Tips for Writing an Outstanding Essay – HBS

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Keep in mind, a lot of business schools have a variation on this question, so don’t think these tips are intended for HBS alone. And, you can generally apply this information to other essay prompts as well.

The prompt:
As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

The tips:
  • Figure out your “throughline” – a connecting theme, plot, or characteristic. Focus on that; don’t try to do all the things. Deep, not wide.
  • Demonstrate leadership, of course. If you decide to go the path of several smaller anecdotes, show leadership in various settings (work, group-related hobbies, serving on the board).
  • Be personal. If you talk about work, make sure it truly helps them to get to know you, your defining characteristic, an aspect of you that is true in every setting. Start with
  • context about you as a person, your struggles, etc.
  • Don’t include information mentioned elsewhere. Follow the instructions. HBS advises you avoid “essays that are basically a paragraph version of your resume.”
  • Move away from analytical thought; the goal is to create emotional resonance. Help them get to know you as your friends do. HBS also advises you avoid submitting “essays that aren’t about you.”
The end result:
A memorable application that demonstrates who you really are and what you bring to the table – subsequently opening the door to an interview.

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"You don't often come across people who are as perceptive and also genuinely empathetic." - EM. NYC