Dear Mentor:

Give me tips on writing application essays.

I am applying for undergraduate [Bachelor's level] business school. Can you please give me tips on writing essays? Thanks.

Business Exec 2B, USA

Dear Business Exec 2B:

Business school applications typically ask the candidates to write essay(s), along with submitting a formal application form, recommendations, scores on entrance exams, and official transcripts of academic performance. This is true for both undergraduate and graduate business programs.

Business schools wish to admit candidates who they believe would be successful business executives in the future. While academic performance and entrance exam scores offer objective assessment, recommendations and essays offer insights into candidate's approach to thinking, decision making, motivation, team spirit, patterns of success, and so on. Thus, given various components of the application process, your challenge is to offer information which, when considered in aggregate, shows your preparation for being a successful business executive in the future.

Having said this, you should identify situations, experiences and/or events that are more than a story - they should project your ability to succeed as a business person in the future, plus offer something additional to what has already been included in the remainder of the application package. The essay can be an interesting story about you, but it can also be an opportunity for you to highlight aspects of your thinking, decision making, and motivation that would make you successful.

Before you start writing an essay, you must do some preliminary work. First, outline the messages you wish to communicate; for example, you are: creative, good team player, good leader, highly resourceful, capable of learning and excelling in adverse situations, and so on. Second, select the situation(s) that would allow you to best demonstrate/communicate these messages. Keep in mind that what you consider to be the most important events in your life may not allow you to demonstrate what you wish to communicate through the essay(s).

Then, follow a systematic process to outline the information that should be included. Apart from the situation itself, consider the following relevant information: the challenges of the situation, choices considered, how and why you made the decisions, your approach and resourcefulness in implementing the decision(s), the results, and lessons you learned.

Once you have the preliminary work, you are ready to write the essay. All the preliminary work should be included in the essay but in a "story telling" format to make it interesting for the reader.

One final note: do your best to avoid errors in your writing. The best way to accomplish this is to have a trusted friend, someone well educated in English writing, read your essay and point out any errors. To practice your writing skills, we at iMahal feature the Write Guru service, with lessons on all the most common mistakes in written English.

Happy essay writing!

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