Do you have too many “knick-knacks” and seemingly unrelated, but interesting, details about your MBA candidate profile? Are you unsure of where to use them in your essays, how to fit them into the limited word counts you are given, or if you should even include them in your application at all?
Frequently, I see business school applicants who have accomplishments that they are very proud of – such as winning a competition at their undergraduate university, excelling on a sports team, or holding a long-running passion for performing arts – but that do not seem to fit into the context of their answers to the essay prompts they are given.
Some schools have essays asking applicants to share outside activities or interesting personal facts, but most of the time, you will need to deliberate as to how these attributes will fit in your essays as you address the questions.
Below are three suggestions on how you can find space to share these details in a way that will help make your essays both more personal and powerful:
1) Draw Parallels
As is true in many aspects of life, in your business school essays, showing, instead of simply telling, is often the best way to get your point across.
For example, trying to convince your reader (the Admissions Committee) of your ability to persevere and work hard by mentioning the number of hours you spend at the office may not be all that effective. Instead, you could say how your work habits formed by years of training as a ballerina, and how this experience prepared you to understand the blood, sweat, and tears required to achieve great successes.
Drawing these parallels will put personality into your essay – creating an image for the Admissions Committee, while also reinforcing the character traits you want to highlight by showing how you demonstrate them in another context.
2) Use Your Interests as Examples
Another great way to mention seemingly unrelated, but still impressive, activities is by using them as examples in the context of addressing a question.
For instance, if you are discussing your initiative to improve your time management skills, you may mention that apart from being able to accomplish your responsibilities at work, you have also created time to enrich your life with engaging activities, such as mountain-climbing or performing with a band. This will help show your range of involvement across diverse interests and present you as a multi-faceted character, while still allowing the Admissions Committee to better relate to you.
3) Pivot From a Common Point
In writing your essays, you may also identify a common thread that ties all of your varied interests together. This could be in the form of emphasizing a strength, by giving examples of your involvement in different activities that leverage a particular trait.
For example, you could identify your ability to adapt as a major strength and give examples of your experiences as a student leader working with international students, a volunteer working in the community with refugees, and your current position handling global clients. Relating these activities to each other through a common point will allow you to mention many details without needing to describe them in great detail.
MBA programs want to see applicants who are adaptable, multi-dimensional and interesting. Using your wide array of experiences in the aforementioned ways can help you accomplish this, while also allowing you to express yourself and to submit an application that truly shares your personal stories.
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Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD