Too often, MBA applicants begin a new application by copying and pasting previous school's essays. They end up wasting time because it takes longer to rewrite an old essay than it does to write a new one that directly answers the question.

 

Q: I completed my first MBA application. How do I use essays from school 1 when writing essays for school 2? 

A: Scrap and build, as explained in this video https://youtu.be/d5A8FUezTPo?t=1m44s


 

My most successful clients make a new outline every time. Start with a blank page, especially when answering "why MBA" or goals essays. It's good interview training :)

You can use previous applications as a word bank after you hammer out your logic on a fresh block of marble.

Most of all, admissions office reader are sensitive and can recognize when applicants cut corners and recycle old content. Think of an MBA application as a marriage proposal. If your first lover turned you down, why re-use the same tired line?

By starting a new application the way you would start a new relationship, you can avoid old mistakes and increase your chances for success over the long-term. If you are serious about making a lifelong commitment to this school's alumni association, start by taking the time to approach their essay questions with an open mind a blank page. Of course, you might save time later by re-purposing some useful phrases from an old application.

 


 

Second, I encourage my clients to share initial brainstorming ideas before we meet. Before spending hours writing a complete essay draft, please share your bullet points or rough outlines so I can help you select the best story mix. After we confirm the ideal contents for each essay, I encourage you to write a full draft without worrying about the word limit.

Before writing a complete essay draft, please share your bullet points or rough outlines so I can help you select the best story mix. My best clients share ideas in the following format

 

STORY OPTION 1

Situation

Task

Action

Result

 

Pros (reasons to use this story)

Cons (reasons NOT to use this story)

 

 

STORY OPTION 2

Situation

Task

Action

Result

 

Pros (reasons to use this story)

Cons (reasons NOT to use this story)

 

In our session, we can discuss these options and pick the best one to write a full draft. After we confirm the ideal contents for each essay, I encourage you to write a full draft without worrying about the word limit. In subsequent drafts, we can add detail. As a final step, we look for places to cut words.

Bottom line: Please do not let the word limit be an excuse for telling an incomplete or uninteresting story. At first, I want to understand your ideas, fully. 

 


 

RESEARCH AND NETWORK

Find your fit


Before you start the "goals" or "Why MBA?" essay, create a ranked list of reasons why you would attend this MBA program.

The first reason is your #1 "killer" reason why you would attend if admitted. It often has something to do with the people you have met (current students and alumni). Think fit. Think student culture.

1.

2.

3.


If you are clear about your reasons for applying to each school, your essays will be more convincing. If your reasons are not clear, then your essays will not matter.

AdCom needs to see the results of your networking. Therefore, please start each new school's application by sharing the names of alumni and current students you know. Then, I can know whether or not you need me to introduce any of my former clients.


 

 

CREATE NEW OUTLINES

Do not simply copy and paste

Build a new foundation

Create a new frame

 
Whenever you begin essays for a new school, always make a new outline. Think of tearing down and old house to build a new one; you might reuse a window or part of a wall, but you must build a strong foundation first.
 
  1. Start from a blank piece of paper

  2. Answer the question directly

  3. Change the keywords

  4. Change the structure of your story

  5. Add sentences and phrases later

 

 

CUSTOMIZE TOPIC SENTENCES


After finishing your outline, it is time to write topic sentences for each paragraph.

When starting your next school, customize the topic sentences of each answer to fit the question. Otherwise, AdCom will know that you are copying and pasting essays from another school. Be careful!

I assume that AdCom members speed read application essays. Whether they do so consciously or unconsciously, AdCom readers probably read every word of each topic sentence, and then skim the details in the rest of the paragraph. They simply do not have time to mull over every word in your essay. Therefore, I encourage you to help them do their jobs more effectively by writing clear and concise topic sentences that capture the logic and flow of your ideas.

After you complete your draft, go back and reverse engineer your essay.

 


 

Here is my favorite editing exercise

http://www.vinceprep.com/blog/how-to-frame-mba-admissions-essays 

 

  1. Remove everything but the first (topic) sentence of each paragraph.

  2. Read it aloud at full volume, as if you were delivering a speech.

  3. Does your story make sense?

  4. Will a non-expert be able to understand what happened?

  5. Do you appear in your own topic sentences?

  6. Do your verbs convey power?

  7. If not, fix your topic sentences so that you are at the center of the action.

  • Weak Topic Sentence: "Your school helps me realize my short and long term goals."
     
  • Strong Topic Sentence: "Wharton best prepares me to lead a multinational consumer electronics manufacturing firm."

 

Bottom line: Write clear and concise topic sentences that capture the logic and flow of your ideas.

 


- Updated by Vince on 8 Jan 2015

 
 

 

 


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Testimonials

 

 

"You encouraged me to be genuine, and helped me find the right, true stories that captured who I am. In this way, you offer applicants not only an effective admissions advisory, but also a unique journey of self discovery and empowering dreams."

Harvard Business School Class of 2015, with Fulbright Scholarship (also admitted Stanford GSB)

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"First, you limit the number of your clients so that you can maintain the high quality of your services while many other MBA consultants accept clients almost beyond their capacity. Second, you are really great 'catalyst.' Each question you asked me made me think and thus deepened my stories. Thanks to you, I was able to come up with excellent ideas that I could never come up with alone."

Kellogg Class of 2015 (also admitted Berkeley Haas)

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