While some business schools are more popular than others, there is no such thing as a business school that fits everyone. Instead, different MBA programs and business schools will fit different applicants, based on where they want to get to based on their current knowledge, skill set, interests, and more.
Business schools are naturally aware of this, so it is increasingly important for them to find the MBA candidates that fit their school, program, culture and values best. Therefore, MBA applicants are encouraged to address how well they see themselves fitting into the school in their essays, and even if this is not directly asked in an essay prompt, it is a good idea to address this issue to increase your chances of admission.
The biggest mistake you can make as an applicant when trying to prove how good of a fit you are is to sound like everyone else. Therefore, it is vital to avoid clichés or statements that may sound disingenuous. But how do you do this when writing your essays? Here are some tips:
Avoid repeating the school’s own descriptions in the “fit” essay
Even though this is naturally tempting, you should keep in mind that they will have had tons of other candidates do this as well. They are already well aware of their own strengths.Instead, the essay should be about you,what is important to you, and how that aligns with the school or program.
Keep in mind that the things that matter to you will shine through in other parts of your application as well, such as your extracurricular activities, previous work experience, background and so on, so instead of using the same buzzwords as everyone else, make sure to focus on topics and values that can be found elsewhere in your CV/resume too.
You should, however, understand what makes a specific business school and/or MBA program unique
Instead of mentioning how you like their international student body (something pretty much all business schools have these days), you should mention a special approach to learning, for example, or a specific curriculum that is geared towards their top specialty. The more specific you can be, the better!
All business schools want candidates that know how the school’s culture and program are unique, too, and in many ways they are, so make sure they understand that you as an applicant have compared them to other options and came to the conclusion that they your top choice.
Obviously, this also means that you should NOT use the same essay or part of the essay to demonstrate fit with several different business schools! That is sure to backfire and sound either sloppy at best or recycled at worst. You need a new essay for each school. And do yourself a favor by starting from scratch each time, as it is usually obvious when you have not.
Demonstrating how you will contribute is always a good idea
Business schools are looking for applicants who, rather than just attending the school for their own benefit, will contribute to it and to its student body. Consider how you could make your mark on campus and describe this in your essays.
Rankings are not the way to go
Business schools are well aware of their rankings and do not need an applicant to point that out to them. Don’t go there, even if you think you can use it to portray yourself as someone “who never settles for anything less than the best” etc. This is not an effective argument for fit and does nothing to explain why the school is actually right for you, your background, or your goals.
Don’t assume anything
Some MBA applicants assume that the admissions committee will understand why they prefer a geographical area, a specific country or why an MBA is a logical next step in their career. We can just say: don’t! Even if parts of your reasoning might be fairly obvious, it will often sound stronger if addressed properly. Take the time to explain your choice , so the adcom will understand where you are headed and why you are a strong match for their program.
Michelle Miller is the CEO of ARINGO Americas (www.ARINGO.com), a PhD candidate, and an ardent lover of dogs and coffee.
ARINGO MBA Consulting has helped over 4000 candidates get accepted to the business schools of their dreams. Visit www.ARINGO.com today to check out free resources and schedule a complimentary consultation.