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Admissions Tip: Avoiding Common Pitfalls, Part I

avoid pitfallToday we would like to offer a handful of essay pointers in brief in order to help applicants avoid common pitfalls as they gear up for the Round Two deadlines.  While we should caution that every applicant is unique and that some of these tips may not apply to everyone, we wanted our readers to have an introduction to some of the basic strategies they should be employing.  As always, contact Clear Admit directly for more tailored advice to your candidacy.

1.    Remember your reader. 
In application essays and résumés, applicants often get caught in the technicalities of their work, losing their reader in jargon.  Keep it simple in order to make your discussion easy for your non-specialist audience to understand.  Such clarity will help the reader to appreciate the nature and significance of your work.

2.    Be specific.
  Specifics are of the utmost importance in application essays, as the adcom wants to see details of what you’ve accomplished in the past, what you would like to achieve in the future, and how you are a good fit for the particular MBA program.  Explaining the reasons for your interest in the school will also help to differentiate you from the many other applicants arguing their case for a place in the MBA class, as they will show that you not only have clearly articulated goals, but also that you have a deep understanding of the MBA program and how it is uniquely appropriate for you*.  Though applicants sometimes worry about the word limit, it is important to keep in mind that you can replace often vague and generic points with specific ones without adding any length.  For instance, rather than stating that you would make a great and lasting impact on X industry, you can state that you would do A and B.

3.    Focus on fully realized successes.  In approaching essays about an accomplishment or achievement, applicants should focus on stories and projects in which a positive outcome has been accomplished or is ensured, as potential successes are not actual ones.  Talking about a project that is ongoing or that is just starting to come together will not be as meaningful as one in which an applicant has already displayed leadership, initiative and creativity in accomplishing a goal.  Though ultimate impact may have not yet been observed (an example being that increased profit has yet to be realized), one’s goals in the project should already have been attained (meaning, for example, that an applicant already built and motivated a team to achieve the desired end).

Check in with us next week for more advice on how to avoid the common pitfalls in applying to MBA programs.  For personalized advice and counseling, use our online form and set up a free initial chat with one of our admissions counselors.

*Some programs, like Harvard Business School, do not explicitly ask applicants to explain their fit with/interest in HBS itself.  As such, when it comes to Harvard our comments about “specifics” apply to the stories the applicant describes, but not to a “why HBS” argument.