facet of the school. Contact students. Schools that ask this question and other schools like NYU Stern that explicitly asks "What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?" want to know that you would go to the program if accepted. If a student copies and pastes another generic contribution essay swapping out clubs, the school can tell.

How do I research a school?

Start with the website but do not stop there. School have similar structures to their websites to help you access pertinent information. So let's go back to McCombs.
  1. Read through the Student Life section (which includes Student Profiles, Day in the Life, Student Organizations, Austin, Diverse Community and Families & Partners). Do any organizations or does any aspect of what you read resonate with you and can you envision your impact? You will see there is a contact email for each student organization so reach out to organizations that interest you.
  2. Read through Academics which includes (Curriculum, Concentrations, Dual Degrees, Faculty & Research, Learning Environment and Academic Advising) and Hands-On Experience (which includes Texas MBA+ Leadership Program, International Opportunities, Fellows Program, MBA Investment Funds, Washington Campus and Academic Challenges).
  3. Connect with the school through the Admissions Events (which includes On-Campus , Off-Campus and Online , Women's Forum and Diversity Forum Events) and Social Media (which includes Admissions Blog, Student & Alumni Blog, Career Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram pages. Schools usually have Student and sometimes Alumni Ambassadors. Note that is another way you can contribute too.
Hopefully, this has started you on your way and I have not delved down too deeply into "the rabbit hole" in any one direction.

Best of luck,

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by MBAPrepAdvantage » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:11 am
Thank you for your kind words.

Good luck!!!
Michael Cohan
MBAPrepAdvantage Founder & AIGAC Board Director
305-604-8178
www.mbaprepadvantage.com

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Follow Michael Cohan on Image Image and BeattheGMAT.
Follow MBAPrepAdvantage on Image Image Image.

For a free assessment email info@mbaprepadvantage.com your target schools, goals, resume, GPA and GMAT or fill out our Free MBA Admissions Consultation Form.

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by CriticalSquareMBA » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:24 am
Hey sarangjn,

Thanks for asking me to post here! Michael has provided a truly FANTASTIC response here (well done sir!). I'll add a couple of additional thoughts but they're sprinkles on top of the cupcake Michael baked.

1) Not all impact needs to be within the school either. You can become involved within the broader community as an ambassador for that program. If there are any specific groups on campus that engage the professional community, that can be something to explore as well.

2) Think about your development holistically. Groups and involvement are a great way to develop skills and capabilities you may not have gotten the chance to do before bschool. So everything taken together, how are you going to use your time at the school to really develop yourself and grow others?

3) Just like not all involvement going into bschool needs to be community focused, not everything at the program has to be geared towards "helping those less fortunate". Don't see a club at the program you're interested in? Tell them you'll start it! We had a client once who was super passionate about health and crossfit so he wrote about how he'd start a nutrition focused student group. Last we checked, he had dozens of members and was going strong. Impact is a broad term.

4) Understand opportunity cost. At most, you will have time to be involved in (meaningfully) 2 - 3 clubs and organizations. Don't just list stuff for the sake of listing it. Be strategic.

5) If you're going to suggest improving an organization, you had better have talked to someone leading that club currently. Understand their vision and the feedback they've received. Don't just go in there "trying to fix everything" - it might not be broken no matter what you think.

I hope that helps add a bit more info to the discussion!

Bhavik
Critical Square | MBA Admissions Services

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by LeoFuller » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:58 am
Oh, boooy. You reminded me of the times when I've applied to my college. It was so much fun! Because I wanted to take a gap year, but my parents were against it, so I had to find some tricks to skip that year. There was the same question, so I answered that I was looking forward to starting my study to understand what contribution in my life can make the university, so I would know what contribution I could make myself. And it worked! I couldn't believe it! Or maybe it was motivation letter that my parents ordered from Ninja essay writing service, but I did enter that year.

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by Michelle@ARINGO » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:27 am
sarangjn wrote:Hi,

I have seen many schools ask "How would you contribute to the school" in their applications. What is the right way to approach this question? I know that just mentioning specific clubs is not enough. What does an ideal answer contain? What are the AdComs looking for in such a question?

Thanks,
Sarang
Hi there,
This is a common question that many schools ask on their applications. We have some essay samples on our site for that exact topic: https://aringo.com/free-mba-community-c ... y-samples/
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by OfficialGMAT » Mon Aug 26, 2019 1:55 pm
Hi, check out this article on tough b-school interview questions and how to answer them for tips and suggestions for navigating these types of questions in the future. Good luck!
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by fezziwig » Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:06 pm
By study hardly and truly...<i class="em em-grinning"></i><i class="em em-innocent"></i>

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by MargaretStrother » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:55 am
As others have observed here, a contribution essay is a research essay. Every contribution should include three parts:
1) What you have to contribute
2) Where you got that from
3) Where it will add value at the school
That third part should be very specific: if it's a club that you hope to join, know more about that club than its name. Talk to club members, research its activities, look at its Facebook page and Instagram posts, watch its YouTube videos. Know what they do, what needs doing, and what appeals most to you as an activity you could lead or join. Then connect that to your own history: when were you involved in something similar? What did you do then, and how will that add value in this school engagement?
I recommend taking this very literal approach in each case, paying close attention to the school's instructions. For Fuqua's Contribution Essay, for example, they specify that they are talking about outside-the-classroom contributions, but their long list of potential involvements includes everything from student government to the Durham community itself. On the other hand, Wharton had a 'contribution' essay a few years back that specifically identified Wharton's "Learning Community" as the target; in that case, things like student government or clubs would not be what they'd want to hear about.
Nonetheless, this three-pronged approach to assessing your own contribution to a school is a very helpful formula.

Good luck!
Margaret Strother
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