Having graduated from a top MBA program as a non-native English speaker, I still remember being quite worried about the MBA application, fearing that my English was not sophisticated enough. So I focused on improving my writing skills by doing just that – writing.
Now as a Veritas Prep School Specialist, I have found working with my clients that there are a few common essay-writing pitfalls.
Here are some examples:
a) Essays written in a generic way, which focus too much on current work experience. This is not a job application, so try to avoid producing what looks like a resume or CV in essay form.
b) Essays that sound like a request for proposal (RFP), with an obvious Power Point sentence writing style with percentages, jargon and keywords such as “innovative” to impress Admission Committees. These committees have seen it all, so be innovative, don’t just say it.
c) Essays that don’t talk about you. If an essay question asks what matters to you most and why, the essay will be an opportunity to demonstrate that you are inspired and motivated thanks to XYZ. This shows determination and focus.
Personal essays provide precious opportunities to reflect who you have been, where you want to go and your current plan to achieve this. It’s about showing a balance between early leadership aptitude and self-awareness. Use simple sentences but entice your reader by showcasing your talents, creativity and maturity, and this will help them to envision you enrolled in their MBA program.
These are 3 simple but powerful tips by advertising guru David Ogilvy from the book “How To Write”:
1) Write the way you talk. Naturally.
2) Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
3) Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
Given that the business world does not usually demand essay writing or personal reflection, I would personally suggest keeping a personal journal or diary to practice writing about yourself, as well as to read both business and non-business oriented articles, such as those published in magazines like Harvard Business Review and The Atlantic.
Even if English is not your native language, the goal is to find your own unique voice and use writing as your instrument. Simply. Elegantly. You.
These are just some suggestions about how you can begin to approach the task of essay writing. Talk to an experienced Veritas Prep Consultant to see how we can help you write effectively to increase your chances for admission to the MBA program of your choice!
If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!
This Veritas Prep Head Consultant received a BA in International Economics from UCLA, and went on to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to receive her MBA. Her specialties for helping students include low GMAT score, low GPA, multicultural marketing, and entrepreneurship.