Why do business schools ask for essays?

Essentially, the MBA application essays are the Admissions Committees’ attempt to understand WHO an applicant is, as well as why they are interested in pursuing an MBA. Admissions Committees seek to understand who an applicant is as a person; more than any specific background, characteristic, or skill that an applicant might have. Business schools look for evidence of integrity, maturity, interpersonal skills, and the ability to communicate in a prospective student. Throughout my research of the top MBA admissions processes, it became clear to me that the selection criteria used to evaluate candidates encompassed three basic domains: the academic, the personal and the professional domains.

Academic Domain: On the academic side, they are looking for a record that demonstrates outstanding intelligence, analytical ability, a hard-working personality and that shows interest in previous studies.

Personal Domain: On the personal side, they look for a superior individual that possesses certain attributes including a high level of self-confidence, innate leadership characteristics, superior motivation and exceptional intelligence.

Professional Domain: On the professional domain, Admissions is looking for a set of experiences that show a well-developed set of technical and interpersonal skills, strong managerial potential, and a unique or unusual perspective that will contribute to other students’ learning.

Business schools also want to enrol students that will be a good fit with their program. Every program has a different definition of what that “good fit” will be based on a mix of personal, professional, and academic characteristics. It is interesting to note, however, that the characteristics different schools use to screen their candidates are very consistent, and are usually a good indication of successful business leaders.

In conclusion, I believe essays provide a great opportunity for MBA applicants to express their uniqueness and differentiating characteristics. They are an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to a career in business by discussing those experiences, people, and events that influenced their decision to enter the field. And, finally they are the best component of the application to demonstrate that a candidate has a noble goal to pursue an MBA, that their background and experiences are essentially the building blocks that together with an MBA will help them achieve their future career goals.